A Working Theory of Love

Scott Hutchins. Penguin Press, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59420-505-7
In Stegner Fellow Hutchins’s ambitious debut novel, the writings of Dr. Neill Bassett, who committed suicide in 1995 and kept extensive diaries for two decades, form the basis of a linguistic project to create the first software program to process natural language. Though the doctor’s son, Neill Jr., is not a programmer, he’s the only native English speaker at Amiante, the tiny three-man tech firm taking on the task, and his job entails humanizing the program so that it responds like a real person rather than a computer. During the course of the project, the emotionally distant Neill, a divorced 36-year-old living in San Francisco who thinks of himself as “an experienced practitioner at the art of falling apart on the inside while appearing catatonic,” becomes involved with Rachel, a 20-year-old member of a cultlike group that employs questionable methods to engage its members. The relationship never sizzles because Rachel remains a cipher, but Neill’s interactions with the software, which becomes more and more a stand-in for his dead father, and a rival software developer’s provocative end-use plans for a successful Bassett-like program, create intriguing ethical dilemmas and force Neill out of his indifference. Neill’s unusual “one-on-one” with the program is revelatory and exciting. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Audio Product - 978-1-4676-5081-6
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-241-96486-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6041-7
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-241-96254-1
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-14-312419-1
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-241-96255-8
Paperback - 500 pages - 978-89-378-3399-1
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-59600-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1041-2
Show other formats
FORMATS
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X