Twinkle, Twinkle (a review)

 

https://www.wired.com/2017/12/when-an-algorithm-helps-write-science-fiction/

Rating: 3/5 stars

I went into this thinking two things: that I really needed to read it because I’d had it saved on Facebook for many months, and that it was an article; nonfiction. Knowing what I do now about the author, Stephen Marchie, I wasn’t far off. But, as they say, hindsight’s 20/20.

Technically, the piece is a glamorous patchwork of both, but it’s mostly science fiction. This is both good and bad, as there are pros and cons with anything. On the left hand, I was curious about its premise–creating an algorithm with the sole intent of writing the best story possible. I was particularly intrigued by the purported technology behind such a feat. In the end, though, I was treated with some rather impressive fiction.

 

“If there is nothing profitable or marketable in a thing, it must remain a secret or it has no value at all.”

It’s very obviously science fiction, yet it almost read like fact. Rather, it was like a long lost discovery in the distant future, and marketed as a provable artifact. It’s meta without all the hype. It’s heart without the excess. Beyond that (which is a lot, admittedly,) I’m not exactly sure what Marche was intending to achieve. <i>Twinkle, Twinkle</i> was well-written and Anne’s character was decently, respectfully developed. I wanted more, though. Especially the latter, but plot, too. I had the impression that Marche could fill notebooks with what he knows about her, as well as the Others. If he expanded it, I’ve no doubt that the characters would become fully fleshed, and that his world-building skills (not that they’re lacking here,) would deeply shine on, in, and all around. In its present state, however, the story leaves much to be desired. The technological advances and civilization were there, as was a personal and moral dilemma, but where do we go from there? Outside of the internal, there’s zero conflict. There’s no resolution.

 

I mentioned this being meta before, which it certainly is. I suspected there was probably more taking place beneath the surface, and actually there is. I’m just not sure about the extent of it. At the conclusion of the tale (or in the margins, if you’re viewing it on a computer,) there are twenty brief footnotes, reminiscent of the late David Foster Wallace, in which Marche gives insider information regarding said algorithms and how they dictated that he constructed the story. That was fascinating and while I’d love to learn more about the technology, it begs the question: are the footnotes, pseudo article, and the technology making it possible actually based on fact, or was the entire thing a brilliant piece of fiction?

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/330491.Stephen_Marche

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4339.David_Foster_Wallace

 

 

 

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