Future AI Debuts | Science Fiction

These SF novels examine humanity via artificial intelligence.

Greer, Sierra. Annie Bot. Mariner. Mar. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9780063312692. $28. SF

DEBUT Annie is an android, designed to meet her owner’s specifications and programmed to please him in every way. Doug wants a replacement for his ex-wife and encourages Annie to learn and develop her artificial intelligence to be a perfect girlfriend for him. He changes Annie’s settings to allow her to be autodidactic and to learn and develop human traits of curiosity, desire, and secrecy. Then a chance visit from a friend introduces new concepts to Doug and Annie’s seemingly idyllic relationship: jealousy, suspicion, and anxiety. As Annie learns and becomes more human, she begins to question her own existence. How does she feel about being owned? What is the true nature of love? Does she have a right to freedom? The next generation in a long line of retellings of Ovid’s Pygmalion myth, Greer’s novel presents an intricate, intimate look at the fundamentals of human relationships. Easily accessible for general readers and science fiction aficionados alike, the book reflects the transformation of Annie into a complex emotional being. VERDICT Unflinching in its examination of humanity, Greer’s debut novel is a must-buy for libraries.

Urbanski, Debbie. After World. S. & S. Dec. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781668023457. $27.99. SF

DEBUT Urbanski’s debut tells the story of Sen Anon, one of the last humans on Earth, as told by an artificial intelligence known as [storyworker] ad39-393a-7fbc, as part of the Digital Human Archive Project. After humanity is ravaged by the outbreak of S., most of Earth’s population begins the Great Transition to the afterworld Maia. With drones recording her every move, Sen is left behind as a witness to the changes the Earth will undergo without human civilization and spends her time filling notebooks with her observations and feelings. [storyworker] ad39-393a-7fbc is charged with turning these notebooks and recordings into a novel, using 3.72TB of Sen’s personal data and its extensive knowledge of 21st-century literature. Weaving the threads of Sen’s life and the records of the Great Transition together, Urbanski expertly mimics generative-AI text that contrasts with emotional prose. VERDICT This novel upends the typical postapocalyptic format and provides a fresh, compelling new perspective.

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