SPEAK by Louisa Hall


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A novel with past and future settings and an artificial intelligence theme that isn't really science fiction.

A Silicon Valley innovator in a Texas prison in 2040 musing about his crime: building an artificial intelligence. Evidence from his trial: transcripts of conversations between a little girl and a computer program. A computer scientist in 1968 who escaped Nazi Germany as a child musing on his conflict with his historian wife, also a Holocaust refugee, over whether to create a computer program with human memory. Alan Turing, the father of 20th-century computer science, writing letters to the mother of a beloved boarding school friend. A 17th-century Puritan adolescent whining to her diary as she crosses the Atlantic with her family. And an artificially intelligent doll, her battery running down, on a truck heading for a dumping ground in the desert. It’s possible to imagine these elements adding up to an interesting exploration of memory, love, and what it means to be alive. This novel, though, is strangely static. The action happens offstage, to be mulled over later with reproachful melancholy, and none of the voices is compelling or convincing, particularly the historical ones.

An extended complaint about how kids today pay too much attention to their electronic devices.

Pub Date: July 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-239119-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
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