She vanishes only to return to her lover years later as a wizened old woman. An impossible machine afforded her a time traveling adventure across the past but robbed her of a life with the woman she loved.
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And finally, a young archeologist tracks down a machine to a village in Timbuktu. All the residents are considered insane by the local warlords who have deemed the village a neutral zone and bring its people food and clothing as an act of charity. The archeologist is a woman who has never felt at home in her native Mali or in America where she earned her doctorate. The loneliness she had accepted her whole life is removed by the effect a machine is having on the village.
Ambiguity Machines: An Examination by Vandana Singh - FictionDB
It connects everyone around in an empathic web that blurs the individual mind but does not erase it. Since this story is posed as a test, there are questions to consider at the end, the biggest being about the nature of story.
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Do we control the stories of our lives as their main recounters or does the story assume autonomy once it is told? If an engineer can dream a machine, can the reverse not be true? While telling stories about storytelling sounds like a tired postmodern impulse, Singh does so with great inventiveness and humanity.
Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories: by Vandana Singh
The only clue to who she might have been is a battered, multi-volume edition of the Indian epic Kathasaritsagara: The Ocean of Streams of Story. The epic was written by the poet Somadeva, who Isha falls in love with while reading the stories. She resurrects the poet digitally to travel the cosmos with her as she collects the stories of alien races the way he did of Northern India. It is a story about telling, listening and the sometimes improper imposition of meaning upon every story one receives.
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The moments can be viewed but not influenced and the poor woman is tasked with observing an exiled poet in nineteenth century Kolkata. Vandana Singh teaches physics at a state university near Boston and writes in her non-existent spare time. She was born and raised in the city of Dilli aka Delhi, India where medieval ruins lie strewn among modern-day edifices.
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