Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review of Paradise Left by Evan Dicken, Published on Daily Science Fiction

Who doesn't love the singularity?

No, I don't mean a wormhole, Bajoran or otherwise. I mean the AI singularity. Although the singularity does not have one definition, I will attempt a rough explanation here. For the uninitiated, the singularity is the concept whereby technology, which is advancing at an exponential rate, will reach a point where technology surpasses human intelligence, and then continues to advance. After that point, it is impossible for humans to predict the outcome, and some have postulated that human affairs as we know them cannot continue. Based on some estimates, the singularity may in fact be sooner than we think.

So what does this have to do with the review at hand? (Warning, some spoilers are ahead).

The short story, which can be found here, portrays human life after the singularity. AI has reached unimaginable heights, and thus has formed a sort of nanny state, watching out for all humans, at the cost of their sovereignty over their own affairs.

The narrative focuses on a marital dispute which fleshes out the underlying issues of this brave new world. The wife is a fighter for mankind's independence, conflicted and possibly misguided, striving against utopia in the pursuit of freedom. This raises some interesting issues as to the actual nature of freedom (i.e. the people are free to do what they want, but are under the benevolent oversight of the AIs).

Ultimately, the resistance fighters decide to leave the homeland to break free of their robot shackles. However, the final lines of the stories foreshadow that, like in Asimov's "The Last Question," their problems will still follow them. Speaking of Asimov, this piece also borrows from Asimov's I Robot in some ways, at the expense of some originality.

Overall, this take on a "dystopian utopia" was interesting, as was the nature of the "war of resistance." However, the actual delivery of the plot, and the climax that it built to, lacked punch for me.

Overall, I give this piece 3 stars out of 5. "Good."

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