Tag Archives: grief

After You by Jojo Moyes

This was my February’s book club choice. We read the first book, Me Before You, a few years ago. We decided to see how Moyes finished up the series.

Published: 2015

Genre: fiction

Length: 352 pages

Setting: London, 2010s. a few years after the events of Me Before You

Summary: Short version: Louisa has a hard time moving on from Will’s death Continue reading

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Looking for Alaska by John Green

I was in the mood for some YA and decided John Green would fit the bill. I really wanted to read his newest, Turtles All the Way Down, but it wasn’t at our library. So, I asked Mr. Curiosity which of the two John Green books the library did have that I hadn’t read was better. He remembered this one best so I got it.

Published: 2005

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 221 pages

Setting: mostly Culver Creek Academy in Alabama, early 2000s

Summary: Short version: Boarding school shenanigans
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H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I was in the mood for some nonfiction, but didn’t have my TBR list with me at the library. So, I was reduced to browsing the library’s shelves (which can be especially difficult for nonfiction). Luckily, I saw this book and remembered hearing good things about it.

Published: 2014

Genre: nonfiction memoir

Length: 283 pages of text, 300 pages total

Setting: the English countryside, present day Continue reading

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Machine Learning by Nancy Kress

I read the next story in the Future Visions anthology. I’ve read other short fiction by Kress – Beggars in Spain.

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Setting: a tech company’s campus, it felt like California, near future

Summary: Ethan works for MultiFuture Research in machine learning, trying to get Maip (the Multifuture Research Artificial Intelligence Program) to be able to read emotions in people and to help them learn better. Another branch of the company seems to have found a cure for a fatal childhood disease that killed Ethan’s daughter a few years ago. Ethan has been trying to cope by organizing every aspect of his life and emotions, but he can only seem to copy by viewing a hologram of his daughter. He breaks down, and Maip helps him get through his emotions, displaying machine learning in the process. Unfortunately, Ethan’s response is to rebuild his algorithms to run his life even better than before.

Final thoughts: We have a bit of a contrast here between Ethan and Maip – Ethan seems to want to become more machine-like and unemotional, while he and his partner are programming Maip to become more emotional. Even when Maip helps him deal with some of his emotions, Ethan’s response is to recode his personal algorithms. We see technology helping to deal with problems (like theĀ  new disease killing kids, or trying to help people learn more effectively), but it can also aggravate problems (like when Ethan just keeps playing his daughter saying “Hello, Daddy” over and over again). Kress just reminds us that technology isn’t intrinsically good or bad; it’s all in how you use it.

Title comes from: Ethan worked in the machine learning division, trying to get a program to learn how to read human emotions, especially when they’re lying about them.

 

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