Re: RARA-AVIS: Harriet Klausner

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 06 Jul 2000

The robot's prose is priceless. Just the other day, she used "intercede" instead of "intervene" and ended up with something incomprehensible. The robot has a three paragraph template:

[I] A bit of description from the publicity materials.

[II] A second bit of description from the publicity materials, not always related to the first bit.

[III] Extravagant praise straight from the blurbs.

I have a little program that generates better stuff than that, but pans about 80% of the time. It's also unpredictable (random, in fact), therefore more interesting.

As to fans reviewing, there's nothing wrong with that provided that the review is well written and makes a reasonable case, either for or against the book. Unfortunately, the robot does not do any sort of comparative descriptive analysis, let alone a critical analysis. You could give the robot a copy of Light in August or The Sun Also Rises and the result wouldn't be that different from a review of a bad romance novel.

In any case, it's a great achievement: context-free reviewing.

Now let's talk about something serious: who are the outstanding mystery reviewers of our day? Does the category even exist? It just occurred to me that the robot is filling a void.



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