Monday, January 4, 2016
Alex + Ada: A Look at The Entire Series (MAJOR SPOILERS)
I read this series in a binge. I came into it late and took an interest in it just as the trade came out. I read the first volume and waited patiently for the final two. I had some intention of reading the singles but felt flow of the story was best appreciated in a good binge. When volume 2 was released, it breezed by me and I simply was too busy with too many prior commitments to actually sit down and read it. However this week I decided to binge read the rest of the series.
At first, I really didn't know how I felt. I was shocked that volume three moved so swiftly through 25 years. Yes that's right, here's the big spoiler: Alex gets caught and ends up with a 25 year sentence! I was utterly distraught. When I started reading this story, I expected it to go on for a few years to explore all the obvious moral questions that most AI stories are built around. The story did in fact explore a couple of those: Rights for sentient AI and the ramifications, challenges and possibilities of a human/android relationship. That was mostly it. The on-going theme in the story is the distrust of sentient AI. Humans fear that they will be harmed by their creations. Pretty standard really.
The more interesting exploration was the reaction of a human female to the thought of having to compete with an un-aging, perfectly looking robot companion. She explains that it's "bad enough to compete with other women, but now they have to compete with things". I mean, its a valid point, if not one that comes from a place which paints women as insecure and woefully concerned about what men think. I was struck by the choice to confront the issue in this way which came from a place of female jealousy and overtly, public emotional reaction rather than anything constructive. It's to this also that you see Alex, our main character and hero, display his unrealistic personality.
Alex's reactions to the abhorrent behaviors and opinions of other, can be considered nothing but saintly. In fact, he never does anything to warrant any dislike. He's admirable even in his initial rejection of Ada and again when he steps back to reconsider her sexual advances. You can't really fault him for reconsidering his actions there and the pretty much graceful way he backs out. It's this saintly demeanor and calmness which makes Alex feel very unrealistic. I don't know anyone who reacts to the harsh treatment of others in such a polite and rational way. I mean honestly who has that kind of patience. It all seems more unbelievable then the whole fact AI thing. However, despite this fact, I couldn't stop reading the series.
It truly is one of my favorite series of 2014/2015 and I think everyone should read it.