A recent FB post by an old high school chum has me reflecting, with delight, on one of the many aspects of my new novel. Honestly, I surprise myself at how deeply layered the work is.
The main characters in the novel refer to AIs, the “Artificials”, as ‘they’ or ‘them’. You know that emphasized use of the third person pronouns to indicate a group is somehow not a part of your world. The way some folk refer to the government, or people of a specific ethnicity or religious belief. You have to keep an open eye around “them”. Use of everyday language with a subtly that allows the speaker to feel they have not been offensive or divisive, when in fact they are drawing a clear demarcation.
Without giving away the story, I can say in the end it is determined it is not who or what ‘they’ are. It is not that ‘they’ are, or how ‘they’ are. The problem is the interaction, not the purveyors nor the perceivers of the interaction. The difficulty is the belief that, on both sides, things must go a specific way when there are hosts of alternatives in between.
Throughout the work, as one character talks about ‘them’, cocking their head and indicating some distinct group someplace else, some group that somehow does not belong, the character will also point out the natural right for ‘them’ to exist. The book points out an odd sort of duality. ‘They’ have the right to be, but ‘they’ should not be the way they are.
I do not create any specific conclusion for the ‘them’ issue. I draw a conclusion for the problematic interaction, but I do not convert ‘them’ to part of ‘us’, though that would be the goal. There are follow up books already in the works, the ‘us v. them’ meme having important implications and useful for expression.
It is interesting how deeply the “versus” concept can run, and how we all accidentally stub our toes on it. It has led me to think, the question is not, ‘When a tree falls, does it make a sound’? The question really is, ‘If we both witness the falling, do we each hear the same thing?’