This week I’m doing a freebie topic for Top Five Tuesday and talking about my favorite AI in sci-fi books! While I remain terrified of Alexa mutating into Skynet and/or HAL 3000, I love a good AI in fiction, especially when authors take the time to explore how their experiences differ from a human’s. So here are my favorite AIs!
If you want to add any of these to your reading queue, covers link to Goodreads!
Lovey – THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET/ A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT
SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR THESE BOOKS AHEAD. Lovey begins her journey as a ship AI, but during a calamity at the end of ANGRY PLANET, she’s transfered into a humanoid synthetic shell – a practice that is definitely not legal in this particular space galaxy. But besides hiding her true identity, Lovey has to adjust from being a ship to being a singular person. She finds single person POV disorienting and has to work on finding work arounds to make her more comfortable in social situations.
Bero – VELOCITY WEAPON
When Sanda Greeve wakes up after being injured in a space battle, she discovers a few key things: It’s been 230 years since that battle and she’s alone on an enemy ship with an AI named Bero. Thankfully, though, Bero is just incredibly happy and is more than happy to tolerate a human on his decks, even an enemy. Together, the two must work together to keep Bero’s ship operational and prep to make the trek to the nearest habitable system. Bero is a character that takes some interesting turns and has some surprising pathos, and his story with Sanda is the most compelling of the three plot lines running through VELOCITY WEAPON (which is an amazing book, go read it).
M-Bot – SKYWARD
Early on in SKYWARD, lead hero Spensa finds a crashed spaceship out in the wilds and decides she’s going to repair it. As soon as she gets power on in the ship, she discovers it has an AI called M-Bot. M-Bot has some predictable but nonetheless hilarious inability to parse human idioms at first, something it eventually gets better at. M-Bot is also obsessed with carrying out its primary directive: finding and cataloguing new species of mushrooms. As this is something very difficult for a crashed ship to do, it reacts with delight to any specimens presented to it.
Murderbot & ART – ARTIFICIAL CONDITION
If you haven’t heard the good word about Murderbot yet, I suggest you correct this post-haste. Murderbot is a security construct, an AI in hybrid organic-synthetic humanoid body. The ultimate introvert, Murderbot would like to stay in its pod and watch TV for the rest of time, but those pesky humans its supposed to guard keep getting into trouble. Less well known, but equally deserving of love, is ART, a ship AI on a transport Murderbot stows away on in one of the novellas. ART is prickly at first, but is good at calling out Murderbot and forcing them to confront some weighty matters like, “What the hell do you want out of life Murderbot?” ART is also an excellent partner in crime in aiding Murderbot in passing off as a human, critiquing their gait and eye contact. ART only appears in one of the four novellas, but makes a lasting impact.
Breq/JUSTICE OF TOREN – ANCILLARY JUSTICE
I’ll be up front with you: ANCILLARY JUSTICE is a weird book that I need to reread and I don’t fully remember all of the details about this sci-fi tale, and I might be mixing some details up! What I do remember is that the ship AI in this book are able to interact and manipulate the world through dozens of humanoid constructs, each known as an “ancillary,” and the ship AI is generally manipulating several of these ancillaries at once. This makes for a unique narrative device where in some sections, every paragraph would switch perspectives without any special marker, as the AI cycles focusing on different ancillaries. So in one paragraph the POV is ancillary on the ship in space, the next POV is an ancillary in a village, the next is an ancillary in a different section of the village. It was very jarring at first, but once I adjusted, I loved how it portrayed an entity that is literally processing several inputs at once, how it is aware of things happening in multiple locations.