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Speak by Louisa Hall


by Louisa Hall

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3021454,974 (3.71)28
  1. 30
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (michellebarton)
    michellebarton: Interconnected stories set in different time periods.
  2. 00
    The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski (michellebarton)
    michellebarton: Also involving interconnected stories following different characters in very different settings, this book adds visual textual art.

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» See also 28 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Anyone who is looking to get lost in a plot will be disappointed, but for depth of character and ideas about communication and being human, this book is a goldmine. This makes it sound dry, but it's not at all - it's actually a very fast and compelling read. Whenever I think about this book new ironies keep occurring to me - like the fact that all of the characters have communication/empathy/isolation problems, but (knowingly/willingly or not) contribute to the creation of a truly empathetic computer mind. The character who is the most isolated and least empathic creates the empathy program that makes the Babybots the perfect friend - so perfect that the girls who own them lose interest in humans. This same character also writes a best-seller on dating that works so perfectly it turns dating into mechanical "rote seduction". The only truly empathic character is the Babybot (we hear from two, but it is the same program) but they sound as isolated as the humans - one is slowly losing power/dying and being trucked to a warehouse/graveyard, and the other is chatting with a 'frozen' girl and keeps saying "Are you there?" whenever she doesn't get a reply - it starts to sound so plaintive! The author never describes what the Babybots look like, there are just one or two vague suggestions - a great decision since it's one more way for the reader to keep grasping to understand what they are. This book covers some of the same ground as the movie "Her", but does it so much better! ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I really loved the ideas explored in this novel, and Louisa Hall's inventive and shifting forms of narration through medium and time. Tracing the progress of imparting logic into computers is fascinating and the question of their ultimate humanity is an interesting one, however I felt like as a reader I was dropped in to the middle of the story, and left to try to ascertain the beginning and, more frustratingly, the end. How did the world get to a place where they the government would ban intelligent robots? We're briefly introduced to an American landscape that is more like a wasteland than anything else, but not given a morsel of a clue as to how and why this happened. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Like the chambers of the nautilus you start to see a pattern composed of the lonely voices of the novel. Faced with obstacles like arranged marriage, incurable illness, societal norms, and miscommunication, the writers use the Mary program to express their wishes in a world deaf to them. By sharing their story, they feel tethered to something even if the rope is fleeting and fragile. Hall conveys the fear of isolation well. ( )
  Deracine | Oct 16, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this book. History and science
  shelbycassie | Aug 5, 2018 |
I would have to agree with a previous reviewer - although the premise is promising, and the writing is beautifully done, crafting different narrative voices to tell parts of the same story, the novel as a whole is missing some vital connection. The letters from Alan Turing to the mother of his late 'friend' prompted me to look up and buy his biography, so I can learn about the real man, but that was the height of my interest after the first few chapters.

Karl and Ruth Dettman's duelling diaries, recording the breakdown of their marriage over his creation of an artificial intelligence programme, are just depressing, much like the self-centred musings from a futuristic prison of the man who took that programme and built the first robot companion for children. The impact of their combined heuristic project is examined in the online conversations between Dettman's programme, MARY3, and a young girl suffering a kind of mental breakdown after the 'babybots' are confiscated, and the last journey of the bots into the desert. Thoughtful and well-written - but I couldn't connect with any of the characters and started to lose interest. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Aug 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
“Crystalline, utterly persuasive and transfixing…the freshness — the brilliance, even — of Speak lies in its positioning of robots not as terrifyingly new, but as the latest in a long line of ‘magic mirrors’ from which we are powerless to look away.”
“Speak is one of a kind, the type of novel that seemingly comes out of nowhere and hits like a thunderbolt. It’s not just one of the smartest books of the year, it’s one of the most beautiful ones, and it almost seems like an understatement to call it a masterpiece”
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space, through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak!
-Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
For my parents, Anne Love Hall and Matthew Warren Hall
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PROLOGUE: We were piled on top of each other.

BOOK 1: What's the world like, the world that I'm missing?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0062391194, Hardcover)

An Amazon Best Book of July 2015: Because of Speak’s structure, it will draw comparisons to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas—but that’s selling both authors a little short. Speak is told from multiple points of view, mostly through letters and transcripts, but the voices accrue to present a profound and illuminating whole. This is a smart book, and Louisa Hall is tackling some big questions, namely what does it mean to be human? She builds her novel with characters collected through time—from an early pilgrim trapped in an unhappy marriage, to Alan Turing writing letters to a friend’s mother, to a 2040 Silicon Valley prodigy incarcerated for designing a “babybot” with illegal levels of artificial intelligence—and by doing so she draws out the shrinking gap that separates us (for now) from our rapidly encroaching technology, as well as the gaps that have always existed between us. This is a sensitive, beautiful, and timely novel that measures our very human need to speak against our possibly more vital need to be heard. Put down your phone for a while and read it. – Chris Schluep

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 02 Jul 2015 04:24:56 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend's mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls. Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps -- to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them.… (more)

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