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Summary

Synthetic Intelligence.

Thought impossible, but Dr. Wallace Theren has pushed the boundaries of computational science, creating an artificial mind capable of conscious thought. Naturally, his creation faces a harsh world bent on using it, exploiting it, or destroying it. If the first synthetic intelligence is to survive its early years, it'll need friends, but more importantly, it'll need a family.

And together, they'll need to show their enemies they're worth saving...or fearing.

Do you enjoy science fiction with robots, androids, virtual worlds, and corporate conspiracies? First of Their Kind is the first book of the Chronicles of Theren, a centuries-spanning science fiction series that will force listeners to question what it truly means to be a person.

It will invoke the character driven feel of a tale like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, but through a narrative that slowly unfolds upon a scale closer to that of Dune or The Expanse. But at the heart of First of Their Kind, you will experience the hopes and dreams of the first synthetic intelligences; the first SI. The story is through their eyes.

First of Their Kind is the first novel of Two Doctors Media Collaborative transformed into audio form; look for Their Greatest Game, its sequel.

©2019 C. D. Tavenor (P)2019 Two Doctors Media Collaborative

What listeners say about First of Their Kind

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Intriguing and thought-provoking

C D Tavenor has created an intriguing storyline for First Of Their Kind (Chronicles of Theren Book 1) which I became totally immersed in. I found it extremely thought-provoking from technological, social, moral and political perspectives. It especially got me interested in discovering more about Synthetic Intelligence and I subsequently came across a great blog by Jason M. Pittman (Academic and Technologist) which I can highly recommend to anyone wanting to read more on the subject.

I was fascinated by the inclusion of the question of gender for the SIs and the fact that they got to choose their gender and their names for themselves, Test Forty-Three choosing to be gender-neutral and be called Theren, with Test Forty-Four choosing to identify as female and be called Jill. It was also interesting following their process of learning and evolution.

Given the top-secret, intricate strategy that these Sis are forced to adopt in a bid for self-preservation from the nutters who want to destroy them and the commercial/political entities that want to control and exploit them, I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Benjamin Fife does a great job with the narration and I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook..

The only difficulty I had with “listening” to the book - not in any way a fault of the author or the narrator - was the confusion caused by they/them/their gender-neutral pronouns. It’s annoying that the English language can only offer these up for use in both singular and plural situations. You’d think by now we would have adopted into common everyday usage something clearly identifiable as a “singular” gender-neutral alternative to “he/him” or “she/her”, whether that be “ze/zir” or “zie/hir” or settling on something else. This English language shortcoming poses slightly less of a problem when reading the e-book, but for the audiobook I ended up having to replay several sections on hearing they/them/their just to make sure I hadn’t spaced out and missed something as my befuddled brain kept asking “who else is being referred to besides Theren?”.

2 people found this helpful

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Question everyone, everything, even your friends

Artificial intelligence had always remained just that: artificial until Wallace Theren devised an entirely new way, a synthetic learning to, hopefully, produce synthetic intelligence. And with Test 43 he succeeded. After Wallace was assassinated, Test 43 took the name Tberen in honour and memory of the man, considered father. This is less a 'man-made-intelli gences-turning-on-their-creators' than a look back at humanity with unbiased and kind eyes. A sociological science fiction. Not that it is without it's thrills and action: these, too, come into this well executed stkry. And the ending leaves the reader wanting to know the future.

The story is not fast paced, but envolving, time taken to explain and enclose everything in an aura of plausibility. And, of course, reopens the debate about what constitutes human. Well written, it is also well performed by Benjamin's Fife.

My thanks to the rights holder of First of their Kind, who, at my request via Audiobook Boom, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. The idea of the creation of such comp!ex being a that they can rival or excel the best human minds is a fascinating one: would such beings also have complete individuality, emotions and such like? And if so, would they be similar to our own or totally different? It is a good S.F. concept and this exploration is fascinating different from most. I am looking forward to book two..

