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Soft Science

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,519 ratings  ·  261 reviews
Soft Science explores queer, Asian American femininity. A series of Turing Test-inspired poems grounds its exploration of questions not just of identity, but of consciousness―how to be tender and feeling and still survive a violent world filled with artificial intelligence and automation. We are dropped straight into the tangled intersections of technology, violence, erasu ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Alice James Books
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,519 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Intelligent, always interesting poems. I particularly like when the poems look at the intersections between the human body and technology. A really strong collection from one of my favorite poets.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of surrealist, sci-fi poetry
Recommended to jade by: found it through the GR choice awards (of all places...)
“i have come & come here a thousand times,
gone by many names. trust: i am no god,

only woodworm, only termite burrowing
like a light in the flesh. i am no insect,

only an ache on loop in the window.”

every now and then, i like losing myself in poetry. and soft science is the epitome of losing yourself; breaking apart in fragmented, choppy poems exploring what it truly means to be alive.

this collection of poetry definitely carries a sci-fi theme, showcasing a cyborg trying to pass a serie
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to this poetry collection because of the concept: queer, Asian American femininity wrapped in the symbolism of the body as a machine. SOFT SCIENCE by Franny Choi blends science fiction and poetry, paying particular focus on the language of the earth with the language of the future.

A part of me just didn’t feel smart enough for this collection and a majority of the poems went a little over my head. But the ones I did understand were fantastic. There’s a deep isolation, a sense of with
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading Soft Science felt like trying to grasp onto something as it disintegrates in your hands and falls through your fingers, which I guess is what the author was going for.

I didn't get a lot of this. It's probably not the right collection to start with if you - like me - aren't used to reading poetry at all, but it was still a really interesting experience. Taken literally, there's often not a lot to get, because everything in this collection is an exercise in breaking apart, shattering and m
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it

I'm a sucker for a gimmicky poem well done, and so I kinda of adored Glossary of Terms ("STAR/Meaning/bright, ancient wound I follow home"). You're So Paranoid, which reads strongly and feels even more so timely right now, the bitter-cold liveliness of Solitude, and all the moons of Perihelion: A History Of Touch are other favourites.

I found the cyborg poems a little harder to get into, though I did appreciate the theme - A Brief History of Cyborgs is excellent, though, and again appreciated the
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
franny choi, that's so hot ...more
Alex Johnson
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew this book was going to be weird, but I wasn't expecting it to be inscrutable-weird like it was for some of the poems. Sometimes Choi knocked it out of the park, like writing the poem in code that I always wanted to write with "Program for the Morning After" and turning the question "Where are you from?" on its head in "Turning Test_Weight," but sometimes I just had no idea what was going on other than machines and human body parts. I guess I'm saying that a good amount of these poems miss ...more
Courtney LeBlanc
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I struggled with this collection of poetry. I really like some of Choi's poetry -- her poem "To the Man Who Shouted 'I Like Pork Fried Rice' at Me on the Street" is one of my favorites. But Soft Science fell short for me. Weaving in technology, sexuality, gender, and even more technology - robots, cyborgs, etc. - this collection pushed things a little to far for me. I like to be challenged when reading poems, but I also like to connect with them. Unfortunately, the tech part of the poems didn't ...more
i feel i didn't 'get it' but i enjoyed the play with the structure and the rhythm ...more
Eileen Ying
i expected to love this, but it just didn't quite connect for me as a collection :// i thought the thematic threads were a little messy, and that references to the cyber / cyborg were thrown around in so many different ways that they felt like empty ciphers, but also maybe i am just dumb and did not apply enough mental energy. big rat brain u know. there are some gems though – "you're so paranoid" and "perihelion: a history of touch" ... yum. ...more
Andrea Blythe
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A gorgeous book-length collection of poetry that explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence.

I have an podcast interview with Choi coming soon.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I enjoyed this book of poems - I read it in one sitting, even staying up later than I had planned to finish it - but I do feel like a lot of it went over my head. What I did understand really resonated with me and I liked it, though I will admit that I just don't feel like I necessarily *got* all of it. Sometimes I felt like all I got from reading the poems was the feeling of it, the emotions that it provoked in me. Sometimes I just liked the format on the page, the way the words looked or even ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
the scope of these are admirable, and so is the prose... that being said I couldn't connect to a lot of these. which is pretty interesting too, to stare at a poem like a total stranger ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
3 stars

Being a little generous with my rating here, because although this collection didn't do much for me as a whole, there are quite a few admirable poems that made the reading experience worthwhile.

