Lingo

Jim Menick, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $19.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-88184-628-7
Menick's first novel about a spontaneously aware computer, treads ground covered earlier (and better) by Isaac Asimov, in his Robot stories, and Arthur C. Clarke, in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Brewster Billings, in his 20s, tries to create a computer ``pet'' and succeeds beyond all expectation. Lingo (his program) leaps to sentience far more quickly than even readers with their disbelief suspended will accept, while the plot, comprising Lingo's attempts to understand emotions and the government's efforts to shut Lingo down, moves sluggishly. Menick's approach to issues raised by artificial intelligence lacks subtlety: Brewster's girlfriend asks, ``What does that mean, for you and me? For people in general?'' Occasionally funny, and picking up toward the end when Lingo runs for president, the book remains diminished by characters and a world portrayed with the vacuity of those seen in TV sitcoms. This novel might please an audience unfamiliar with other fictional exploratons of this theme, but if you've met Clark's HAL, Lingo says nothing new. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Ebook - 284 pages - 978-1-4976-0159-8
Paperback - 284 pages - 978-1-58586-121-7
Open Ebook - 978-0-7592-0774-5
Paperback - 978-0-88184-812-0
Ebook - 284 pages - 978-0-7592-7651-2
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