REVIEW: “Fill the Heavens!” by Hiroyuki Morioka

Review of Hiroyuki Morioka, Simon Varnam (trans), “Fill the Heavens!” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 63-68 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

This was a curious take on the trope of “people being converted to digital form and uploaded to the cloud”: quite intriguing. There was a strong Buddhist foundation to the story, which meant I spent part of my time reading it pausing to look up all the Sanskrit words — but this is a plus in my book, not a minus. My Sanskrit is spotty at best, but I was pleased to recognise one or two of the words!

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 31, no. 3 (2016).)

REVIEW: “Night Flight” by Yusuke Miyauchi

Review of Yusuke Miyauchi, Mark Gibeau (trans), “Night Flight” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 55-60 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

I love a story that causes me to pause partway through to google “Is Pacman NP-hard?” (the answer is yes!) This story was somewhat different from the rest in the anthology in that it was entirely a conversation, between David and his AI personal assistant, Amy. I liked the variety that it contributed to the collection as a whole, and also loved the story on its own merits, with an adorably sweet twist at the end.

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 29, no. 4 (2014).)

REVIEW: “My Six Months With Taku” by Tadashi Ohta

Review of Tadashi Ohta, Angelo Wong (trans), “My Six Months With Taku” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 47-51 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

This was an absolutely sweet and touching story about a journey through the Uncanny Valley. I loved it.

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 27, no. 6 (2012).)

REVIEW: “Barcarolle” by Fumio Takano

Review of Fumio Takano, Sharni Wilson (trans), “Barcarolle” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 39-43 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

V made his debut as a brilliant concert pianist fourteen years ago, and now lives the life of indigent artist who no one cares much, one way or the other, to hear now. When a friend offers him a paid gig to “test” a new music AI that has been made, he takes it up, not for any desire to help science but because he’s not one to turn down the opportunity to make money.

He’s also a little bit curious about what kind of revolutionary new abilities this AI could possibly have — there’s already AIs that compose, AIs that play, AIs that conduct music. What else is left?

Well, what V finds in the test is not what he, or the reader, expects, but it’s something that taps into the deepest longings of any artist. The music was beautifully centered in this story, and I loved the ending.

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 30, no. 4 (2015).)

REVIEW: “Concession” by Jyouji Hayashi

Review of Jyouji Hayashi, Daniel Huddleston (trans), “Concession” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 31-36 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Mr. Naganuma is playing shogi against the brilliant AI, Victorious; he won the first game, and now the second game begins.

This is a straightforward story about man vs. machine, with an interesting emphasis on the question of what it means to really play a game.

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 28, no. 6 (2013).)

REVIEW: “Downgrading” by Kei Zushi

Review of Kei Zushi, Tony McNicol (trans), “Downgrading” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 23-28 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Content warning: contemplation of suicide.

This story felt slightly autobiographical — both the narrator and the author had a prize-winning short stories in their 20s, and then settled down to write obscure novels after that. But that’s a situation probably many readers can resonate with, or at least sympathise with, so it provides a nice hook into the rest of the story, which focuses on an artificial support system for dementia sufferers.

I found the story surprising fully of pathos and depth.

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 29, no. 1 (2014).)

REVIEW: “The Clearing Robot” by Motoko Arai

Review of Motoko Arai, Rachel Lam (trans), “The Clearing Robot” in Hirotaka Osawa, ed., Intelligence, Artificial and Human: Eight Science Fiction Tales by Japanese Authors, (AI x SF Project, [2019]): 15-20 — More information here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

I loved every single bit of this story. It’s a story for all of us indifferent housekeepers who spend too much time at home collecting (and generating!) books and papers. I felt so much sympathy with the narrator in the opening pages! And I’m in 100% agreement: “What we people…really need is not a robot that cleans our space; we need one that clears it” (p. 17).

(First published in Artificial Intelligence 31, no. 4 (2016).)