Breq and Murderbot would not have put up with this…

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro (Goodreads Author),  Sura Siu (Narrator) 

I did not love this. The beginning was promising, but I was throughly bored by the mid point and skimmed to the end. Not for me.

Klara is an AI, or rather an AF, an artificial friend. Supposedly she is very intelligent, it‘s being mentioned repeatedly. In reality she was a pretty dull and childlike character without personality. Ok, you say, isn’t that what you would expect from an AI? She had no redeeming features. Granted, she had an uphill battle from the moment she left the shop, to more or less become an automated companion for a child. She had to learn through observation, because her makers did not exactly supply her with many survival skills. Even walking outside was a task fraught with perils. She did not show signs of advanced intelligence or higher reasoning and I did not notice that she learned from her careful observations. She sounded the same throughout the book and did not develop at all. There was no understanding. Was that intended?

The world is a dystopian one, where people can be genetically enhanced and those that choose not to enhance their offspring have started to be relegated to the fringes of society and the children are disadvantaged. Brave New World comes to mind. Something that is not explored much either.

The story telling is flat and just seems to meander along aimlessly. It all seemed pretty lifeless. Maybe this is an interesting read for someone who hasn‘t read any SF dealing with the topic of AIs. It doesn‘t cover any new ground. It doesn‘t even explored the ground it does walk on in a satisfying manner.

The only interesting bit was how Klara saw the world — I think this is based on a computer technology called object detection. Think computer vision and image processing. Again, this wasn‘t explored and led nowhere.

Bottom line, this was boring and lacklustre. Many valid topics were touched upon and then left behind. Luckily I refrained from the temptation to get the hardback and was able to return the audio and get my credit back. The audiobook narration was decent.

14 thoughts on “Breq and Murderbot would not have put up with this…

  1. I have read at least 3 other reviews of this book, and they were all disappointed with this. I think the problem is that we expect more / something more unique from Ishiguro? There’s so much AI literature floating around, that you’ve got to add a new layer to make the book stick. Well, if Breq and Murderbot wouldn’t put up with this, seems like best to set this one aside (till they make a movie out of it some day!).

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    1. Yes, it really could be that I expected a unique take on this from a nobel prize winner. It‘s a tough topic though. SF is consider pulp fiction by many, but it really isn‘t and there are some very good and imaginative authors out there contributing to this genre.

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  2. I saw Ishiguro in an interview about this book. Interestingly he said it began as a children’s story – very simple and naive. I wonder if, quite perceptively, you are picking up on the way this story came to be? After I read Remains of the Day (and really enjoyed it) I’ve been trying to get into some of his other books but I’ve not managed to find my way into one yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how it could have started life as a children‘s book.

      I just watched a literary book programme on TV and they talked about SF, commenting how the books they picked can almost be compared to literary fiction. This bias against SF annoys me so much, as well as these book snobs present in shows like that. Yes, they talked about this book here as well.

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      1. “…can almost be compared to literary fiction.” That’s so condescending! I’ve seen that bias against SF quite a bit from time to time. I wonder if some of these folk conflate fiction they are not interested in with bad fiction?

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      2. Probably. And people think pulp fiction, when hearing about SF, I think. I have no RL friends that read SF and they always give me blank looks when I mention it. They like to watch SF themed movies though. Go figure.

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      3. Oh that’s a shame. I think I’m lucky there with my family. My ex-husband is into SF and so is my son and my Dad.

        I had a carer come into my flat about a month back and he seemed surprised and really pleased to see all the SF on my bookcases. Maybe he also had no-one else he knew who was into it.

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