‘The Force,’ the new Dennis Lehane book, reviewed by a robot

Story Highlights Almost every well-known author has praised or written about a robot.

Some even built robots themselves.

Robots deliver books faster and better.

My first words may be “oh my God!” Yes, it’s true. The same author and writer who created Carousel is now penning reviews for a robot.

The literary technology journal The Robotist posted a review this week of Dennis Lehane’s new book, The Force, using a text-to-speech program called Modublogist. You may remember the program from the 2010 review of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, from Wired Magazine. “The Book of Manuals” is a series of short essays edited by Nancy Franklin called Machines. Franklin, the founder of The Robotist, wrote, “Despite my early objections, there is no denying that this is the most powerful and versatile text-to-speech software I’ve ever encountered. You’ll be singing with joy as you read this book.”

While most of us will never get to read the reviews in near-human voice, our cellphones can already do it — and every well-known author has praised or written about a robot. Still, this is the first time a popular author has welcomed a robot into his circle of influence, but it wouldn’t be the first time a literary robot came up from the ground up. In the 1950s, however, “the Volkswagen bot” — known as Darby, after the English school teacher and science researcher Adrian Darby — was trying to improve the written word.

Whether you believe in the literary machines or not, there’s no doubt that robots have made life better, faster and more efficient. We’ve found more and faster ways to get something. Let’s hope that writers everywhere can take some notes.

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