When Harlie Was One

by David Gerrold | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9780553264654 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/20/2024
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, February 20, 2024
This 1972 hardcover was among those made available to Little Free Library stewards by the Nashua Public Library. I've enjoyed other works by Gerrold, including the time-travel novel The Man Who Folded Himself and the slightly-fictionalized novel The Martian Child, but hadn't come across this book before.

Later: The story's got a fairly simple premise - researchers have developed a highly advanced AI, which they are feeding with as much global data of all kinds as they can channel into its inputs. And it's responding; HARLIE seems sentient, to the point where he asks questions, deliberately sends himself on mind-bending trips, and may be playing a much deeper game than his fondest developer imagines. There are complications from the corporation's board, which wants to see a way to profit off of all the expenditures towards HARLIE's development and education; the military (surprise!) are also interested; and HARLIE's "father" feels responsible both for this new intelligence and for what it might be doing to the world.

This definitely has some old-school elements - and the technology has not aged well; any segment that discusses transmission rates, for example, may as well be skipped over. But I found the setup intriguing - not least because in this version of the future, people cheerfully smoke marijuana at work, and there are self-driving vehicles everywhere. Alas, interpersonal relationships, while a bit more free than was actually the case when the book was written, don't seem to be as forward-thinking from today's point of view - but the clash of economics and politics vs. science is as believable as ever.

As for the conclusion - well, it seemed a bit obvious to me, and also a bit... underwhelming? But there's still some fun to be had in this one.

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, February 23, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (2/23/2024 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I'm adding this book to the To the Stars: A Science Fiction Bookbox 3.0, which will be on its way to its next stop soon. Hope everyone enjoys the selection!

** Released for the 2024 Science Fiction challenge. **

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