The Stories of Ibis is a novel from 2006 written by Yamamoto Hiroshi. Although I’ll be reading from the 2010 English version since, in spite of being a massive weeb, I don’t speak Japanese. In any case, it’s been quite a while since my last book review. So, I’m excited to get on with this one.
We open with a wandering storyteller being confronted by an android. She says she just wants to talk, but he doesn’t believe her and proves no match for her and injures himself trying to bust her systems. She calls for help and he wakes up in hospital, a prisoner of the robots.
Our heroine introduces herself as Ibis and she entertains the story teller during his convalescence by telling him some stories. But can he overcome his deep-rooted mistrust of machines and actually listen?
The story is based around bibliotherapy and is reminiscent of 1001 Nights in that regard. The main narrative features Ibis telling stories to our protagonist while the stories she tells are feature a few thematic similarities. Namely that they’re about artificial intelligence and a positive attitude towards it. This eventually culminates in Ibis telling the non-fictional story about how mankind has reached its current state.
My first minor criticism of the narrative is that the Black Hole Diver story isn’t that great. It’s good, but not on par with the rest. My second is that it feels like it goes a bit far with how divorced humanity has become from its past. I understand why a lot of our history has to have been lost but the degree seems a tad excessive.
That being said, these stories are, generally, excellent. Even the worst of them is still good. They have a good variety in terms of content, but they all tie in together pretty well. Which is impressive considering that most of them were initially published as short stories by themselves. And the interactions with Ibis and the story teller are really interesting. It keeps you interested in how things got to this point. The pay off is well worth it too.
The major characters are Ibis and the story teller. We get his point of view which gives us some insight into how humans of the age think as well as how he specifically differs from the norm. Which combines to give him a strong sense of personality. Ibis is quite compelling too. She has a sense of complexity but there’s enough that’s odd about it to give the impression that she’s not quite human.
The characters you see in the short stories are really well defined too. Yamamoto does a great job of giving you stories with a lot of nice background details and interesting technology but also making them very character focused.
This book is fantastic. If you’re a fan of science fiction and you want to see how to handle the general concept of sapient AI really well and not like a bumbling man child, David Cage, I highly recommend it. I’ll give this one an enthusiastic 9/10.