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).)