Language: English.

I read this some time in the late 80s / early 90s. The author must have had a Commodore 64 computer, because printouts from the mainframe computer in the story (which bears similarities to Asimov's Multivac) tend to end with text like this:


The title is a single word, which is the name of the main protagonist; I think it started with C, like COSMO or CHARLIE or CARL or the like.

At one point, a friend of his dies, and our protagonist is startled at how the computer prints out a beautifully detailed summary of his friend's life, including his innermost thoughts, ending with the READY. READY. ... prompt.

The big twist is that the last page of the book ends with


... and you realize that the entire detailed, personal account you have been reading is just another life summary from the computer.

Does anyone recognize the book?

  • 1
    My first thought was David Gerrold's When H.A.R.L.I.E Was One, but I'm pretty sure that's not the story you're looking for; the ending is completely different.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 11:08
  • @JoeL. Thanks - but you are right; that is not it.
    – whybird
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 11:11
  • 2
    Not what I was thinking. There's a story from teh 60s about a rich Texas rancher who uses a massive computer to try and see if the "infinite Monkeys will write Shakespeare" experiment can really be done; His friend and neighbor discovers this after the first rancher publishes a brilliant novel under his own name, actually written by the machine. The end comes when the output begins to tell the very story itself at the end. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 7:05


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