the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Steven Popkes’ Category

Sudden, Broken and Unexpected (novella) by Steven Popkes

December issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction











Can music be broken down into ones and zeroes, bits and micro-bits? Can music be written by an AI?

possibly.  sort of.  maybe?

Which leads to questions of how would one program and AI to pass a musical Turing Test, where the music written by the AI is indistinguishable from the creative musical abilities of a human? Is such a thing possible? and if it were, how would the music loving public react?

In Steven Popkes latest short story, Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected,  he takes the above and slowly turns it inside out, in the process creating a highly impactful story.

The story opens with musician Jake Mulcahey taking a job to revise and rewrite some  fairly generic pop music.  In his youth, Jake had gone on the road with his band as they chased the fame of their sole hit single. Jake is still haunted by his bad decisions, the fact that he is the reason the band broke up.  Since then, he’s put out a few studio albums, and stays mostly behind the scenes in the music industry.

Besides, who would want to see an oldster like Jake on stage playing guitar, when instead they could pay to see a holographic Divaloid?  Even better, Divaloids can be downloaded into your own home. They aren’t people, they are licensing and programming. There isn’t anything a Divaloid can’t or won’t do to please a fan.  That’ll start to get creepy once that thought sinks into your brain, and it’s supposed to.

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