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Book Written by Computer Hits Shelves

Published: January 22, 2008 (Issue # 1341)



  • Alexander Prokopovich of Astrel-SPb holds a copy of True Love which he says is the first book written by a computer program.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

A Russian book written by a computer in St. Petersburg is to hit the countrys bookstores at the end of January.

The book, published by the citys Astrel SPb publishing company, is the work of a computer program, created by a team of IT specialists and language experts.

The 320-page novel, called True Love, is a variation on Leo Tolstoys 1877 classic Anna Karenina but written in the style of Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

It is based on 17 famous literary works that were uploaded onto the program. Within 72 hours, the computer generated its novel about true love.

Alexander Prokopovich, 39, chief editor of Astrel-SPb, said the idea of using the software shocked his editorial team at first, but then they got carried away with the idea. The experiment seemed interesting, Prokopovich said.

Prokopovich said the style of the book is based on the Russian translation of Japanese writer Murakami. The main characters are Tolstoys but they get into a completely different situation, he said.

Prokopovich, who didnt want to fully disclose the plot, said that the book is about love and faith.

In short, the characters find themselves on an uninhabited island. All of them have amnesia. They know who they are, but they dont remember if they are married or have children, and what relationship they have with each other. In a way they are given a chance to build their relationships anew. The book is about how they make it, Prokopovich said.

An extract given to The St. Petersburg Times reads:

Kitty couldnt fall asleep for a long time. Her nerves were strained as two tight strings, and even a glass of hot wine, that Vronsky made her drink, did not help her. Lying in bed she kept going over and over that monstrous scene at the meadow.

The development of the software program for the book took about eight months, but the computer took only three days to write the book, Prokopovich said.

Today publishing houses use different methods of the fastest possible book creation in this or that style meant for this or that readers audience. Our program can help with that work, Prokopovich said.

However, the program can never become an author, like PhotoShop can never be Raphael, Prokopovich said.

Prokopovich said he knew about other experiments and attempts to write fiction by computer, but he suggested that True Love was the first really successful book made with the help of software.

The book will cost about 120-130 rubles, Prokopovich said. However, he added that the price will also depend on where it is sold. The first edition will also be sold in Ukraine and Israel.

St. Petersburg author Pavel Krusanov said he was convinced that no computer can compete with a live author. However, he said that such software programs may ease the work for publishers when replacing some hired writers.

Alexander Mazin, another St. Petersburg writer who writes historical adventure novels, also doubted computers can replace real authors.

Its like those attempts to create music with the help of computer. They were not that successful, Mazin said.

Mazin said the new computer-written book may stoke the natural curiosity of readers.





 


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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


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Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


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Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.