Learning to be Me by Greg Egan
I am still very indecisive about what to dread next. So I have been continuing to read short stories. This time around it’s another tale from Eight Edition of the Year’s Best Scifi. This time around it’s a a short story called Learning to be Me by Greg Egan
What is it about? It’s about a frightening futuristic world. In this future every infant has a tiny computer placed inside the back of their skull. It interfaces with the brain learning as much as it can to be an exact copy of the brain as the child grows up. The reasoning for this is that, in the prime of their lives. Typically between twenty five and thirty, the brain is removed to be entirely replaced by the computer so they will not suffer from brain degradation or mental illness. Also it’s the beginning of a road of replacing parts to have immortality. This process known as the switch, and everyone does it. In strange world, it follows a young boy growing up in this world. And as he grows older he begins to question this process. He questions if people are really human after the process. Or if they are even still living at all. This though consumes him as he proceeds into his twenties. He’s scared. He’s terrified of the switch. But all those people he grew up with went through it and they seemed fine. Or at least they look fine. He is becoming increasingly scared of the idea that they may not be human anymore.
So the good? This story does exactly what good scifi should do. It introduces a high concept scifi idea and explores it thoroughly. The world painted here is a fascinating and shocking one. Told from the point of view of a child growing up in the world, it slowly shifts from something that seems ordinary to nightmarish. It highly entertaining for the reason.
The bad? Detail could be better. But it’s a minor issue. Another larger issue I saw was this tales does not have a happy ending. It’s quite unsettling and heartbreaking. And if you’re anything like me, you prefer a happy, you will not like this one.
Overall, this is a wonderfully told scifi tale. It’s dark. Its kina scary. It makes you ask so many questions as you read. Despite the ending, this is an amazing piece of scifi and if you like science fiction. I think this one is worth seeking out, and is a must read.
4 ½ smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: A Scifi Masterpiece About What It Means To Be Human