Sunday, November 24, 2019

In Xanadu, by Lavie Tidhar

[Single]
★★★☆☆ 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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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

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

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

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