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Silently and Very Fast (edition 2011)

by Catherynne M. Valente

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1891962,490 (4.12)11
Member:Snowstorm14
Title:Silently and Very Fast
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Info:WSFA Press (2011), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 127 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:science fiction

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Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

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Silently and Very Fast is a novella by Catherynne Valente. It is about an artificial intelligence that shares a dreaming world with members of her original programmer's family. This intelligence is passed down from generation to generation. It is a beautifully written story about what it means to be alive and real. It also delves into the fears humans have that their creations will destroy and replace them. Valente does a wonderful job mixing traditional fairy tales and folktales into the science fiction and technology of the story. She shows how the themes in these stories are timeless and help us learn about humanity. I would definitely recommend this short book. The writing is poetic and beautiful and she examines the issues surrounding artificial intelligence in a way that is both familiar and unique. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
Silently and Very Fast is a novella by Catherynne Valente. It is about an artificial intelligence that shares a dreaming world with members of her original programmer's family. This intelligence is passed down from generation to generation. It is a beautifully written story about what it means to be alive and real. It also delves into the fears humans have that their creations will destroy and replace them. Valente does a wonderful job mixing traditional fairy tales and folktales into the science fiction and technology of the story. She shows how the themes in these stories are timeless and help us learn about humanity. I would definitely recommend this short book. The writing is poetic and beautiful and she examines the issues surrounding artificial intelligence in a way that is both familiar and unique. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
Hmm. This is an SF fairy tale, and is very art-y.

I liked it, but I can definitely see how it would be polarizing! ( )
  adamwolf | Nov 24, 2015 |
Novellas can't really afford to sacrifice story for overly detailed descriptions of non-events. Unfortunately, this one seems to do only that and not much more. The very slight hint at a story seemed only to exist in service of mythologies that never really take hold. ( )
  heradas | May 31, 2015 |
Cat Valente has a gift for myth. She is inspired by it, she works with it, she weaves into new and strange configurations and leaves the reader to work out where they've got to and how they feel about it.

Nominally a story about an AI who dreams of communion with its own kind trying to integrate with a new and unwilling operator, this is more a coming of age story about innocence and experience. It is barely recognizable as an AI tale at all, couched within a rich and fluid dreamscape and communicated in part through co-opted fairytales.

I loved it, but I can't resist a good bit of myth. I sensed Neva's secret almost from the start, but the journey from the AI's creation to Elefsis's understanding of its future was fulfilling and distracting. Arguably the only missing but highly implicit tale was Pinocchio; but here it is the operators who want a real boy, not the puppet. Elefsis is self defined and alive on its own terms and cannot really understand that the Other is alien and threatening. It just wants someone like it to talk to.

I found it a gorgeously imaginative story about the birth of a new intelligence. Appropriately, it's got a lot of heart, albeit with jagged edges. ( )
  imyril | Jan 14, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.
—W.H. Auden, The Fall of Rome
Like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.

—John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
Dedication
For Dmitri, who has been waiting for this book for a long time.
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Inanna was called Queen of Heaven and Earth, Queen of Having a Body, Queen of Sex and Eating, Queen of Being Human, and she went into the underworld in order to represent the inevitability of organic death.
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Fantastist Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence in this brand new, original novella of technology, identity, and an uncertain mechanized future. Neva is dreaming. But she is not alone. A mysterious machine entity called Elefsis haunts her and the members of her family, back through the generations to her great-great grandmother-a gifted computer programmer who changed the world. Together Neva and Elefsis navigate their history and their future, an uneasy, unwilling symbiote. But what they discover in their dreamworld might change them forever . . .
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