Sunday, June 5, 2022

Proof by Induction, by José Pablo Iriarte

Uncanny Magazine, May 2021, 

Paulie Gifford, a mathematician going for tenure at his university, the same university where his father was a Professor Emeritus until his death just before the start of this story. Paulie and his father had been collaborating on a proof of a mathematical theorem--and on top of losing his father, Paulie has just lost his research partner.

But, in this world, at an unspecified point in our future, there is a technology called Coda; it records a dying person's brain in the moments of death. The recording is interactive, and "knows" everything the deceased knew at the time of death. It can't form new memories, but family members can "enter" the Coda, talk to this recording of the deceased, and ask such mundane and important questions as, "Do you have an insurance policy?"

Paulie wonders if he can collaborate with his father's Coda on his math research, rather than just ask mundane questions.

We have a story about the challenges of academia, a son's grief, loss, and frustration over a father he never had a strong personal connection with, and his own struggle to be a better father to his own daughter. It's a quiet, moving story, and worth your time.


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