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Aliens and AI s

by Lawrence M. Schoen

      Among 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.

Perhaps it 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.

"Pun Gazing" 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.

Aliens and 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 publishers now.

The Book

Eggplant Literary Productions, Inc
March 2005
PDF 1-932207-41-1,
Mobipocket 1-932207-42-2,
HTML 1-932207-42-0,
MSReader 1-932207-66-X and B000851JEI
Fiction, SciFi
More at (for the Microsoft reader version)

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2005
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).
© 2005