Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name

by Jackie Kingon

Book reviewer, Harper Doubleday was overwhelmed by the thousands of emails, snail mails, packages left on his door step by hungry authors yearning for a review. He spent more money fixing his overloaded computer than he made reviewing books.

One day he stumbled upon the ideas of Alan Turing, regarded as the father of the computer who developed a test capable of fooling people into believing they were interacting with a person and not a machine. This could relieve my pressures and I can finish my novel, “The Politics of Alphabets.” thought Harper.

Harper spent a year building a Turing machine. It exceeded his expectations. Each day it sounded more human. Not only did it critique books but suggested such insightful revisions that many authors won literary prizes.

His own novel moved from tortoise into hare and was now finished.

Doubting if the work needed any revision and thinking it worthy of a Pulitzer, he was curious as to what suggestions the Turing machine would make. He keyed the manuscript: pushed analyze.

Weeks later the police were called because of a bad smell coming from an open window in Harper’s home. Harper was found on the floor electrocuted. One burnt hand held a printout whose only decipherable words were “derivative” and “uninspired”. The other held the plug to the machine yanked from its electrical socket.

But the machine was still humming and running like a successful book reviewer, on a power source all its own.

“May I help you?” it said. “My name is Harper Doubleday.”

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