• Maddy Rain

On "Survival Guide" by Karin Lowachee

This short story follows a young boy who lost his best friend when he was hit by a car. Before he died, his friend was used as the model for an advanced AI tool that would help children learn and grow outside of institutional learning. The main character, Sage, is linked to the AI called AIDEN, named after his deceased friend. Sage immerses himself constantly in AIDEN and uses it as a way to feel like his friend is still here with him.


He tells her that loss creates emptiness, but in that emptiness new things can be born. He tells her the answer to why isn't always the only answer. Isn't often the answer at all. Acceptance is much more powerful a peace, Ms. Ito.

The main focus of this story is grief. It explores the grief of several characters and how each of them deals with it in their own way. The mother shuts herself completely from reality, the father grows hard and bitter and rebels against this new AI that looks like his son as he thinks they are ruining his son's memory, whereas Sage celebrates the likeness of his friend and what he's doing for the world as a way for his friend to live on beyond his death. While reading through this story, I was inclined to pick a side as to who was handling grief the "right way", I think the point of the story is that there is no right way to grieve. The story is called "Survival Guide" while Sage does create a survival guide during the story, the title is also referencing this idea of surviving your own grief and that though there is no guide you can read for that, you are stuck trying to make your own.

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