Home Tech Robin Sloan, the tech world’s greatest living novelist, goes meta

Robin Sloan, the tech world’s greatest living novelist, goes meta

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Robin Sloan, the tech world's greatest living novelist, goes meta

So, inevitably, we talked a lot more, and meta-ly, about language, words, and meaning, although Sloan doesn’t think it was inevitable that language would be the revolutionary technology of AI. It might have been vision, he says; It could have been something else. But now that is language, and now that he can write, he is excited to be the kind of writer that machines are not. Just take a look at Tied to the Moon, which comes out today and is Sloan’s first proper science fiction work. He believes it is his best-written and most human-sounding book yet… by far. It is undoubtedly the most ambitious: thematically, characterologically and even punctually. I point out his, in him, creative devotion to the colon: and he launches into a defense of sentences containing not one but two: which ChatGPT, of course, would never do.

Earlier that same day, At a nearby salvage yard, in a section devoted to hundreds of antique doors, Sloan told me about the various paths his writing life might have taken. (Surrounded, I repeat, through doors. Sliding doors. Narrow doors. Glass doors. Meta doors, metaphors.) In 2010, the same year he started on Twitter, Sloan posted three short stories on his website: one fantasy, one science fiction, and one set in San Francisco. current. The one that took off and then formed the basis of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, which came out two years later, shortly after Sloan left Twitter, was nominally realistic. He then thought, for a while, that that was the kind of writer he was. Sourdough, which followed five years later in 2017, was also set in SF. He gave a talk on Google somewhere there and became some kind of one thing in these parts, beloved by literate techies who saw in him a writer who understood both the incredible reality of tech culture and how to novelize it.

I use the phrase “nominally realistic” because: Sloan never quite qualified. The darkness gets pretty technomistic about books, history, and the power of Google. The climax of Sourdough It’s a huge bread monster at a futuristic food fair (a few years before the Covid-era baking craze). In other words, there were science fiction stories in both books struggling to break free. In The darknessseveral characters are literally reading books about dragons, and there is a scene where one character challenges another to imagine a science fiction story set many thousands of years in the future.

Tied to the Moon It is set many thousands of years in the future and there are several dragons in it. There are also wizards, talking beavers, and sentient swords. Sloan’s hero, Ariel de la Sauvage (a “silly name,” Sloan writes; he is self-aware through and through) is an orphan boy who lives in a castle and is destined to pull a sword from a stone. “I knew this story,” says the AI ​​narrator, but “here it was in a different form, compressed and remade.” Is repeated. He layers.

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