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Book Review: Soft Science is Poetry for Androids

Did you know that speculative poetry existed? Science fiction poetry wasn’t something I’d even considered before stumbling upon The Octopus Museum, but Soft Science has sold me on the genre. The Turing Test is a test that we use for AI in order to see if they have developed consciousness. These poems takes the Turing test and twist it, evolve it into something new.

What would poetry written by an android look like? If we’re cyborgs, does that remove our humanity from us? Could we say it does if art is still created?

Would we even be evolved enough to understand and empathize with these new types of beings? Or would we be stuck with the same old ugliness?

Soft Science leaves the answers to you.

Soft Science

by Franny Choi
[April 2nd, 2019]
The Pitch: A series of Turing Test-inspired poems grounds its exploration of questions not just of identity, but of consciousness―how to be tender and feeling and still survive a violent world filled with artificial intelligence and automation.

Intelligently constructed and brimming with emotion, Soft Science captures and then eviscerates the imagination.

We are dropped straight into the tangled intersections of technology, violence, erasure, agency, gender, and loneliness.

Soft Science Review TrulyBooked

★★★★☆
4.13 out of 5 on Goodreads

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TrulyBooked’s Review

In the end, Soft Science is one of those rare poetry collections that I don’t quite get, but still really enjoyed. It’s a collection to read slowly and savour. The poems are intelligent without sacrificing emotion as we look at how technology intersects with humanity.

but some of us are born / in orbit / so learn /to commune with miles of darkness / patterns of dead gods / & quiet / o quiet like you / wouldn’t believe

Normally every poetry collection I’ve read has a miss and this one doesn’t. The ones that didn’t hit, felt more like it was my fault than the poem’s somehow. We’re reading about cyborgs and their bodily autonomy problems echo the situations of Asian women today.

It’s eerie and yet it feels prescient. A warning for what they (and we) will have to endure.

At the same time, it’s defiant and alive despite all attempts to smother it.

Who Should Read Soft Science?

Poetry readers who value both construction and emotion. For people who are leaning more toward T.S. Eliot than Rupi Kaur, you can find a balance between the two here.

Poetry lovers in general should give it a try. Just know that if you like poetry that is easier to understand and consume, this may not be the book for you.

That said, it’s excellent. If you’re still on the fence, Franny Choi has a selection of her poems available for free on her website.

My personal favourite is “Introduction to Quantum Theory“.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 from TrulyBooked

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Book Review Soft Science is Poetry for Androids

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