Mother of Invention
by Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts
I’ve been telling folks about this one for a while, but now I’m pleased to say that my copies of Mother of Invention from Australian indie publisher Twelfth Planet Press are now in store.
Edited byTansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael and with a very cool list of contributors it’s a short story collection focused primarily on the idea of artificial intelligence, but from a variety of feminist, neurodiverse and gender perspectives. The idea of artificial intelligence and its physical manifestation, the robot are science fiction perennials. From Maria in Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis in 1927 through Skynet and The Matrix to the Spike Jonze movie Her, it’s an idea that’s always gone beyond just science fiction readers. In 2016 Microsoft gave their learning chat bot, Tay access to Twitter. Twenty four hours later it was writing like an anti-Semitic, misogynist racist. Computers may not have ethnic, cultural or gender identities, but people do, and this collection of twenty one stories and one essay highlights the variety of possibilities that offers.
The stories are short, sharp and diverse. There are examples of the white male heteronormative perspective everywhere, but what about everyone else? What would they give to their creations and want from them? The answers are sweet and sad and angry and profound. The women of these stories are the mothers of creation of the title, cis and trans, straight and queer and from different places and times. It’s a Pandora’s box of ideas, from the AI a girl programs with the metadata of her dead friend in order to understand her suicide, the robot that accidentally and inexplicably can communicate with aliens in a way that people can’t, the women who bake or knit beings to seduce or subvert, to the ones who use technology to change the definition of motherhood and death.
They’re stories readers will think about long after they’ve put the book down and may even change the way they think about a few things.