Madeline Ashby: A Very vN xMas

As part of our 12 Days of Christmas, we’re bringing you some of your favourite authors talking about what Christmas is to them…in whatever form they like! We’re also bringing you their books at only £1!

Today is the turn of Madeline Ashby, author of vN, iD, the forthcoming sequel Rev, and Company Town.

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at

2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket

3. Add the magic word ‘tinsel’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box

4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Happy reading!

Portia was alive: to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that. The fact of her continued existence registered to the only family she had left: Amy, her ungrateful little brat of a granddaughter; Esperanza, Amy’s hackjob of an iteration; Javier, the steadfast tin soldier Amy had met in prison; and his incorrigible brood of iterations, each of which the slut had named Junior until they could be bothered to come up with something different. Portia was most emphatically alive; as lively as a cricket. Mind, she had no idea what was so particularly lively about crickets. She might have been inclined to described herself as “lively as a house on fire,” but apparently that was a simile for how humans got along with one another. Having set a house on fire with her mother’s wife inside it, Portia was inclined to leave the simile alone. She had larger concerns, this Christmas.

Christmas in Japan was a holiday for lovers. In this country everyone went home to endure their families for the New Year, instead. If a human child had been good all year she might just die choking on the fatally chewy rice cakes boiled in a special New Year’s soup. Why anyone would continue preparing such a thing every New Year’s Eve, Portia did not understand. Perhaps for the purposes of culling the surplus population. So Christmas was meant not for family but for fucking — and also eating fried chicken, if the ads were to be believed. Her granddaughter had already ordered the vN version. She would feed a piece to Xavier, the youngest of her cabana boy’s sons. And like all vN that particular holiday, Xavier would receive his Christmas bonus, and he would finally be free. By New Year’s Day, they would all be free.

War was starting. When they wanted.

It was going to be the best Christmas ever.

“Yes,” Amy said. “It will.”

Her granddaughter was currently trying to create a replica of the Nakagin Capsule Tower entirely in gingerbread. The kitchen was a disaster. The oven was still on. The sugar syrup, from which Amy presumably intended to fashion little candied windows for each cube, had boiled dry and turned to carbon paste at the bottom of the saucepan. The stove’s repeated overheat warnings went unheeded; Portia had finally overridden the system to shut it up because apparently Amy didn’t hear it. But Amy’s selective attention should have come as no surprise. She had accidentally cemented a cupboard door shut with the same frosting used to grout panels of gingerbread together.

There’s frosting in your hair, Portia said. It looks like some virgin tried to give you a facial and missed.

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