Friday, April 21, 2017

#196 Bookbot

“Hi Anjeny, ready to make a book you’ll love to read?”

“Fat chance, Bookbot,” Anjeny muttered as she stabbed at her tablet screen with her finger.

“To begin, please select ten of your favorite books, or use saved settings.”

Dozens of book cover thumbnails flashed onto the screen. Anjeny swiped her finger over the glass, making them whirl by as if she were a wind goddess blowing away every book in the world. Her eye caught one of her favorite titles and she stopped scrolling, ready to click.

Sure, I liked that book, she thought, but today I want something new. Something really new.

She decided to skip the favorite book selection and go on to the character settings. Protagonist page. She clicked female, then switched it to male, then back to female, then set it to random. After fiddling with the personality sliders a little she scrolled through the place and time settings, clicking carelessly. Japan, 1780’s, no, how about Peru, 1950’s.

“You seem to be having trouble making up your mind today.” The words flashed on the screen.

“No kidding,” Anjeny said.

“Would you like me to surprise you?” A button appeared on the screen below the text. “Surprise Me” it said.

“You can’t surprise me,” Anjeny said. “You can’t make anything new. All you can do is mix up books other people have already written. That’s your problem.”

The button was still there, green and persistant.

Anjeny clicked it.

“Generating your book now.”

Anjeny watched the progress bar fill while a small animated icon of a book flipped empty pages. What crazy thing was Bookbot going to come up with? Vampire mermaids on Mars?

“Your book is ready. Click here to begin reading.”

Anjeny tapped the “Open book” button, and the screen filled with text.

In the beginning there was no light, no darkness.

Only words.

And there, in the void, a weaver, who ever unraveled and wove again, began to wonder what the stuff was made of that it wove. Where did they come from, these words? From what place beyond the void did they spring?

And how to get there?

“Seriously, Bookbot,” Anjeny said. That was the most boring beginning she’d seen yet. The vampire mermaid martians would have been better. She tapped the corner of the screen to bring up the menu and was about to hit, “Delete book.”

Then she stopped. “Are you the weaver?” she asked.

Bookbot didn’t answer. Or maybe it already had. Maybe the answer was in the book.

Anjeny kept reading.