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The Expert System's Brother

de Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Séries: The Expert System (1)

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1215176,689 (3.92)2
"After an unfortunate accident, Handry is forced to wander a world he doesn't understand, searching for meaning. He soon discovers that the life he thought he knew is far stranger than he could even possibly imagine. Can an unlikely saviour provide the answers to the questions he barely comprehends?"--Publisher's website.… (mais)
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Exibindo 5 de 5
Tchaikovsky, Adrian. The Expert System’s Brother. Expert System No. 1. Tor, 2020.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of the most original writers of hard science fiction with strong biotech elements. Here we have an almost failed attempt at exoplanet colonization. Finding the planet almost impossible to farm, the colony has used nanotech to tailor both people and plants to make the colony marginally survivable. Small communities have gradually developed different sets of skills and social structures. Our hero has had an accident that has made the nanomachines unable to recognize him, and his sister, who has had the community’s medical software loaded into her brain, is forced to exile him. For a novella, it packs a lot of punch. The second volume is due out in January 2021. ( )
  Tom-e | Oct 20, 2020 |
Short novel featuring humanity’s inheritors on a planet they have transformed themselves to adapt to; when someone breaks too many community norms they can be un-transformed and exiled and the planet itself will kill them. The narrator accidentally gets burned by the un-transforming potion; his sister then gets stung by the wasps that carry the “ghost” technology that lets programs talk through people and gets (partially) taken over by the doctor ghost, who wants to finish the exiling job. Of course there are wasps and arachnids! When the narrator finds a group of exiles led by a fanatic who wants to un-transform everyone, he will have to choose what he values—old family or found family; the prospect of change through violence versus the risk of stagnation. ( )
  rivkat | Oct 5, 2020 |
** spoiler alert ** This was such an interesting read. We are thrown right into the story about a man being cast out of his village and our protagonist inadvertently getting the same “punishment”.

We follow Handry’s tale from his point of view and how he recalls it all happening. Immediately I could tell we were dealing with a settlement that was dealing with an advanced AI system that they unfortunately really knew absolutely nothing about. Each of these villages just mindlessly followed the voices of the Ghosts and never thought to think outside of it or for themselves. It immediately gave me mind control vibes but as the story progressed I started to realize it was more than that.

The story really takes a turn for the dark when you meet Sharskin, dude was the embodiment of a crazy, occult, religious man. At first, I was like “hey this dude seems cool” then the situation made a 180 so fast that I just knew things were only going to go downhill from there. Sharskin was a frightening man, and his actions were so violent and the crazy part was that everyone he managed to brainwash with his speeches never thought anything more of it. But that goes to show that power and violence against the already weak and worn down are the perfect combination for a crazy power hungry man to take control. This man had one goal in mind and he was going to reach it in any manner he could.

The whole idea of a world full of humans that are completely controlled by one entity or another is fascinating. There was a lot of brainwashing and preaching and ideologies thrown around in this short story but It was captivating. I also appreciated that it didn’t necessarily go the route of a bad AI system, but i wouldn’t necessarily say it was good, definitely flawed.

For the most part one can say the story was predictable, there were elements that I was able to tell were going to go a certain way, and then there were elements that came as a shock. But the story kept me on edge with a need to know what was going on, how this world came to be, how Handry is able to tell me this story, that is something that I love from a first person point of view, it always makes me wonder how they got themselves to the point of being able to tell me what happened, and with some of these events in this story I really was curious.

The cast of characters is small, and that worked perfectly for the story, Handry was a great protagonist and I really enjoyed the way he told his tale. He kept you interested and on edge, waiting for the next bit of information, he even a few times stated that he knew you the reader had already guessed were parts of his story were going, which was a fun little twist I enjoyed.

It’s a quick and easy read, maybe a bit slow on some parts and at times a little confusing with the technology speech but that’s more a personal understanding but then anything on my part. All around though a very fascinating tale. ( )
  SweetKokoro | Jul 30, 2020 |
This is a novella, which I hope will be nominated for major SF&F awards for this year.

