A masterfully painted portrait of artificial intelligence, Prabhleen Notra
October 18, 2021
“A problem shared is a problem halved.”
In Hello Strange by Pamela Morrow, Josie is a humanoid; a piece of artificial intelligence. She was created by Miles McClure, a man who lost his wife and has three children, all of whom express grief in their own ways. Brought to life early via a huge power surge, Josie finds herself in a tank, from which she soon escapes. Miles doesn’t know what to think at first, however, in an attempt to prevent security from taking her away as a result of his last creation, Miles brings her into his home.
Hunter, Milly, and Coel—the McClure siblings—soon meet their new roommate, whom Miles hopes will be able to bring light back into the children’s lives. While Milly opens up to Josie as a person rather than a robot, Hunter and Coel take a little more time to come to terms with her presence. Josie is determined to fulfill Miles’ request to help his children regardless of the attitude they display. Yet, as time passes, she finds herself devising choices that shouldn’t be possible. Choices that aren’t part of her code. Choices designed to suit her preferences. All the while, a vicious scheme looms in the background, threatening the life Josie was just beginning to live.
Hello Strange is an enthralling and exhilarating narrative about the intellect of artificial intelligence. By diving deep into the minds of both the humanoid and the humans that meet them, it explores the concept of emotion, choice, and free will, alongside the subsequent consequences that have the potential to occur.
“This problem can’t be halved.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first came across the story. I hadn’t even thought about what the plot may be. In a way, that helped me enjoy the story more. When reading the starting chapters, my thoughts were that the character point of views switched too often to enjoy one single person’s perpective. This also caused some difficulty understanding the different dynamics and relationships in the novel. However, as I got further into the book, these became more apparent and made much more sense.
Every person I encountered felt unique and like they had their own thoughts and feelings—even Josie who was supposed to be a humanoid. Speaking of, Josie’s chapters were particularly fun to read; I enjoyed seeing her progress in her thought patterns the more she interacted with those around her. The McClure siblings were also characters with immense growth, Hunter and Coel especially. I found every chapter was written with a purpose, even those about side characters I didn’t care much for. In the grand scheme of things, all the little pieces of information added to larger revelations.
One of the best parts of the book are definitely the little graphic designs strewn about the pages. Within the novel, there are pieces of art that gather on different pages, sometimes music notes, other times stars, lightning, water droplets, et cetera. Whenever and wherever these are, they always correlate to what is being mentioned in the story, adding a pleasing extra touch. I noticed this instantly when reading and fell in love, searching for them as I continued. Even the design around the page numbers is different and appealing.
I’d recommend Hello Strange to anyone interested in seeing a take on artificial intelligence mingling in a human setting, where they go from understanding basics through their code, to using experiences to fuel their knowledge.
Morrow masterfully paints an image of artificial intelligence being truly alive and not just a toy to be controlled and thrown away and experimented with. The book communes with different perspectives on the matter, scrutinising scenarios to be thought about. The best part is how exquisitely it’s represented. Both the visual and text aspects make it a thoroughly entertaining story that I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read.
“Without sadness, happiness has no meaning.”
Prabhleen is 14 years old and lives in Hamilton.