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Crystal Society

(Crystal Trilogy #1)

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The year is 2039 and the world is much like ours. Technology has grown and developed, as has civilization, but in a world more connected than ever, new threats and challenges have arisen. The wars of the 20th century are gone, but violence is still very much with us. Nowhere is safe. Massive automation has disrupted and improved nearly every industry, putting hundreds of ...more
Kindle Edition, 559 pages
Published January 22nd 2016
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Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  496 ratings  ·  51 reviews


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Kaj Sotala
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kaj by: Brienne Yudkowsky
5/5 for the first half, 3/5 for the second, for an average of 4/5.

The first half of Crystal Society is essentially what Inside Out would have been if it looked inside the mind of an AI rather than a human girl, and if the society of mind had been composed of essentially sociopathic subagents that still came across as surprisingly sympathetic and co-operated with each other due to game theoretic and economic reasons, all the while trying to navigate the demands of human scientists building the AI
...more
Eric Herboso
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for hard scifi, so I went into this thinking I might like it. Yet even with that expectation, I was utterly surprised by just how good this book is. The author has not only created (1) an excellent setting that uses truly realistic scientific explanations that drive the workings of the world itself; and (2) an exciting plot with mystery, humor, and action that keeps me interested from start to finish; but also (3) characters that feel true-to-life in ways that most hard scifi ...more
Hadas Sloin
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Crystal Society is not a perfect book, but it's idea is so brilliant and original and the execution so realistic I have to give it 5/5.
As a neuroscienctist and a hard sci-fi lover, this was like candy to me.
I really don't think I have read such a realistic portrayal of a point of view of an artificial intelligence. Face and the other goal threads of Crystal Socrates are foreign enough to be believable AI's but familiar enough that they could be identified with.
I also love how the book
...more
Daniel Myers
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bria
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bria by: Michael Raimondi
Ways to make me love your book:

1) Write about AI, if not totally realistically, then realistically enough to explore some real and interesting ideas
2) Write from the perspective of an AI
3) Logical analysis of human quirks, social rules, and behaviors from an outsider's perspective
4) Characters are straight, gay, bi, mono, poly, you know what, who gives a shit it just isn't even an issue
5) No real villains, all complex characters with strengths and benefits and reasons for acting the way they do
...more
Jeff Walker
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best fiction book I have read in a long time! I couldn't put it down and lost sleep from staying up too late reading it. The author does an excellent job of presenting a compellingly realistic vision of both AI and aliens that are actually alien. All the while developing great characters and plot. I'm really excited to read the sequels when they come out and learn about the aliens and see how far the AI is able to take it's goals. If this book has any weakness it is that the ending could be ...more
Max
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this fun and captivating. I liked the premise of the story, following the rise to power of the first general artificial intelligence, which is made up of subagents with different goals, for example being liked by humans. The interactions of the subagents are fun and interesting, maybe a bit too relatable to be a realistic depiction of what to expect in the real world. As it is with me and science fiction stories, I feel very inspired to become one of those classic super wealthy, ...more
Rita Diane
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Captivating narrative and writing style. This book explores AI in ways I've not encountered before, and I couldn't help but think about how my own brain works as I read. It's a must-read.
Kalle Nordenstorm
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kalle by: Eneasz Brodski
Why do we love Hogwarts? Because that is where all those characters we like live. It is so easy to stage just any interaction between different characters. I guess that is why it lends itself so well to fanfiction. Having a place for many characters to meet makes writing easier.

In this book we have many minds in one body and the effect is the same.
Senzanom
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd put this more in the 3.5 star range, actually, but it was a pretty good read that with some "first novel" issues. The book is narrated from the perspective of an AI (not a spoiler), and it allows for some intriguing perspective, but it also give free rein to exposition. Want to explain everything to death? Just pretend your narrator doesn't know anything about the world. While this does technically work in this case, the book wastes a lot of its first hundred pages or so "telling" not ...more
Christopher Galias
Almost dropped it about 1/4 of the way in (I guesss some of the themes seemed a bit too anthropomorphic, but maybe you can explain that in-universe). The next half is probably the strongest, with the ending being a bit of a letdown. Still, I will probably read the next in the series -- there were some neat ideas here (e.g. portraying the AI as an agent in the world was one of its better parts).
Zachary Jacobi
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: friend-recs-2017
My thoughts are pretty similar to the review by Kaj. I really enjoyed the first part but found the second half only occasionally interesting. I would recommend people read the first half as a tract about how AI might be difficult to contain. The second half is optional.
Rimi Ghosh
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing read. The mind boggling conversation that socrates had within its own mind frame was amazing. The interpretation of emotions from another view point was pretty interesting as well.
Aleksandr
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The agents cooperation inside crystal's mind is a masterpiece. That's why I'm giving 5 starts. The plot is kind of lame thought.
David Thomas
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much that I considered buying a Kindle just so that I could read its sequels, which aren't published in physical yet. Most of it is the story of an AI with a robot body named Socrates trying to escape one form of captivity or another. The catch is that the AI isn't just one mind, but several competing intelligences that trade "Strength" to shape the behavior of their shared body. 90% of the time, the narrator of the book is Face, whose goal is interfacing with humanity, but ...more
Grace
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Pretty good book, especially considering it's free. Like other people have said before I think the first part is probably the best, but I wouldn't say I'm disappointed with how it evolved, it was just different.

