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Fool's War (1997)

by Sarah Zettel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4281344,710 (3.93)1 / 55
A New York Times Notable Book from the author of Reclamation: A young woman must face off against an alien force within her starship's computer. Katmer Al Shei has done well with the starship Pasadena, cutting corners where necessary to keep her crew paid and her journeys profitable. But there are two things she will never skimp on: her crew and her fool. For a long space journey, a certified Fool's Guild clown is essential to amuse, excite, and otherwise distract the crew from the drudgeries of interstellar flight. Her newest fool, Evelyn Dobbs, is a talented jester. But does she have enough wit to save mankind?   In the computers of the Pasadena, something is emerging. The highly sophisticated software that makes interstellar travel practical is playing host to a new form of artificial intelligence, a living entity. And it will do whatever it takes to survive . . .   Displaying "the influence of Asimov's robot stories and C. J. Cherryh's elaborate, sophisticated spaceship adventures," this is a science fiction masterpiece that asks the thought-provoking question, "What if the next great life-form with which we must contend isn't from the stars but from our hard drives?" (Publishers Weekly)  … (more)
  1. 40
    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: Sentient AIs and spaceships
  2. 10
    Dreamships by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Both Fool's War and Dreamships (as well as Dreamships' companion novel, Dreaming Metal) consider the position of AI in society, but in different ways. Fool's War takes takes place in a world where sentient AI is a dangerous reality, and considers the theme of whether these AI can ever integrate with human society, while Dreamships takes place in a world where AI isn't quite there yet, and considers the question of whether AI are due "basic human rights" in a civilization where significant portions of humankind still don't have those same rights. Fool's War moves at a brisker pace than Dreamships, which takes a little while to pick up, but in my opinion the world of Dreamships hangs together a little better. Both have well-drawn, likable characters and are well worth the read.… (more)
  3. 00
    Fools' Experiments by Edward M. Lerner (TheDivineOomba)
    TheDivineOomba: Fools Experiments is not nearly as good as Fool's War, but I think the artificial intelligence was done in a much better fashion.
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» See also 55 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
An exciting and fun story involving a Muslim ship captain, her crew, a fool, [b:artificial intelligence|27543|Artificial Intelligence A Modern Approach (2nd Edition)|Stuart J. Russell|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1167881696s/27543.jpg|1362] and then, not so fun, a war that hurts everyone deeply. I enjoyed the fun stuff, but then was a little disappointed that it had to be so sad by the end. (I know, not up to anything complex right now) The author writes well despite some editor/publisher typos. (January 24, 2004) ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
Admittedly, the premise is a little off-putting, I mean, fools capering about in space? Entertaining crews on long trips? But my bemusement didn't last long because the fool herself, Evelyn Dobbs, is instantly engaging (and convincing) and the the setting/premise beguiling: a spaceship run by a devout muslim woman. There is also an eerie prescience in the book, some islamic terrorist group unleashed an ecological disaster (called 'the slow burn' from which the earth, five hundred years down the road, is still recovering. Al Shei, the engineer, ship-captain is striving to make enough money on her mail packet runs (some communications cannot go any other way) to commission a spaceship in which she and her entire family can be together, in the meantime, she shares a ship (time-share style) with her brother-in-law who is a smuggler. This time he leaves a virus on board and all hell breaks loose. Suffice it to say, AI's come into being in certain stressful cyber-situations, the Fool's Guild is not quite what it appears to be, the brother-in-law got into mischief way over his head and yeah, the earth's very existence ends up in jeopardy. The characters are strong and the book does not flinch from some hard things, not a perfect happy ending, but a sensible one. Of course, I waded patiently through a lot of AI-inside-network imaginings and activities, but Zettel did pretty well with that too. **** ( )
  sibylline | Jul 17, 2018 |
Couldn't finish it, lost me early on with one of the crew listed as official ships fool. ( )
  Kevin678 | Nov 7, 2017 |
"" ( )
  b00kworm72 | Sep 1, 2015 |
"" ( )
  b00kworm72 | Sep 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Zettelprimary authorall editionscalculated
DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puckey, DonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents Gail Elizabeth Zettel and Leonard Francis Zettel, Jr. with love and thanks.

Acknowledgements
I wish to thank Timothy B. Smith for his excellent technical advice, the Untitled Writers Group for their invaluable insights, and Dawn Marie Sampson Beresford for keeping the stories on the right track.
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Curran watched the man whose life he required settle onto one of the faux leather couches scattered around the station's reception module.
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A New York Times Notable Book from the author of Reclamation: A young woman must face off against an alien force within her starship's computer. Katmer Al Shei has done well with the starship Pasadena, cutting corners where necessary to keep her crew paid and her journeys profitable. But there are two things she will never skimp on: her crew and her fool. For a long space journey, a certified Fool's Guild clown is essential to amuse, excite, and otherwise distract the crew from the drudgeries of interstellar flight. Her newest fool, Evelyn Dobbs, is a talented jester. But does she have enough wit to save mankind?   In the computers of the Pasadena, something is emerging. The highly sophisticated software that makes interstellar travel practical is playing host to a new form of artificial intelligence, a living entity. And it will do whatever it takes to survive . . .   Displaying "the influence of Asimov's robot stories and C. J. Cherryh's elaborate, sophisticated spaceship adventures," this is a science fiction masterpiece that asks the thought-provoking question, "What if the next great life-form with which we must contend isn't from the stars but from our hard drives?" (Publishers Weekly)  

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