1 person found this helpful

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A vision of the future

I was very happy to recieve a review copy of this book. It is a well written and narrated story, exploring the potential around the birth of AI and the impact on the world. The story balances the technical and social implications, along with elements of mystery to create an exciting story that is difficult to put down.

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Lots of potential

Really enjoyed This one one. Has a lot of potential for a great series..
lets wait and see if there are follow ups to it.

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great

I admit I was a bit sceptical about this audiobook however I really enjoyed it. it was well written and narrated bringing it to life xxxxx

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Good story about the evolution of intelligence

First of their kind tells the story of the world first synthetic intelligence from its birth and continues onwards through its life. The story encompasses intellect, emotions, sexuality, racism and a lot more whilst keeping the reader entertained throughout. The narration is good and adds to the story bringing more life to the characters but that doesn’t take anything from the story that is clever, entertaining and thought provoking throughout. Hopefully these tales will continue and I look forward to reading the continuing story.

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Vision of a future

Loved this audiobook , slow to start but I was able to take in the scientific and characters made this story easier. Theron as a AI grew on me . Would recommend this story as it could be our future

The narrator was excellent and made Theron
character come alive

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A great twist on ai in a well written story

This is an interesting story about the creation of ai a story set in a believable future and it's reasonably well built science wise as well as having a good social dilemma built in. The writer makes a great story about the development of a new kind of intelligent life within an imperfect and yet hopeful world setting.


Benjamin Fife's narration provides a great listening experience that has great separate character voices and his storyteller voice is on of my favourites on audible, clear yet warm and engaging.

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short, but compelling

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

that being said, this book discusses many social issues we face today from a perspective that is relatable and measured, without forcing a bias in opinion, and not only does it offer this wider commentary, it is also an engaging and fun story with a good dose of robots. I only wish it was longer

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  • Margaret
  • 04-12-19

Curiouser and curiouser

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by this author. I am curious to see how this story is going to play out. I must admit, I found myself a few times checking to see how much was left of the book. It seemed to progress so slowly and yet when I think back quite a lot happened?? The book ends after building up to a crescendo, but leaves us hanging there. I like the realistic nature of the SIs- they were exponentially cleaver and smart and yet fell prey to various emotions, predjuices and preconceived notions. This book is deeper than appears at first.

This is the second book I’ve listened to by this narrator ( Benjamin Fife ) and I would listen to another. I think he did well. He used different voices and accents to differentiate the characters. The narrative was natural and not stilted like someone just reading a book.

There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence or swearing.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.
Please feel free to comment on whether you found my review helpful.

4 people found this helpful

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  • cassie
  • 22-10-19

Read it to the End!

If I am being perfectly honest, I didn't enjoy The First of Their Kind until the last few chapters. I felt the main character, Theren (pronouns they/their) was self-absorbed and it made it difficult to keep listening to the way they took in the world, almost annoying. They avoided human interaction, which resulted in missed connections, which lead me to question whether Theren really was as advanced as they were thought to be. But, by the end of the book, I realized that what Theren was experiencing was not faulty wiring, but in fact, trauma. Very early in the book, Theren has a traumatic experience and throughout the telling of their story, I discredited that trauma and it's effect on Theren's perception of the world. Some part of me thought an SI couldn't truly experience trauma, and if the SI (synthetic intelligence) was so advanced, then it would "heal" quickly. I thought an SI should be a more-perfect human but that turned out to be my own prejudice getting in the way! In the end, the book shocked me and resulted in a beautiful story about the human experience, with themes of trauma, love, and those missed connections that make us question our very existence. If you can open your mind, this book is sure to capture your heart, just like it did mine.

The narrator also did a fine job with this book. I enjoyed the range of voices and accents he was able to implement. But, I probably would have preferred a female voice or more gender-neutral voice given that most of the characters in the book do not identify as male. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story all the same.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Gav
  • 26-04-20

Believable

Great story and performance. You see the beginning of a life and watch it flourish, learn, lose. Excellent concept.

3 people found this helpful

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  • keithdt
  • 22-03-20

Didn't care for it

Note: I received this audio-book in return for the promise of an honest review.

