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Cheap Complex Devices

Rosalita Associates

By John F. X. Sundman '74
Posted August 26, 2002
Tags Alumni Books Faculty Books
If Charles Dickens had been a parallel processor, if Leo Tolstoy had been made of silicon, if Vladimir Nabokov had written in hexadecimal, if John Updike had a universal power supply and a cooling fan, they might have written Cheap Complex Devices, winners of the inaugual Hofstadter Prize for computer-written novel awarded by the prestigious Society for Analytical Engines. Cheap Complex Devices represents the state of the art in mechanically-constructed narrative, and the future of fiction.

Introduction


Computers can play chess as well as any grandmaster. They can diagnose cancer as well as any oncologist, find oil as well as any seismologist. But can they do that most human of all activities: can they tell a story? Read Cheap Complex Devices and find out. This volume, edited by John Compton Sundman, (an erstwhile technical writer whose out-of-print manuals command large sums at online auctions, now a recluse), contains the two winning entries of the novel-writing contest sponsored by the Society for Analytical Engines (SAE). The introduction to Cheap Complex Devices, written by the SAE Contest Committee, contains the history of the contest and explains the criteria by which the entries were judged.

Reviews

"Cheap Complex Devices is astonishing on every level a book can be astonishing. . . a pure breathtaking feat of narrative."
Rusty Foster, of Kuro5hin.org
"The future is here, we cannot outrun it. Confront it, love it in the sublime prose of this book."
Hugh Betcham, of Betcham Review Services

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