Questionable Content

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For the last year or two, the webcomic Questionable Content has slowly been evolving from a slice-of-life comic with occasional independent music segues into a near-future science fiction. But while QC has had science fiction elements to it for quite a few years, it’s this latest story that has in my eyes shifted the comic from having a science fiction setting to being genuine science fiction (though I’m sure some science fiction fans would undoubtedly argue the point). What makes this story different from previous storylines is the sociological aspects with robot and artificial intelligence society itself as shown with the story of May.

On the surface May wouldn’t seem too different from any of the other AIs and robots that we’ve encountered. While she exists on a virtual level (which Dale interacts with through his augmented reality glasses), she is still humanform and behaves not too differently than some of the other robots (Pintsize being the most obvious parallel). The convergence point is revealed when we find out May is on parole from Robot Jail. What’s more, it’s bad enough a place that humans have heard of it though it’s not clear if humanity created it, or if the AIs themselves crafted it in a reflection of the human society they evolved from. Still, the very concept of robots going to jail for crimes rather than being deactivated is a fascinating one.

Interestingly, this was the first story of this magnitude in which Marten wasn’t a part of the story (at least to my recollection). While May did briefly interact with Faye (by mooning her), this overture played out with the tertiary cast. Undoubtedly I’m not alone in hoping that May (who managed to overcome her earlier “impulse control” problems to help hook Dale and Marigold up) will be back. I just pray that she stays the hell away from Pintsize; those two would become some bizarre robot/hologram hipster variant of Bonnie and Clyde driving a burning dirigible over the side of a cliff. There are too many possibilities for May to remain away for long. But given Jeph Jacques’ tendency to put characters on a bus (like Pizza Girl, Raven, the competing bakery across town, or even that redheaded marine biologist from years back), it may be May’s scifi elements that give her her best shot at a return performance.