- File Size: 35580 KB
- Print Length: 342 pages
- Publisher: Melcher Media Inc (November 17, 2015)
- Publication Date: November 17, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0182NCTWS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,408 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft Kindle Edition
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Story 1: Hello, Hello
This story struck me as something someone might write for a high school writing class. The characters were very superficial, and the story itself used foreshadowing that was so obvious, you might as well be hit over the head. The author seemed to be at least as interested in making the point that the family involved was a single-sex couple, rather than telling a story. Two stars, and I think that is generous.
Story 2: The Machine Starts
This next tale is very high on the scientific end, going into the world of quantum computing. It posits some very interesting concepts about being in multiple places at the same time, and bridging between multiple universes. However, at least for me, the total lack of character development (being little more than names, with no history at all), kept me from getting into the story. There was also no story line that grabbed me. Three stars, largely for the attempt at trying to make quantum computing and quantum states remotely understandable.
Story 3: Skin In the Game
The setting for this story in the entertainment industry makes this one slightly different. The main subject matter is the ability to record and play back emotions, connecting oneself with others. The main character, Neon White, is well developed and someone with whom the reader can connect. Most of the other characters, though, are quite flat with little back story. That is why the ending, at least for me, makes little sense and never brings about an "Aha!" moment. In fact, it seems to me that the story drops almost in mid-thought; no real ending. Three stars, mostly for the Neon White character. Little else made sense, and the lack of story resolution was not enjoyable.
Story 4: Machine Learning
This story deals with Artificial Intelligence, and having a machine able to pick up on personality and emotional clues to learn about a person and improve educational methods. The main character, Evan, is extremely well developed, and one that the reader connects with deeply through his past tragedies and present life. Most other characters are far less developed, more like window-dressing to move the story forward. The climax of the story is decent, though the significance of it seems to be glossed over. This is another story without an ending, where the story is brought to a close so quickly the reader could get metaphorical whiplash. Four stars, though, largely for the portrayal of Evan. I only hope he is able to move on at some point.
Story 5: Riding With the Duke
Walter Peacock is a super-nerd, one with which much of the audience can identify. He is well written and developed as a "fish out of water" kind of guy. The concept here is putting oneself physically into any movie, TV show or other recorded situation, and the person essentially becomes anyone they choose, with voice and mannerisms to match. Walter's girlfriend, Diana, never makes much sense. She helps Walter develop as a person, but little is ever known about her, or even why she is with him. As in the previous two stories, the ending seems to fall flat, like the writer was not sure how to end it, so they just quit writing. Three stars at best for this tale, as the story just seems to be awkward all the way through and never hits its stride.
Story 6: A Cop's Eye
This story is rather unique, being in a graphic novel or "comic book" format. That being said, the concept put forward here seems to be interactive AI, in the form of an information database system. A sort of police dispatcher with access to all area information, cameras, etc. It can even translate third-party foreign speech. The story itself is simple, dealing with a runaway teenager. However, the db system acts as a police officer's "partner", discussing cases and suggesting possibilities at any time. It keeps the human both informed and focused without jumping to conclusions. It also helps with knowledge about other area services, such as shelters and other support agencies. There is no character development at all in this story, but in this format, the story is informational rather than entertainment. Four stars for the unique method of getting across what the author wanted to say. The only downside to this genre is that a long story would not work very well.
Story 7: Looking for Gordo
This story deals with alien communication and AI helping to represent, learn, and translate how an alien might answer without directly speaking to that alien. Everything is developed through huge databases (Think the entire Internet). The story is set as a mock trial about whether Earth should actively send out communications rather than just listening (SETI). Emily, the main character, is well defined and helps explain much of the story. Few other characters are deeply structured, but it is not needed in this format. An interesting point is how two species might converse without common points of reference - perhaps the other species lives where there is no moon, or a social situation we might find appalling might be an everyday occurrence with that species. I found this story very enlightening and thought-provoking. Five stars for an entertaining look at a situation that could easily happen with inter-species contact.
Story 8: The Tell
I find it hard to describe this submittal as a story; it is a combination of the musings of a self-proclaimed futurist, excerpts (both real and imagined) from other books and articles, and a small story about a Las Vegas magician supposedly being too good at his craft. The area dealt with is prediction, and whether (or how) a prediction engine might come about. The story itself is just a small part of the article; even much of that "story" involves the silent musings of the magician about prediction. I give this submittal one of my very rare one-star ratings. The writings might fit well in some philosophical tome on human behavior (and prediction of same), but not in a collection of science-fiction short stories. There really was no story.
Story 9: Another Word for World
This final story is excellent. It deals with computerized translation systems and the problems that can occur with the nuances of language. This reminds me of what I always thought was a bit unrealistic during all the Star Trek shows. There are two main characters, both very well defined. The tension and interplay between the two are very well written, and the reader is pulled into the story. Five stars for this final story in the collection.
Overall, this collection is about standard for short story collections: a couple of excellent stories, then the quality goes down from there. At least this book seems to be well spread out between the good and bad. A decent three stars for Future Visions.
The writing is top-notch in all of these stories, though I think there is sometimes a sense of constraint that is hard to describe; that is, these stories are not necessarily examples of the writers’ best work and they might have been constrained by time or topic, since this is a project focused on the work at one corporation. However, all the stories are at least very good, and some of them are spectacular. Personally, I was caught up in the incredible craft on display, especially from McGuire, Bear, Kress, and Leckie.
at Microsoft), this book contains an interesting batch by short stories.
Hello, Hello - A family gets an odd greeting.
The Machine Starts - A scientific group discovers a way to many universes and their
various other selves.
Skin in the Game - A rock singer uses an app to hone her performance.
Machine Learning - A scientist creates something to replace what he has lost.
Riding with the Duke - A couple gets an unique experience with the movies.
A Cop's Eye - a comic strip about a cop, his AI partner, and the disappearance
of a runaway girl (This is really great!)
Looking for Gordo
At last, Earth finds some peaceful aliens
A magician does some interesting tricks.
Another Word for World
Between two women, there is a mistranslation of their two languages.