Story Notes: “The Perfect Book” in Analog

The December issue of Analog contains my story, “The Perfect Book.”

Analog December 2012 cover

This post is going to contain spoilers after the break.

As a personal level, there are several things of note about this story.

  1. It’s my very first sale to Analog, and likely my first and last sale to Stan Schmidt, as Dr. Schmidt has retired as editor of Analog.

  2. As Dr. Schmidt notes: this story “has a rare distinction, too: one of the few stories this short that I’m not listing as “Probability Zero.”

The idea of the Book Genome Project is of course based on Pandora’s Music Genome Project. I’ve long speculated on the possibility that literary and artistic tastes can be algorithmically determined. See, e.g., “Real Artists” and “Beneath the Language”.

The other strand of thought behind this story is my preoccupation with copyright law and the ways in which all creativity is derivative and an act of remixing.

Still, there’s a sense in which I sympathize with the protagonist of the story. I suspect all writers share this sentiment to some degree, even if they believe that originality is overvalued and overstated. The belief seems to me essential to any creative work, just as a belief in free will seems essential to daily life, even if one subscribes to a strong dose of determinism.