Friday, June 2, 2017

Love Engine Optimization, by Matthew Kressel

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(Near-Future SF) Sam is a talented hacker who extracts Jane’s personal info in order to seduce her. (5,294 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 85, published on .

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

Pro: The plot is all about Sam’s conquest. Once it’s complete, Sam loses interest and immediately starts looking for another target—starting with a slightly different search query.

Sam really is a psychopath—unable to relate emotionally without software guiding her—and the story develops her character beautifully.

Con: Sam is a despicable character, and we don’t like reading about her—especially when she gets away with it.

DaniDarknet is the only opposition to Sam, and Sam easily bests her. Sam is almost a “Typhoid-Mary Sue”—an evil character who’s so successful it breaks suspension of disbelief.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Clever and disturbing. Of course, Sam's not happy with Jane. Jane's in love with this optimized construct, not Sam. Arguably the authentic Sam has been completely lost in trying to be the perfect fit for each new conquest.

    1. Interesting idea. Did you see evidence that Sam once had a personality but later lost it? I just assumed that Sam was bad to the bone from day 1. :-)

    2. ;) I think the fact that Sam goes to all this effort is because she really does want love. But unconsciously she doesn't believe anyone would ever love her as is. Fearing rejection, she makes herself into someone they can't possibly resist. After they have sex, Sam knows something's missing. She tells herself it's because Jane isn't quite perfect. But what's wrong is that she hasn't allowed Jane to get to know her at all.