Tag Archives: artificial intelligence

TV Review: Person of Interest Season 2

Wallpaper person of interest 32313944 1920 1080 TV Review: Person of Interest Season 2
The first couple of episodes of this season of course set about resolving the cliffhanger from the previous season and also (although the viewer wouldn’t know it at the time) setting up elements that would run through this season.

There are formulas to these sorts of shows. One of them is the slow build over the course of the season (with perhaps a mini-cliffhanger at the half-way point). So what happens (and it’s far from unique to this show) is after the cliffhanger resolution there’s a sort of slump into routine. Watched weekly I don’t think it’s that noticeable but watching two season almost back to back the pacing stands out.

That’s exactly what happens here. In the first half of the season we see a return to the core concept of the show with the background plots gradually creeping in. Half-way we get an interesting change of pace with Reese (Jim Caviezel)  imprisoned that gives the other characters a bit more time to shine.

Which is good, because while they have decided to expand Reese’s emotional range all the way from impassive, but slightly annoyed to impassive but maybe happy he really doesn’t have much of a character arc and remains the most boring of the bunch. As a mechanic he’s essential to the show, but he just doesn’t drive storylines in interesting ways.

Carter and Finch (Michael Emerson) are far more emotionally resonant as is Fusco when they let him expand beyond the comedy role he often fills. Reese works best when playing against others. Which is why the inclusion of a new character in the form of Samantha Shaw, an agent who may well be better than Reese really perked up the later episodes of the season.

Finch’s interactions with Root (Amy Acker) do not fare as well. Which is unfortunate because they are part of a major subplot this season. I like both the characters individually, but together they just don’t seem to spark.

One interesting development this season is the idea of the computer as a character. I’m a bit mixed on that one. The original concept while a stretch wasn’t completely out there. But now they are positing a fully functioning artificial intelligence with unlimited knowledge. That seems a little outside the scope of a show like this.

In my review of season one I noted that the show is wrapped in layers of paranoia and that is still very much the case. It revels in them. Everyone has secrets, everyone has allegiances. Some have multiple allegiances. There are conspiracies and shadow organizations everywhere.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. It does make a great background for the show and yet I am oh so tired of the conspiracy theorists and this almost feels like playing to them.

Still Person of Interest is still doing what it sets out to do, which is provide escapist entertainment for an hour each week. The characters (Reese aside) are compelling and interesting.  Reese does beat people up in amusing ways on a regular basis so it’s not like he’s all bad. And after two seasons they’be built up a nice line in recurring characters as well to deepen the universe they play in.

http://amzn.to/17PKIl9

Book Review: Post-Human by David Simpson

Note I posted a while ago that I had some suspicions about this book. I was right. It’s not the worst book I ever read, but it’s only getting  5 star reviews by offering a free book in return for them. I dislike that a lot.

Putting aside the blatant bribery to get 5 star reviews on Amazon (more on that later), Post-Human is a potentially interesting story spoiled by clumsy execution.

The characters while paper thin are appealing enough and the situation moves so rapidly that someone is always in danger which keeps your attention on the story.

Post human Book Review: Post Human by David SimpsonThe problem is when you step back a bit and look at things. I’m not talking about the science here, just basic writing structure. New plot elements are dumped into the story mid-flow just when the characters seem to have been written into a corner and without any previous mention.

Other plot elements are raised only to be ignored for the rest of the story. WHich is a shame because at least one of them (what is really going on with the AI)would have made for a less simplistic black and white story.

Other problems include a cast of genius level IQs who act like sheep and a protagonist who is not only the smartest person on the planet (ever!), but an action man hero to boot! Fortunately everyone just does what he says.

But perhaps the biggest failing is that nothing sticks. There’s no real danger. By the end of the story everything has been restored by use of a good old cosmic reset button. Consequences seem non-existent in this universe.

The story has possibilities and with a bit of re-working I could easily see it scoring 3 to 3.5 stars. The preponderance of 5 star reviews on Amazon however is embarrassing.

The fact that the author flat out states you’ll get a free copy of book two if you give a 5 star review (while cheerfully explaining that this is okay)in the text of the Kindle edition just makes all independent authors look bad.

And I’d really like to know what Amazon’s position is on something like that.

Link: http://amzn.to/ONWu7p

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Book Review: Levianthan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

leviathan Book Review: Levianthan Wakes by James S. A. CoreyI read this as part of the Sword and Laser book club. Until it was announced as the month’s book I hadn’t heard of it, so I really had no particular expectations going in. I was pleasantly surprised.

This is a fast moving book where humanity has managed to colonize parts of the solar system. But they’re still very much tethered to Earth. Technology and science are background elements for this book. They serve the plot, not the other way round.

We are presented with two viewpoint characters: Jim Holden, the rather naive and reckless XO of an ice mining ship and Detective Miller a policeman on a space station with a very realpolitik viewpoint. Over the course of the book their two stories merge into one as a larger plot develops. The two characters and their conflicting moral views drive the story forward.

I particularly enjoyed the first half to two thirds of the book as the mystery and political elements played out. The interactions between Earth, Mars and the “Belters” was convincing and the political tensions kept my attention. In some ways this stuff reminded me of Babylon 5.

The final part of the book is a bit more out there. Not bad and it follows on logically from what came before but not as interesting to me personally.

I did like how science was used in the book. They don’t ignore the realities of physics (whether it’s gravity or radiation) but at the same time it’s just accepted that after that much advance in science a lot of problems are solvable. We aren’t subjected to page long explanations of how, just that they are.

There is a peculiar absence of robots or any sort of artificial intelligence though. I’m not sure if that’s simply because it didn’t suit the story being told, or if there’s more to it.

One interesting thing the author attempts is to have his viewpoint characters faced with some harsh realizations about themselves and their own actions. On more than one occasion you find your perception of the character twisted by what they discover about themselves. It can be a bit of a wrench, but the hints are there if you look back.

However, this may annoy readers who like their characters to be consistent from beginning to end. These people are changed by events around them and their own emotions. Their decisions and actions are consistent, but not constant.

All in all it’s a fun, fast paced read with mystery, politics, action and at the end just a bit of “sense of wonder”. Oh and while it’s reasonably self contained it does set up a sequel very nicely!

Link: http://amzn.to/OBagd9