Friday, September 18, 2015

Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth, by Ken Brady

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2015;  2,112 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story

A former rock climber makes one last jump, from the top of a kilometer-high tower on a high-gravity world.

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

The story is really about how Blake's conversation with the AI leads him to reexamine his life. As such, it's a great success. The AI is a realistic evolution of existing dialogue systems rather than the usual fantasy science. In fact, on a second read, the AI seems to have quite a few dialogue strategies aimed at helping people with problems, which makes sense under the circumstances.

We could not decide whether Blake intended suicide or not. There was certainly no drama on his second jump, as we were certain the AI would not let him die. Blake's decision to keep jumping doesn't move us much because it isn't a sacrifice. He's just going to keep doing what he likes to do.

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Cute story. A fun read, but I found his conversation with the building AI a bit silly while floating a kilometer in the air. It doesn't help that the suspension mechanism feels more like magic than technology. Imagine the architectures possible if you don't need thick and heavy steel to hold up floors. :-) My rating is a 3.