Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reviews 11 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg Artificial Intelligence

Reviews 11

Artificial Intelligence
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Robert Heinlein created the AI "Mike" who "runs" the Lunar Colony infrastructure.  He was absolutely adorable and readers just fell in love with him.

Mike wasn't the first AI in Science Fiction.  Heinlein had created smart cars and other writers added all kinds of AI scenarios.

Of course, the Horror writers grabbed that and ran with it.  The human phobia against things smarter than ourselves (or more powerful or ubiquitous -- lions or Army Ants, Ebola, West Nile Virus, ) is the main subject of Horror.  Frankenstein "monster" is another example of what we create being more powerful than ourselves.  Jekyl and Hide also show this problem in symbolic ways. 

Horror is about why you can never win.

Romance is about how you can always win.

Put the two "genres" together and you have an unbeatable combination.

That combination is symbolized by Artificial Intelligence.

Asimov created R. Daneel Olivaw -- a robot/android figure many female readers had a crush on.  Roddenberry modeled Data on that.

And of course Star Wars contributed AI examples.  Oddly, the less humanoid R2D2 is the most crush-worthy.

The trend continues as we get closer and closer to real AI.

Here is a grab bag of good reads to consider if you want to play with the story potential of Artificial Intelligence.

First we have a novel by the award winning, immensely popular writer Robert J. Sawyer (who is very justifyably famous). 

RED PLANET BLUES is a novel work that starts with the material of his Hugo and Nebula award nominated novella, "Identify Theft."

It's an odd read if you have read the novella.  The characters, setting, and mystery-plot (the main character is a Private Eye on Mars) are all so memorable you get disoriented, "I've read this before, haven't I?" 

But after you get beyond where the novella ended, the whole thing is just one whopping good read, filled with characters driven by their Relationships.  Romance is not the main factor here -- but you can see in the way they related to each other that pairings are in the thin Martian wind.

And the technology that drives an old space ship buried in the dunes of Mars is operated by the onboard A.I.  -- gotta meet that one to appreciate what we might be able to do. 

It's a Hard Boiled Detective On Mars story -- and there aren't many of those.  Maybe you want to write one.

Second comes some great humor in a Fantasy Universe.

Simon R. Green has been working two series of novels, two sets of characters, all set in one, huge Fantasy Universe complete with dimension travel, "forces" unknown, and massive amounts of politics.

I can't say which is my favorite - the Nightside or the Secret Histories series, but when you need to energize your sense of humor, try some of these novels.

This is one of those $10.99 Kindle e-books that Amazon fights publishers about -- with authors caught in the middle.

The "Secret Histories" are about a family of Guardians who wear magic-seeming armor (from another dimension) and fight Evil across dimensions, defending Earth. 


Should give you a list of the books in order.

Third we have a series by Laura E. Reeve that I find absolutely captivating.

And this one has a hot love-story -- well, actually there's good serious Romance threading through the whole series which is labeled A Major Ariane Kedros Novel.

Ariane Kedros is an alias this character wears.  She was in the armed services in an interstellar war and carried out a mission that ended the war -- but probably destroyed a Star and its inhabited planets.  When mustered out of the service, she was given a new Identity.

Now she is partners with a guy who owns a space ship and prospects for Alien Artifacts among the stars.  Together they found one, and it's being explored by the xenologists -- there's big money at stake.

Meanwhile, they ran afoul of the interstellar version of The Mob via a friend who was kind of in the gray area between law and crime.  This fellow bequeathed them an AI which now resides (illegally) on their space ship, but the law is after them, which will entail the discovery and perhaps destruction of this AI (who you will love).

4th is another new series discovery that I found to be a high-impact, refreshingly different, nice-old-fashioned, unique Universe, with great, tightly worded writing (hits all my requirements), and has made me a fan of the author, Alex Hughes.

The series is titled Mindspace Investigations (yes I love Private Eye novels).

This series has been likened to another favorite of mine, The Dresden Files, (the forensic wizard who is a Private Eye ) but though the plotting methodology is as intricate and brilliant, the tone and flavor is totally different.

Hughes captures a tone and flavor using details of her background world that just sizzle with possibilities.

The Dresden Series borders on "The Dark" but Mindspace Investigations has dark-horrible things in it yet (like reality) is basically a "Light" universe.

Dresden Files In Order

In Mindspace Investigations, people do nasty-bad things with horrendous Powers that Hughes calls "Ability" -- and the main character is pretty much beaten down to a bare shadow of his former self -- yet the total picture comes out with a Star Trek like optimism that is stronger than Jim Butcher creates with Dresden's universe.

Hughes' main character tells his story in First Person, and adroitly informs us of the history of his universe.

On Earth, we gott to the Internet of Things years before this series starts.  With all the smart-devices connected an AI is born.  The AI tries to take over the world.  The people with Ability (espers) fight the AI and win, and in the end (long ago) hacked out a treaty with Normals that allows the Guild of the Abled to have complete sovereignty over the Abled.

Our main character is a high level telepath who was a professor of telepathic skills until various political things happened at the Guild and he ended up expelled to die on the streets.  But he didn't die.  He got a job as a consultant for the police.

Now he is seconded to Homicide on occasion to "read" murder scenes for what exactly happened and who did it which is apparent in "Mindspace."

Because of budget cuts, he has to get a certification, and the only thing he can go for is a Private Eye license -- but he's a felon by technicality of the law, so he's having trouble there.

Now you see why I love Mindspace Investigations -- I get ESP, a Private Eye, oh, and a MENTAL LINK between the private eye and the homicide cop (a woman I can really admire who gets migraines), plus a Guild as interesting as the Telepath Guild in Babylon-5. 

Lots of emotional ebb and flow -- lots of intrigue, mystery, suspense. 

If you want to top that, give me a Romance WITH an AI who is, maybe a Private Eye.

Alex Hughes has compiled all my favorite things, and INCLUDED a history of AI impacting our real world to create this really odd future world with backwards seeming technology.

Really, you MUST catch up on Alex Hughes and then follow how this develops.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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