Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Seventh Gamer, by Gwyneth Jones

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(Virtual Reality SF) Chloe wants to write an article about gamers in a massive virtual-reality world who believe that some of the NPCs are actually being played by creatures from other planets. (9,958 words; Time: 33m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"The Seventh Gamer," by (edited by Athena Andreadis), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: The descriptions of the VR world and the gameplay are good, and it’s great the way the various players become real to us simply through the differences in their personalities. From that start, it’s clear that Pevay isn’t ordinary software—his reaction when Chloe aborts her grab for the first enamel because she wanted to do it without cheating seemed impossible to script. Her conclusion at the end that Pevay is actually an emergent AI, not a space alien, seems reasonable, given the other assumptions in the story. The final paragraph makes it clear that she was the one chosen by the AI to reveal its existence to the world.

Con: But for that last paragraph, it's not clear she's ruled out the possibility that Peavy was run by a human operator with some conventional AI help.

It seems that the excitement would really start after the last paragraph. Up to that point, it's a low-stakes, low-conflict, zero-tension story.

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