I shelled out [price] for this book because I wanted to read the title story, which inspired the movie “A.I.”, and its two sequels, which formed an outline of how Aldiss wanted the screenplay to evolve. In the three stories, Aldiss poses two good questions: “Can robots feel love?” and “If so, are they human?”, but he never gives us satisfactory answers. Throughout the trilogy, David remains a static, unchanging little boy incapable of articulating or learning from his experiences. The only character the audience can empathize and grow with is the aging, philandering father, who learns nothing in the end except that greed can ruin your life. The worst thing about these stories, though, is that they fail to cover any new ideas that have not already been discussed before, most notably by Isaac Asimov’s far superior “Bicentennial Man”.
The sixteen short stories that follow are much, much worse. Most of them teeter on the edge between dramatic fiction and satire, so that they are neither interesting nor funny. Only “Apogee Again” contains any imaginative ideas and descriptions. Some of the stories, such as “A Whiter Mars” and “Cognitive Ability and the Light Bulb”, are not really stories at all; they are summary descriptions of how society will evolve into a vegetarian, religion-less utopia. Others, such as “Dark Society” and “Steppenpferd”, start out promising but leave the reader with lady-or-the-tiger endings, without any resolution to the conflict.
Please, please don’t waste your money on this collection.