Sunday, November 24, 2019

In Xanadu, by Lavie Tidhar

★★★☆☆ Nice Beginning

(SF Thriller) Nila’s life guarding the AIs on Titan is dull, dull, dull. She’s got all kinds of training, but nothing ever happens. Until it does. (5,954 words; Time: 19m)

"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

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

Review: 2019.661 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There’s plenty of action and plenty of tension. I also liked it that the AIs were incomprehensible, not dedicated to killing all humans. It was also good that the story showed a symbiosis between humans and AIs, not a world where there’s nothing humans do that AIs can’t do better.

I very much liked the robot’s description of the three laws of robotics as being a philosophy.

The three security rules are decent, as far as they go, although there are other good ones that might have been harder to fit into the story. I should also mention that “security through obscurity” is bad to rely on too much; once anyone learns a secret, the whole world will know it.

The smart bullets are very cute.

Con: The biggest problem with the story is that it feels incomplete. What’s the memory cube for? What happened to her brother? It could make a nice start to a novel or novella though.

There are quite a few scientific errors that detract from the story. E.g. If you’re on Titan, Saturn stays in one place in the sky; you never see it rise or set. Depleted Uranium is a metal, not a liquid. Although Titan’s atmosphere is full of hydrocarbons, they’re not an energy source because there’s no oxygen.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This story seems to be set in the same universe that his novel Central Station.

    1. Thanks! That explains why it seems incomplete. People who liked Central Station might like this better.

  2. Connected to "Gubbinal" and also "Talking to Ghosts at the Edge of the World."

    1. Ah, a lot of his stories are connected in what he calls The Continuity Universe.