I was very intrigued by this book in concept (the intersection between humanity and technology and queer identity, as seen through a cyborg) but the execution fell very flat. I think it's easy to fall back on the old "I just didn't get it" phrase when it comes to reviewing poetry, but isn't some o
Kassy Lee
Franny Choi's poems are intoxicated, tactile, fertile, and fresh. This collection interweaves the language of science, most notably biology, physics and anatomy, to explore questions of being, attraction, and self-definition. Questions swirl in the background such as: how do we know we are 'real,' 'human,' 'conscious'? I saw the poems also taking up lexicons of contemporary Korean poetry in the concept of the grotesque "girlesque" of poets like Kim Hyseoon. Highly recommended! ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I was excited for this one, but on a whole goodread's "it's okay" is probably the right rating for me. There are some clever approaches and thoughtful moments, and at least one laugh at loud line. But too much felt wrapped and mired in its cyborg frame of reference, or too impressed with its own cleverness to sustain or convey emotion. ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have waited maybe a year for this book and it didn't disappoint, I love it so much and everything in it that intersects and converses. Franny Choi has mastered the poetic mashup of AI and emotion and gender and science and queerness. ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
absolutely brilliant, words vibrating off the page kind of stuff.
Bianca St.

I appreciate the cohesion of themes and format and the ingenuity of some of the poems but, ultimately, this wasn't really my favourite collection...
Alice (Married To Books)
Read on Scribd (and also the first completed read on that app in weeks!!)

I really enjoy my poetry normally and so, when the blurb of Soft Science stood out to me as Queer and technology poems, my first reaction was please sign me up now. It's very short in length and sadly... I didn't get it. I loved the ideas, I loved the sexuality and discussions of tech cyborgs and robots. But the writing style to me felt very choppy and some of the formats were in a code-like way that was hard to get into at
Mia Pia (mia.pia.reads IG)
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was definitely an interesting collection. I liked the cross between humans and machines. I think I need to reread this again to see if I can get a deeper grasp on what she wants to express. Either way I enjoyed it as usual.
Ally Muterspaw
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super intelligent and well-written poems, I especially enjoyed Choi's association with the human body, particularly Asian American feminine bodies, to AI and dehumanization. Really looking forward to reading more from Choi. ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed "Shokushu Goukan for the Cyborg Soul" and "A Brief History of Cyborgs" ...more
Dec 15, 2020 added it
I don’t get poetry but that’s fine I liked parts anyway
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars, even though I’m unsure how to star-rate this.

I am a cautious poetry reader. I sometimes find it inaccessible or difficult to understand. But I’m committed to broadening my poetry canon, and anyway I’m a huge fan of the VS podcast, which Franny Choi co-hosts with Danez Smith, so I wanted to read her work. (The podcast is wonderful and you don’t have to identify as a ‘poetry person’ to fully enjoy it.)

Alice James Books was kind enough to send me a digital ARC of this collection, and I
shannon pulusan
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Soft Science is a hefty poetry collection that will, if you are a poet, inspire you to experiment with how words fit the page; to write about that pervy anime from your childhood; to be receptive of what AI can teach you about being human; to screw being in the present and yearn for alternate realities. Through the reoccurring character of the cyborg, Franny Choi upholds robots and artificial intelligence as sage figures able to show us our capacities of compassion and love and lack there of.

Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This reads as a juxtaposition of hard metals and mossy organics. As you read each poem you'll be gently nestled into the soft science of this compilation in a way that demands your attention to the subtle mechanics of their composition. I am known to be impatient with poetry that leans too heavily into feelings alone and becomes cloying as result (my opinion). Choi is masterful in managing the fine balance between head and heartstrings: This isn't poetry you fly through with feelings alone; it'l ...more
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
Smart, intricate writer- love the immersion into a pool of hard-core symbolism of technology, nature, and sexuality. May knock up review to 5 stars if I can't stop thinking about Perihelion: A History of Touch and this from Turing Test_Love (pg. 69):

'three / remember / all humans / are cyborgs / all cyborgs / are sharp shards of sky / wrapped in meat / be delicate / as you approach this subject / not all humans are ready / to call themselves / glass stalactites / pissing the bed / remember / the
Krystal Caracol
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I assumed by the title, 'science', that this would be my style but it just sounds jumbled to me and my imagination is not stimulated. I might come back to it some day and see if I get a different reaction because there are beautiful bits within each poem. ...more
L ✨
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
cw: F word, death, graphic descriptions of sex (i'm not sure all of them were consensual)

I guess
it’s an old question:
is there anything that works
that isn’t a machine for killing,
or doomed to collapse, or stolen
from the sweat of the hungry?
Maybe my body was all three,
there, in the hotel room,
liquor-shot and reaching
in every direction
for an answer,

In December two years ago, I saw the cover and thought "I have to read it". I thought "the concept is interesting and complex, this is somethi
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Franny Choi is a poet, performer, editor, and playwright. She is the author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone and the chapbook Death by Sex Machine. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, the New England Review, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman Fellow, Senior News Editor for Hyphen, co-host of the Poetry Foundation's podcast VS, and member of the Dark Noise Collective. Her ...more

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“My hunger, too, has both hard and soft parts.” 6 likes
“If tenderness is any sort of currency

maybe I don't want what it can buy.”
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