Court of the Grandchildren and Einstein’s dreams

I don’t get much time for reading for the moment, but I’ve read two books. One was for a book tour with Blackthorn Tours. The other is a fascinating collection of short, poetic vignettes about time.

  • Purchase link
  • Genre:  Speculative Fiction
  • Print length: 307 pages
  • Suitable for young adults? This is an adult book but suitable for mature teenagers age 16+
  • Trigger warnings: No. (Non graphic reference to a suicide and a rape)
  • New publication from Odyssey Books

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to thank Blackthorn Tours for the opportunity.

One day our grandchildren might sue us for what we do to Earth. David is nearing 100 years old. He has an AI caretaker and he wants to be euthanised. To do so, however, he must get the the approval of his only living relative. But Lily doesn’t want to deal with his death and instead opts to use an alternate path which requires David to go to Climate Court first, where he can present his case as a lot of older people in this world have to do: the case of climate fight and their action or inaction. Our current generation’s neglect of climate is basically put on trial in this novel. And David personifies this.

We begin the story as the 96-year old David expresses his desire to be euthanised. His AI claims he needs the consent of his only living relative, Lily. Lily, who has a parallel story of her own, doesn’t want to deal with euthanasia, even more so because this is the first she’s heard she had a relative. Things go from there as David isn’t always very coherent and new facts come to light.

It’s a world dealing with the aftermath of what if we don’t do enough and the story speculates where things can go wrong. What interests might prevent us from doing it right. The book looks at how decisions on the highest levels may impact generations of the future and how they may judge us for it. And what might reality look like when a disaster that possibly could have been prevented strikes.

Another theme of the book is overreliance on AIs and their various functions and dangerous counter movements.

I Iiked it, it’s a fast read with good premise. And I felt it was creative to show this as an actual trial. It makes a case for looking towards the future and making an effort now, rather than looking back and placing blame.

But I did not like everything about the book.

There was room for deeper explorations of David’s sense of loss in the new world and for his feeling of guilt. Lily’s storyline contributed a take on AIs and how she feels when confronted with the past but I felt there was irrelevant drama and flat characters that diminished the reception for me.

Lily’s story wasn’t particularly interesting, her sexuality and over reliance on an ex female lover on top of her interest in David’s android-like male human attorney were grating to me. Besides, Ava, Lily’s friend, felt flat and the insults at the end felt like a nuisance rather than anything worthwhile. I felt her role to be pretty redundant, I didn’t feel like these things added anything especially interesting except for one thing: conversations with Matteo the lawyer did expand a bit consideration about the role of AIs.

However, I feel the driving concept is good and it was worth a read to think about our present and what if we find ourselves….in the court of our grandchildren.

A life is a moment in season. A life is one snowfall. A life is one autumn day. A life is the delicate, rapid edge of a closing door’s shadow. A life is a brief movement of arms and of legs.

Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams is a little treasure of a book. Takes the form of poetic vignettes dreamed by Einstein as he works on his theory of relativity. Each story is a different world focused on a different take on time.Transient. Elusive, but inescapable. In one world, time stands still, in another time is a nightingale that people desperately want to capture. In yet another, time is circular and people are doomed to repeat their failures or how, more obviously, our decisions create infinite worlds. It becomes a meditation on the fragility of life and our choices.

For me, this is the sort of book one returns to, it’s reflective and the sheer number of possibilities makes me think back to Borges, an author I must revisit soon. Authors like this open my mind to broader thinking. I like the word, possibility. It’s a lovely read.

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