A Working Theory of Love

Scott Hutchins

A Working Theory of Love

Neill has got a lot to learn... Since his 'starter' marriage dissolved a couple of years ago, thirty-six year-old Neill Bassett has been learning how to be single again. Now he's learning the skills and routines that long-term bachelorhood requires - how to be less spontaneous, how not to feel too much, how to eat standing up. Since starting work at a Silicon Valley software company, meanwhile, Neill has been teaching a computer how to be human. By 'conversing' every day with a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence, his job is to help it seem more spontaneous, more emotionally convincing, more alive. The catch is that the AI programme is based on a real person, Neill's dead father. If he brings him back to life, he might end up learning more than he bargained for... 3.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
A Working Theory of Love

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 336
RRP
Date of Publication February 2013
ISBN 978-0241964866
Publisher Penguin
 

Neill has got a lot to learn... Since his 'starter' marriage dissolved a couple of years ago, thirty-six year-old Neill Bassett has been learning how to be single again. Now he's learning the skills and routines that long-term bachelorhood requires - how to be less spontaneous, how not to feel too much, how to eat standing up. Since starting work at a Silicon Valley software company, meanwhile, Neill has been teaching a computer how to be human. By 'conversing' every day with a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence, his job is to help it seem more spontaneous, more emotionally convincing, more alive. The catch is that the AI programme is based on a real person, Neill's dead father. If he brings him back to life, he might end up learning more than he bargained for...

Reviews

The Financial Times

George Pendle

Hutchins, a lecturer in creative writing at Stanford University, has taken the search for artificial intelligence, long a trope of science fiction, and neatly inserted it into this comedy of introspection.

08/02/2013

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The Guardian

Gavin James Bower

A Working Theory of Love is a novel of tremendous poise: big enough to bring what could be esoteric to life, clever enough that it encourages you to take your time reading it. It has much to say about what it means to live, love and lose in the 21st century, peeling back the veneer of modern, white-collar America to reveal its soft centre: overeducated, underwhelmed young professionals ultimately playing a part.

09/02/2013

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The New York Times

James Hynes

… one could easily imagine Don DeLillo or Richard Powers running with the same ideas and cast of characters for 800 pages or so. And while this is a very accomplished novel, it feels a bit as if Hutchins has given short shrift to its most original and exciting element: the philosophical struggle with the Turing test. The scenes in which the researchers volley with “Dr. Bassett” are the most electrifying in the book, and even though the journey through family history and the story of Neill’s romantic and sexual escapades are beautifully written and consistently engaging, I found myself eager to get back to the undead doctor

21/11/2012

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The Times

Nick Rennison

In Hutchins’s clever debut, Neill’s relationship with Rachel proves less interesting than his typed interactions with his computerised father, which slowly point him to a different perspective on both past and present.

03/02/2013

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The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

The premise is inventive and engaging, but, as an exploration of love and grief in the tech age, the novel is hampered by Bassett's attempts at profundity …

26/11/2012

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