However, Boy is Neil Bassett Jr. and lives in colorful, no-rules, and freak San Francisco. He works in a firm that is developing a project about artifical intelligence. Their super-computer will take part in a competition and will try to convince the judges – through an extemporaneous chat – that they are speaking with a real human being and not to a computer. Problem: the machine’s data memory is being created on the base of Neill’s father’s diaries, who committed suicide years before. As a consequence, the computer will soon start thinking and answering in a familiar way… so Neill will have to face his father’s personality and choices for the first time in his life. Besides, in the middle of this funny and moving psychological journey… Neill will have to deal again with Love.
I must admit it: when I opened the book, I didn’t imagine such a well-written, funny, and clever novel.
Firstly, Scott Hutchins is able to build an interesting substratum around the topic of artifical intelligence. From the very beginning of the novel, I found myself surfing the net in order to know something more about Alan Turing and his Enigma project during World War II. So the whole matter of artificial intelligence is the philosophical theme of the novel, the scientific core which gives sense to everything, but at the same time it never becomes invasive.
Secondly, the dialogues between son and computer-father are brilliant. Hutchins is funny and moving at the same time, but above all he manages to create extraordinary logical connections that make us reflect on communication and on how it works.
Thirdly, I really enjoyed the setting. San Francisco surely is a central character in this novel. We breathe its colorful freedom, but clearly perceive the risk of dispersion as well.
This workl by Scott Hutchins, a young talented writer now teaching at Stanford continuing education section, is thus the first novel I read for my Stanford online writing course. The novel was reviewed and by the New York Times in November 2012 and by The Guardian in February 2013. I suggest you to read it if you want to distract yourself with a contemporary, light-but-clever story. Even if the plot is somehow clear form the beginning… if you open the book, you won’t stop reading until the last page. In the middle, you will laugh a lot and sometimes you’ll cry. A very well-written and captivating book that I would like to receive as a present.
This morning we had this exchange:
frnd1: should i stay in or go out tonight?
drbas: fridays are friend days
frnd1: today is thursday, but that’s a nice thought
If I say more than one thing – use “and” or “but” – he often comes up empty-handed.
frnd1: your sentiment was a nice thought
drbas: how do you feel about my sentiment being a nice thought?
frnd1: just fine. so should i stay in or go out tonight?
drbas: you’ve moped long enough. it’s time you enjoyed yourself.