Title: Down to a Sunless Sea
Author: Maartens Lourens
Publication Date: December 3, 2016
Goodreads Synopsis: Down to a Sunless Sea is probably the world’s 1st novella written in collaboration with an AI.
In a dystopian London run by sinister aristocracy, Blake is part of a dying breed of creatives. But can he work out what happened last night when he was with Sia before it is too late?
Down to a Sunless Sea is a trippy exploration of a world uncannily familiar. The author used an AI to generate new vocabulary inserted into the story.
Could this be a glimpse into the future?
I read the description of Down to a Sunless Sea by Maartens Lourens and thought “wow this is going to be a unique storyline.” So I decided that this would be the next book I would read.
This novella follows Blake in a dystopian society in London. He can’t seem to remember the night before, but all he can think about is Sia. The only thing he can remember is her name though. Blake goes through loops and hurdles trying to find Sia and ends up in a crazy situation that makes sense to everyone but him. Written with the addition of his AI (artificial intelligence) named Deep Thunder. The AI suggested new vocabulary words. Down to a Sunless Sea explores this other society.
Without further ado, let’s get to the review!
What I Like:
The fact that this is written with an AI component is pretty intriguing. That’s what drew me into this novella in the first place. As I read through the novella, I was able to train myself like you would for any foreign language. Like gale means good. Ango means young man; guy. Mirray means girl or woman. And roor means care. So a sentence that says That ango is so gale for that mirrary; he roors so much about her, would translate to That guy is so good for that girl; he cares so much about her. It becomes easy to substitute the words as the story goes on.
There are so many details in this short novella. From the description of outside to the grand dining hall, everything is set. It was perfectly painted in my mind how everything looked. I did not have to fill in many of the holes.
No matter how confused I was, I was pulled in by Lourens’ writing style. Something about the flow of the words and the details (described in the last point) all made for an intriguing story. Much of the time I had little sense of what was going on, but it didn’t matter because I just wanted to keep reading. Lourens is a fantastic and unique storyteller.
What I Don’t Like:
For the most part, the glossary did its job. Many of the strange words that are AI generated are listed alphabetically and are defined. But I found myself, on multiple occasions, flipping to the glossary for a word to find that it is not there. It sometimes became confusing not really knowing what was really going on because of the undefined words.
In the beginning, we meet Blake who is looking for Sia. Then he runs into some people that sell him tickets to a theater show. Once there everyone takes on a new character name. I had to reread many pages before I realized that Blake had become Hemsworth and that was what Lourens referred to him as. It came off as a bit odd being that Blake was Blake and in the same chapter, Blake becomes Hemsworth.
Overall, Down to a Sunless Sea provides insight to a possible future. The idea of including AI generated vocabulary is unique and makes the story even interesting. I mean who doesn’t like head spirating (turning) vocabulary?! However, the weird change of character names really throws the story off for me. I give Down to a Sunless Sea…
Thank you Thunderclap Publishing and Maartens Lourens for the opportunity to read and review Down to a Sunless Sea.
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