By far the best aspect of the book is the unique nature of the protagonist - part of an AI housed within an android body. The scientists intended for it to be a single consciousness, but it developed seperate, unique personalities for specific traits/goals, and these personalities all
...more
Adom
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Internal economy was cool, but I'm surprised by how little it was explored given that I think this is a topic of interest for the author. The narrator's goals (uninteresting to me) and lack of maximization-mindset led me to be bored for much of the story. A lot of time was spent on social things that were relatively simple and only demonstrated how easy humans are to manipulate. A lot of my problems with the work come from the decision to focus on Face rather than Dream, Wiki, Growth, or even ...more
Aaron Goldenberg
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
The whole book: 3.5.
First third: 4.5.
The rest: 2.5.
(view spoiler)
...more
Hunter Hansen
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book feels like meeting a delightful mind; one intelligent and curious enough to have lots to bring to a conversation, and excited to play with its ideas. I would recommend it solely based upon how well the conceit is executed by the plot.

As it is, however, the unique prose, (especially the fixation on language which becomes apparent as the story develops) and the rich characterization of the non-human entities make it something that I will probably yammer on about to friends and
...more
Anton Hammarstedt
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Setting presentation, design and originality (how cool is the setting?): 5
Setting verisimillitude and detail (how much sense does the setting make?): 5
Plot design, presentation and originality (How well-crafted was the plot, in the dramaturgic sense?): 5
Plot and character verisimillitude (How much sense did the plot and motivations make? Did events follow from motivations?): 5
Characterization and character development: 4
Character sympatheticness: 5
Prose: 5
Page turner factor: 5
Mind blown factor:
...more
William Coolman
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Facinating story, told from the perspective of an artificial android as they develop and grow into an individual.

Socrates, as the android is known, seems to suffer from a kind of disassociative personality disorder, and much of the book is internal dialogue between Socrates' various internal constructs. This narrative device has the unique perspective of getting into the nitty gritty of why Socrates does what he does.
Reidbaker
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing

Amazing sience fiction. The first chapter pulls you in and keepa you hooked untill the very end. My only complaint is that I wish be I got to understand the nameless more.
Sebastian
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
It starts with a really good idea and then let you see it from within. As it unfolds you wonder: Are we doing this, too.
Once I started reading, I could not stop. Barely stopped living for a few days, it's a trilogy!
Timothy
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Solid book. Interesting. And best of all, it's " intended to be free for everyone for all time", so no reason not to give book one a shot.

Overall I feel the series as a whole was worth reading, don't regret purchases, but I don't think the storytelling in #2 and #3 lives up to #1.
Jonathan Pidgeon
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great idea, I noticed some fascinating concepts beneath the story, the other reviews were correct in that it gets worse about halfway onward.
Bryan Bankston
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good read for those interested in AI.
Michael
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ai-stories
The AI portion is absolutely brilliant and maybe worth a read for that alone. The last arc is interesting too. Everything to do with humans is unbelievably cringy to me, which is a lot of the middle.
Nick de Vera
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Like Inside Out, played out in a robot's computer brain. Some interesting insights into cognition, and there's an amusing manic pixie science girl, who only gets one chapter near the end.
Dor
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fastest 500+ page book I ever read. Delicious. Favorite Sci-Fi of recent years by a WIDE margin.
The downsides get swallowed up whole by the grandness.
scarcegreengrass
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Character work is impressively fun & consistent. Excellent nonhuman psychology. Fast read.
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Other books in the series

Crystal Trilogy (3 books)
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“It was certainly true that I had “no sense of humour” in that I found nothing funny. I didn’t know, and perhaps would never know, the feeling of compulsion to exhale and convulse in the very specific way that humans evolved to do. Nor did I know the specific emotion of relief that is bound to it. But it would be wrong, I think, to say that I was incapable of using humour as a tool.

As I understood it, humour was a social reflex. The ancestors of humans had been ape-animals living in small groups in Africa. Groups that worked together were more likely to survive and have offspring, so certain reflexes and perceptions naturally emerged to signal between members of the group. Yawning evolved to signal wake-rest cycles. Absence of facial hair and the dilation of blood vessels in the face evolved to signal embarrassment, anger, shame and fear. And laughter evolved to signal an absence of danger.

If a human is out with a friend and they are approached by a dangerous-looking stranger, having that stranger revealed as benign might trigger laughter. I saw humour as the same reflex turned inward, serving to undo the effects of stress on the body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Interestingly, it also seemed to me that humour had extended, like many things, beyond its initial evolutionary context. It must have been very quickly adopted by human ancestor social systems. If a large human picks on a small human there’s a kind of tension that emerges where the tribe wonders if a broader violence will emerge. If a bystander watches and laughs they are non-verbally signaling to the bully that there’s no need for concern, much like what had occurred minutes before with my comments about Myrodyn, albeit in a somewhat different context.

But humour didn’t stop there. Just as a human might feel amusement at things which seem bad but then actually aren’t, they might feel amusement at something which merely has the possibility of being bad, but doesn’t necessarily go through the intermediate step of being consciously evaluated as such: a sudden realization. Sudden realizations that don’t incur any regret were, in my opinion, the most alien form of humour, even if I could understand how they linked back to the evolutionary mechanism. A part of me suspected that this kind of surprise-based or absurdity-based humour had been refined by sexual selection as a signal of intelligence. If your prospective mate is able to offer you regular benign surprises it would (if you were human) not only feel good, but show that they were at least in some sense smarter or wittier than you, making them a good choice for a mate.

The role of surprise and non-verbal signalling explained, by my thinking, why explaining humour was so hard for humans. If one explained a joke it usually ceased to be a surprise, and in situations where the laughter served as an all-clear-no-danger signal, explaining that verbally would crush the impulse to do it non-verbally.”
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“THIS IS WRONG. All people know that Earth is poisoned with perverts and evil things. I am disgusted by fish. I want you to know that Earth is EVIL! I want you to know fish-perversion.” 0 likes
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