Saturday, November 3, 2018

Prophet of the Roads, by Naomi Kritzer

★★★★★ Good Characters, Cool Setting, Nice Twist

(SF Thriller) The Engineer is an AI that used to rule humanity. Luca carries a working piece of it, and looks for ways to bring the Engineer back (4,721 words; Time: 15m)

"Prophet of the Roads," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.612 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: : Almost from the start, we realize that bringing back the Engineer is a bad idea. The way it obsesses over details of meals—insisting on meals so bad that even the Road Builders don’t follow those rules. Clearly rule by the Engineer means a lower quality of life. Even the Road Builders don’t really want him back.

But we can see Luca’s point too. Her description of the slaughter on Ganymede is heart-wrenching. Whatever its faults, the Engineer prevented things like that from happening.

The meeting with the other fragment was extremely informative. Where Luca’s fragment was too aggressive, Hannah’s fragment was too passive. No surprise they weren’t compatible enough to merge.

What was heartening was that both fragments were able to learn from this. That their real role was to help humanity, not to dominate it. One is left with the warm thought that maybe the AIs can make a difference working behind the scenes, and that Luca and Hannah will both be happier.

Ultimately, Luca finds a task that may finally let her put the ghosts of Ganymede behind her. Hannah finds companionship and a task that’s worth doing. The Engineer gets a better idea of what’s realistic and of what it should have been doing all along.

Con: It’s odd that Luca ever thought the Engineer could be brought back without bloodshed.

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Naomi Kritzer Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is a very good SF story and well worth reading, but I still like Field Biology of the Wee Fairies better. I think the Wee Fairies story had a better / stronger ending.

    1. They were both really great stories, weren't they. :-)