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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Ted Chiang Chiang's written some of the best science-fiction short stories of the last fifteen years. But his high-concept and hard-science riffs avoid the gee-whiz and the jaded snarl, instead finding a melancholic chord underlying the genre. His stories repeatedly return to loss. Each new tech (or fantastic conceit) reengages problems we can never escape: death, self, soul, mind, others.

Here we track the design--and then, over a fast-track passage of years, the development--of digital organisms (digients). Chiang takes seriously Turing's argument that we won't program our way into AI, that instead new minds will require (as they always do) bodies, environments, experiences, relationships. This brief, condensed tale rigorously explores the implications -- our responsibilities for life online, the tangles of corporate & carnal & cultural influences. I was particularly struck by this fantasy's intersections with the implications of disability: how do we engage with minds that do not develop like "normal"?

This'll likely end up in anthologies at year's end, too--and it'd be fine to wait. I'm hesitant to recommend the limited edition hardcover for such a frustratingly brief story, and it's not quite the astonishment of a couple of his earlier stories. But it's good, and I strongly recommend Chiang's earlier collection.