“The Counselor” by Robin Sloan
Reviewed by Ryan Holmes
“The Counselor” by Robin Sloan imagines a plausible near future where advances in medical and computational technologies converge to create longevity and life-long AI physicians. At first thought, this might seem a utopian destiny, but Sloan delves a bit deeper. Consider a twenty-year-old woman given the gift of longevity, not immortality, and a life-long, personal physician who listens to her, cares for her, and counsels her. That woman will die, one day, but that day just got greatly extended, barring an accidental death. She’s young, vibrant, and will be, as far as she’s concerned, for the rest of her life. What’s not to feel utopian about? Flash forward to her final decades, however long that may be, for the answer, but can we really, with any clarity, envision our final years until we experience them? Anyone claiming they can is probably naïve. The truth is we don’t have to imagine them. We can observe them right now. Our final years are all around us, lived out by our loved ones, those who came before us, those we owe so much to and see so little of as their days grow ever shorter. Sloan wisely chooses one of them to deliver his message, his warning.
Ryan Holmes is a Marine Corps grunt turned aerospace engineer for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and writes science fiction and fantasy in life’s scant margins. You can find his blog at: www.griffinsquill.blogspot.com