Monday, January 4, 2010

Evolution's Darling

You may recognize Scott Westerfeld’s name from his popular young adult series, such as Peeps and Uglies. Evolution's Darling is an entirely different novel. Darling is a 200 year old artificial intelligence. Thanks to technology, robots have the ability to become sentient beings, detectable by a Turing test. The title refers to the fact that artificials can evolve many times during their lifetime, while their biological counterparts cannot. Darling, so named and made sentient by a past love, is an art dealer of authentic, original, and expensive art. He happens to meet Mira, a mysterious assassin, on a pleasure ship. He seeks a famous sculptor that was thought to be dead, while Mira accompanies him (with her own motives). Is Vaddum, the sculptor, a copy? Can intelligent beings be copied? Should they? Should the copies be destroyed?

Although this is a science fiction novel, the language used and descriptions are beautiful and complex. Musical imagery is used throughout. It was surprising for me that there was a balance and mixture of science and art that was wonderful to read. The two are typically seen as polar opposites and are rarely juxtaposed. All of the characters were fully realized and unique, even the minor ones. The artificial intelligence, in many instances, turned out to be more human than the biological humans. For example, Darling focuses on the emotional meaning behind Vaddum’s work, while Zimivic, his human rival, looks at the technical aspects and how much the piece will make him. It makes us question what really makes a being human or sentient. Even the not yet sentient AI has personality, humor, and their own quirks.

Evolution’s Darling was a completely unique novel. It was engrossing from beginning to end and I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to any fan of science fiction.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins


Book Chick City said...

Thanks for the review - the book sure does sound interesting. I will definitely add it to my ever growing pile! :)

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I love Westerfeld. I'll check this one out!

vvb32 reads said...

omg, another westerfeld out already? i still have to read leviathan.

Misty said...

I had never heard of this one until recently. It made me very excited, so it's on the list.
Glad to hear it's a good one.