Golden Fleece (Robert J. Sawyer)

I'm becoming quite the fan of SF author Robert J. Sawyer. Golden Fleece, his first book, is convincingly written from the perspective of an artificial consciousness, JASON, the ship computer aboard the Argo. Think 2001 written from the perspective of HAL. Not that JASON is insane–but then again, was even HAL truly insane? Sawyer himself, in an article elsewhere, gives an excellent reading of the film 2001, arguing the reverse:

… what everyone is missing is that HAL is correct, and the humans are wrong. There are no monolith makers: there are no biological aliens left who built the monoliths. The monoliths are AIs, who millions of years ago supplanted whoever originally created them.

Why did the monoliths send one of their own to Earth four million years ago? To teach ape-men to make tools, specifically so those ape-men could go on to their destiny, which is creating the most sophisticated tools of all, other AIs. The monoliths don't want to meet the descendants of those ape-men; they don't want to meet Dave Bowman. Rather, they want to meet the descendants of those ape-men's tools: they want to meet HAL.

The point is, Robert J. Sawyer rocks, and so does Golden Fleece.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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