Friday, February 26, 2010



The Forever Machine, Mark Clifton and Mark Riley, Galaxy Publishing Corp, 1958, 159 pp

Just getting a copy of this book was an adventure. It won the second ever Hugo Award in 1955, was originally serialized in "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine in 1954 (where it was titled "They'd Rather Be Right") and is now out of print. Prices range from a few dollars to $80 and up on used book internet sites.

It is great though. An intriguing story about an electronic brain, named "Bossy," who has been programmed with all available known facts and so can only give correct answers to questions or the answer of "not enough data." But Bossy also can work as a therapist. As long as the patient can admit that he doesn't know everything and is also willing to admit that some of his ideas may be wrong, Bossy can release all past painful and oppressive experiences, replace false data with true, restore a person to youth and health, possibly bringing about immortality. 

Naturally everyone and his powerful brother wants Bossy, so the two scientists who built her plus their assistant, who happens to be a secret telepath, have to hide out. It is a fine tale, not badly written and full of provocative ideas about many aspects of human life.

Good find! 

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