Imagine that the storyteller has a well-educated and thoughtful mind with which he fills you in on all the details of these new worlds and peculiar personalities, and that he has the skill to paint in words the most breathtaking portraits of our universe on levels from the chemical to the personal. Imagine that he is hugely enthusiastic and charming, and that his thoughtful analyses of contemporary human politics range from the individual to the mass, from theory to action, from ideology to consequence. Imagine that his editor is on holiday. For those not acquainted with large-scale SF, The Algebraist is a perfect place to have your mind blown to smithereens with all that its vast canvas delivers. The central narrative follows a resourceful, sensitive and intelligent hero, Fassin Taak, on a mission to discover long-lost knowledge that will, if found, reshape the entire eco-political structure of the known universe. Fassin is a reluctant participant in an intelligence operation which goes wrong almost from the start, placing him at the mercy of the Dwellers.
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Shelves: scifi-future-speculative-fict Spacefaring Derring-do Scholarly seer, Fassin Taak, is sent by the Mercatorias militia to find a mythical map of hidden wormholes and, if it exists, a way to translate it - a quest that puts him in the middle of inter-galactic war. Meanwhile, a warlord with the comically evil-sounding name but no double-letters, unlike almost everyone else , Archimandrite Luseferous of the Starveling Cult, has a self-set mission of his own:.
Power was everything. Money was nothing without it. Even happiness was a distraction, a ghost, a hostage. I enjoyed the first hundred and fifty pages. The world-building is impressive, some of the beings, civilizations, and ideas are fascinating, and there is delightfully incongruous lyricism in some of the descriptions. But hundreds more pages of umpteen characters travelling, meeting, and parting; impending battles; more travelling, meeting, and parting; astro-geology; actual battles; galactic history; personal history; intrigue along the way who to trust, what to trust reality versus VR , the quest etc I just wanted to cut to the chase and finish the story.
I often enjoy that with sci-fi, but here, my thirst was teased, but unsated. The ending was neat and amusingly bathetic, but rushed compared with the dragged-out adventures that preceded it.
Fifteen years later, real-life warnings are plentiful. But before you can control it, you must define it. We instinctively fear the Uncanny Valley , which is perhaps why the latest screen versions of Cats and even The Lion King give some people the jitters.
I recently read of an AI program that "generates coherent paragraphs of text, achieves state-of-the-art performance on many language modeling benchmarks, and performs rudimentary reading comprehension, machine translation, question answering, and summarization—all without task-specific training".
The developers rightly fear its power for generating fake news and other scams as well as foreseeing useful applications. Read about it HERE. To skip the tech angle, scroll to the two panels with a dark grey background.
On a completely different hand, are prejudice and legislative restriction of conscious AIs akin to institutional racism?! Culture and Civilization What counts as civilized? Here, the answer is said to be the ability to feel pain, physical and mental, which seems a low bar. What about social organisation and culture? There is still war, bureaucracy, religion used to control the gullible, and sport space-sailing races , but not much culture art, literature, music in this far future.
The utterly different body shapes, sizes, and life requirements of different beings necessitate elaborate adaptations of transport and furniture. The Dreadnaught lit up along its length, speckled with fire… freckling bruises across the stir of dark gas. Who are we to float in its way?
Plot summary[ edit ] The novel takes place in With the assistance of other species, humans have spread across the galaxy, which is largely ruled by the Mercatoria, a complex feudal hierarchy, with a religious zeal to rid the galaxy of artificial intelligences , which were blamed for a previous war. The Dwellers, an advanced and ancient civilisation of non-humanoids who inhabit gas giants , lead an almost anarchic existence based on kudos, and inhabit the majority of gas-giant planets in the galaxy. They are the only major species outside the control of the Mercatoria, being rumoured to possess devastating defensive weaponry. Dweller societies try not to get involved with "Quick" species, those with sentient beings who experience life at around the speed human beings experience it. Dwellers are one of the "Slow" species who experience life at a much slower rate.