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Little Eyes

Samanta Schweblin • 2018

I think this book was really something special, and the best science fiction book I've read in a long time. It is basically a book about making acquaintances on the internet.

The concept is simple: what if there were little app-controlled Furbies? One person — it is always exactly one person — "dwells" in the Furby and can control it by moving around and purring, whereas the other person "keeps" the Furby (by allowing it to exist in the same social space and treating it like a pet.)

This sounds very Black Mirror, and a lesser thinker — say, Charlie Booker — would take this to catastrophic ends, where secretly the company producing these objects was using the data for nefarious ends or someone steals state secrets using the Furby or the network controlling Furbies shuts down and causes an international incident or something like that.

This book isn't interested in any of that, though — indeed, all we ever know about these Furbies is that they cost $279 and they are modestly popular and they facilitate a novel type of human interaction.

What the book is interested in, though, is that novel type of human interaction, and it explores it through a series of vignettes that all hit a certain moral arc: bewilderment, deep connection, and then utter ruin. This is a book that argues very strongly that technology is a volume knob on humanity, and its characters ruins come not from anything endemic to the technology but from who they are as people.

This book raises questions and answers some of them. It will leave you with one image — of a young boy crying in front of a television — that will hurt for a very long time. You should read this book.

12/13/2020
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Science Fiction
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