Friday, July 10, 2020

Tool Use by the Humans of Danzhai County, by Derek Künsken


(SF Epic) Over 100 years in China, we track Qiao Fue and his illegitimate daughter Lian Mee as they separately try to revolutionize AI and bioengineering. (24,931 words; Time: 1h:23m)

"Tool Use by the Humans of Danzhai County," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.343 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a remarkable vision of human-AI collaboration making a bright future in China. The AIs in the story are probably a bit too advanced for the time frame, and they’re a bit too good at everything (in reality, AIs make errors too; they’re just different from the ones people make), but overall this is realistic enough.

Lian Mee wants to fix the problems of the world, and her work goes a long way in that direction.

Fue Qiao wants to live a long, satisfying life, and he wants to leave something to the next generation. In the end, though, he’s alone. He has everything and nothing.

Toua Kong is a good person—very different from the father who abandoned him. The one really emotional moment in the whole story is when Kong gives him the silver chain he was supposed to give him when he was born.

Con: It’s hard for an epic to have a plot, and there really isn’t one here. The real problem is that it’s very long and it gets pretty dull in places.

A separate problem is that Lian Mee, who has most of the scenes, is too perfect to believe. She never makes a selfish decision, and she never makes a mistake.

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