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Thomson, Amy

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1958-    ) US author whose first novel, Virtual Girl (1993), cunningly updates the Icon of the female Robot, long a locus for uneasy speculation among older sf writers (see Feminism). Maggie, the protagonist of this Near-Future tale, is an AI and consequently illegal, as independent artificial intelligences have been outlawed. More humanely, less sharply, but with a happier outcome than the robot Bildungsromanen for which John Sladek became best-known, Virtual Girl carries its robot into what may be a successful adulthood. Thomson received the John W Campbell Award for 1994. A series, the Color of Distance sequence comprising The Color of Distance (1995) and Through Alien Eyes (1999), strands its female protagonist on an environmentally hostile world, where she is rescued through First Contact with the native Alien civilization, whose balanced relationship with their world is convincingly described, and whose language in particular is convincingly presented (see Linguistics). Biologically transformed to allow her survival, the protagonist experiences life as a quasi-alien. In the second volume, after she has been rescued and brought two emissaries with her back to Earth, some sharp points are conveyed about a variety of issues, including Ecology and Overpopulation. Storyteller (2003) is set on an archipelago planet which humans call Thalassa, where colonists and the native species both seem half-aware that the original human who crash-landed there may be, in some sense not clearly explained, surviving behind the scenes as a benevolent Secret Master. The tale is humane and hopeful. [JC]

Amy Thomson

born Miami, Florida: 28 October 1958



The Color of Distance

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