By: Isaac (Shuntang) Hsu
Translated by: Tze-lan Deborah Sang and Isaac (Shuntang) Hsu
“The Affair,” by Isaac (Shuntang) Hsu, is the recipient of the 1988 top China Times ScienceFiction Award in Taiwan. Among Taiwanese sci-fi fans and critics, Isaac Hsu is known as the only author whose work contributed to the golden era of sci-fi literature in Taiwan and who is still active today. He is especially acclaimed for creating fictional universes based on concrete scientific theories and rigorous speculations. “The Affair” is a short story that deals with poignant questions of morality and humanity raised by the development of artificial intelligence. The underlying concept of the story strongly resonates with that of Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics.” Daneel Lynn, a well-known Taiwanese sci-fi critic, has remarked that Hsu is the only Taiwanese writer who has produced sci-fi stories that are in close agreement with Asimov’s Robots series. He has even observed that “The Affair” presented a concept very similar to Asimov’s Zeroth Law of Robotics no later than Asimovhimself did. “The Affair” is the first story in Hsu’s Hamlet Trilogy, which explores the concept of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité as it pertains to the interactions between humans and artificial intelligence. The final story in the trilogy, “The Farewell of Roba,” has recently appeared in Hsu’s new sci-fi collection, Puppet Blood and Other Stories (Kuilei xielei ji qita gushi) from Gaea Books Co., Ltd.
! Are you a doctor, Uncle?
? Yes, indeed. Or did you think I was a vet?
! What is a vet?
? A vet is an animal doctor.
! What kind of animal is an animal doctor?
? A tarsier? Haha!
! So are you really the doc to check on me?
? Sure. Can’t you recognize me? Little Hamlet?
! Yes, I recognize you, Doc, but Father told me to be extremely careful. Nowadays you can’t be sure that someone is still doing the same job unless they show you the proof.
? So did I pass?
! Yes! Tarsier is the latest answer!
? All right. You kids are getting suspicious these days. May I start?
! Yes, you may.
? Does this hurt? What about this?
! It doesn’t hurt anywhere, Doc. I don’t think my illnessnis a physical one.
? Are you telling me kids like you could have a psychological problem, too?
! More precisely a conceptual problem I think.
? This is not the area of my expertise but go ahead. Tell me about it. I will try my best.
! Uncle Claudius has been asking Mom out frequently . . .Read More… about The Affair: The First of the Hamlet Trilogy