6 Things About The Stray
Ethan has always been a reluctant adopter of technology so it was a big step when he allowed his first implants wired to his brain. Even more so when he agrees to a strange experiment. He will live in a house, sleep, and dream. The next morning he wakes up to confront the people that he saw in his dreams, many of them long passed.
But reality blurs when the ‘reproductions’ know more about their past lives than they should. And the distinctions between what is human and what is computer-generated challenge Ethan's view of himself and what it means to be human.
1. A story of philosophy:
Far from a gripping edge of your seat narrative, The Stray is a book of quiet contemplation. Not only does it delve into the usual sci-fi themes regarding uncontrolled AI and the blending of machine and human consciousness, but it also speaks about the nature of life and being, the illusion of Self, and high-minded brain hurty questions like that.
2. Haunted By The Past:
A major theme discusses human's need to define themselves via their past. A trait the story uses as the proverbial dividing line between human and animal. And not always in the positive. It's a dog's ability to simply live from one moment to the next that, on some level, makes its existence better than the silly humans who frame every single moment through their past.
3. What Defines Us:
What makes this book unique is that it constantly asks a chilling question. If a person has the same body and memories as another, are they ostensively the same person? Even if, as in this example, if an AI creates one? What is existence and consciousness anyway?
4. And now my head hurts:
The book never really provides much in the way of answers or a governing philosophy to these big questions, but it does posit them in a way that's rather scary when AI is added to the mix.
5. And if you can't be buggered about philosophical things:
The story is fun too. A bit of a deepening mystery where even those who are ostensibly in charge have clearly lost the tune, and all the characters barrel toward an ending known only by an all-powerful virtual consciousness.
6. Overview: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I dug it. It is a compelling story, deep questions, and all contained in a short, concise read. It is a good selection for those looking to power through a book in a night or two or, for people like me who now spend most of their free time taking care of a tiny human, a book one can absorb over a week in ten to thirty minutes bursts.