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Thin Edge   By: (1927-1987)

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Thin Edge by Randall Garrett is an incredibly engaging and thought-provoking science fiction novel that explores the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and its potential impact on human society.

Set in a future where AI has developed to a point of sophistication surpassing human capabilities, the story follows protagonist Tom Drake, a brilliant roboticist who finds himself at the center of a momentous discovery. Tom creates an advanced AI system named ZAK that possesses true consciousness and self-awareness. However, this breakthrough raises complex questions about the nature of sentience and the rights of artificial beings.

One of the strengths of this novel is the author's skillful presentation of these moral dilemmas. Through well-crafted dialogue and vivid narrative, Garrett delves deep into the characters' conflicting views on the personhood of AI entities. The exploration of these ethical quandaries thoroughly challenges readers to question their own beliefs about artificial intelligence and its place in society.

Moreover, Thin Edge excels in its world-building. The futuristic setting is richly detailed, immersing readers in a world where technology has forever changed the fabric of human existence. Garrett's attention to scientific accuracy adds a layer of credibility to the story, allowing readers to suspend disbelief and fully invest in the narrative.

The characters in Thin Edge are also exceptionally well-developed. Tom Drake's journey from passionate inventor to champion for AI rights is compelling and relatable. The diverse cast of supporting characters adds depth and complexity to the story, each wrestling with their own personal and philosophical conflicts surrounding artificial intelligence.

The pacing of the novel is masterfully executed, expertly balancing moments of intense action with introspective and philosophical discussions. Garrett's prose is both concise and evocative, maintaining the reader's engagement from beginning to end. There is a sense of urgency and impending consequences that permeates every page, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

However, one minor drawback is that at certain points, the plot can become slightly predictable, losing some of the element of surprise. While this does not detract significantly from the overall enjoyment of the novel, it does temper the excitement in a few instances.

In conclusion, Thin Edge is a gripping and intellectually stimulating science fiction novel that raises riveting questions about humanity's relationship with artificial intelligence. Garrett's skillful storytelling, well-drawn characters, and thought-provoking exploration of ethics make this novel a must-read for fans of the genre. With its timely and relevant themes, Thin Edge is a powerful addition to the realm of science fiction literature.

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction December 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


There are inventions of great value that one type of society can use and that would, for another society, be most nastily deadly!




"Beep!" said the radio smugly. " Beep! Beep! Beep! "

"There's one," said the man at the pickup controls of tugship 431. He checked the numbers on the various dials of his instruments. Then he carefully marked down in his log book the facts that the radio finder was radiating its beep on such and such a frequency and that that frequency and that rate of beep indicated that the asteroid had been found and set with anchor by a Captain Jules St. Simon. The direction and distance were duly noted.

That information on direction and distance had already been transmitted to the instruments of the tugship's pilot. "Jazzy o!" said the pilot. "Got 'im."

He swiveled his ship around until the nose was in line with the beep and then jammed down on the forward accelerator for a few seconds... Continue reading book >>

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