Category: Robots

Ta-wei Chi: 膜 (Membranes)

The latest addition to my website is Ta-wei Chi‘s 膜 (Membranes). This novel is a queer transgender climate-change Taiwanese novel set in the twenty-second century. Everyone now lives under the sea because of climate change. We follow the story of Momo, the top skincare specialist in T City. Momo lives a solitary life, seeing only her clients and giving them a membrane which she can, with a scanner, determine what they have been doing. She had a serious operation when she was seven – she was in hospital for three years – as a result of which she lost both her friend Andy (who we know to have been a cyborg) and also her penis (all is later explained). Since then she has fallen out with her mother, a successful publisher, and they have had no contact for twenty years. Now as she approaches thirty, mother reappears and Momo is determined to find out what happened. She and we are in for a shock. This is an excellent novel, dealing with Momo’s mental state, new technology and Momo’s mental state as well as climate change and the major plot twist.

Kazuo Ishiguro: Klara and the Sun

The latest addition to my website is Kazuo Ishiguro‘s Klara and the Sun. The novel is set in the not too distant further in the United States and tells the story of Klara, an AF, i.e. an artificial friend, a robot that acts as a friend to a child, not least because children do not seem to go to school but learn online. We follow the story from Klara waiting in a New York shop to be sold and being bought by the mother of Josie, a girl with health problems. Klara is astute and sensitive and tries to help Josie, not least by invoking the sun, the source of Klara’s energy and nourishment. We meet Rick, next door neighbour and close friend of Josie, we learn how Klara struggles to fully understand humans and the issues with Josie’s divorced parents and whether Klara can save Josie. As in many of Ishiguro’s books there is an underlying sense of foreboding, exacerbated by a hint – but only a hint – of societal breakdown. This book clearly sees Ishiguro back to form and is an excellent work on our possible near future.

Ian McEwan: Machines Like Me

The latest addition to my website is Ian McEwan‘s Machines Like Me. As the title implies, this is about robots. Set in an alternative 1982 where Thatcher has lost the Falklands War and Alan Turing did not kill himself but invented the Internet, it tells the story of Charlie Friend who, with an inheritance, bought one of a batch of twenty-five robots, called, imaginatively, Adam. (The females, which sold out at once, are called Eve). We follow Charlie’s relationship with Adam, not as simple as he thought it was going to be, and with Miranda, the woman who lives upstairs. Throw in Miranda’s past (revealed to Charlie by Adam) and ab abused child whom Miranda would like to adopt and we have a complicated plot. However, the main issue is, are robots sentient beings, should we treat them as such and can they learn what we have learned – the good, the bad and the ugly – and adapt accordingly? This is McEwan’s best book for a whole and well worth reading both for the story and the issues it raises.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén