THE TIN MEN by Michael Frayn


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This fantasia (by a British columnist) deals with the William Morris Institute of Automation Research which is preparing for the Queen's visit to open the new Ethics Wing. There its Dr. Macintosh puts machines on rafts to see which ""it"" pushes which ""it"" off, while in newspaper research, a Dr. Goldwasser makes word-formula headlines such as ""leak row looms; test row leaks."" The queen-greeting committees proliferate and subdivide; other new men- tin men speculate; while Chiddingfold, the director, is silent. The final chapter of the book which is actually a runaway satire (with not too much of a story) claims that the book was written by a computer. However no computer was ever so self-indulgent as the author. The trouble is not in the style itself, for the language is quick and versatile, but in that it is wrung dry in trivia and repetition. There's no proportion to the talky-talk, which is too bad, since Frayne has more talent than any machine could achieve.

Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.