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The Stories of Ibis
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The Stories of Ibis

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Author: Hiroshi Yamamoto
Publisher: Haikasoru, 2010
Original Japanese publication, 2006
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Robots/Androids
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Synopsis

Even a Machine has Tales to Tell

In a world where humans a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The story takes place centuries in the future, where the diminished populations of humans live uncultured lives in their own colonies. They resent the androids, who have built themselves a stable and cultural society. In this brutal time, our main character travels from colony to colony as a "storyteller," one that speaks of the stories of the past. One day, he is abducted by Ibis, an android in the form of a young girl, and told of the stories created by humans in the ancient past.

The stories that Ibis speaks of are the 7 novels about the events surrounding the announcements of the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the 20th to 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis' real intentions?


Excerpt

That was how the story had unfolded three days ago. And then Xevale came up with his plot proposal--one in which the Celestial received a distress signal from the mining base the moment it came out of warp and entered the planetary system--only today. And how the away team took the shuttlecraft Dart to the base only to find that the workers had all been killed by some mysterious force.

"This story better have a resolution," I said to myself, dubious about the whole turn of events. Knowing Xevale, he probably didn't have an explanation for the workers' deaths. He only liked to create these kinds of mysterious incidents.

I could just ignore Xevale's plot submission. But then simply destroying the planet and the DS as planned didn't provide much of a catharsis. The story could use one more twist before the end. After thinking about it long and hard, I pasted the text written by Xevale onto a new web page, created a link from the contents page, and clicked PUBLISH.
Just as I opened a new tab on the browser to verify the changes on the website, there was a knock at the door.

"Coming!"

I left the computer running and went to answer the door. I couldn't remember ordering anything by mail order. The only people that came knocking on the door on a late Saturday afternoon were either newspaper solicitors or some lady from a local religious group. I'll just get rid of them.

Standing on the other side of the peephole were a young policeman and a balding middle-aged man.

I cautiously opened the door just a crack, and the middle-aged man asked, "Are you Nanami Shiihara?" He pulled out his ID from his gray coat and held it up in front of my face. Although I'd seen plenty of police IDs being flashed on TV, this was my first exposure to the real thing.

"My name is Iioka. I've been asked by the Niigata Prefectural Police to investigate an incident. Do you know a young man by the name of Yuichiro Tanizaki?"

Yuichiro Tanizaki--several seconds went by before I could retrieve that name from my memory. It was the name of Shawn Mornane in Maintenance.

"Yes, I know him," I replied.

"Is he a member of your club?" the detective asked.

"Yes, what about him?"

"He killed someone."

In that instant my mind stopped functioning. I felt nothing, not even shock. This story was so unrealistic that I couldn't process it.

I could believe any other story. A sentient warship destroying four Federation battleships, a hyperdimensional vortex swallowing up planets, the vicious shape-shifting mechanoid reaper, the existence of the great Sower who scattered the seeds of intelligent life throughout the galaxy--for all that I could suspend my disbelief. But Shawn killing someone...

I recalled Shawn's face from that one time we met at last year's year-end club gathering. Contrary to the impression I had of him from the forums as a chatterbox, he was a quiet, reserved-looking kid. I had a hard time connecting the phrase "killed someone" with the image I had of Shawn.

"Can I talk to you for a bit?"

Before I knew it, I had answered "yes" and was undoing the chain on the door. The policeman said "I'll be on my way" with a bow and left. The detective took off his shoes and came inside.

Before sitting down on the cushion I put out for him, the detective took a slow turn around the center of the room, eyeing various things with a penetrating look. "Hmm..." he murmured. It was probably a habit that came with the job, but I couldn't help shrinking in embarrassment. The bookshelves stuffed with science fiction novels, the piles of manga stacked on the floor, the model of the Enterprise hanging from the ceiling, the computer taking up most of the small table, a half-finished drawing, and the toy figures arranged along the top of the monitor were hardly the kinds of things found in a single woman's room.

"Did you want to keep that running?" the detective asked, pointing to the computer screen.

"Oh, that's not a problem," I replied.

"But you're on the Internet, aren't you? Doesn't that cost money?"

"No, I always keep the computer connected with ADSL."

The detective gave me a blank look. Apparently he didn't know much about the Internet.

Copyright © 2006 by Hiroshi Yamamoto


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