I've been trying to identify this novel for a while.

Ιn the story, AIs are able to travel backwards in time to ask themselves questions; therefore, older machines are able to answer increasingly difficult questions, having had more time to ponder the answer.

In the story, there's an ongoing revolt by thinking machines - the protagonists are looking for an ancient AI which will be able to answer the question of whether or not machines should serve humans.

I believe I read it back at a library back in the 90's - can't say for sure when it was published, though.

  • Do you remember when you read it and/or when it was published? Jun 1, 2014 at 22:43
  • I believe I read it back at a library back in the 90's - can't say for sure when it was published, though.
    – Sam Dufel
    Jun 1, 2014 at 22:44
  • It sounds like a Philip K Dick story I'm half-remembering - unfortunately, all of my books are packed so I can't look it up right now
    – HorusKol
    Jun 1, 2014 at 22:49
  • Time traveling robots!
    – TGnat
    Jun 2, 2014 at 0:19
  • @tgnat - 'time travelling robots' is literally DVK's specialist subject :-)
    – Valorum
    Jun 2, 2014 at 6:08

1 Answer 1


I believe that is Sentinels (Starshield, Book 1) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

The veteran SF team of Weis and Hickman (the Dragonlance and Deathgate series) plunges into a new universe with this soap operatic tale of a galactic chase. Exactly 3256 years after a family row sent supreme god Kendis-dai "into mortality" after losing his sister-lover Shuana-kir, "Omnet sifter" Merinda Neskat loses her own lover, Queekat Shn'dar. Even grimmer, Omnet, the governing intergalactic organ of information dissemination, is threatened by the revolt of its synthetic minds--the faster-than-human components that run every aspect of the automated universe, from computers to household appliances. To save Omnet, the grief-ridden Merinda must recover an ancient artifact, the Mantle of Kendis-dai, symbol of the lost Kendis civilization and key to a secret wisdom that could save civilization or disrupt it forever. After searching for eight years, Merinda meets the remnants of Earth's first mission beyond its solar system. Led by the inept Jeremy Griffiths, the bumbling Earth team helps Merinda defeat the evil forces lurking both inside and outside her own shaky, heartbroken psyche. Ludicrous dialogue ("Get out of my sight!... You are a black hole in my existence") and particularly cheesy characterizations spoil this introduction to a potentially intriguing universe where "quantum weather" disrupts the laws of physics and allows magic to intersperse with science.

  • 1
    Can you explain why you think this is the story?
    – Valorum
    Jun 5, 2014 at 6:13
  • 1
    Awesome, that's the one. Thanks a ton!
    – Sam Dufel
    Jun 5, 2014 at 15:33
  • Your welcome - It may amuse you to know that it bugged me for several hours last night after I read this, and I couldn't sleep till I found it lol Jun 5, 2014 at 15:52
  • Time traveling robots!
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 24, 2017 at 17:29

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