Friday, July 10, 2020

Nic and Viv's Compulsory Courtship, by Will McIntosh

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Drama) When the city AI sets Viv up with her “ideal partner,” Viv points out she’s already engaged. But the AI won’t take “no” for an answer. (17,535 words; Time: 58m)

Recommended By: 👍STomaino+1 (Q&A)

"Nic and Viv's Compulsory Courtship," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.342 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: As the story progresses, it’s clear that Viv and Nic do have something between them, even though it seems more like friendship than anything else. The biggest thing the “courtship” does is make it clear how unsuitable their current partners are. The other thing is that, despite what Journey has done to them, they really like their local AI, and they really don’t want anything bad to happen to her.

The scene where they help out the kid in the slums is the point where it really does seem not only that Nic and Vic make a good team but that they’re wasted living in their planned community.

I very much liked the fact that Journey wasn’t purely hardware. The organic components make it a lot easier to justify behavior that might not have been part of the original design. (The Murderbot Diaries benefit from this as well.)

Con: The problem I have, right off the bat, is I’d expect Viv to go public with Journey’s demands. The Council might normally back Journey up, but I’d expect a unanimous vote to reverse on an issue like this. If the story made the environment feel like a totalitarian dictatorship where no one dared speak up, I’d feel differently, but it doesn’t.

Second, it’s established, right off the bat, that everyone in town loves Journey, so it makes no sense to learn that her real motive is that her contract is expiring and she’s afraid she’ll be replaced. You’d think she could just appeal to her fans.

Finally, given all the differences between Nic and Vic, it doesn’t seem all that likely to me that they’d end up being a successful couple.

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