Friday, March 13, 2020

The Amusement Dark, by Mike Buckley

★★★★☆ A provocative tale that’s a little sad and a little horrifying.

(Post-AI-Apocalypse) After the AIs won the war, they still found ways to keep humans busy, and Cal’s starship is responsible for finding and evaluating human colonies that were lost during the war. (11,860 words; Time: 39m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 162, published on .

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

Review: 2020.133 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Cal struggles to make sense out of a world where people make no real difference. The AIs, all things considered, are very kind to their human subjects, and Cal is even “Captain” of a starship, even though his actual authority is almost nil. But he grieves the loss of his wife and daughter, and the rotting fake daughter the AIs made for him seems to hurt more than it helps.

They find a world where people stood up to the AIs for a long time before they were taken down. Worse, they find some vivisected survivors who were apparently tortured by a group of AIs just for entertainment—and we learn that the benign AIs who rule humans are not the only bunch; there are others that left for deep space.

Cal finds a certain measure of peace with these other humans, once they’re put back together, but, in the process, he seems to come to peace with himself as well. And he may even let himself love the fake daughter.

It makes me consider why a world where humans are non-essential bothers me so much. After all, most of us reach a point in life when we realize they aren’t going to have any impact on the world. Only a few rare individuals really make big changes, but somehow just knowing they exist—that it’s possible to do it--seems to make a big difference.

Con: If the AIs could do such a great job reconstructing Jon, Yuro, and Alex, why couldn’t it make Cal’s daughter look just as good?

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I, too, was confused about why the "geezix" daughter was grotesque looking and would've liked much more detail about her. The mom and daughter were both "recycled" to make the daughter, right? Why not the mom? Was it programmed from their consciousness or just their bodies?