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[Comments] (2) Constellation Games Author Commentary #10: "K.I.S.S.I.N.G.": This is Dana Light's big chapter, and I'm having trouble writing commentary because it's pretty self-contained. A problem is introduced and Ariel solves it by the application of technology. If I hadn't been writing a novel when I came up with Dana, this chapter would have become a short story, maybe part of a sequel to "Mallory". It would have been about the way evil psychologists use game mechanics and the ELIZA effect to manipulate users into spending money, and the way people get real pleasure from spending money on things designed to manipulate them.

Although evil psychology does show up in Constellation Games, I didn't have as much space for it as I'd like. Instead this chapter shows the first grown-up thing we see Ariel do. In a world in which sub-human-level AI has suddenly become very common, Ariel decides to empathize with it.

He doesn't anthropomorphize Dana. Dana doesn't pass the Turing test, she isn't terribly smart or self-aware, but she's capable of happiness and she doesn't deserve to be deliberately made unhappy by evil psychologists. This attitude is what ultimately makes Ariel a hero, not just a POV character. The consequences of his decision to empathize will run through the entire book, and then overflow the book into "Dana no Chousen," and I still don't know when and whether Ariel does the right thing w/r/t Dana. But you gotta have empathy.

Apart from that, I don't have much to say. Here are a few miscellaneous notes:

Tune in next week for action, intrigue, and romance between people at the same level of sentience. It's the only chapter when Ariel will say: "I just have a slight fear of being a tiny speck in the infinite cosmic void." But not the only chapter when he'll think that.

PS: Due to an error on my part, the chapter 9 Twitter feeds ran as part of chapter 8, and chapter 10's Twitter feeds ran last week. This really can't go on, because next week's feeds are tightly integrated with chapter 11. So except for a brief bit of bonus material I just wrote, there will be no Twitter stuff this week. Sorry about that!

Photo credits: Kevin Trotman and Peter Anderson.

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