Hilbert Schenck’s “Silicon Muse”

Last night, I read Hilbert Schenck’s 1984 story, “Silicon Muse” from The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories. The story won the 1985 Hugo for Best Novelette, and deservingly so. It’s about an English literature professor who’s employing the campus main frame to write fiction based on the goings and comings data collected through the “Total Access” network. This story might have been an influence for Richard Powers when he wrote, Galatea 2.2. However, instead of the Power’s A.I. telling humanity, “screw you guys, I’m going home,” Schenck’s computer system works with the professor to gain literary prestige and material wealth. It’s an entertaining story that has a very postmodern construction that definitely adds to the experience of reading the story. Another recommended story!

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Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.