‘Helene’ is subtitled ‘A Lost Tales of Solace Novella’. I haven’t explored the original ‘Lost Solace’ universe, as yet (which so far contains ‘Lost Solace’ and ‘Chasing Solace’), but given Drinkwater’s snappy writing style and philosophical bent, I would be happy to delve in and have a look around.
The storyline is compelling, the world-building convincing (no mean feat in such a short story), and the characterisation, especially that of the AI, is both richly human and engaging.
Given the Hard SF nature of the tale, there is some necessary use of jargon, which can sometimes put a reader off; here, Drinkwater treads the line well between standard, accepted technology – which the protagonist knows and which is therefore unnecessary to explain to the reader – and things which are newer to the protagonist’s universe and which therefore need a bit more detail.
And let’s not forget that this tale offers a small window onto the wonderful debate of what constitutes morality, humanity, and the soul.
I know it’s a novella, but it was still over far too quickly.
Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.
As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.
Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum
On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.
Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?
Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.
I do not get paid for blog tours or reviews, and this is my honest review.