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Review: I Still Dream by James Smythe

This novel is incredible.

No, I mean it this novel blew me away.  I am a sucker for books that hit me where I live and James Smythe grabbed me within that first chapter and just refused to let me go.

Laura Bow is the protagonist, we meet her at age 16 in 1997.  The internet is in its infancy and Laura has to sneak on the dial-up. This was felt so real it could have been me twenty-odd years ago.  The novel is about AI Laura is a teenager who yearns to have someone to open up to, her absent father was a programmer and Laura cobbles together a programme Organon that will ask her how she’s doing and help her process her thoughts.

Each section of the novel forward ten years so we see Laura at different points in her life, we also see how technology has advanced and how she has worked on organon and what her technology does opposed to what the rest of humanity can produce.

This is a novel of loss, the reader is witness to the loss in so many ways, from a disappearance; to dementia, abortion and the wounds that all these losses can cause.

So what happens.  This is hard to quantify, on one level this novel is a thought experiment on what might happen with AI, based on what we know has happened up to today.  It is also about loss and about human behaviour.  It is about grief and it is also about love and the human need for privacy.

It’s elegiac and sparse with the meaning seeping through the prose.

The novel might be called I Still Dream, well I’m still dreaming on this novel and I’m not sure what will be able to move on from it. 

Jane Hanmer

Born in deepest darkest Shropshire. Currently living in Durrey. A reader of books, a watcher of theatre and film, a player of board games. Intersectional Feminist Pronouns: She/her

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