STET

Your story “STET” is a Hugo Award finalist, and has an unusual structure (and great emotional power). Tell us about it, and how you came to write it.

“STET” is a story that explores human priorities, AI, responsive algorithms, and the trolley problem. It’s structured as a paragraph from a textbook about autonomous vehicles, with footnotes. The reader then gets to see the conversation that occurs between the author and the editor, revealing the author’s personal connection to the subject matter. I decided to write this story after a conversation with someone who couldn’t believe that an author of genre fiction could possibly have an interest in or understanding of literary fiction. That person’s vehement skepticism drove me to write a piece in the mode of one of my favorite stories, which is told through the footnotes on a paragraph from a textbook. I wanted to explore themes of human accountability for failures of machine morality, and discussing that within a single layer of story seemed impossible, so this format suited the concept perfectly. The story is also an examination of how people, women in particular, are expected to suppress emotions like grief for the sake of professional objectivity — which is itself already myth. On one level, this is a story about grief; on another level, it’s about a woman refusing to have her grief silenced.

— from an interview with Sarah Gailey in Locus, Sept 2019

Advertisements