Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: The Lifecycle of Software Objects

I don't usually review works shorter than a novel, but this year's Hugo voting package included Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects. I reviewed Chiang's earlier collection Stories of your life and raved about it.

The novella is about digital entities (digents). It details a startup's creations of them as pets (tomagochis), the relationships between the trainers, the pets, and each other, and the eventually failure of the host companies and what happens to the digents.

This is a Ted Chiang story, so all the angles behind the technology are well thought out. The technology involved, the use of open source technology to help speed up adoption and development are all there. There's a very mild romance that leads nowhere (come to think of it, Chiang's stories rarely have any romance at all), but for me, the ending kind of falls flat. You expect a climax and resolution but instead you get a fade-away.

Nevertheless, even medicore Ted Chiang is still very good fiction, so I'll recommend this novella.
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