Review: “The Magician and Laplace’s Demon” by Tom Crosshill

2 of 5 stars.

The details of this short story are secondary to the philosophical rhetoric at its core. Technology can eventually predict virtually all as equations probe ever closer to the Big Bang and infinities. Magic is that which can not be predicted, or better is the randomness controlled by magicians. But magic can never be proven to exist, by definition. [Nevermind the definition of magic as technology not yet understood–that is not this.]

An AI-being, whose knowledge is the sum total of the galaxy’s technology, struggles to find, understand, control and eliminate magic and magicians. It uses its ability to split into thousands of simultaneous consciousnesses each inserted into a human body, to hunt down the magicians. The last magician in the universe takes advantage of the law of constant magic to enjoy unlimited power in the wake of all other magicians being destroyed by the AI trying to kill them to understand them. This chase between the 2 lasts over a thousand years.

This tale lacks a character to care about. Maybe this would not be the case if the 1st person narrator was the magician and not the AI-being. It might make the motivations relatable and the conversations less stuck on a philosophical error message.

“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Clarkesworld, December 2014.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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