Clever, charming, intriguing, YA story of a near-future AI in a human-looking body trying to make a life for herself
“Interview With The Robot” (that title just has to be a play on Anne Rice’s “Interview With The Vampire”) is a clever story, told in a way that’s a perfect fit for an audiobook, basically a three hour and forty minutes long full-cast radio play, told mostly as an interview between what appears at first to be a twelve-year-old girl, Eve and Petra, a woman from Child Protective Services in NYC, with flashbacks for the most important scenes.
This is Science Fiction for Young Adults but told in a way that I think most adults will find engaging. I enjoyed learning how Eve moved from untrained AI in a cube to an AI in a better-than-human body (albeit one of a twelve-year-old). The technology is plausible. The interactions are initially a little on the cute side but well thought through. I enjoyed the point where Eve, realising that to pass as human she will need to master joke-telling, invents a joke. It’s an awful joke and says a lot about how AIs work. Her research says the most common jokes in the world are Knock Knock jokes and Chicken Crossing The Road jokes, so she thinks the best joke in the world would combine the two. She comes up with:
A chicken who?
A chicken who crossed the road.
The story has a few surprises in it that I didn’t see coming but which worked well, especially concerning the motivation of the billionaire who owns the company building Eve and the contents of the inevitable, and of course irresistible, locked room.
The story of how and why Eve is in the windowless interview room with the woman from Child Protective Services is fascinating, with just enough tension to keep things lively.
The ending, especially the final entry, was a little too Hallmark for my tastes but I can live with that.
I was pleased to see Audible Originals trying something as original and entertaining as this. I hope they do more like it.