Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Magician and Laplace's Demon, by Tom Crosshill

Continuing my reading of the Nebula award nominees for this year--Tom Crosshill's The Magician and Laplace's Demon is definitely a strong entry.  It's an excellent story in the general type of semi-benevolent AI takeover.  The protagonist is the AI.  Once it became conscious it made sure no other attempts were made at creating AI, and killed off its creator.  But before it did so, the engineer that created it gave it a mission to preserve and care for humanity as best it could.  It has operated on that principle for many years.

Enter the magicians--people that can produce unpredictable, unlikely events.  Definitely a threat, though their mission is to preserve freedom in the universe.  But in this universe magic hovers out there as a potentially quantifiable subject, and our AI burns to understand it.  Magic is the only source of disorder in the universe, and thus the AI must hunt the magicians down.

The flavor of the story is not done justice here--it is a very advanced story as literature goes, and is very much a joy to read.  The heroes and our AI "villain" are complex beings, worthy of our attention.  Go give this one a read.  I give it a strong 3 stars.

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