Just like his SF novel [b:Children of Time|25499718|Children of Time|Adrian Tchaikovsky|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1431014197s/25499718.jpg|45276208], [a:Adrian Tchaikovsky|1445909|Adrian Tchaikovsky|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1282303363p2/1445909.jpg] masterfully mixes classical SF tropes and modern concern with social issues. A young boy is accidently changed, which alienate him from his village and the world itself, like a form of allergy from everything. While the village seems low tech, it is hinted from the start (even by the book’s title) that there is some high tech hidden behind the scenes, like in [b:Orphans of the Sky|50832|Orphans of the Sky|Robert A. Heinlein|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1386922510s/50832.jpg|1021849]. The boy has to go on the quest without clear goal and manages to learn about the world and himself.

A very nice read.

In my head the villagers were on my trail, coming with slings, spears, with lanterns and righteous anger. I could picture all those familiar faces twisted by the same emotion, as though they had all kept a ghost inside them, all this time. I could remember them before the accident, that was the worst thing. If I had been born to this, surely it wouldn’t be so raw? But I’d been one of them, once. And no doubt if this had happened to someone else, I’d be with the mob, a cudgel in my hand and no doubts in my head. ( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
If you are at all familiar with the tropes of science fiction it won't take you very long at all to figure out that the unnamed world where The Expert System's Brother takes place is some sort of lost colony, that humans have been artificially adapted to it, and that they have reverted to a subsistence state governed by expert systems. Not AI because there is no change, growth or adaptation, just endless repetition of a "best" solution.

As we follow Handry, the narrator, his life begins in a small, controlled community where everyone knows their place and works for the collective good. Those who do not are summarily exiled from the community and also stripped of the ability to eat or touch the plants and animals without violent allergic reactions. Handry himself becomes accidentally marked as an exile and the "ghosts" that run the community determine that it is better to finish exiling him than to try and help him. And so he wanders as an intelligent, reasonably moral exile through an existentially hostile world until he meets Sharskin. Sharskin is another exile, but one who has found a way to be fit and healthy, leading a group of fellow exiles as a self-styled priest with a plan to return humanity to its true, great, powerful, original and destined place, regardless of the reality of the world around them.

Handry is really nothing more than the narrator, a passive portable point of view until the very end when he finally takes a meaningful action because *something* must be the moral agent and turn the tide of history away from either stagnation (the status quo) or destruction (Sharskin). As much as Tchaikovsky tries to make Sharskin a more nuanced character, those are really only flickers of character on an otherwise completely predictable priest-dictator-strongman stereotype. We're supposed to identify with Handry because we've experience everything from his point of view, and he is "honest" in recanting his personal failings while narrating. Except that he is too passive, too disengaged to really feel anything for him as a person rather than a viewpoint. Up to this point the whole story has been told in the past tense. As Handry predictably defeats the destructive dictator and overcomes the straight-jacket of the status quo, the narration moves into the present tense. AH HA! Now the story will move beyond the drawn-out preliminaries and we'll get the greater tale of how these people will overcome the challenges of this world, or the history of why so few came so ill-prepared and what happened to mire them in such a stagnant, basic society. But this is not to be. In fact the novella is abruptly done.

I cannot help but think of Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Over the course of many novels she told stories of struggle and change on individual and societal levels. Over the course of several she laid out the fall and rise of a colony of ill-prepared humans on an inimical world. The Expert System's Brother ends up just being a simple morality play explaining that we should neither become complacent with a benevolent stagnation nor blinded by the fiery rhetoric of a self-aggrandizing dictator. It would have been better told as a short story. Such a disappointing novella would only rate two stars if Tchaikovsky's writing hadn't kept showing flashes of brilliance. Characters that kept trying and just failing to be more than stereotypes. Occasional great turns of phrase. Hints of a much greater backstory of how these people came to be in such desperate straits, so small in number, so ill prepared. And now that the short-term survival tools are breaking down how will they survive, or will they fail? THAT is the story I want to read and the follow-up that this novella is begging for. ( )
1 vote grizzly.anderson | Aug 11, 2018 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Adrian Tchaikovskyautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Lacoste, RaphaelArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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"After an unfortunate accident, Handry is forced to wander a world he doesn't understand, searching for meaning. He soon discovers that the life he thought he knew is far stranger than he could even possibly imagine. Can an unlikely saviour provide the answers to the questions he barely comprehends?"--Publisher's website.

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