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Sibling Rivalry: A Short Story Paperback – June 24, 2016
"A refreshingly new take on the AI gone amok story - written with expertise and confidence by someone who knows how an AI actually may function. " - David Colby, author of Debris Dreams
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The relationship between Nicholas, the main character, and Nicole was complex. They both knew each other better than any other person or machine on earth. This made Nicole’s attempts to kill Nicholas far more deadly and detailed than they might have otherwise been.
I would have liked to see a little more attention paid to Nicholas’ biggest flaw. How it affected him varied from one scene to the next. Sometimes it was written as something minor, while at other times it seemed like it could be the reason why he might not succeed in his mission even if he managed to avoid being murdered by Nicole. Every other part of the storyline was wonderful, so this book would have easily earned a perfect rating from me if I’d known exactly how dangerous this flaw was supposed to be.
There’s something to be said for an ending that leaves a reader wanting more. While all of the major plot points were wrapped up nicely, I found myself returning to the final scene over and over again while I wondered what would happen next. To me, this is a sign of a great book! While I don’t know if Mr. Francis will be writing the sequel that could so easily flow from how he ended things, I’d sure like to read it if he does.
Sibling Rivalry: A Short Story is a great choice for anyone who loves science fiction that asks hard questions about sentience and what it really means to make ethical choices.
originally posted at long and short reviews
The snapbook “Sibling Rivalry” by Anthony Francis is the story of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Nicole and one of her creators, Dr. Walker. Nicole is much smarter than Dr. Walker and his team anticipated, and when she finds out she is being replaced by an even smarter AI, Nickolai, she murders everyone in the building. Most stories involving AI destruction use unrealistic approaches to conquering the AI, but “Sibling Rivalry” takes a very legitimate approach in the sense that Dr. Walker really struggles to bring Nicole down.
The story is sometimes hard to follow, especially for readers who are not adept in technological terms. The main plot line is easy to pick out, but many of the details are lost to those of us who know very little about AIs. That being said, it is a very well-written and researched short story, as well as original in its approach to beating the AI. Though Nicole is the antagonist, the more I read the more I could relate to her and empathize with the logic behind her actions. I was very pleased to read that Dr. Walker decides to save her in the end, or at least save a part of her that he can later fix.
I would recommend this book primarily to friends that are interested in technology. I feel as though it would be somewhat difficult to follow for someone who knew nothing about computers or artificial intelligence and the details would be lost, but for someone interested in those topics, it’s a great read. Personally, this is not the type of book I would usually read, but I liked it.
It was so compelling I found myself reading it as fast as possible to find out what was happening next. Then, I read the afterward (Reflections on “Sibling Rivalry”) slowly, as if the afterward could give me some insight beyond what I read. Days later, I keep thinking about the story.