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Friday, September 8, 2023

The Mountain in the SeaThe Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title aside, I was mightily impressed by this idea-and-character driven SF. It's sometimes quite hard to find serious SF that tries to push the boundaries of the unknown, of human and alien (other) intelligence, of understanding.

There have been a good handful of novels that push it, of course, but it's rare to find and more than delightful to experience.

In this case, we have a truly excellent exploration of human alienation, true android (AI intelligence), and octopus. The intersections are hard-hitting and serious and absolutely worth our time.

Now, for those of you who aren't convinced of Octopus or Squid intelligence, this may or may not be a great entry point, but it IS an entry point. An octopus's intelligence is spread throughout its body, it has a social structure among its own kind that is just about as alien as any we can dream up, but there is no doubt as to their inherent intelligence and problem-solving capabilities.

This novel doesn't attempt to convince us of it. It directly moves on to careful mysteries and basic inhumanities (even among ourselves) that underscore a basic INDIFFERENCE between species. This is where all the true aliennesses comes to light and tries to make us give it the careful thought that it deserves.

And it definitely deserves it. We have geniuses in our back yard and yet we pay them no mind. Of course, they may be paying us no mind, either. Perhaps we all need to start paying attention to our neighbors.

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