First Draft Book Club: Art of A.I. in ‘Speak’

Louisa Hall’s novel, “Speak.”(Photo: HarperCollins) “My power is fading,” the dying robot says from inside a truck that wends its way west through a futuristic Texas blighted by drought, rising sea levels and oceans turned brown. It’s a world hampered by travel restrictions, one in which little girls, deprived of their lifelike babybots by sweeping government bans, have been stricken with inexplicable paralysis. “Once it runs out,” the robot says, “the memories I have saved will be silent.” It sounds like the cold, cerebral stuff of high science fiction, far too speculative, surely, to be September’s pick for the literary First Draft Book Club at Changing Hands Bookstore. But the ghosts that flash across the robot’s synthetic synapses in Louisa Hall’s haunting second novel, “Speak,” are creatures of flesh and blood.…

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