An Unnatural Life by Erin K. Wagner

I’ve done a unit in my class in the past about the ethics of cloning. We start with a couple articles about the process in sheep and cats… then we start speculating about humans. My students always have insightful responses and we usually end the unit with a lively debate. Wagner’s An Unnatural Life would be a good addition to my curriculum. She pushes the argument further and gives the reader a great ‘what if.’ Should AI be granted the same rights as humans? ie Should they have the right to defend themselves in a criminal trial?

While artificial lifeforms have already been granted legal rights on Earth, out in space the mining colonies and other settlements have been reluctant to make such changes. Up on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, the robot designated 812-3 is accused and jailed on a murder charge with no option for appeal. Initially sent to the colony to assist prisoners, Aiya Ritsehrer is pulled into the case when 812 pleads with her to defend him.

What follows is a fascinating contemplation on human rights and how they may or may not be applied to our tech friends. Is it too much to ask for a fair trial? It’s up to you to decide!

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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