I believe I read this English language short story around 1974 or 1975, but may have read it a few years later… I'm pretty certain I read it in the 70s though. It was in a small paperback a little bit larger than a chapbook, but smaller than a typical pulp paperback. I seem to recall this book being an anthology of very short stories, rather than a single story; I have the feeling this may have been from an educational publisher rather than a mass-market publication (I think I encountered it in a waiting room or reading room at a college). The cover may have been glossy white, perhaps with a band of yellow along one edge, and some pretty simple black line art with thick lines (something like a doodle with a sharpie), although I may be conflating the story I read with the cover of another book. I have vague recollections of the (likely adult) protagonist of the story I read being fearful of some kind of society-governing computer with a name presented in all caps… something like BACKATRACK, or BACKTALK or similar. When I first encountered advertisements for the role-playing game Paranoia in the 80s, I got a similar kind of vibe about The Computer antagonist from the game as from the story.

  • @user14111 Thank you! The only thing I recall about setting was that at least part of the story was inside a building, probably an institutional building. I don't really recall much about the protagonist. No idea if set on Earth or not.
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 21 at 19:48
  • 3
    The Computer isn't the antagonist of Paranoia. The Computer is your friend.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Apr 21 at 23:25
  • 1
    I found this Wikipedia article with a list of fictional computers; I hope this is helpful.google.com/… Commented Apr 22 at 15:27
  • @StanleyWebb Thank you so much! I don't see any entries from the 50s–80s matching my vague recollections, but that is a very cool list! :)
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 23 at 17:58
  • perhaps EPICAC?
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 25 at 5:58


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