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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.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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