REVIEW: “No One at the Wild Dock” by Gu Shi

Review of Gu Shi, “No One at the Wild Dock”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A timely, beautiful story. It was exceedingly well written. It’s stories like these that keep drawing me back to translated fiction.

The progression of AI from childlike curiosity and learning difficulties, to slowly gaining knowledge, skills and eventually sentience is lovely, with a perspective that I’ve rarely seen.

The depth of emotion, and subtle changes in interaction as the AI develops and grows are part of what made this story magical for me.

The story is truly poignant due to the commentary on the present state of humanity and our technological dependence inter-weaved with the staggering growth of AI’s abilities.

REVIEW: “Möbius Continuum” by Gu Shi

Review of Gu Shi, “Möbius Continuum”, Clarkesworld 132: Read online. Reviewed by Kerstin Hall.

This one didn’t work for me, and it may be the case that I was simply the wrong audience. As it stands, I found “Möbius Continuum” to be amongst the weaker pieces published in this issue of Clarkesworld. I believe that readers with a taste for the philosophical may find more to admire – that’s not what floats my boat.

In part, the story functions as a thought experiment, a sort of mental repositioning. It is interesting, but there’s little more I can say without giving major spoilers. And even though I anticipated the ending, I still didn’t quite buy it. The conclusion necessitated a kind of tidiness which I experienced as anti-climactic.

Early in the narrative, the protagonist crashes his car over a cliff. Both he and his passenger survive, but the protagonist is left paralysed from the neck down. His enigmatic companion urges him not to despair, and to see his injuries as an opportunity.

I think my largest problem with “Möbius Continuum” is that I never received a strong enough impression of the protagonist’s character. I found it difficult to care about him, and thus the stakes of failures never raised my heart rate. I can see how this nebulousness served an ultimate thematic purpose, but I experienced it as a structural problem. Why should I be invested in this story, what is there to keep me reading? The answer is probably intellectual curiosity, but I wanted emotion on top of that.