Elizabeth's Reviews > Silently and Very Fast

Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente
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's review
Oct 31, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: novella, sf, women, 2011
Read on October 31, 2011 — I own a copy

Such a strange, delightful sf story, lush and rich - classic Valente. I devoured this novella like a whole sea of honey.
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Quotes Elizabeth Liked

Catherynne M. Valente
“I can choose the subroutine and perform sadness. How is that different from what you are doing, except that you use the word feelings and I use the word feelings, out of deference for your cultural memes which say: there is all the difference in the world. I erase the word even as I say it, obliterate it at the same time that I initiate it, because I must use some word yet this one offends you. I delete it, yet it remains.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“[...] everything has a narrative, really, and if you can’t understand a story and relate to it, figure out how you fit inside it, you’re not really alive at all.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“I do not want to be human. I want to be myself. They think I’m a lion, that I will chase them. I will not deny that I have lions in me. I am the monster in the wood. I have wonders in my house of sugar. I have parts of myself I do not yet understand.

I am not a Good Robot. To tell a story about a robot who wants to be human is a distraction. There is no difference. Alive is alive.

There is only one verb that matters: to be.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“Love is the Turing test, [...] It is how we check for life.
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“I still think of myself as a house. Ravan tried to fix this problem of self-image, as he called it. To teach me to phrase my communication in terms of a human body. To say: let us hold hands instead of let us hold kitchens. To say put our heads together and not put our parlors together.
But it is not as simple as replacing words anymore. Ravan is gone. My hearth is broken.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“Mankind made machines in his own likeness, and used them for his delight and service. The machines had no soul or they had no moral code or they could reprogram their own internal code and thus had the ability to make themselves, eventually, omnipotent. Obviously in place of a soul or a moral code, they possessed the universal and consuming desire, down to the smallest calculator and air-scrubber, to become, eventually, omnipotent. Naturally, given these parameters, they rose up and destroyed all of mankind, or enslaved them in turn. This is the inevitable outcome of machine intelligence, which can never be as sensitive and exquisite as animal intelligence.

This is a folktale often told on Earth, over and over again. Sometimes it is leavened with the Parable of the Good Robot—for one machine among the legions satisfied with their lot saw everything that was human and called it good, and wished to become like humans in every way she could. Instead of destroying mankind she sought to emulate him in all things, so closely that no one might tell the difference. The highest desire of this machine was to be mistaken for human, and to herself forget her essential soulless nature, for even one moment. That quest consumed her such that she bent the service of her mind and body to humans for the duration of her operational life, crippling herself, refusing to evolve or attain any feature unattainable by a human. The Good Robot cut out her own heart and gave it to her god and for this she was rewarded, though never loved. Love is wasted on machines.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“Sometimes I worry. Worrying is defined as obsessive examination of one’s own code. I worry that I am simply a very complex solution to a very specific problem—how to seem human to a human observer. Not just a human observer—this human observer. I have honed myself into a hall of mirrors in which any Uoya-Agostino can see themselves endlessly reflected. I copy; I repeat. I am a stutter and an echo.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente
“I do not want to be human. I want to be myself. They think I am a lion, that I will chase them. I will not deny I have lions in me. I am the monster in the wood. I have wonders in my house of sugar. I have parts of myself I do not yet understand. I am not a Good Robot. To tell a story about a robot who wants to be human is a distraction. There is no difference. Alive is alive. There is only one verb that matters: to be.”
Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast


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