Simon Morden, Bright Morning Star
Simon Morden, Bright Morning Star, NewCon Press, 2019.
Audiobook available on Audible.
Bright Morning Star by Simon Morden is scifi novella successfully revisiting the trope of human society viewed by an outsider, an AI, arrived on Earth to explore it.
The AI has no memory of the ship it came from or the people who sent it. It knows it has a mission though: exploring this planet. It begins with flora and fauna, but soon, it encounters human beings. And it seems it arrived right in the middle of a war zone.
Bright Morning Star is more of a philosophical tale than a straight scifi story. The AI meets human beings, begins to communicate with them, tries to understand the world and how it works. By doing so, it is the mechanisms of our societies and our behaviours which are explored.
Morden tackles this very successfully: the AI's point of view throws into sharp relief a thoughtful take on human nature, and particularly on international relationships.
What I found particularly interesting was that it wasn't just a story about First Contact, but a story about how we deal with first contact, as humans, in this time and place, and where it could lead us.
The characters are an interesting challenge: because they're seen from the AI's point of view, only aspects of them are seen. And the AI itself is barely coming into its consciousness. But it is from these interactions that you can see them, and through them, humanity itself.
The setting, in a country which is a disputed zone with another country, is reminiscent of the conflict in Ukraine and provides the perfect background for a take on war and power.
I wasn't entirely on board with the way it gets solved. But that is the nature of Bright Morning Star, a bearing of light, a hopeful take on our future and humanity itself.
Bright Morning Star is more of a tale than an action packed story. It will be a great read if you feel like you could need something hopeful at the moment, but that'll also offers a thoughtful take on humanity.
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