Filler content with script generation

From The Third Alternative #40, minus editorial corrections:-


Serpent’s Tail pb, 112pp, £8.99                                 

Philippe Vasset’s book has two strands. One is the précis of a new computer programme, the script generator of the title, which will allow the publishing industry to do away with its perennial problem child, the author. Couched in business speak, this strand consists of options for stock plots, characters, settings etc, with further suggestions on how books should be marketed, the use of celebrity and commercial tie-ins, a wealth of indispensable detail for the publishing mogul wannabe. Intercut with this is the account of a man who discovers the existence of script generator and sets out to track it down, with the intention of making money through his knowledge of the publishing world’s best kept secret.

A. L. Kennedy describes the book as ‘A darkly entertaining and disturbingly prescient novel’, but while the novel may very well be prescient (we can already see evidence of the publishing industry adopting many of the tactics it describes, such as the curse of the celebrity author) I didn’t find it all that entertaining. Script Generator is, at heart, nothing more than an overextended joke, designed to appeal to those for whom irony is everything, the irony being that the ‘quest’ part of the book, which is as badly written, poorly plotted, dull and flavourless as it gets, is supposedly produced using the programme itself, a fact only the comatose wouldn’t twig to, so I make no apology for the plot spoiler. On the prescient side of things, the manual part of the text is bleakly convincing in its way, highlighting the commercial ethos of the publishing world and the alienation of true creativity as a result, and on that level it works rather well, providing a much needed reality enema for those who thought getting published and read was simply a matter of good writing, whatever that means. The big punch line, that the computer couldn’t produce anything better than mediocrity, would perhaps be more amusing if you didn’t have to actually read the mediocrity itself.  While Script Generator contains some interesting and minatory ideas they’re not put to much use and the end result of it all is something of a mixed blessing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s