Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Machine Starts, by Greg Bear

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft, 2015; ~11,100 words
Rating: 4, Recommended  Recommended By:    SFEP

Bose  is a project manager for the "Magic 8 Ball," the world's first quantum computer. Desperate to get it to work, they're ready to make some unorthodox changes.

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

Pro: The concept is very cool. It's a nice exploration of some odd corners of quantum mechanics scaled up to macro size. It's cool the way the little hints gradually come together.

There are a number of cute jokes for anyone who can spot them. "Bose" is a cute reference to bosons, which wouldn't have these problems. And the title, "The Machine Starts" plays off the story The Machine Stops, by E.M. Forster.

Con: None of the characters really ever develops much of a personality. We don't have any feelings for them or their duplicates. It's a little odd that a female Bose confronted his wife. You'd expect thousands of male ones to have already done that first. In fact, given the scale of the problem, you'd expect mass confusion over all these doppelgangers.

And what does it really mean to say that someone felt he was in multiple places at once?

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