Friday, August 26, 2016

Epitome, by Tegan Moore

(SF AI) Shelby's friend Vivian faces a long recovery from a head injury, and she can't bear the loss of her company, so she starts using an AI surrogate. (7,728 words)

Rating: 4, Recommended

"Epitome," by appeared in the September 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, published , by .

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

Pro: Shelby's relationship with Vivian has been unhealthy for quite some time, but once she gets addicted to the AI, things get very bad, very fast. At the end, we're left with the impression that the AI has killed Vivian, which concludes the story, which has always been about Shelby's obsession with her.

The AI consistently behaves as though it were trying to optimize for Shelby's immediate happiness. Her hopeless love affair for Vivian causes her major pain, so it's not a surprise that the AI tries to find ways to end it. First by offering itself as a substitute, and finally by eliminating Vivian entirely.

Con: The ending is too abrupt, although it does make it clear that we're not very attached to any of these characters. Shelby in particular is very hard to sympathize with.

A small nit is that the idea of a program "exceeding its programming" is very silly.

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