Book Reviews

Review: Our Only Chance by Ray Else

Our Only Chance is a unique mixture of Frankenstein elements that takes place with artificial intelligence and in Japan. The most fascinating aspect, to me, is the intellectual points brought up throughout the novel.

Summary

Let me get a few things out of the way before I dive in to my favorite parts: the ethics. The most atmosphere we get are the descriptions of nature, there is a lack of detail regarding the surrounding world. In terms of plot, it felt very rushed at the end, as there were many secrets revealed. There were many little tidbits that I very much enjoyed, such as the space section, or the Computer Einna, that could have been developed more. All in all, it felt a little rushed and it brought up many things that weren’t exactly fulfilled to the end.

Review

Character-wise I was torn. On the one hand, we get a lovely comparison between the very brilliant, but also robotic Manaka, the creator, and Einna, the longing AI android. I felt that this foil relationship was well done. However, the side characters seemed like plot devices. While we did received information about their quirks, it was only when we met them. There were a few characters in the middle, like the professor and the investor, but even these felt a little hollow.

But now onto the good stuff. The ethics of AI and androids are so fascinating to me. It brings up all these questions of whether or not we should even manufacture them. This book’s strongest feature is not only the ideas it brings up about AI/androids, but also that Einna, the AI herself, is asking them. This reflects a strategic decision on Else’s part to make Einna self-reflective. (And this really shows in various permutations of her character). In this way, Einna takes on not only the characteristics of Frankenstein’s monster, but also of Frankenstein himself.

If you are at all fascinated by the topics of AI/androids, or even a modern version of Frankenstein, this is the book to check out. It’s exploration of some very timely, and important, questions for today’s researchers makes it compelling and food for thought. You can pick up a copy at Amazon, add it Goodreads, or visit the author’s site.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Discussion

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