ELECTRONIC LIFE by Michael Crichton
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A zesty lexicon of a book with a strangely connected text: "Afraid of Computers to Zenith: The Final Days of Man Before the Machines Take Over?" The artful Crichton wrote this primer/guide on his word processor, of course, instructing it to scan the text and, except in special cases, delete "software" (a word he despises). You learn many practical lessons: Buy a word processor if your needs are strictly word-processing--they're better than add-ons to computers. Always copy your disks; your back-up is your savior when you or the computer inadvertently destroy the data. Don't wait for the next-generation machine on the principle that it will be that much snazzier and cheaper; Crichton made that mistake and wasted a year. Some of the advice is funny: what to do with smart-ass kids who can instantly handle the machine you've bought, or what to do about "Widows, computer." (Crichton let his wife use his from the start, and ended up buying two.) The book does not tell you how computers work or how to fix them. That's a gain, because Crichton assures you that you shouldn't feel guilty over failure to understand machine codes or internal electronics. He also includes a beginner's guide to using an Apple II, a "Grouchy Glossary," and a couple of programs: "Mystery Writer" and "Soothsayer"--the latter, Crichton's version of how to get your computer to give you I Ching answers. That diversion is revealing of his philosophy. Computers are stupid machines, he states emphatically: they may get super-smart, but people and non-rational modes of contact and behavior (the surgeon's "touch") remain supreme. Comforting words for those who harbor computer fear--and a useful compendium altogether for those who are not the first on their block to succumb to computer wiles. . . but now, just might.
Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1983
ISBN: 0345317394
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1983


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