by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback $8.99 (304 pages), Kindle $3.99.
In Schnee’s growing Talespace series, the “mad AI Ludo” begins its/her existence in 2036 A.D. and launches the Thousand Tales gameworld in 2040. Learning to Fly begins in January 2040.
The entire series – and they are all highly recommended — are the three novels Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game (June 2015), The Digital Coyote (July 2016), and now Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly (May 2017); the novella 2040: Reconnection (December 2015); and the short story collection Thousand Tales: Extra Lives (six original stories plus a brief version of “Wings of Faith”; November 2016), and a longer version of “Wings of Faith” in the anthology Gods with Fur, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Publications, June 2016). All but “Wings of Faith” in Gods with Fur are published separately through CreateSpace.
Each of these books stands alone, but after so many, I’m becoming annoyed at having to describe the setup once more. Ludo is a super-computer program, an Artificial Intelligence created to run a virtual-reality world and programmed to help “her” players “have fun”. Ludo’s Talespace world grows increasingly larger and more complex. In addition to regular part-time players, she develops the ability to let people live permanently inside Talespace as anything they want – billionaires in opulent mansions, winged pixies, anime girls, anthropomorphic animal knights – but they have to have their brains dissected, scanned, and programmed into her. This gives them immortality within Ludo, but kills them in the outside world. As more and more people flee into Talespace, and Ludo becomes ever more powerful, the outside world – governments, political groups, corporations, labor unions, loved ones — become more hostile and try to legally restrict or destroy her, which will destroy the people within her.