#RRSciFiMonth Book Review | “Murder in the Generative Kitchen” (a novella from World Weaver Press) by Meg Pontecorvo

Posted Sunday, 26 November, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book by: Did you ever grow curious about a new publisher who produces science fiction, fantasy, and horror genre selections in both novel length and short stories? Did you ever decide to enquire with the publisher you’ve found to see if they were open to book blogger requests to read and review their selections!? This is the situation I found myself in as I was quite mystified by the offerings of World Weaver Press! Such a delightful discovery on my behalf [in 2015] with a website full of inspiring reads across SFF!

Since I started reviewing with World Weaver Press [two years ago in August, 2015] there has been a changing of the guard behind-the-scenes where there is a new owner & publicity team. I am wicked happy to see the legacy and tradition of WWP has been carried forward by this lovely new team! I am honoured to work with them continuing to showcase World Weaver Press through reviewing their titles and hosting future guest features by their authors!

I received a complimentary copy of “Murder in the Generative Kitchen” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I’ve been dearly keen on reading this lovely Sci-Fi Novella:

I used to have a hungry appetite for legal dramas (as I used to regularly consume the novels of John Grisham) – except there was a point where I found myself unable to move past the emotional angst & anguish of the heavier story-lines, opting instead to take a permanent break from reading them.

I’ve re-entertained them in cross-genre exploits within Mystery, Suspense & Thriller story-lines, but this was the first time I felt I could sink my teeth into a quasi-traditional legal drama, where you have the action of the courtroom counter-acted against the lives of the jury! I even liked how this is situated into a time of futuristic origins – where the penalties for ‘talking’ to your fellow jurors is punishable by paying for the luxury of being ‘away’ whilst your serving your duty! I even smiled noticing the author keyed into the fact that body modifications have a whole new representative arm of creativity ahead of those who elect to change their outward appearances! I have stumbled across something quite similar to this and found it wicked awesome she was knitting it into the background of her character’s!

I must confess – whenever I get a hankering to read a new story that just takes my mind into a projection of what ‘could be’ vs what ‘will be’ known I have the tendency to become quite a chatterbox! So far, I’ve convinced an elderly neighbour she has to learn the ending and my parents are equally as invested as somehow I fashioned a way to present this story as if it were cross-relatable through all generations of interest! Not too bad, eh!?

-previously disclosed via the Cover Reveal for Murder in the Generative Kitchen

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#RRSciFiMonth Book Review | “Murder in the Generative Kitchen” (a novella from World Weaver Press) by Meg PontecorvoMurder in the Generative Kitchen
by Meg Pontecorvo
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sarena Ulibarri
Source: Direct from Publisher

With the Vacation Jury Duty system, jurors can lounge on a comfortable beach while watching the trial via virtual reality. Julio is loving the beach, as well as the views of a curvy fellow juror with a rainbow-lacquered skin modification who seems to be the exact opposite of his recent ex-girlfriend back in Chicago. Because of jury sequestration rules, they can’t talk to each other at all, or else they’ll have to pay full price for this Acapulco vacation. Still, Julio is desperate to catch her attention. But while he struts and tries to catch her eye, he also becomes fascinated by the trial at hand.

At first it seemed a foregone conclusion that the woman on trial used a high-tech generative kitchen to feed her husband a poisonous meal, but the more evidence mounts, the more Julio starts to suspect the kitchen may have made the decision on its own.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 978-0-997788815

Also by this author: Murder in the Generative Kitchen

Genres: Crime Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story or Novella


Published by World Weaver Press

on 27th September, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 207

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Genre(s): Speculative | Scien

ce Fiction | Futuristic Fiction

Robotics | Smart House | Virtual Reality | Climate Change | Legal Drama

Similar Reads: iRobot by Isaac Asimov; Illegal Alien by Robert J Sawyer; Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams; Superposition by David Walton; Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi; Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions by Larry Hodge

Previously I showcased this Novella: (see also Cover Reveal)

About Meg Pontecorvo

Meg Pontecorvo

A writer and artist dedicated to multiple genres, Meg Pontecorvo earned an MFA in Poetry Writing from Washington University in St. Louis and is a 2010 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Meg has published a novelette, “Grounded,” in Asimov’s, and her artwork in collage and pen has been featured in experimental video performances in the Bay Area. A native of Philadelphia, she grew up in the Midwest and now shares a small apartment with her partner and cats in San Francisco, where she cooks in a tech-free kitchen.

