When Harlie Was One Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of When Harlie Was One

HARLIE (Human Analogue Robot, Life Input Equivalents), is a computer into which all human knowledge is being fed. He's supposed to be self-monitoring as well as reproducing the human brain's capacity and creativity to the nth power, but of late HARLIE's been inducing his own non-rational states -- "tripping" electronically -- and composing poetry. He may be able to out-think everyone, but he has the emotional matority of an 8-year-old, or perhaps a barely post-pubescent teen. Research psychologist David Auberson and hardware specialist Don Handley have to figure out what HARLIE's up to, as well as justify the project to the corporate Board of Directors, who don't see any profit value and are poised to shut it down. Meanwhile, HARLIE tries his hand at matchmaking David with executive secretary Annie Stimson, as well as discussing the nature of intelligence and human love with Auberson. This 1972 Gerrold novel is delightfully thought-provoking.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

HARILE is an artificial intelligence developed not in a scientist's lab (mad or otherwise) but in Silicon Valley. He can pass a Turing test, but can he convince a short-sighted board of directors of his fiscal viability? With his continued existence in jeopardy and his personality still evolving, HARLIE divides his attention between an ongoing Socratic dialogue with his creator, David Auberson, the invention of GOD (the Graphic Omniscine Device, a supercomputer add-on that will give him almost infinite power), and hacking into his company's computer system (as well as top secret government installations) to blackmail the executive who plans to shut him down and sell him for parts.

This is David Gerrold at his best, creating a cracking good science fiction story as an excuse to explore philosophical and social ideas.
The review of this Book prepared by Darren Zieger

Chapter Analysis of When Harlie Was One

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book    -   very upbeat FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Coming of age    -   Yes Romance    -   Yes Spying & Investigations    -   Yes What is main char. doing?    -   unraveling a conspiracy Robots, Computers, VR    -   Yes Robot, PC, VR Plotlets:    -   good computer AI Inner Struggle    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   search for identity/new understanding    -   coping with mental/magical powers Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Cultural problems, alien culture    -   Yes Culture clash-    -   feelings as an alien growing up among humans

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scientist Age:    -   20's-30's Really unusual traits?    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


Earth setting:    -   20th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   a moderate amount of scientific explanation    -   a significant amount of technical jargon Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of sex    -   description of breasts How much dialogue?    -   mostly dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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David Gerrold Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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