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Supertoys Last All Summer Long: And Other Stories of Future Time

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Henry, Henry - oh, my darling, I was in despair ... but I've just dialed the afternoon post and - you'll never believe it! Oh, it's wonderful!" The short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brain Aldiss was published in 1969. However, the advanced technology presented in the story – holograms, synthetic life-forms with human-like intelligence, animated toys, machines such as an ultrasonic dryer – suggest that the action takes place in afictional society in the future. He went with her without protest into the house, his dark head bobbing at the level of her waist. At the age of three, he showed no fear of the ultrasonic dryer in the kitchen. But before his mother could reach for a pair of slippers, he wriggled away and was gone into the silence of the house. The events are described by an omniscient narrator who particularly accesses the minds of Monica, David, and Henry. The language used by the narrator mixes different styles that make the characters more realistic. The story is told through a mix of dialogue and narration, which helps convey the characters’ perspectives.

Not only will they possess their own computer, capable of individual programming; they will be linked to the World Data Network. Thus everyone will be able to enjoy the equivalent of an Einstein in their own homes. Personal isolation will then be banished forever!"The events take place in an over-populated and technologically-advanced dystopian society. The social settingexplores topics such as social inequality, isolation, and loneliness, as well as the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence.

Our miniature dinosaurs are almost equally stupid. Today, we launch an intelligent synthetic life-form - a full-size serving-man. Monica dropped the pieces of paper and burst out crying. In their gay inaccurate colors, the letters fanned out and settled on the floor. After a couple of jokes, he said, "Today marks a real breakthrough for the company. It is now almost ten years since we put our first synthetic life-forms on the world market. You all know what a success they have been, particularly the miniature dinosaurs. But none of them had intelligence. For the future, we plan more models, male and female - some of them without the limitations of this first one, I promise you! - of more advanced design, true bio-electronic beings.

The text refers to super-toys directly, as Henry explains that these synthetic beings do not possess intelligence: “‘There have been mechanicals on the market with mini-computers for brains – plastic things without life, super-toys’”.These super-toys are actually robots. The general physical setting is the part of the world where people do not suffer from starvation. The city where the Swintons live is described as “full of crowding people, blowboats, and buildings”. The presence of high buildings and blowboats, which are a type of boat used in shallow waters or swamps, could suggest that the city is also flooded. It seems like a paradox that in this day and age we can create life but not intelligence. Our first selling line, the Crosswell Tape, sells best of all, and is the most stupid of all." Everyone laughed. However, while David has existed for three years and is a super-toy, he is clearly ‘intelligent’ in some way. Davidis different from both the new synthetic serving-man and from Teddy, who are shown to have limited intelligence and little independence of thought. David is aware of emotions such as love and craves them although he does not understand them. An analysis of “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss shows that the plot structure is based on shifts between scenes that take place at the Swinton home and at Synthank, a company that makes synthetic life-forms.

The dystopian setting is indicated by the issues encountered in this society: reproduction is government-controlled, three quarters of the world population suffer from starvation and only a third is well-off, but suffers from obesity, while loneliness and isolation affect millions of people. The dystopian setting is also suggested through the fact that, to solve loneliness and isolation, companies such as Synthank create synthetic beings which can keep people company.

Dragging his satchel, David crept round the side of the house. He climbed on to the ornamental seat under the living-room window and peeped cautiously in. The title is also ironic. The ending, which shows the Swintons talking about David as if he were a simple machine, reinforces the idea that, to them, he was simply a temporary toy that could ease Monica’s anxiety at not having a human baby. Their dialogue suggests that they are likely to dispose of David once they have their own baby.

In the same year, the short story was republished in the eponymous Aldiss short-story collection Supertoys Last All Summer Long and Other Stories of Future Time, along with the tie-in stories Supertoys When Winter Comes and Supertoys in Other Seasons. The collection also contained a number of stories not tied to the Supertoys theme. [2] The short story was later used as the basis for the first act of the feature film A.I. Artificial Intelligence directed by Steven Spielberg in 2001. Among others, the characters include Monica Swinton, Henry Swinton, and their robot son David. The narrative focuses mainly on Monica and David’s internal conflicts, while showing Henry Swinton giving a speech that indirectly presents the society they all live in. David’s animated teddy-bear, Teddy, has a symbolic function in the story.

He let out a yell of joy. They danced round the room. Pressure of population was such that reproduction had to be strict, controlled. Childbirth required government permission. For this moment, they had waited four years. Incoherently they cried their delight. Henry Swinton caught the express home in high spirits, and occasionally said a word to the synthetic serving-man he was taking home with him. The serving-man answered politely and punctually, although his answers were not always entirely relevant by human standards. Amid all the triumphs of our civilization - yes, and amid the crushing problems of overpopulation too - it is sad to reflect how many millions of people suffer from increasing loneliness and isolation. Our serving-man will be a boon to them; he will always answer, and the most vapid conversation cannot bore him. Meanwhile, the story jumps to Henry, who is in a meeting with a company he is associated with known as Synthank. They are discussing artificial life forms and bio-electronic beings for future developments. Henry tells them he believes that the new AI under production will finally solve humanity's problems with experiencing personal isolation and loneliness.

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