I requested the book based upon the description, which sounded very promising,. Unfortunately, for me the book didn't live up to my hopeful expectations. Others may like it more than me, as a lot of my issues had less to do with the quality of the writing than my own beliefs and attitudes.
I had a number of issues with the book, and in fact wouldn't have finished it if not for the promise of the review. My issues were (in rough order):
1) That the AI's have human-like emotions, without having anything corresponding to the bio-chemical systems that underlie these emotions in humans. And here one should consider the evolutionary causes of emotions and further the whole evolutionary backdrop of what it is to be a living being
2) Which connects to the second issue, which is that these AI's come across as just like us (expect smarter and somewhat more benevolent. I personally found this to be implausible.
3) That the focus of the book is on the AI's and not on humans. In fact, the 2 main AI's are the only characters that have any degree of character development. I was interested in the book because it seems important to develop an understanding of how AI might impact the human world. But this book comes across almost as a civil rights for AI tract.
4) I found the obsession with gender identity annoying. Which connected to issue 3 steeped the book too deeply in postmodern identity politics for my liking.
5) I thought way too much time was devoted on virtual reality and games.
6) Found it rather elitist (in a Silicon Valley kind of way); I don't recall any character who isn't a scientist, business person or other high level functionary (other than maybe the glimpses of the anti-AI people we get, though none of those are actively portrayed as individual people). No ordinary, everyday humans to be found.
7) Didn't like the ending in that it seemed one of those inconclusive traps to g et you buy the next book (not that this book was unique or particularly egregious in this aspect.

What I liked best about the book were the social movements against the AI and the business aspects of the book. Although, they could have been expanded upon more, especially the social movements. Overall, I would have preferred a book that was more about humans and less about AI and where the human characters were more than stick figures in a plot. The writing of the book was respectable for what the book was, I just wasn't thrilled by what it was. I did find the last 1/3 of the book somewhat more engaging than the first 2/3. The narrator was ok, but didn't do much to enhance the book.


3 people found this helpful

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  • Rosemary Hughes
  • 22-04-20

"1984" & "Brave New World" was this to my era

Yes, this is the possible future that my generation can only dream off.
However, back when programming was feed into the computer via punch cards, computers with less memory capabilities of a child's game today, these books "1984" & "Brave New World" were symbolic of what my generation may have to expect in our future.
This is a brilliant tale, with a dream of a cognitively capable machine come to reality. Why humans are enamored with creating machines that can think and feel for themselves is always a puzzle. Perhaps it's a recognition of the limited capabilities of the human mind, and if we want to reach beyond our planet we need to extend our thought capabilities.
Anyways, it did raise some insight into what may be problems in the future.
I found it totally engaging and an intriguing tale.
From the narrator's grasp of various characters, as weĺl as the synthesis of Michael's voice, it added a further depth to a very deep idealistic future.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 31-03-20

change, acceptance, scientific discovery

*I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

If technology grows to the point of sentience does it have a soul? Does it have "human" rights?
When Dr. Wallace Theren and his team of scientists welcome the first fully sentient SI (Synthetic Intelligence) these are the questions the world starts to ask.
Dr. Wallace has been working for years in a lab in the Swiss Alps when finally Test-43 answers back. Just like a small child Test-32 learns about the world around him and sees Wallace as a father figure. Unlike a small child within weeks Test-43 is playing chess and asking for a real name. When Wallace introduces Test-43 to the world the unbelievable happens and the team must work together to define what place SI has in the world before it's too late.
This book by C.D. Tavenor puts forward questions of change, acceptance, and scientific discovery that looks into the future as a place of progress and scientific development.
The narration is from the point of view of Test-43 who takes on the name Theren after Dr. Wallace and the singular non-gendered pronoun "They". The narrator of the audiobook Benjamin Fife was very impressive in his story telling.
The book is very introspective, dealing with questions of identity and coping with grief and trauma.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 25-02-20

Great New Series!

