Can't recall what any of the title would be or who the author was. But the book involved the main character meeting a rich genius with a private island. He has an AI as his central computer, and it acted more like a teenage girl. His robots were emotional AIs too. And i remember a scene where part of their education was them in a room with a cow, they end up killing the cow and they learn how to control their robot bodies.

Also the main character ends up learning about the rich guys' plan for mining an asteroid as she is in a holodeck type room.

Seems like it should be easy to google this but my keyword combinations are coming up empty.

EDIT: OK someone else must have read this book. Let me summarize some more information I remember and see if that helps jog anyone's memory about reading this book.

  • It is a full size novel, forgot the number of pages but definitely more than 100.
  • It takes place in "the current day" or at least the near future, and on earth.
  • Not sure if it was published in the 90s but i remember reading the paperback then. 94ish...
  • The main character I think is a reporter, but maybe a graduate student.
  • I remember the main character falling in love with the eccentric rich guy.
  • The AI in the book is allowed to choose a gender.
  • There are a large number of the robots I've mentioned living on the island.
  • One of the robots runs out of power,that is sort of like death for them. But when they bring it back online it has some of its memories but it is a different personality.
  • The rich guy is launching things into orbit from his island, part in the book where the main character gets too close to the launch site and is almost killed.
  • The "holodeck" like room is more like current day VR. I remember the room changed shape and maybe had treadmill like properties to allow the person to move around and interact with objects.
  • The end of the book or near the end has one of the robots observing the humans and thinking that they are different. Almost implying that different is bad or something. AKA robot uprising.

I'll keep updating this post with more information as I remember. But the critical pieces like character names I just can't recall.

rudy1978 adds:

The female protagonist has some sort of psychology background and has caught the attention of the wealthy genius telco/data magnate mentioned above. He has an AI controlling his systems/satellites which is having some problems and needs a little 'help'.

You're bang on with the holo deck and mining of an iron asteroid that he has towed in from the asteroid belt as iron in space in FAR more valuable than gold.

If any of this helps please let me know the authors name and or the ISBN of the book.

Emk adds:

I do remember the rich guy was wondering if someone with a psychology background (the female main character, who jumped into this assignment because of something that happened in her professional of personal environment) could help his robots to overcome some mental problems.

She doesn't know upfront what she's stepping into, and has to discover for herself what's really happening on the island, namely robots who procreates themselves, and learn by trial and error.

I remember the book giving examples as how a human would not calculate exactly how much coffee he can put in a cup without spilling it while walking around with it, we learn by trial and error, sort of "fuzzy logic" (don't know if that term is used in the book).

  • Do you possibly remember if the male is much more older than his females he is in love with (multiple plus AI/robot) and that all of them carry guns all the time? Then it might be a (late) Heinlein reissued.
    – aquaherd
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 15:53
  • No I don't remember a focus on guns. And the age difference between the two characters wasn't that great. I'm pretty sure the author was a guy but again I'm not sure, but this book didn't have a Heinlein feeling to it. Just wish I could remember the actual plot...
    – Ruairi
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


It looks like, Society of the Mind: A Cyberthriller.

Book cover

Checking the items you've mentioned:

  1. Rich genius - Yes (billionaire)
  2. Private island - not sure, but there is an island and it is probably private (based on info in link, above)
  3. AI central computer - not sure, but probably "Gina"
  4. Emotional AIs - Yes (Gina, unhappy computer)
  5. Killing cow - not sure
  6. Asteroid mining - Yes (there is an asteroid and there is mining in space, see editorial reviews)
  7. Holodeck type room - not sure
  8. Full size novel - Yes
  9. Current day - not sure
  10. Published in 90s - Yes (1996)
  11. Main character occupation: reporter or graduate student - No (psychology professor)
  12. Falling in love with eccentric rich guys - Yes (she does fall in love and it is with eccentric billionaire Joseph Gray"*).
  13. AI choosing gender - not sure, there is "Gina, an unhappy computer"
  14. Large number of robots - Yes
  15. Computer runs out of power, death - not sure
  16. Dangerous launch pad - not sure, but three rockets are launched (see customer reviews)
  17. Holodeck like virtual reality - Yes " virtual reality chamber includes an "exoskeleton" suit to allow you to feel simulated heat and cold, flowers and rocks"
  18. Robot uprising end - see spoiler below:

Yes, as confirmed by @Ruairi (original poster).

The comments from other people on this site that you've added also appear to match this book.

  • FWIW, I Googled science-fiction novel island robot "virtual reality" and found this link which answered it in post #10 (and mentioned this question in post #6!). Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 19:17
  • 1
    Yes I think this is it! I found the last page of the book and it had the line I remembered that covered #18. I'll have to find a copy to read but I'm pretty sure this is it. Thank you so much for finding this!
    – Ruairi
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 23:33
  • Amazing, I have been thinking about this novel from time to time and was writing a question about it when this one was suggested! My description was a bit different, but I can’t write it here because of the stupid gamification.
    – merwok
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 16:47

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