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"ScriptGenerator©®™ is perfectly observed and a stunning indictment of contemporary cultural production values. The computer programme of the book's title treats the narrative assembly process as just the same as any other, a string of variables just waiting to be arranged. Therefore the discovery of such a programme spells the end of the creative profession for good, rendering writers entirely redundant. Anyone who's witnessed people in public places glued to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code can only wonder if this is such a bad thing?"

Andrew Stevens reviews Philippe Vasset's highly innovative ScriptGenerator©®™ for 3:AM

COPYRIGHT © 2004, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The ability to dispense with writers altogether must represent something of a juicy prospect for most publishing houses. No more egos to contend with. No more manuscripts to wade through. No more PR hassles. And most importantly, no royalty cheques to issue. Philippe Vasset's debut teasingly guides us to such an imprint utopia but raises important questions in the process. The commodification of culture is, for all intents and purposes, the third oldest profession but in recent times has accelerated by several mach. Literature itself cannot deem itself to be insulated from such trends, whether they be the whims of marketing departments or the altogether unnecessary 'Lit Idol'. The denial of writing as a craft has manifested itself with vacuous celebrities from the worlds of acting, singing and modelling seeking to purge themselves of some inner book or other that really shouldn't be foisted onto an already over-crowded market for tepid bullshit by vacuous people.

ScriptGenerator©®™ is perfectly observed and a stunning indictment of contemporary cultural production values. The computer programme of the book's title treats the narrative assembly process as just the same as any other, a string of variables just waiting to be arranged. Therefore the discovery of such a programme spells the end of the creative profession for good, rendering writers entirely redundant. Anyone who's witnessed people in public places glued to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code can only wonder if this is such a bad thing?

Vasset's background, though at 32 it's a short one, is in the field of investigative journalism and the bitterness and wry sense of humour that comes with the discovery of humanity's manifest and manifold failings in such courses of work is on display here. In doing so, he has presented us with a paradox whereby the novel on offer is bold and daring enough to taunt critics yet has, by and large, attracted praise across the board for this. The ScriptGenerator©®™ programme's "Zeitgeist Index" (where writing themes are tested for contemporary relevance) is probably already in production somewhere, if it wasn't then it is now. Vasset can certainly look to a place among the eager crop of younger French (if not European) novelists who are more willing to defy genre and put society on trial and allow us to marvel at the results. The only let-down of the novel is its compact size in length, Vasset could have easily stretched the concept a little further (a Sunday newspaper might preoccupy you longer). But innovative fiction has enough David Foster Wallaces on its books.

And if writers are on their way out according to this plan, then reviewers can surely be not much further behind?




ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Andrew Stevens is Co-Editor of 3AM and lives in London, England.





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