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When I tire of my computer it's considered quite acceptable, environmental issues aside, for me to bin it, bury it, or rip out its innards and convert the shell into a fish bowl. It is considered less acceptable for me to do any of these things to my still functioning cat. And that feels much as it should be.
Yet my computer routinely beats me at chess, while my cat struggles to use a cat door. Whatever we believe sets the animal apart from the machine, with each passing year it becomes harder to believe that processing power is the defining factor. And that's the apparently harmless thought at the heart of Genesis.
Our instincts cling to the mysticism of the life force, the élan vital that appears to animate the world of creatures and separate them from our machines. Instincts though are rarely enough. The modern understanding of evolution makes it easy to view life as little more (or less) than a trick of chemistry, and the harmless question takes on an edge.
The novelist though mustn't be content with simply exposing the edge. I am drawn to stories that tear at me. I like my reading to leave a little scar tissue and I aspire to create stories that might do the same. Just as we are sure that cats and computers are not just different things, but different kinds of things, so we quite naturally draw a line between a cat and human that feels inviolable. The life force may no longer be so puzzling, but surely the mystery of consciousness remains secure. Not everybody thinks so, and that provides the gap into which a story can be wedged.
This thought spent a good few years trapped inside my own consciousness. I knew that at the heart of the novel would sit a confrontation between a man and a machine. I knew humanity would be represented by a criminal, imprisoned both by the justice system and his own inflexible beliefs. I also knew the machine would be charming, irascible and provocative. What I didn't know was anything about the story in which this central conceit would be wrapped. I wrote a short play in which the prisoner was a psychopath and spent a couple of years trying on and off to develop that into a novel but it never worked. I needed a trick that would position the audience first with the human and then somehow twist that loyalty, ideally without them realising it was happening.
As is so often the case I didn't get to the final product small step at a time. Rather I tried, failed and turned away. And then, a couple of years later while distracting myself from another task I found the problem had solved itself offstage. Such are the strange workings of the mind.
(Photo © Bruce Foster)
It took a few pages to really get into it, but it ended up being a very interesting and engaging read.
I found Mr. Beckett's writing style unique as the whole story is told mostly through Anax's interview with The Academy elders and through several flashbacks.
Not much for characterization, but given the format of the story as well as the Big Twist that's fairly well justified by the end.
Kind of a shaggy dog story. The writing is ok and the concept is interesting but as with all science fiction, wrapping it all up is often clunky.Published 22 days ago by hankthecowdog
I've read many books over a long life. Genesis ranks as one of the most imaginative and provocative, I think destined to be one of the classics.Published 1 month ago by preston cox
Such a great story! Shorter than what I normally read, so it was refreshing to have something quick, but still well-written and interesting. Read morePublished 1 month ago by CLPhoto
Decent, but more of a novella. Ive read better developed, and more importantly better ended short stories in Asimov. Save your money. It just is not worth the price.Published 2 months ago by Shannon LeBlanc
This short novel is set in a future where a group has segregated itself to an island prior to the initiation of a world war that included biological weapons. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michelle Boytim
I only give this three stars because I nodded off a couple of times while reading the book. The book was written as how a scientist would give a hypothesis and played out like one... Read morePublished 3 months ago by heather
I saw what they were going for, but it could have been better. I saw the first twisted ending coming, and the second one seemed strange... Read morePublished 3 months ago by A. Harandi
I love SCI-FI, I wanted this to be a great love, because of others reviews, and the price. I hate paying over 5$ for any book, but will do it if the story sounds good or sample... Read morePublished 4 months ago by ICESTORM
This is a gripping novel which grapples with big philosophical issues in a tight framework. It is utterly unique. Fascinating.Published 4 months ago by Ione Rummery