Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Wisdom of the Group, by Ian R. MacLeod

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(Near-future SF) Samuel’s trading group makes a fortune from their predictions. Something troubling happened in the gestalt this morning, though, and he needs to find out what it meant. (8,996 words; Time: 29m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"The Wisdom of the Group," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 03-04|17, published on by .

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

Pro: The prediction that something bad is going to happen comes true, although Samuel is himself at least partly the cause of it. If he hadn’t had that paranoid fantasy about Luke, then at least Luke would have been there to save him. On the other hand, we’ve learned enough about what sort of person he is that we’re not at all surprised he’d think of killing Luke just on the suspicion that Luke was the cause of his problem.

The scene where he’s contemplating killing Luke is filled with tension, and the relief when Luke gets away is palpable.

Con: The protagonist is so evil that it detracts from the story. Anyone who names his dogs Adolph, Mao, and Joseph is a caricature, and yet the story isn't meant to be funny.

It is difficult to see what Luke sees in him if he’s not just in it for the money.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I was really disappointed that the story gradually shifted from "algorithmic weighting of superpredictors" into "we magically superpredict that in the next 24 hours you are going to climb a snowy mountain, trip, and die."

    It seems to waste everything that's unique and and interesting about the idea of using "wisdom of the crowds." :-/

  2. I thought this had a lot of promise, but kind of dissolved at the end for me-the balls came tumbling down. The MC was pretty unattractive, yet I didn't feel his fate was fitting.