Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Silently and Very Fast

Silently and Very FastSilently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fifty years from now, this will be held up as one of the all-time classics of Science Fiction Literature. Even if The Singularity occurs (and it is knownable that it occurred, which is debatable), this exploration of what it means for an artificial intelligence to achieve that mysterious spark we call "life," will be ever bit as compelling. Not because of the notion that a machine can live and have self-realization, but because of the poetic way it explores the interface between man and computer. This is not a story of hard data bits and electrons rushing through space. It is a story about desires, about the need to feel accepted, a story about the many ways that family come together and compose that feeling called Love. Silently and Very Fast reveals the complexities of relationships, made even more complicated by the fact that one culture, the human culture, is fragmented in its feelings about the unveiling of what was, heretofore, acultural (the A.I.). It also shows the difficulties in making the transition from simple mimesis to meaningful symbolic communication and in shifting to the understanding that emotion is something deeper than the mere physical indicators of emotion. Another thematic element, and, perhaps, the most difficult to parse out from the story, is the actual space in which the story takes place. It is an artificial reality where characters can change their appearance at will to attempt symbolic communication through metaphor, but it is also a place where real flesh and blood humans can interact with these budding intelligences, engaging in procreation, direct communication, and the sheer act of living together. This, then, is the core of the story - not that man and machine interact, but that some humans and some artificial intelligences interact in the most intimate of ways, which is anathema to those humans who feel and machines who feel that such interactions are taboo. It is about true cybernetic integration or the rejection thereof and how this melding together of individuals, along with the outside pressures to *not* do so, can form deep familial ties.

I think we've only just begun to unravel this tale . . .

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment