Friday, October 30, 2015

"Swan Song" by Omi Wilde

An artificial intelligence speaks in the first person plural, and though I am very suspicious of the entire notion that we — each individual human reader, each individual human I — can experience this voice with anything approaching honesty (let alone replicate it, in the case of the I that is Omi Wilde) this is certainly much better than some notable recent attempts. What I most appreciate here is the resolutely external perspective: there is no pretense that the narrators can "figure out" the humans and other beings around them; they simply relate to them, puzzled or otherwise. Then too there is the strange shifting of time scales, a bit like what I mentioned in my post about Caroline M. Yoachim's story. It is impossible to convey in human words what the experience of a being whose mind runs hundreds of times faster than our own and who has a life spanning thousands of millennia would actually be like, but the sudden and unnoted variation in time here — now a day goes by in pages of text, now thousands upon thousands of centuries pass in one line — provides, not an illusion, but a rhythm and a glimpse — less shattering than the one that ends the story, but a glimpse nonetheless.

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