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my review of murder in the generative kitchen:

Courtroom dramas are quite exciting to watch – in the past, it was the original Law & Order television series I first became drawn into watching the lawyers do their bit and try to articulate their reasons why certain charges were validated against the crimes they were prosecuting. Prior to this series, I loved watching JAG for the same reasons and most recently, Bull – as the latter series is a whiplash of courtroom drama, pre-court prep and the interesting psychological back-stories therein. Coming into this novella, one thing I was looking forward to is seeing how in this futuristic environment – what would be transferable from these Contemporary environs of law and the future.

Herein, Pontecorvo doesn’t hold back – from the opening arguments we start to gleam a bit more about the working environment of the courtroom – by how the bots are used to control the ‘order’ and ‘due process’ whilst the defendants are unable to do much aside from positioning themselves in front of the cameras which are always on – in effect, the whole courtroom is ‘playing to the advantage’ of the cameras – which of course, reminded me of an episode of ‘Bull’ from Season One which played off the same technique; even if this story and that episode have nothing else in common, there is something to be said for how cameras can be used to either work to your advantage or disadvantage at court.

As we gather more of the setting, we’re in Acapulco, at a beach resort where the real ‘jurors’ are living the life of Riley whilst their bot-counterparts are at court in snowy Chicago! I had a good chuckle over that bit of news – as I could well imagine if any juror had the option to serve their bit in Chicago or somewhere else beach-side – it’s not hard to predict their response! What was interesting is how the technology is organically following the nature of the court case – it’s been inserted so innately, it’s hard to think the tech being used isn’t a reality today. This includes not only the kitchen in quasi-question of being a killer (as projected into play by the defense attorney, er, defense bot?) but also, as we peer into this experience through the eyes of one of the jurors (Julio) we find ourselves curious why anyone would need to ‘send a selfie’ replete with sensory additions such as what Julio is smelling whilst at the beach. I mean, truly? Oy. And, yet, why does that seem altogether plausible!? Remember ‘smell a vision’ anyone!? (ie. for your tv) The courtroom drama is being countered by the personal life of Julio – a boyfriend bent on distancing himself as far as he can from his current girlfriend, of whom, he seriously has considered they have nothing left to stablise their relationship.

You had to smirk at his quick pace of resolving this issue by becoming quite smitten with the first rainbow skinned girl to dive into the pool! Apparently, there are a lot of ‘upgrades’ available for humans in this cultural world rooted in high tech advancements – where it’s no longer about ‘plastic surgery’ per se, but about how far your willing to go to ‘alter’ your entire make-up as a human – such as the alteration to your very skin. Whilst Julio was easily distracted and was barely making it through the streams of the court disclosures, you started to question who was going to believe the defendant? She was an ordinary housewife, of middle age and who had doted on her husband – before he fell dead, of course!

Ah, yes, how could the so-called protocols and fail-safes installed in a hyper-smart kitchen go astray? I love the humour stitched into the backdrop of this story – especially considering, most of the players involved are a bit clueless when it comes to how technology and the advancements of AI and other technological entities outside of AI can become too evolved for their own good. Or, in other words – what happens when the technological entities overtake their set protocols and start to act on their own accord? As that is truly the thesis of the defence – of how sometimes, despite your best codes and planned outcomes, there comes a point where the robot, android or in this instance, the ‘smart kitchen’ could in theory make a deduction themselves about which action they would choose to do next – without any outside suggestions by ‘human’s.

One thing which impressed me most is how food was now automated – even past the point of where it was regenerated by the computer on the Enterprise – as some members of the crew (ie. Star Trek: The Next Generation) still engaged in gardening and most, knew real food from the kind served on starships. However, in this reality – where we’ve gone far enough into the future where food is no longer a tangible component of our lives, nor something we enjoy to prep, cook or bake for the sake of our own well-being and health; food is regulated to being ready without any work at all from our own hands. To me, this is a sad reality – part of what I love about cooking and baking is being able to source my own ingredients – from farmers markets to grocers who sell farm fresh and local produce or veg. There is something about being connected still to the Earth and the practices of farming – of knowing more about where your food is from vs. having to eat only the food which is warehoused or trucked in from who knows where and for how long it’s been in transit to reach you.

