If you haven’t yet encountered “The Handsome One” – a short computer-generated chapter of an imaginary Harry Potter book entitled Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash – you owe it to yourself to give it a quick read. One of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while!
I read this neat little novelette a few weeks back, and figured its merits deserve a shout-out.
Prisoner 721 is, simply put, about a restless inmate who takes it upon himself to teach his prison’s artificial intelligence system how to analyze and interpret visual art.
My favorite thing about this story – what I think makes it – is that it’s told in first-person from the perspective of the AI itself. Exploring the internalization of a ‘mind’ like this is always a fascinating exercise in thought, and Lowry does a great job of conveying the machine point of view in a unique, believable manner (the “X% chance of Y” trope may be a bit overused, but it has its pulp charm).
The setting, primarily regarding the AI’s role and regulations, is well thought-out, so the scenario evolves in a natural way that doesn’t require sacrificing consistency or technical plausibility for the sake of the plot (a definite plus for any science fiction piece).
It’s a clever, quick, worthwhile read, and you can download it for free on Smashwords, as well as most major eBook retailers. Check it out!
And take a closer look at that cover – how cool is that?