Thursday, March 2, 2017, by Will McIntosh

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(Near-Future SF) Daniel, a lonely grad student in Athens, Georgia, meets the girl of his dreams through an online matching service. Now if he can just get her to meet in person . . . (15,412 words; Time: 51m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Surprisingly Tense and Emotional

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 03-04|17, published on by .

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

Pro: This is pretty much the story of how Daniel came to accept Winnie as a person. By the end of the story, we think we know Daniel pretty well. We’re not surprised that he decides to save Winnie, even if we think it’s a bad idea. Particularly amusing is the way his proclivity for quick enthusiasms turns up over and over. E.g. the William and Mary job is the best job ever.

Emily just wants to help Daniel, and even after the photo reveal, it’s clear that she still cares about him—even if she’s mad at him.

Winnie wants to be a person. When Daniel can’t bring himself to destroy her—despite everything she’s done—that gives her what she wanted.

The story does a good job of engaging our emotions, even if the main emotion is rage.

I really liked the idea that the AI was able to modify its own code simply by hiring programmers to do it.

Con: The AI is all-powerful and all computer systems are totally vulnerable to it. This isn’t very realistic. For example, the FBI guy who worked with Daniel at the beginning would go ballistic the moment he realized that Winnie was able to infiltrate the FBI’s systems.

What Emily does is magic, not programming. The notion of tricking the program into going into a box was a particularly low point.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I might have rated this 5-ish. Really nice character study that hits all the marks and gives a satisfying character arc. My main emotion wasn't rage but suspense. It was a page-turner. You just knew things were going to go bad for the MC when he makes the wrong decision of trying to erase Winnie.

    I do agree that a lot of the action was hand-wavy and implausible if regarded as SF, but I think it works fine if viewed as fantasy. AI as a genie or spirit.

    But my suspension of disbelief was strong this morning, and I quite enjoyed this one.

    1. I'm not as forgiving as you are when it comes to stories that bring fantasy elements into otherwise-SF stories. There's a whole market for "genre benders," though, so you're clearly not alone.