There is a certain flavor that nearly all science fiction seems to contain. It’s not just the “future” aspect of the situations. It’s not only the “stuff” that appears, things that we maybe only vaguely imagined might come to be – that is all to be expected. Otherwise, how do we know we are in the future? No, it’s something about the tenor of the dialogue, or the particular way the scenes are depicted, that says, “yes, there’s just a little bit of affectation here that exists because I want to tell you something really cool that’s coming, but without sounding like it’s any big deal.”

That doesn’t describe with sufficient clarity what I want to say, but it does certainly apply to the present novel. I have no problem with it, per se, except that it does tend to detract from what would otherwise be a deeper engagement in the novel. I didn’t get lost in the narrative, because I was always listening to the author’s voice.

On second thought, maybe that’s not a flaw that is particular to science fiction. Maybe science fiction just shows it up more, because we are being asked in the first place to accept situations that seem, almost by definition, to be fantastical.

And yet, that’s the thing that makes a book such as Neuromancer so wonderful – the fact that everything seems so just out of the reach of the present day that I can accept it all, hook, line, and sinker. And yet Autonomous, although it is compared to Neuromancer in the liner notes, just doesn’t seem to have the same “of course” feeling.

And that is coming from one who has no problem at all accepting that humans and machines are going to merge, both physically and mentally. Yes, let’s take the best of both realms and see if we can’t make something better. Both heart and mind. It’s just a matter of evolution.

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