Robot evolution has advanced to the point that intelligent robots have liberated themselves from servitude, defending themselves from servitude, defending themselves against the humans who work to exterminate them using super-machines.
The ultimate hope of the most powerfully intelligent robots lies in the attainment of human consciousness. And they are willing to steal men's souls if they must, to get this final elusive quality for themselves.
Only one free robot, Jasperodus, has been granted true consciousness - a soul - by his maker, now long dead. Brought into the soul research project by force, Jasperodus faces a moral dilemma: to release his secret and bring about the final downfall of humanity to a new race of super-robots, or to keep his own kind forever from the light of consciousness. And the mechanized armies of the humans press ever forward, seeking the robot hideout.
Barrington J. Bayley (1937-2008) was born in Birmingham and began writing science fiction in his early teens. After serving in the RAF, he took up freelance writing on features, serials and picture strips, mostly in the juvenile field, before returning to straight SF. His work has been cited as an influence on authors including M. John Harrison and Bruce Sterling