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The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto
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The Stories of Ibis

by Hiroshi Yamamoto

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This was easily one of the best science fiction books I have read. The book encompasses some of the best themes of sci-fi and A.I. writing. The progression of stories flows wonderfully and the overarching story ties in well. ( )
  Noonecanstop | Mar 2, 2014 |
This book was excellent. Really one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. Not really surprising plot, only a great deal to think on. Top notch. Great for discussion. ( )
  LaneLiterati | Feb 28, 2013 |
The Stories of Ibis offers a sparkling, fresh stance on man vs. machine science fiction, proving that the lines between both camps are not so simple to discern. Quite enjoyed the more heady philosophical debates on the role of machines in human lives and vice versa, how both parties rely on one another for companionship, purpose, and evolution. In particular, the idea of death as discussed between the nameless Storyteller and the android Ibis is a compelling one that will linger long after the book is closed. Also, loved how vital the act of storytelling is to this novel. Hiroshi Yamamoto places the writer in a central role as the preserver of human culture and as the bonding link between disparate civilizations. Meta-narrative at its most sci fi - delicious.

Some readers might be turned off by the dense technical writing that accompanies a couple of the short stories. Remember: this is science fiction. Science is a large part of said fiction. Understanding the physics behind the fiction is vital at times and Yamamoto explores it with great depth.

Ideal for: sci fi lovers who need a sharp jolt from the genre; current or former philoso-philes who like a good android debate; amateur or professional writers who love to speculate on their influence over these narratives; physics nerds who like reading technical jargon in their spare time.(less) ( )
  MizMoffatt | Jan 2, 2012 |
I found myself at airport earlier this week, and discovered that I had somehow managed to leave the book I had brought along to read, in my checked bag. So it was off to the airport bookstore in search of a replacement. The pickings proved pretty slim, but this book by a Japanese author about whom I knew absolutely nothing caught my eye, and I decided to give it a try, not really having any idea what to expect.

The Stories of Ibis is a novel built around a series of short stories told by an attractive, kick-ass, feminine (but not fully equiped, she informs our protagonist) android. The novel is set in a dystopian future in which mankind has been supplanted by androids as rulers of Earth. The stories all purport to be a fictional illustration of some aspect of how Artificial Intelligence developed (indeed many are given as examples of “this is how humans expected it to go, but that’s not what happened”). The fiction within fiction nature of these tales provides an opportunity to explore the nature and importance of fiction and its relationship to reality.

The stories, most of which had been published previously, often feel naïve and simple, very much in a YA mode. At the same time, they are reasonably thought-provoking and consistently effective in connecting at an emotional level. Several of the stories make explicit reference to and explore the limitations of Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.” Three quarters of the way through this book I was surprised at how much I had liked it.

Unfortunately, the last (and longest) of the stories, and the only one which purports to be non-fiction within fiction, was just plain silly, deteriorating at times to the level of one of those violent Japanese cartoon that my 8 year old son would watch constantly if we let him get away with it. Perhaps such a tale appeals to the manga otaku (if I have the terminology right), but it’s not remotely my cup of tea.

I found both this final story and the resolution of the framing story to be fairly juvenile and generally unconvincing. So I can’t really give this book an enthusiastic endorsement. But I did enjoy several of the individual stories. ( )
  clong | Aug 7, 2010 |
Have you ever felt like you could fall in love with a book? That is exactly what I felt like after reading The Stories of Ibis.

So far, since starting my reviews of books, I have fallen for two other books. One being White Noise and the other is Kafka on the Shore. Though as much as I enjoyed and could relate to those two, I had this preternatural feeling that Stories of Ibis was written for me and only me.

Yes, I realize that is not the case. Believe me when I say that I may be a tad absurd at times, but I am not a complete nutcase.

A little background as to why I love this book: since I was a child, I have always been fascinated with robots, droids, and cyborgs. I remember playground debates about the fundamentals of such creations and their functions. On and on it went and my fascination retained throughout all of these years.

Now, reading The Stories of Ibis not only reinforced the old love I have for Artificial Intelligence, but also allowed me to see it in a different light; one that is more positive and hopeful.

Here we have a future in which the human population is dwindling. Machines of individual intelligence have populated the Earth and have taken to building colonies for themselves. The humans, however, have taken the inclination to become luddites and fear the robots. The humans have spread the notion that the robots enslave, torture, kill humans indiscriminately. Though, there is little evidence to support such. In fact, the Internet still exists, but the humans refuse to tap into it to collect information calling it all robot propaganda considering that all they express (in terms understandable to humans) is only the wish to please the humans, to help them as best as they can.

The novel starts out with the Narrator being kidnapped/rescued by the robot Ibis. The Narrator is a human storyteller who goes from colony to colony to recite to illiterate humans the literature and histories that he has read. Because of this, he holds a high position among other humans. Ibis has recognized this about the narrator. She decides to use him as a means to tell her story: the story about the original relationship between human and machine, to assuage his prejudice if she can.

Because the Narrator is a storyteller, Ibis uses the power of fiction to reveal to him her true intents. The novel goes deep into the philosophy of using fiction, genres, and literature to explain the truth of a situation. This being a science fiction novel makes it ideal to express this point. After all, a majority of good science fiction is used to express concern over human action (or the lack thereof) – it is not just an escape for nerds and something for all the popular kids to fear (there’s a story within the novel about this particular assumption).

Short story by short story, Ibis reveals her intent to the Narrator and proves beyond a reasonable doubt that his prejudices are false. The best part here, though, is the philosophy as to why robot prejudice is expected from human even if they are completely illogical.

In the end, it is all about dreams and love. The dreams are an infinite puzzle to be continuously solved and placed into practice by those that man once created. The love… it is both real and i2 = − 1. ( )
10 vote bardsfingertips | Aug 6, 2010 |
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Epigraph
"'I AM A MACHINE. YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND, MASTER,' it said in a monotone. It quickly reverted to its original expression and smiled at me mischievously. 'Seems like you're being mocked, doesn't it?'"
Dedication
To my wife, Manami
My deepest gratitude for your support and assistance
with the research of this book.
To my daughter, Mizuki
May your future brim with happiness.
First words
It was the most exquisite machine I had ever seen.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The tales Ibis tells are science fiction stories about the events surrounding the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis's real intentions?
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In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The stories that Ibis speaks of are the "seven novels" about the events surrounding the announcements of the development of artificial intelligence (Ai) in the 20th and 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis's real intentions?… (more)

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