Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) by Rachel HartmanLibrarian Note: Alternate cover edition for ISBN 9780375866562.
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages.
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treatys anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queens Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Computer programmed to write its own fables
More than 2, years after Aesop warned his listeners in ancient Greece about the dangers of greed and pride via the medium of geese, foxes and crows, researchers in Australia have developed a computer program which writes its own fables, complete with moral. Margaret Sarlej, at the University of New South Wales, has devised the Moral Storytelling System, which generates simple stories with one of six morals identified in Aesop's fables: retribution, greed, pride, realistic expectations, recklessness and reward. The stories are structured around characters who are able to experience up to 22 emotions, from joy to pity, remorse and gratitude, in three different story worlds. The academic described artificial intelligence in storytelling as "an extremely complex problem". Her supervisor, artificial intelligence expert Dr Malcolm Ryan, has told the university's magazine , Uniken, of his attempt in "to get a computer to understand, and then reproduce, a page from Beatrix Potter's children's classic The Tale of Peter Rabbit". Breaking stories down for a computer "involves not only encoding story elements like characters, events, and plot, but also the 'common sense' people take for granted", said Sarlej.
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The worst acts of destruction in history have often been defended in moral terms. Yet Khaleesi continued raining fire on men, women, and children indiscriminately. Looking for more historical context on scorched-earth generals like Daenerys, I spoke with Barry Strauss, a historian at Cornell University who specializes in leaders of the ancient world. This conversation has been edited for clarity. If they resist, then the attacking army has the right to sack them and destroy them. Defeated cities in sieges are not a place you want to be. The Athenians ask them to surrender, and leadership refuses and submits to a siege instead.