Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Closed and Common Orbit

My book for April is A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. This is a sequel to her first novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet that I read last year. I finished the book on the flight back from New York.

The author caught my attention because this book was nominated for the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award. The book won the 2017 Prix Julia-Verlanger, a French prize rewarding novels of science fiction or fantasy.

In the aftermath of the events in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, the ship's artificial intelligence is loaded into an android body and leaves to pursue an independent existence in the company of Pepper, a technician. A parallel narrative strand explores Pepper's past as a genetically modified child slave.

This is the third book dealing with artificial intelligence that I have read in the last year. The other two are Origin and Ancillary Mercy. All three books raise some interesting ethical questions about how artificial intelligence might fit into society. I suspect that these are not real questions that we will have to deal with in my lifetime...

I enjoyed the book and recommended it. I give it a solid "B+." The author did a particularly nice job interweaving two storylines and bringing them together at the end of the book. Building on the first book, the world building and the development of the alien characters is very good.

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