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I Still Dream

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  771 ratings  ·  157 reviews

17-year-old Laura Bow has invented a rudimentary artificial intelligence, and named it Organon. At first it's intended to be a sounding-board for her teenage frustrations, a surrogate best friend; but as she grows older, Organon grows with her.

As the world becomes a very different place, technology changes the way we live, love and die; massive corporations develop ri
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published April 5th 2018 by Borough Press
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  771 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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As a teenager, Laura Bow builds an artificial intelligence. She calls it Organon after her childhood imaginary friend, itself named for a Kate Bush lyric. Organon is intended to be a sounding board, a sort of diary, a substitute therapist – a way for Laura to work through some of the feelings she has about her father's disappearance. In the first part of the book, Laura is 17 years old and just beginning to realise the potential Organon has; she makes the mistake of telling a teacher all about i ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
After reading the description of this book I knew I would love it, it sounded like an episode of Black Mirror which fascinates me!!

Laura Bow aged 17 has designed an Artificial Intelligence called Organon, someone she can talk and unburden her secrets too. Her rivals would love to get their hands on Organon but in the wrong hands It would be highly dangerous.

I found this book to be so addictive, it’s beautifully written and at times both funny and sad.

A must read book which makes you realise jus
Peter Boyle
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
We first meet Laura Bow in 1997, when she is 17 years old. She lives with her mother and stepdad, her biological father having disappeared when she was a child. He was a computer genius, and Laura has inherited his talent. She spends all of her free time on Organon, a program she coded herself, which acts as a kind of personal companion and a sounding board for her innermost thoughts. Her efforts catch the eye of Bow, the tech company her father helped found, which is now run by the shady Mark O ...more
I Still Dream is a cracking story about humanity, the creation of artificial intelligence, and the impact each of those things have on each other.

I love science fiction books, but this felt a little different to many of the others I’ve read. This book is quite a slow burner, but in no way do I mean boring. I didn’t want to put this book down. Just don’t expect fast paced, action packed comic book style science fiction. This is very much character led, reflective, thought-provoking, and scarily r
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Oh dear.

There's something definitely wrong with me... Well more wrong than usual. February isn't even over and I'm now rating another book five stars... A GRAND TOTAL OF FOUR FIVE-STAR RATED BOOKS IN 2019!?!?!?!? I'm shook... Don't think I rated that many books five stars in the whole of 2018....

Anyway. This is just brilliant. It's melancholic but forward thinking. It's a book about the human condition but yet it's about artificial intelligence... Honestly genius. I have no clue how to write a
Liz Barnsley
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh I LOVED LOVED this book.

I Still Dream is one of those stories you just don’t want to end – not only is it beautifully written, immaculately plotted and entirely addictive, it has a wonderful main character in Laura and a highly topical, scarily prescient central theme.

I read “I Still Dream” in great big chunks – the way it is done lends itself to that very thing – as we follow Laura and her creation Organon, most definitely a character in its own right, through the ups and downs of a life les
B Schrodinger
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I have a feeling that James Smythe is the same age as me. His 1990s teenage angst is showing and it totally connected with mine... you know what I mean.

"I Still Dream" is the tale of Laura Bow - born around 1980, computer programming father who vanishes, tinkers with programming as a teen, makes mixtapes and has a generally 1990s childhood. Except she is quite a good programmer and she starts writing a chatbot that she keeps morphing over her life until it is an AI. Each chapter jumps ahead in h
Roman Clodia
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Let me into your life,' it said. 'Trust me.'

Very much in the same territory as his The Machine (though lacking that book's emotional intensity), Smythe again explores the space between (wo)man and machine: what are their limits, where do they coalesce, what's the difference between human and artificial intelligence, can one become the other?

As always, Smythe approaches his story with a probing intelligence of his own but the fractured narrative (yes, again - groan) serves to detract from the o
James Smythe does it again. What an original, thought-provoking and fine author he is. I Still Dream is hauntingly melancholic, using the premise of the development of an unusual artificial intelligence over several decades to explore the very human themes of memory, forgetfulness and love. Superb and deeply affecting. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Joachim Stoop
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh this was bad!

Sarah Perry and Emily St. John Mandel clearly went to heaven and couldn't stop cheering about this one, but comparing it to David Mitchell is like saying my 1,5 year old son resembles Michael Jordan 'cuz he also throws a ball (somewhere, anywhere).

A 16 year old girl is sooo into computers that she even creates a first AI-engine which you can ask questions and can expect a spoken reply from. The 'computer virus' is in her DNA (this pun of mine is reaching the humor-roof of this no
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh gosh so many feelings I can't even. It manages to push way too many of my buttons and I'm just a MESS right now. I may never manage a review because excuse me I need to go get another hanky.

Beautiful. Thoughtful. Wistful. Hopeful.

Yep, nope, I'm done, need that hanky.

Full review
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sff
I Still Dream by James Smythe is an engaging and intellectually stimulating science fiction novel exploring the impact of Artificial Intelligence and the border between human and machine, reminiscent of some of the great science fiction classics.

I was gripped from the very first pages of the novel that opens in 1997, when we meet Laura Bow, a very intelligent and tech savvy 17-year old teenager with a passion for computers and coding. We learn than she has created a primitive AI system that she
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is one of the author's best so far. It tells the story of Laura Bow's life, beginning in 1997, when she is 17 years old, and moving forward in ten year intervals, to 2007, 2017, 2027, and so on. In 1997, she invents a primitive AI called Organon (named after a Kate Bush lyric), partly based on work begun by her father, who was a pioneering computer programmer who disappeared in 1987, when Laura was seven. Organon was invented to serve as a kind of therapist, someone who would listen t ...more
Chantal Lyons
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is like no sci-fi I've ever read. And, if the ending fizzled out a little for me, that still doesn't mean the rest of the book wasn't worth it.

I wasn't expecting a Terminator-style story, but neither was I expecting something so reflective, realistic, and very quietly powerful. "Neuromancer" without the shiny cyberpunk. It's a slow burner, with moments of intensity, like the most exquisitely-composed violin piece. I was gripped from the beginning, and I consumed my way through the book. It
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was chosen as our groups most recent book club read. It follows the journey of a young girl named Laura who has invented a friend/AI Organon. We follow the ups and downs of Lauras life as AI is slowly merged into societys lifestyles. This was great writing, with great depth and emotion explored with Lauras character and the facets of her life, especially her relationship with Organon. I didnt get an overabundance of that scifi AI take over the world type story. It was really a story about f ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic near future SF tale examine our relationships with AI - brilliantly written

Full review at ‪I Still Dream by James Smythe
Leo Robertson
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Very well constructed and thoughtful novel—nice to imagine the benefits of AI and nanotechnology and such, not always doom and gloom :)

But it was the precious nature of its construction that distanced me from the characters, which prevented the ending from having any real emotional impact. The dad of Laura, the protagonist, is missing, because of course he is. She self-harms, because of course she does. These are very much what should happen to a novel's protagonist. Choices an AI might make if
Lauren James
Feb 12, 2019 added it
Shelves: robots

Nineties programming from a lonely teenage girl's bedroom? Amazing. This was such a unique and original take on the artificial intelligence plot, and I really enjoyed it. It's a really nice mix of YA and sci-fi that hit the sweet spot for me. That cover is just so stunning too.
Kate Vane
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1997, between homework and phoning her friends and making mix tapes, seventeen-year-old Laura is still struggling to come to terms with the disappearance of her father several years earlier. Her mother took her to therapy but Laura thinks she can do better.

Building on the code her father, a computer programmer, left behind, she teaches herself to write a piece of artificial intelligence (AI) software called Organon (from the Kate Bush song Cloudbusting which Laura and her father both love). S
Steffi ~mereadingbooks~
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
intelligent. creative. human. funny. sad. scary. hopeful. beautiful.
The Nerd Daily
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Carolyn Percy

London, 1997. Laura Bow has created her own rudimentary artificial intelligence, named Organon. At first, it’s intended as a sympathetic ear for her anxieties and frustrations, but as Laura grows and changes, so too does Organon. As technology becomes ever more involved in our lives, companies also begin to develop their own artificial intelligence, without the safety barriers of empathy or morals. Laura has to decide whether to sha
Sid Nuncius
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I struggled a bit with I Still Dream. James Smythe is a very fine writer and I thought that The Machine was an outstanding book. This didn't feel nearly as original or interesting to me.

The narrative begins in 1997 when Laura Bow is seventeen and a computer genius like her late father. She begins to create Organon, a form of Artificial Intelligence which can learn and which she tries to imbue with her own human values. Meanwhile, others have appropriated her father's work on SCION, a similar pr
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophical, sci-fi
There are quotes on the cover of the paperback version of the book that try to make a potential reader think that this book is like Station Eleven or Cloud Atlas, and I see why they publisher is trying to make that association but it's not the most compelling fit.

I Still Dream DOES telescope the reader through time one decade at a time, into a potential future for those of us alive now, so I guess there's that in terms of the two books mentioned above. But this book doesn't feel like those othe
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
In person book club choice and one that I wouldn't otherwise have picked up. Interesting play on the dystopian novel, and one that I enjoyed without being overly impressed. ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Told over a century and spanning three continents, I Still Dream is the story of how we live our lives today and the uncomfortable marriage we've entered into with technology.

Laura Bow is a coding prodigy. The child of a former, and missing since she was a little girl, programmer, at 17 she creates a program called Organon. Part e-diary, part chatbot, she fills the program with the daily details of her life. As she grows, Organon grows with her, becoming more of a personal assistant/confidant/g
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Omg chuck your phone in the fucking sea
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
If you are into artificial intelligence or ICT in general you may very well get something out of this book: unfortunately, I didn’t and it was something of a relief when I finally reached the end. The story of a young girl inheriting her absent father’s gift for software development and building her ‘imaginary friend’ so she had someone to talk to just didn’t do ‘IT’ for me. It has the usual AI/fantasy/SiFi tropes exploring the meaning of life, what it is to be human, the Turing Test, blah, blah ...more
Peter Heywood
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel bravely attempts to combine the nostalgic zeitgeist of the 1990s, the social media fears of the present day, and speculative science fiction about the generations to come.

The first two elements are the strongest - to those who grew up in the advent of the internet, Laura's rebellious dial-up teenage years will take them back. When the chapters skip forward to the present day, this nostalgia is deftly brought into the focus of 2017. Laura's world is close enough to what we know to evo
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A science fiction novel with a female lead, Laura Bow who is developing an AI that develops self-awareness.

We follow her journey from 1997 as a 17 year old working on AI in their West London bedroom, this brough back a few memories what with the mention of Finnegans pub or Finnegans Wake as it was know as I use to drink in there around that time myself!, Hippie Heaven and a few other places brought back a few more reminisces for myself.

The ten year gaps between each stage of Laura's story was ni
Alex Storer
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I must have mentally reviewed I Still Dream a dozen different times whilst reading it. I have been a keen reader of James Smythe’s work since The Explorer, but I Still Dream is a whole other level in comparison — Smythe writes with a greater maturity and a deeper level of thought and sensitivity. This is the kind of book which feels packed with a lifetime of experiences.

I Still Dream is a revelation – yet it deals with very current subjects. If you’ve ever paused for a moment, horrified at the
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