Saturday, April 23, 2005

Coding Slave is free! It's just not very good.

Bob Reselman, author of the novel Coding Slave has released a free PDF version, in order to promote sales of the dead-tree version. My advice: don't bother.

Reselman's unlikeable characters stagger through a mundane existence, right up until the novel turns into science fiction. The main character Ajita Orhtihawamein is a contract programmer, driven by the sociopathic desire to give clients what they really want. This involves sex, in some cases. She's got a master plan of creating a independent programmer's guild, which magically succeeds on page 108, revolutionizing programming forever.

Reselman explains either too much, or too little, at any given moment. Characters' motivations are spelled out completely, to save the reader the trouble of working out WHY anyone does anything. Two characters in the novel commit suicide, presumably to save Reselman the trouble of actually resolving the plot elements. It all works as tidily as the Socratic dialogue included in the appendix.

All in all, this feels like a first novel. I didn't hate reading individual bits. A choice passage: Reselman explains in a witty way why giant computer programs to run businesses are viewed as necessary: corporations wish to eliminate the human elements, but the human elements are what the operators enjoy about doing business.

Unfortunately, the same can be said of novels.


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