Monday, January 3, 2011

Future Imperfect - Mark Baumgarten

"In Lifecycle, Chiang does away with this tropes of the genre. Taking inspiration from the theories posited by Turing, the author constructs a narrative built around a model of artificial intelligence more akin to child rearing than computer programming. Over the course of years, the novella’s human characters go from owning clumsy, charming virtual pets capable of learning new tricks, to developing real-world bodies for those pets, to starting schools for them. Ultimately the characters reach the point of contemplating independence for what have, by the story’s conclusion, become their children. It is a moving portrait of life, filled with frustration, failure, horror, comedy, misunderstanding and, most important, love.

This is not your grandfather’s science fiction. And that, Chiang’s supporters say, is exactly what science fiction needs right now."

4.5 out of 5