Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: Speak

Oh man, some pretty big feels in this book. Written by Louisa Hall, parts of it is set in a not-too distant future, not quite a dystopia but perhaps a stop on the way there.I guess it tries to establish what is being alive, what merits that. It does this through several interlocking narratives from different time periods. They all relate to the artificial intelligence Mary3, for which one of the characters in the book ends up in prison.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I don’t think I’d do it justice and I don’t want to spoil it, because it’s really good and you should just go read it yourself. But I really loved the different characters in the book, there was a lot of heartache and stupidity and I suppose, humanity. All the characters shape Mary3 into what she/it is, and her story is perhaps the more sad in the book.

What I also really enjoyed was this stop on the way to dystopia. The world doesn’t need to be that fleshed out, because it is still like ours. However, there are noticeable differences which I thought were slightly terrifying in that I could see it happening in the future. For example, transport rights – you could sell your rights to be able to move around. People would then live in the same place and not be able to move/leave ever again. It seems like an extended prison but it is traded for safety and stability.

I don’t think one of the central issues in the story would ever happen, but I suppose you need a trick to form some of the narrative around. Maybe it could, maybe the way we interact with non-human machines would change people in the way it did in the book. However, unlike many of the other books I’ve read in the last few years, this has made me think quite a bit more. I think it has the potential to become a sci-fi classic. It’s definitely more intellectual and less fluffy. More realism with a sci-fi flair.

Also, delightfully, lots of women, a very good grasp of lots of thorny issues in modern life and lots of compelling stories and characters. Total 5/5 stars. I recommend picking it up.

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