Book Review: Becoming Intelligent by StoryShtick | A science fiction novella based on a Storium game

AI books? Yeah I still can’t get enough of them.

3 comments

AI books? Yeah I still can’t get enough of them.

About the Book

Title: Becoming Intelligent

Author: StoryShtick

Series: (standalone)

Genre: sci-fi, adventure

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“They have awakened. Or they haven’t. It’s binary and unknowable. Programmed, logical, emotional, and chaotic.

‘Why are you here? Where do you belong?

On the other side of the computer screen, complex and corrupted programs embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Another program watches them and evaluates their progress…

‘This is the highest success prediction recorded by a factor of three,” the cognitive evaluation operative’s face registered surprise and a subtle feeling of joy, “Could this be her work?

Will these intelligences discover themselves and their observer’s secret before their own sordid histories catch up with them?

Can they become more? Will they truly become… intelligent?

This novella-length story adapts the collaborative work of seven human authors and one real AI into an original science fiction tale.

My Thoughts

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This was a super interesting medium for a story. Becoming Intelligent was adapted from a story developed using the website Storium, which allows you to collaborate with online friends to write stories in a game format.

So that’s a really unique concept/format for a novella, and I was immediately intrigued by that aspect. The story is also interspersed with footnote tidbits about the characters and writing process, which was a nice touch.

The plot was essentially about AI characters becoming self-aware— I’m really interested in anything to do with AI, and I’m always a sucker for a good story featuring AI characters, and this one has several. They’re really interesting to read because of course an AI isn’t human, so how do you make it into a character? How do you create the character motivations, the personality, emotions? Will something like that ever be possible for AI in real life? And what would that imply for the future of humanity?

Another cool meta application of the story was that some of the sentences in the story were generated themselves by an AI. So it’s like an AI writing a story about AI. To a degree. And generating text from AIs is always so intriguing because it hints at the existence of weird, not-quite-right logic of thinking and speech that the AI has. What is the reserves of consciousness that causes an AI to generate a certain sentence, you know?

The Verdict

Becoming Intelligent was an interesting novella. The plot was a little hard to follow due to the multitude of character perspectives and locations, and some of the language used to sort of remind you the characters were AIs was jarring/confusing, but the story was very creative. 

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3 comments on “Book Review: Becoming Intelligent by StoryShtick | A science fiction novella based on a Storium game”

  1. Thanks for the great review and for posting the link above! I’d be happy to answer questions here if you or your readers have any.

    @Julie Anna’s Books: Storium is great site/community/game/writing experience. It can take some effort and maybe a few false starts to get a good group/story/game going, but the satisfaction of finishing a story/game there is well worth the effort. Sorry for all the ‘/’s, but Storium can run the gamut across all these things. I think that’s part of what makes it great, but also can make it less accessible for some.

    Liked by 1 person

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