Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review of Artificial Imagination by Kalpanik S., reviewed by Brian A. Matlock

Title: Artificial Imagination: A Humorous Photostory of a Journey Through Washington, California and Tennessee
Author: Kalpanik S.
Genre: nonfiction, humor
Reviewer: Brian A. Matlock (Saint Mary's, Georgia, USA)
Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I looked through all the reviews on to see what I missed, and so far, I don't see anything concrete. They all just say "it's good," and that's apparently enough for five stars. I didn't see it. The book purports to be the work of an "artificial imagination" software program (hence the title) but could just as easily claim to be written by a normal guy, or even an immigrant computer programmer. Discontinuity rules in the writing, but apart from one scene where he finds his daughter and wife have changed seemingly overnight, there is no "hey, I was turned off and am missing a part of my life" moment. None of the other potential issues with an artificial imagination are even addressed. Is his family real? Is his work real? Instead, he remembers moving, and remembers his so-called birth city, Delhi, even though he announces in the introduction that he was born at the University of California, Davis, and again in Silicon Valley.

Instead, the book presents a self-described thoughtless journey through several cities, accompanied by a nice amateur photo collection. But apart from learning that it rains in Seattle, they make music in Nashville, and wear thongs in California... not much here. There is about as much depth and philosophical content as a Dr. Seuss book - that is to say, as much as you bring with you. As for "personifying" the places, you can learn to look at things the same way by spending an afternoon with a five-year-old: "Daddy, the candy jar told me to eat all of the Reese's." "But my DS will be upset if I don't bring it to sit at the dinner table with me."

Not a bad read, though it does have quite a few grammatical issues (as one review says, it reads as if written by a "techie"). However, borrow a copy rather than buy one, because the odds of re-reading it is pretty slim.

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