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I'm looking for a short story about a man who forgets to return his library book. A computerised system takes over and everything goes from bad to worse. The book he did not return is 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson, so the man ends up on a kidnapping charge, which changes to a murder charge when the computer learns that RLS is dead. It must be from the 60s or 70s.

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1  
Possible duplicate of Short Science Fiction story, told in a series of letters – Ward Mar 25 at 0:56
    
@Ward No. We have a clear policy on when to close story-ID questions as duplicates, and in this case neither answer has been accepted or acknowledged as correct. – Rand al'Thor Mar 25 at 1:32
    
It's also an entirely different question. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 25 at 15:50
    
@BarryTheHatchet - The question may be somewhat different, but we close questions as duplicates when the answers are the same. – Valorum Mar 25 at 20:16
    
Is this appropriate for SF&F? Sounds like reality, not fiction. (Note for later readers: This article is from the day after the question was posted.) – davidbak Mar 25 at 21:02
up vote 29 down vote accepted

Computers Don't Argue by Gordon R Dickson.

I wrote you recently about the computer punch card you sent, billing me for "Kim,' by Rudyard Kipling. I did not open the package containing it until I had already mailed you my check for the amount on the card. On opening the package, I found the book missing half its pages. I sent it back to you, requesting either another copy or my money back. Instead, you have sent me a copy of "Kidnapped," by Robert Louis Stevenson. Will you please straighten this out?

later

POLICE DEPARTMENT, PANDUK, MICHIGAN.
TO POLICE DEPARTMENT CHICAGO ILLINOIS.
CONVICTED SUBJECT A. (COMPLETE FIRST NAME UNKNOWN) WALTER, SOUGHT HIRE IN CONNECTION REF. YOUR NOTIFICATION OF JUDGMENT FOR KIDNAP OF CHILD NAMED ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, ON NOV. 16, 2000.

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Duplicate of this question with unaccepted answer. – user14111 Mar 24 at 21:38
    
@user14111 - it's a shame no-one supported my proposal to close obvious dupes... :-) – Valorum Mar 25 at 15:37
    
@Richard The answers have the same book, but as the OP in the other question never came back and marked it as the answer we can't be 100% sure that it is correct for that question. – Dijkgraaf Mar 25 at 20:12
    
@Dijkgraaf - That may well be true, but the reason User14111 and I have gold tag badges is that when we're both 99% certain, the odds of us being right is pretty darned high. – Valorum Mar 25 at 20:14

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