I remember a novel where one of the early scenes is a traffic accident caused because the lights both ways were set to green - the computer controlling the entire city had been programmed to be "most efficient" and had determined that it was most efficient to not have as many people in the city! That's about all I can remember. Does anyone know the book?

  • 3
    You'll probably need to narrow this down a bit, a master computer who starts killing its charges in the name of efficiency is a pretty classic theme.
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 16:58
  • Thanks so much to everyone that has taken the time to think about my quest! The only other details that I remember is that is NOT set in the future - it was a huge surprise to the investigators to discover that the computer had done this as it was set in the present day. I so wish I could remember more.
    – user24851
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


Could be 'The Tomorrow City' by Monica Hughes. From the Goodreads summary:

C-Three, the computer, is programmed to make the city of Thompsonville an ideal place to live in. But disaster threatens as the computer uses increasingly ruthless means to discard all that is old and useless. Caro and David are aware of the horrors, but can they alert the others in time?"


Could you be thinking of the 1965 film, Alphaville?

From the Wikipedia entry,

Alpha 60 is a sentient computer system ... which is in complete control of all of [the city of] Alphaville.

Alpha 60 has outlawed free thought and individualist concepts like love, poetry, and emotion in the city, replacing them with contradictory concepts or eliminating them altogether. ... People who show signs of emotion (weeping at the death of a wife, or smiling) are presumed to be acting illogically, and are gathered up, interrogated, and executed.

  • OP asked specifically for a book, and the reason for killing people is not the same in Alphaville and in the novel that OP described.
    – J-J-J
    Commented May 16 at 14:45
  • @J-J-J, 1. Sometimes people misremember things. 2. This answer is 10 years old and nobody's complained about it until now. In fact I think it got a +1 yesterday.
    – The Photon
    Commented May 16 at 19:51
  • No complaining here, that's trivia I find interesting and I think the thread is definitely more valuable with your post. I wouldn't bet money on it being Alphaville though (in particular when the movie is in French, which may be another memorable element), but maybe you had other info you did not mention that made you think it was plausible. Before you mentioned it, I didn't see the year when the question and your answer were posted, the thread appeared on the website homepage yesterday or a couple of days ago, and I incorrectly assumed it was a recent question.
    – J-J-J
    Commented May 17 at 6:14

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