Tara can’t remember life without her AI. Her mum and dad bought the Artificial Intelligence when Tara had her night terrors, when she was little. It used to sit under her pillow and murmur to her. Safe and secure, she was, with Portia keeping the night things away.
Portia used to be classy, state-of-the-art. Her case, the size and shape of a playing card, was originally a stylish black matte. Now, fourteen years later, it’s battered and scratched with the scars of love. Of course, since Portia took over managing the family home … Portia is the home, now, integrated into every aspect of living, taking care of the family, nurturing and protecting.
10 Futures imagines ten futures, in ten short stories across the century from 2020. In each, the future world is lived by the same two friends, Tara and Sam. They are mid-teen, and best friends. That is constant, when very little else is. The stories are not told in chronological order, but instead skip forward and back and then forward again. Technology succeeds, technology fails. There are stories set in times where climate and population growth challenges have overwhelmed, and stories where these have been managed. But these are just the settings. In each of the stories, there are dilemmas for the friends, whether on a micro or macro scale. In each it is their personalities and actions that drive the stories. In each, it is friendship that looms large.
What does the future hold? No one knows, but Michael Pryor has had a go at speculating. Not once, but ten times. Each is a micro-glimpse of what the world could be. Some of the worlds are very bleak, others show worlds that suggest that humans have learned to work together for the good of all. Themes range very widely and there is plenty here to initiate classroom discussion on a range of topics: ethics, morality, power, compassion and more. Tara and Sam are very different personalities but firm friends. Their friendship provides support through very different challenges, demonstrating the see-sawing of need and knowledge that underpins and sustains enduring friendships. Engaging spec fiction, recommended for mid-secondary readers.
10 Futures, Michael Pryor
Woolshed Press/Random House 2012 ISBN: 9781742753768
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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