Prisoner 721

Rated 4.57/5 based on 7 reviews
Locked in a maximum security facility, an inmate opens a unique dialogue with the prison's Artificial Intelligence. He begins teaching it how to understand and interpret art using methods the A.I. can easily understand. But does the prisoner have a hidden agenda, and is the knowledge he offers worth the risk?
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About Aaron Lowry

Aaron Lowry is the author of several short stories, including Prisoner 721 and Delectable. On his blog ( he runs the Practice Write Project, an ongoing experiment in applying deliberate practice to writing fiction. When not writing, he enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu and getting absolutely mauled at League of Legends. (Seriously, it's embarrassing)

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Also by This Author


Robert DeFrank reviewed on on July 6, 2014

The oldest question of all: what makes us human?

The author attempts to answer some those questions in this short story, written from the perspective of an AI prison guard perfectly positioned to monitor samples in captivity. The AI soon finds itself caretaker of a very unusual prisoner who makes it his purpose to reach out and impart the human condition through the use of art.

What follows are series of interesting conversations and revelations that may make a re-reading necessary to further tease out background details of the prisoner. The ending, like most good art, is left open to interpretation.

The author does a fine job, particularly in the characterization of an advanced AI dealing with an odd sample of humanity and human politics. The AI understands everything, but can it ever intuit and feel? Read and discover.
(review of free book)
James Jenkins reviewed on on Dec. 15, 2013

There is much to read between the lines here. I tried not to go to deep, just stay mostly at the surface and enjoy the flow.

If you are looking for though provoking or just a good read, you will find what you are looking for here.
(review of free book)
James Cahill reviewed on on June 29, 2013

Prisoner 721 is legit.

This (short) novel is original and it really works; a philosophical delving into what distinguishes man and machine. I was into this book right off the bat; beginning to end it is a foray that is philosophically engaging but still "makes weight" as a fun, (too) quick summer read. You can read this in one afternoon, or, if you're a baller like me, in the backseat of a Subaru chauffeured by your girlfriends mother!

Human beings popularly regard themselves as the only life forms known to create art, for art's sake. We think of the ability to create interpret & enjoy art as unique to our species skill-set - a benefit unto the cosmos that humanity alone is capable of purveying.

The narrative of Prisoner 721's teacher/student relationship with his "hyper-intelligent" nut and bolts guard pokes some exploratory holes in that intellectual position exposing it as a gestalt that is likely more naive than it first appears. Lowry shows how great a role symbolism and context have in creating and digesting art, and how symbolism can be a programmable [art.lng file created... :)] backbone in the continued evolution of AI from console to connoisseur.

I liked Prisoner 721 for the same reason I like all the works of "science fiction" that I do: the ideas presented to the reader do not seem merely possible but fully prophetic, bordering on genuinely probable. One thing that is constantly at the surface in this book is that the narrator is the artificially intelligent machine, Santa Anna. The protagonist meanwhile is Prisoner 721. This gives the book a bit of a psychological edge because the reader is not "in the mind" of the protagonist. I liked this aspect but wondered if it might not have been doubly good to have the narrator completely outside the interactions of the teacher (P#721) and student (Santa Anna). I thought the warden or administrator could have been great for such a role. Also, I liked the allusion to The Panopticon but was a little disappointed you didn't get to build on that concept more.

Well worth the read my only real complaint is that having ate it I'm hungrier than when I started.

Prisoner 721 is a tasty treat - at $0.00 this book is a phenomenal value! :) Thank you, Señor Lowry...
(review of free book)
Steve Pribish reviewed on on April 22, 2013

Wow! This story is fantastic. Think HAL meets Johnny 5 with a dash of The Count of Monte Cristo. I got so caught up in it I didn't remember it was a short story and was ready to buy the ebook. I would have liked the story to go on. The ending was one that makes the reader think about the true meaning of intelligence. "Where are you, Santa Anna?"
(review of free book)
Stephen Brandon reviewed on on March 22, 2013

I'm old enough to remember when the only computers around were in air conditioned rooms and built with vacuum tubes. Nowdays I have one more powerful than the ones in the space shuttles. However they aren't smarter that the first, programed in binary.
This story is more about software. A concept that can be confused with the knowledge we have in our own brains. In simple words, the instructions of a lifetime and how to interpret them!
Art interpretation and music interpretation would be the true test of an AI. This writer hit the nail right on the head and did an excellent job.
A very good read and I recomment it to 'ALL!' after the Bible.
(review of free book)
Robert Burnham reviewed on on March 19, 2013

Leaves the reader wanting more!
(review of free book)
JH Gordon reviewed on on March 17, 2013
(no rating)
Truly unique and creative story. I absolutely loved it and can't wait for this author's next work. As the first reviewer said that I'm sure will be a common threat through all reviews: "Brilliant concept" "fascinating to read" BRAVO.
(review of free book)
T L White reviewed on on March 17, 2013

Brilliant concept, fascinating to read. Couldnt put it down, Something that demands to be read again, and discussed in detail
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