For a story about AI's, this is a very human novel demonstrating complex growth and underlying human bias about what it means to feel and be sentient. I enjoyed observing both the AI's and human creators emotional and logical growth as they both grappled with the acceptance of sentience and the larger meaning for the greater population of humankind and new AI's to come. I especially enjoyed the AI's inner growth and decision to help humankind rather than passively stand by or even violently fight against those actively working against them. In book one you'll find a lot of great lessons wrapped within a well written plot that is well worth a credit. Looking forward to book 2!

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison Pierce
  • 04-02-20

Too Bad the Author has a Separate Agenda

The basis of this science fiction novel put a new twist on the development of artificial intelligence and the author is very adamant that this is not artificial intelligence created by programming, but intelligence developed from learned experience the same as humans develop. I probably gave Overall and Story one too many stars because I was disappointed that the author continues over and over to expound his personal soapbox of political, social and environmental beliefs. I labored through this recording because I promised I would. . . . . .probably not again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mindy S.
  • 22-12-19

Great narrator, smart story

Do enjoy reading or listening to fiction about tech that's only been theorized, a conspiracy theory, an insightful look into our future society? If so, this is a great listen for you.

Well-researched, I had the recurring thought that this is such a smart sci-fi novel as I listened. The narrator has a range of accents and an amazing ability to give voice to each character so distinctly that I knew which character was talking immediately.

Entertaining, enjoyable, worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul K. Ellis
  • 13-12-19

Post Modern Prometheus, Sans Horror or Challenge

DISCLAIMER: I received this title for free in exchange for an unbiased review. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

WARNING: This review contains mild spoilers.

You remember Arnold as the Terminator. Yeah, this isn’t that. No SkyNet or robo-apocalypse, but a genuine, well thought out, non-threatening examination of benevolent Synthetic Intelligence. There are many philosophical questions the reader can drawn from the text, should they be so inclined. The data isn’t info-dumped on you, nor does the narrative pause and pretentiously ask “So, this Life thing; what’s that all about?” This is a thinking novel, no pun intended, challenging the listener to re-address what it takes to be sentient, real, human. And, it asks a bigger question; are we truly prepared to judge?

There is a solid narrative flow, engaging and captivating with surprisingly little emotion, but when it does occur the prior absence acts as a force multiplier. Shockingly little humor as well, however Tavenor’s wordcraft is so solid I didn’t notice the lack until I finished.

The audio was a little tinny and distant to my ears, but not distractingly so. Narrator Benjamin Fife’s (SoundCloud user: 29643215) other samples are neither tinny nor thin which leads me to suspect a producer asked for this particular sound effect. The story’s antagonist (based on Anonymous?) has an overly dramatic "evil voice" electronic filter. That effect got real old, real fast.

Fife gave each character a distinct voice, and a cadence and pacing that made the experience extremely listenable. There was only one repeated line. There were no obvious edits, mouth noise, or background hum. I give the narrator four stars. Four and a half if we can do fractions.

This is not noir. Despite comparisons to Blade Runner, this ain’t that. It is much too positive and upbeat. Tavenor clearly sunk a bunch of time into research and it peeks out occasionally. The view of SI is couched in rose-colored, academic glasses. Social concerns are acknowledged, but never explored in-depth. Our SI, Theren, shows very little, or any, doubt or uncertainty. There is an innocent arrogance to them, an undertone of innate superiority. They never acknowledge a mistake or miscalculation. They provide a too perfect mirror of humanity.

There’s no real personal conflict, either internally or externally, and what conflict there is consists of the extremes of gadfly trolls, abstract cultural forces, and immediately resolved mis-understandings. There is no risk to the SI that comes across as believable; no suspense, no drama, no stakes. And, tragically, no character development. I waited and waited for "Jane", Theren's "daughter", to catfish a human and get caught, as she tries on her humanity. And, the end felt rushed and contrived; very much, “and, a wizard walked by.”

So, is it worth a listen? You bet! It’s a great exploration, well thought out and internally consistent. It’s why I nitpicked above. If you like a science with hard edge and your philosophy on what it takes to be human challenged, this is the book for you.

2 people found this helpful