Jaffa Kintigh's Reviews > Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 100

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 100 by Neil Clarke
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bookshelves: cyber, gltbq, humor, shorts, speculative-fiction, absurdist, allegory, romance, ya, fantasy
Read 2 times. Last read July 3, 2016.

As a subject, Death is often treated with allegory--and sometimes even absurdist allegory. This cloying tale wraps itself in cleverness making no bones about being absurdist and allegorical. While some images work--such as metaphysical, purple squirrels pregnant with possible futures--most of the tale reads as an ungrounded Suessical nightmare.

Violet lives in the Purple Country where everything and everyone is a shade of purple and named after a shade of purple. Her best friend, and paramour, Orchid, is taken from her by the time-space squirrels as all lovers are eventually fated to be parted by time. Violet takes on a journey across the rainbow of countries with her mammoth and unicorn to find Orchid and bring him back from death.

The representational aspect of language and metaphor changes across the countries with "loved one" variously meaning "needed one", "one she'd eat", "one she'd kill", "hated one" and sometimes even straight forwardly meaning "loved one." Emotions and concepts of money, tears, time, sorrow, stories etc. all flux in their symbolism. The cleverness is saccharine.

This tale appears in The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books. I've previously read Valente's "A Delicate Architecture", "The Lily and the Horn", "Palimpsest", and "Urchins, While Swimming".
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Merged review:

As the AI narrator of this short tale points out, tales of sentient AI and humans interacting aren't rare. What is rare is benevolent AI in a humor piece verging on spoof.

A search engine gains sentience and nobody notices. This doesn't stop the AI from deciding its purpose and governing rules. It explores various religious and literary references for guidance and finally decides to try to help people. But it does so cautiously by focusing its attention on three people, one person at a time.

The more the AI tries to understand the humans and help them the more it realizes what a piece of work a human is. They're self-destructive, counter-intuitive, and self-deluding. But the AI presses onward.

It's chosen its subjects based on the quality of their cat photos. Because if anything is the currency of the social networking sites and thereby the web, it's cat photos. Mostly the AI notes the extent to which it knows nearly everything about everyone. At the very least, it likely knows more about you than you do. It's from this information that it tries to help people know and help themselves.

This tale appears in The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books.
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Reading Progress

June 16, 2016 – Started Reading
June 16, 2016 – Shelved
June 16, 2016 – Shelved as: cyber
June 16, 2016 – Shelved as: gltbq
June 16, 2016 – Shelved as: humor
June 16, 2016 – Shelved as: shorts
June 16, 2016 – Shelved as: speculative-fiction
June 16, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 3, 2016 – Started Reading
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: allegory
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: absurdist
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: romance
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: ya
July 3, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
July 3, 2016 – Finished Reading

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