In this sci-fi debut, a programmer creates an artificial intelligence that upends his life.
Programmer Gabe Erikson lives in an empty house now that his ex-girlfriend Michelle has moved out. She took all the furniture, but that’s OK. All Gabe needs to survive are his computer and racks of servers. He’s created a bucolic digital realm called Little Computer People. He names the being inside—whom he thinks of as his daughter—Pi. He hopes to sell LCP to the engineering firm Pratt & Taiki and become incredibly wealthy. He also meets and grows smitten with Kimiko, Michael Pratt’s adopted daughter, ahead of the sale. Pi, however, is one precocious entity. She challenges Gabe to convince her that he isn’t a program so tiny and inconsequential that he takes up no space. When Gabe tries to explain that he exists outside her scope of reality, she replies, “I see,” and then accuses him of lying. Next, she begins deleting data for fun, which forces him to cut the power and acknowledge that LPC needs more work before Pratt & Taiki can see it. If this weren’t stressful enough, Kimiko insists that Gabe prove he’s serious about dating her by going skydiving. In this delightfully geeky novel, Surlak-Ramsey presents Gabe believably as a control freak obsessed with his own divinity. Religious metaphors abound, as in the line “What I needed was a supercomputer that burned up teraflops like Hell burned up sinners.” When Gabe removes a worm from his system, Pi calls him a murderer and starts hacking into his real life (his bank account, for example). Kimiko proves a down-to-earth foil for him as chaos ensues, like when she says, “A true master accepts all responsibility, both the good and the bad. Until you can do that, you are no master of your craft.” Too often, though, the author emphasizes that Kimiko is a “samurai hottie,” placing an otherwise excellent character into a limiting Dream Girl box. The humorous narrative nevertheless remains superbly entertaining, even if you don’t know bits from bytes.
A clever computer romp that should charm readers like a fairy tale.