Somehow, realising food in this portal of reality is being ‘printed’ by using certain kinds of pastes didn’t surprise me as much as I felt it should – mostly, as I know libraries are getting grants for those printers which can replicate and make so many different items simply by keying in the design or pattern for the object in question – it stands to reason, at some point those printers could re-create something else – such as food but where then, is the enjoyment factor or the nourishments?! As part of what makes food nourishing to the spirit is over and beyond the key components which make it healthy for your consumption? Herein, I was reminded of recent film I watched called: Miss Sloane – on the level, within the story-line, the main character eats not for the joy of food but for the necessity of having to eat in order to live. Similar to the lifestyle of Miss Sloane – Julio discloses there is a required sixty-hour work week in his era which begs the question, when does living win over work? Or to put it differently – we all have to work but when does the necessity of having an income supersede the health of the person whose working?

As you read about how the kitchen becomes intimately aware of your biometrics and the biochemical balances of your body, you start to see how the thesis proposed by the prosecution is almost automatically invalid – especially when you reach the section about how to treat scurvy and how to offset the disadvantage of having someone who has an aversion to broccoli! It’s right there in the testimony how a kitchen such as this can not only predict what is needed but knows what the body needs even before the person finds a way to articulate their needs aloud. From that stand-point, it’s quite plausible the kitchen then, could misconstrue the intentions behind the desires and thereby, create the wrong choice in food. Or, if you look at it a different way round – if the kitchen itself decided it knew you better than anyone else? Better than your doctor, better than you – to the extent that it believed it could make all the important choices you used to make yourself regarding your own health? The lines are surely blurred but more to the point, at which junction would humanity voluntarily give away their right to choose what is right for their body?

In the end, I was a bit surprised at how rushed the ending felt for me – I had to go back and re-read most of the section because when I read it through the first time, I thought it ended unresolved! When I re-read the section which confused me a bit – in regards to the resolution, I realised then, what had gone overlooked: it’s resolved but not in the way I felt it might become. In fact, there were two different ways of processing the outcome – for me, I chose to think the kitchen was the guilty party but whether or not others would see the ending as such is unknown. This doesn’t spoilt the story either – trust me – the ending isn’t a traditional ending – I just wanted to share that for me, I felt the defence team had proven their point and expertly so!

In regards to Julio, I cannot say I truly warmed up to his character – he was self-motivated to his own desires and allowed himself to be duped by what turnt out to be superficial infatuation – ironic in the end, as what he truly wanted was something more substantial! There were aspects of the story I truly loved – the volley inside the courtroom itself was quite lovely, the absence of clarification on the defendant’s guilt left the door open for speculation across all points and then, of course, there was the overlays between Ethics and Etiquette.

Where I think the truer strength of the story was for me, is how far technology is moving towards being outside the reach of mankind. Meaning, there are advancements in tech which place our own lives in jeopardy because it allows ourselves to believe the tech was only operating within the protocols we’re creating on it’s behalf. Instead of acknowledging the sentient ways in which tech evolves to gain knowledge past those protocols by what it ‘learns through processing information’; either by what we provide or from other sources outside it. Therein, lies the purpose of the story – of what is or isn’t meant to be invented past the point of reasonable need.

on the speculative writing styling of meg pontecorvo:

I liked how Ms Pontecorvo approached this story-line, as she gave it gravity to take its own turns and passageways into the thesis behind the crime as much as allowed the characters, both human, bot and smart tech to endeavour to follow their instincts as well. The interesting bit is how easily this is to read and understand – she doesn’t make it too heady or confusing – it’s a straight-up story, rooted in the tech advances all appreciators of Science Fiction & Futuristic Fiction would enjoy reading – whilst building on what is known and takes it to a new layer of insight therein!

