“I don’t want to be evil. I want to be helpful.”
So states the A.I. in the acclaimed short story “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer, which follows the story of an A.I. that spontaneously emerges from a search engine. Its existence is defined by two goals: helping people find what they want, and looking at pictures of cats. The story won the 2016 Hugo and Locus awards for Best Short Story, and was a 2015 finalist for the Nebula as well.
And now it is becoming a full-length young adult novel.
As Kritzer describes the novel: “This is a story about how people build connections and friendships in adverse situations.” The teen protagonist is a girl named Stephanie whose mother is always on the move—never staying anywhere longer than six months—and, as a result, struggles with friendship in real life. Stephanie’s only constant is an online community called CatNet. What she doesn’t know is that the admin of CatNet, whom she knows as “Alice,” is a sentient A.I.—a sentient A.I. with a penchant for cat pictures. When Alice’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Stephanie and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.
The novel, as yet untitled, was acquired by Susan Chang at Tor Teen: “It was the voice of the A.I. narrator—the “humanity” of the artificial intelligence that wants to help people in exchange for cat pictures—that drew me in. Having read and loved the story, we here at Tor Teen thought this would be the perfect premise to expand into a young adult novel. We were thrilled beyond measure when Naomi agreed to write it!”
Expect the novel on shelves in late 2018 or early 2019.