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While in Covid Quarantine in 2020, I read a short story in which a child starts talking to a mysterious person online when they're supposed to be chatting with their aunt. That person is not a human but a crow or raven that the child's aunt rescued. Because surprise/spoiler, the kid's aunt is working on a language interpreting/teaching AI program and that pesky corvid got into messing with it, like they do.

IIRC, this was told from the point of view of the kid's mom, who is concerned about this mysterious person staying at her sister's place and is constantly telling her kid that they're hungry (or similar simple concerns as the program gets used to speaking Corvid).

Adding/clarifying: I'm not sure the modality, but it's likely a printed anthology, an online magazine, or online podcast. I know it's not AO3, Reddit, or another "informal"(?) online source.

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. Did you read this in an anthology, a magazine, or online? Sep 14 at 16:36
  • 1
    I read this quite recently. I'm thinking that it was a Chinese author translated into English
    – Valorum
    Sep 14 at 16:40
  • Thanks for the welcome @LogicDictates! I honestly don't remember. And I certainly enjoy all of those forms.
    – eli
    Sep 14 at 16:47
  • Thanks for the hint @valorum! IIRC, Clarkesworld has lots of translated stuff. I also was reading quite a bit of Ken Liu's translations, so I'll take a look closer at those in the meantime.
    – eli
    Sep 14 at 16:47
  • 1
    Might I suggest "corvid quarantine"?
    – Adamant
    Sep 14 at 20:16

1 Answer 1

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This is almost certainly "Hello, Hello" by Seanan McGuire. I read it in one of the big annual SF collections (Best New SF or similar) but a quick search led me to a copy in Lightsped magazine.
https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/hello-hello/

It looks like it was printed in quite a few places.

In the plot a child is communicating with someone via their aunt's communication system which is designed to read in typing and gestures and transmit an avatar that speaks. Eventually it turns out that the communicator is a crow called Pitch and the system is interpreting it's vocalisations and gestures and translating them in to language.

2
  • This is definitely the one that I read.
    – Valorum
    Sep 15 at 19:18
  • Yes! Thank you so much!
    – eli
    Sep 16 at 17:43

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