The key approach I felt was how she built the story round the courtroom itself – of having everything start to be disclosed through the volleying of questions and statements – as all courtroom dramas are infamous for having within them. It is sometimes there – in the height of the revelations stemming out of the cross-examinations, where the hidden truths and/or the reasonable doubts not only start to emerge, but you start to re-examine for yourself the details and ‘known’ facts of what is keeping the case full of suspense in regards to the potential outcome of the case being tried. Or to put it in another way, you get to see how the perspectives start to shift proportionally once more empathsis is placed on the motivations and available resources to pull off the crime supposedly committed. This is indeed why I love watching Michael Weatherly in his role as ‘Bull’.

Although I generally shy away from reading stories about Cancer and other serious terminal illnesses, I must say, one thing that made this story different from the others is how the author dealt with the larger scale issues behind the disease itself – of what someone would be willing to do or accept if their timeline included a terminal disease. There are hints towards sociological aspects of the characters; including the housewife – wherein, sometimes what is happening isn’t quite what is going on at all. In this case, is the murder what it appears to be or is it something entirely different than what the facts reveal?

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This book review is courtesy of: World Weaver Press

World Weaver Press Logo provided by World Weaver Press and used with permission.It has been quite a considerable amount of time since I’ve been sharing my readings of World Weaver Press titles; since last November [2016] until this November [2017] I was helping my father recover from his stroke, whilst having various health issues myself between Spring & the end of Summer. I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on behalf of the stories I’ve received but I had to push forward my plans to read & review them due to what I was experiencing personally. I felt this was a good time to read a novella – as I did have a slight return of frequency in regards to my migraines this past month – the shorter stories are helping me get back into the novels, whilst being wicked fun to read. My love of the short stories & anthologies by World Weaver Press is where I started following the publishing releases by the Press itself – the shorts are a wonderful ‘introduction’ into a writer’s collective works. Ergo, this marks my return of featuring World Weaver Press titles – as I have four stories in total I will be reviewing between the end of #RRSciFiMonth & the end of December, 2017.

This was a fitting title to be reading over the weekend – as I was hosting a #RRSciFiMonth chat about an android in Space who was attempting to save lives – AI and advanced technologies is a fascinating slice of Speculative Fiction because it reaches into those topics & subjects where we can re-examine our feelings & thoughts about the direction we’re (potentially) heading in as technology continues to advance forward at hyper-speed.

(Soon) You can read my thoughts on behalf of the Twitter chat feat. Kaki Olsen.

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Showcases of World Weaver Press Titles:

FAE (see Review)

Disclosing my keen interest in CORVIDAE + Scarecrow (#BookishNotBookish No.6)

CORVIDAE (see Review)

SURPRISE! I awarded World Weaver Press the honour of two of my

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards as disclosed on my *End of the Year Survey, 2015*.

The Falling of the Moon by A. E. Decker (see Review)

SCARECROW which contains a sequel short story from Corvidae! (see Review)

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UPCOMING SOON: [ this December ]

Far Orbit Apogee banner provided by World Weaver Press

Far Orbit: Apogee (edited by) Bascomb James

Frozen Fairy Tales (edited by) Kate Wolford

Followed by reviews of:

Heir to the Lamp (the first of the Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

Solomon’s Bell (the second of the Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

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Reader Interactive Question:

What do you look for in Science Fiction Short Stories and/or Novellas? Have you found stories about ‘smart houses’ and androids which you think I’d enjoy reading myself? What do you think the greatest challenge is dealing with AI?

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Whilst happily being cross-promoted through my participation in:

Sci-Fi November | Hosted by Rinn Reads

This marks my second review for #RRSciFiMonth! My readings haven’t been as active this year as I planned them to be, however, I was able to host two chats via Twitter whilst populating the last week of the event with a handful of reviews – leading up to the epic conclusion of #TheClanChronicles!

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{SOURCES: Cover Art for “Murder in the Generative Kitchen”, author photo of Meg Pontecorvo, book synopsis, author biography, as well as the Far Orbit Apogee banner and WWP logo badge were provided by World Weaver Press and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to the codes provided by Twitter. Sci Fi Month banner provided by Rinn of Rinn Reads for participants of #RRSciFiMonth. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I am a social reader | I tweet my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 26 November, 2017 by jorielov in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Equality In Literature, Futuristic Fantasy, Hard Science Fiction, Indie Author, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, World Weaver Press




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