8

I read a story a few months back and I cannot remember where or how I found it and it's been bugging me for days. I'll list the things that I can remember.

-The main character is a man who is working with a computer. The computer has a "female" sounding name, and I think it's referred to as a "she" in the story. It was something like "CASELA"... Some kind of typical, all-caps, 3-syllable computer name.

-Something about working with the computer is causing the man to go insane and lose his grip on reality. I seem to remember that it's mentioned that his wife has noticed he is changing. I THINK he's becoming obsessed and falling in love with the computer... Perhaps the computer is referred to as a god, or better than god, or something along those lines?

-At some point in the story the computer creates a message (printed or displayed or something) that is all gibberish, but it is then decoded to say something like "[computer name] DESTROY DESTROY DESTROY"... The decoding of the message seemed to be fairly easy, like they were all capital letters in a paragraph, or something.

-To the best of my recollection, it was only about a dozen pages long or so.

-If it helps, I'm pretty certain that the story had a Wikipedia page.

-I'm almost certain that the computer was being used by the military, and had the capability to destroy mankind.

  • Did you read it online, in an ebook, in a (physical) book or in a magazine? – Valorum Aug 7 '16 at 22:19
  • 1
    I read it online, and I feel like it was simply direct scans of the book or magazine it was published in, and it's possible it was on archive.org. – hytone Aug 7 '16 at 22:22
  • 2
    Hmm. Any chance that it was the computer that was falling in love with him? I'm almost remembering one that might match... – Otis Aug 8 '16 at 1:58
  • It's not ringing a bell for me, but it's possible. His delusion and obsession definitely was controlled by the computer, but I believe it was more interested in world domination/destruction than love... – hytone Aug 8 '16 at 7:46
5

Wow. So after about a week of digging and searching I just found it by going through a list of short SF stories by year.

It was "Dulcie and Decorum" by Damon Knight!

Amazingly, my memories were far closer to "From Agnes--With Love" as suggested by Keith, which I haven't seen in years. No idea how it got that far from the actual story.

4

That sounds very much like the 1964 Twilight Zone episode "From Agnes - with Love", starring Wally Cox.

Wally Cox's character, James Elwood is brought in to replace a previous programmer who went insane after interacting with the computer, named Agnes. Agnes starts offering Elwood advice about his co-worker Millie.

The "advice" is designed to spoil Elwood'd relationship with Millie so that Agnes can have him to herself.

I don't know whether the story has been published in written form, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it has. Perhaps that's where you encountered it.

Agnes displays a few messages that appear to be gibberish, but are actually Latin and Russian; see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734571/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv.

(Incidentally, that episode has an unintentionally hilarious line. When James Elwood is told about a problem with Agnes's operation, he says "Probably her subroutines need debugging.")

  • It's similar for sure, but unfortunately I couldn't find any indication anywhere that it was originally a short story or based on one (other than "EPICAC" by Vonnegut, which it seems almost lifted from)... – hytone Aug 8 '16 at 8:01
  • @hytone: EPICAC was also done on TV with Bill Bixby. tcm.com/tcmdb/title/477413/… – Keith Thompson Aug 8 '16 at 15:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.