Best of the Day: Louisa Hall – July 7, 2015

What does it mean to be human? ‘Speak’ takes us on a summer sci-fi road trip through the uncanny valley of the dolls.

Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.


Cover of Louisa Hall's Speak.

Cover of Louisa Hall’s Speak.

What do you look for in a beach read—something light ‘n’ frothy, or something that will help you prepare for the coming singularity? We thought so.

For those of you that like your summers sci-fi-saturated, you’re in for a treat this week. On Thursday, ReaderCon—an annual celebration of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and slipstream lit—kicks off in Burlington. And tonight, Louisa Hall comes to the Harvard Book Store to read from Speak, a new novel that explores artificial intelligence—and what it means to be human.

Switching between narrators separated by centuries, Speak intertwines the lives of five characters who all contribute to the building of an artificial intelligence. Among them are a 17th-century Puritan woman, AI pioneer Alan Turing, and a disturbed young girl living in a future world where children care for (and grow deeply attached to) astonishingly lifelike dolls called “babybots.”

If you staggered out of Ex Machina reeling from its message about the darkness of human desires or bawled like a baby during Chappie (and if you didn’t, we’d really like to see you try to pass a Voight-Kampff test right now), Speak might be the book you want in your beach bag this summer.

Free, July 7, 7 p.m., Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515,