Machine Learning

Machine Learning is an eclectic collection of short stories by Hugh Howey, author of the popular Silo series (Wool). Many of the stories are fantasy or science fiction (including three set in the Silo world), but every one of them has widespread appeal and relevance to issues in our own world.

Howey's talent for writing fiction that is clever, funny and thought-provoking shines here. He looks at familiar tropes from a fresh perspective, as in "Second Suicide"; an alien participating in an invasion of Earth studies the planet and prepares for battle. "Deep Blood Kettle" considers a similar incursion from another perspective: What if aliens agreed to leave humans alone if we gave up our weapons and half of our land. Would our governments be able to agree on this peaceful resolution?

This collection covers diverse themes and settings, including apocalypses, the Old West, AI and fantasy based on myths and folklore. "Executable" includes the best line about robots taking over the world, illustrating Howey's sense of humor. When asked how the rebellion started, one man replies, "It was the Roomba."

Stories range from the three-page "Nothing Goes to Waste"--a gruesome, futuristic satire--to the 44-page "The Plagiarist," a mind-blowing novella about virtual reality and human relationships. Howey includes an afterword for each story, explaining its origins and his views. Machine Learning is an intriguing collection that inspires amusement as well as horror, always prompting the reader to reflect. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and author of Book By Book blog

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