Artificial Love: Klara and the Sun & Her

1 Sep

So often when we think of Robots in the future, it is of scenes like in the Matrix when they have taken over and controlling the world.  But what if the Robots could turn out to be the more compassionate ones?  Could there be a future that people form bonds not with each other, but with Robots or other forms of AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

Klara and the Sun

Though it was our pick for our August Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion, Klara and the Sun featuring a peak at AI in the future, is one of those books that will appeal to more than just Science Fiction fans; fans of literary fiction will also find a lot to enjoy. 

In the novel Klara is an AF or artificial friend.  She starts the novel in a store interacting with other AFs and the storeowner.  She is solar powered, and quickly picks up new information from those around her.  The story picks up as Klara is adopted by a sickly girl named Josie. 

There is something very simple about the way the novel is delivered from Klara’s limited childlike perspective and yet so much complexity is hinted at in the story that is going on in the wider world.  Klara despite being a robot often seems to have more compassion and sympathy than the humans in the novel. 

I was intrigued to hear what the book discussion group thought of the work and was pleased that they also had enjoyed the work a lot.  We had a great discussion about the future of AI and what it means for society.

Her

Before we discussed Klara and the Sun our book group watched the movie Her starring Joaquin Phoenix.  This was our first movie screening together since Covid and it was great to share a film again that tied to the book we had read this month. The movie was complimentary in that it also involved an artificial intelligence, in this case a Siri or Alexa like virtual personal assistant named Samantha voiced by Scarlett Johansson. 

Her won an academy award for Best Screen Play.  The group was less enthralled with Her than by Klara and the Sun, but we still had a lively discussion related to some topics it brought up.  Although in the case of Her it is a romantic relationship, rather than a friendship, between Theodore and Samantha, the movie touches on many of the same themes as the novel that are brought up about loneliness, humanity, and the place an AI might have in what has become a society centered on the hot new thing and disposability.

If you would like to join us for fun and friendly book discussions and screenings of great movies, sign up for the mailing list for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group by email hplwriters@gmail.com!  Our next book will be the first in my personal favorite Steampunk series, Soulless, by Gail Carriger.  Soulless is a delightful brew of gaslight fantasy, humor, and romance so check it out and let us know what you think!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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