Friday, 20 March 2020
REVIEW: Helene: Lost Tales of Solace by Karl Drinkwater
'Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.
As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.
Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.
On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.
Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?
Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.'
Purchase Helene here.
Firstly, sincere apologies to author Karl Drinkwater for the late posting of this review. Covid-19 and its attendant precautions have been a distraction, as I'm sure they have for all of us.
It was rather splendid then to read 'Helene', as its portrayal of the burgeoning relationship between an AI and a human doctor distracted me in its turn with its evocation of an empire far far away, complete with a despotic ruler, brutish guards and Machiavellian intrigue. All this would normally have given me a sense of déjà-vu were it not for the grounding effect of the titular heroine Helene. Her exchanges with the AI were humorous, philosophical and spoke of concerns extant in the world right now - as we stand on the brink of increased automation and technological autonomy - just exactly how much control can we exert over that which we create? And what should we be using AI for?
This short story is a precursor to the the Lost Solace series (also by Karl Drinkwater). I haven't read them but on the strength of this tale, I will.
Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He's a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.
He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
When he isn't writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.