Aliens and AI s
by Lawrence M. Schoen
science fiction circles, Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen is best known for
being the founder and director of the Klingon Language Institute.
His background is in psycholinguistics and, currently, is the Director
of Research for the Wedge Medical Center in Philadelphia. Since 1998,
he has also been turning out science fiction stories for anthologies
and sci-fi magazines such as Space Weekly, Spellbound,
and Analog. This year, he released his first Ebook, Aliens
and AI s. This slim volume of seven stories and an introduction
by Mark W. Tiedemann is a gem. In it, Schoen explores the culture
of aliens and nature and the diversity of artificial intelligence.
is my anthropological training, but I found the stories about aliens
to be the most interesting. "The Matter at Hand," about a card game
played with a telepathic alien and the Amazing Conroy, a retired
stage hypnotist turned CEO, is clever and left me wanting to know
more about Conroy and what other escapades he was involved with.
"Smooth Maneuver" illustrated how ignorance of alien culture and
anatomy could lead to stimulating interactions between humans and
aliens. "Pidgin" was a humorous linguistic anecdote, and "Euphemism
Skin" juxtaposed an alien appetite against our human tastes. "Bidding
the Walrus," one of the AI stories, was fun and actually brought
alien and AI together.
was a complex study of the integration of linguistics and computers
that brushed against the nature of man and the fragility of his
universe. "Retro-Virus," the last AI story, was difficult for me
to follow because of the complexity of the computer syntaxes Schoen
used in the telling of the story. That difficulty, though, didn't
interfere with the rich meaning of this six page story. Here, artificial
intelligences had found a way to experience everything that a human
does, one day and one life at a time. Brilliant.
AI s is a good read and a great way to sample Schoen's work.
Readers who want to know more about the Amazing Conroy can find
other stories in the chapbook, Buffalogic, Inc. and the new
Conroy novel, Buffalito Destiny, that is being shopped to
NOTE: Reviewer Janie
Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!, Relaxation
Techniques for Children, Relaxation Techniques for Adults; Co-author of The
Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book. Coming
Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook, Get Rich on Love, and Sacred Breath
(a sound recording of relaxation meditations).