How I Conquered the World

Posted in Audio by - July 31, 2023
How I Conquered the World

Released July 2023


The Among Us series has reached its final act as its third collection of four stories is released, and Torchwood is trying to pick up and put the pieces of a broken world back together. In a world driven by social media accounts, sharing personal information, and reacting to others’ shared stories, Tim Foley, Ash Darby, and James Goss in ‘How I Conquered the World’ look to the forgotten accounts in websites and apps that have been left behind, sharing that past actions can never truly be forgotten.

While science fiction has never been afraid of exploring the prospect of sentient machines and artificial intelligences, those elements continue to become ever more prescient as the likes of ChatGPT continue to develop and influence factors of everyday life. ‘How I Conquered the World,’ however, introduces a sentient social network that was once an incredibly popular platform for users to share anything and everything about themselves on that has since fallen out of favour. Through Mia Hope’s almost childlike intonations to suggest an initial sort of innocence and naivety for Friend who so keenly and eagerly looked to learn everything it could about the people uploading pictures and information, the changing undercurrents of society that have become increasingly angry are also explored as Friend reacts to the various reactions that certain pictures and phrases illicit and the cycle that can continue to perpetuate. The assumption that everyone who brazenly states anything about a topic must be an expert is a gloriously naïve take on people pushing their opinions, and Friend’s changing reactions to people as she comes to learn more about them and how she can influence both them and others’ perceptions about them makes for a chilling reminder of just how open people are with their personal lives and information and how trusting they are that there will be no breach in trust or privacy.

However, while ‘How I Conquered the World’ does fairly successfully add context to the previous Among Us stories as Friend has surreptitiously gained power through the acquisition and mobilization of funds and personal information to the point that it can effectively target any individual or group while further amplifying emotions, dedicating an entire story to revealing the backstory and motivations of the assumed villain of Among Us after eight somewhat disparate stories does somewhat stagnate the overall momentum that this series had finally started to build. Indeed, with only brief flashbacks to key moments from those previous stories bringing events up to the last cliffhanger, little forward momentum is made until Yvonne makes a bombastic appearance to save Torchwood once more. Fortunately, precisely because Friend is an artificial intelligence that has learned and adapted to the ever-changing world around her, becoming more jaded and hostile just like the people whom she is studying, the lengthy monologue and many vignettes comprising key moments of its past and formation remain quite interesting throughout by offering a unique perspective on more traditional social commentary and how very easily hatred can spread online in an unmediated environment. This is perhaps not the most eloquent means of introducing the villains’ motivations, but it’s fairly unique to so boldly make the villain the centrepiece with first-person perspective, and it certainly adds a tremendous amount of emotion, nuance, and even empathy given what Friend has witnessed and experienced while growing. There are many elements of humanity and its interactions that are less than desirable, and though Torchwood will inevitably save the world from destruction, ‘How I Conquered the World’ does manage to provide a unique commentary on the current state of society and on openly sharing information online, taking a detour from forward progress to create a stronger foundation for the remaining three stories.

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