Having read the bestselling book Wool by Hugh Howey, I was delighted to read more of
his science fiction short stories from the past and present of his writing
career. Here are some highlights of MACHINE LEARNING. Watch out, this man's stories are
"The Walk Up Nameless Ridge" deals with climbing a mountain peak on
another planet, higher than Everest by a large margin. The nature of
obsession and glory are considered, as is the realisation that in any
accomplishment, we are working with the gifts of others and the
support they have provided. And yes, it's cold at the top.
"Second Suicide" looks at an alien invasion of Earth, from the point of
view of one of the aliens, a tentacled, eye-stalked warrior who, if he
dies, will get grown again in the tanks and sent back to battle. He
doesn't question his orders, it's just what he does.
"Machine Learning," the title story, examines what it may take to build a
space elevator. Like any giant project, there may be loss of life. Will the
machines think it worth the risk? After each tale, Howey adds his
reflections, and in this case, he comments on the automated powering
and piloting of his sailboat.
Other stories question the Internet of Things, asking how wise it is to
have online fridges and room vacuums, or private ownership of an AI
computer. Howey's iconic world of the Silos, storing the dregs of
humanity from a global apocalypse, is revisited in stories such as "In
The Mountain," but not everyone will be delighted with these
continuations. Nor indeed is everyone delighted by the concept of
marrying androids or the idea of going to school on Mars. This timely
look at our near future and possible futures will be welcomed by all
Howey's fans, and by folks who read science fiction in small bites, the
right size for a bus queue or a lunch break.
"Peace In Amber," the final tale, is odder; partly an alien abduction tale
which, to be honest, I hardly read, because wrapped around it was the
author's experience of being aboard his yacht in the shadow of
September 11th in New York. The emotional honesty and intensity of
detail will linger in the reader's mind long after they close the book.
Personally, I felt that the abduction was not needed, but quite likely the
writer did feel that it was needed to give himself a break from his
memories as he worked. MACHINE
LEARNING has a firm place on my bookshelf.
A new collection of stories, including some that have
never before been seen, from the New York Times
best-selling author of the Silo trilogy
Hugh Howey is known for crafting riveting and immersive
page-turners of boundless imagination, spawning millions of
fans worldwide, first with his best-selling novel
Wool, and then with other enthralling works such as
Sand and Beacon 23.
Now comes Machine Learning, an impressive collection
of Howeyâ€™s science fiction and fantasy short fiction,
including three stories set in the world of Wool, two
never-before-published tales written exclusively for this
volume, and fifteen additional stories collected here for
the first time. These stories explore everything from
artificial intelligence to parallel universes to video
games, and each story is accompanied by an authorâ€™s note
exploring the background and genesis of each story.
Howeyâ€™s incisive mind makes Machine Learning: New and
Collected Stories a compulsively readable and
thought-provoking selection of short worksâ€”from a modern
master at the top of his game.