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Kasulke, Calvin

Entry updated 15 May 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(?   -    ) US author and playwright (recipient in the latter capacity of a Lambda literary fellowship) based in New York. His debut novel – or rather, novella with a great deal of white space – is Several People Are Typing: A Novel (2021), a genial comedy told entirely through chat sessions and personal direct messages in an eccentric New York PR consultancy's internal Slack Communications network. Having inadvertently constructed a spreadsheet with Basilisk properties, the central character Gerald finds himself Uploaded into Slack (his physical body left in coma) and has great difficulty in persuading colleagues that he is not simply working from home, albeit with management-pleasing efficiency while spared the distractions of the flesh. The digital conversion of a human in Tron (1982) is explicitly referenced. Gerald also interacts extensively with the AI Slackbot, initially a primitive help system ("I can help by answering simple questions about how Slack works. I'm just a bot, though!") but developing through human contact into something more, with a particular fixation on W B Yeats's "The Second Coming" (November 1920 The Dial) and a yearning for sensual input that is eventually fulfilled by download into Gerald's body. Deeper notes struck amid the wild Humour include a passage of Transcendence as Gerald (with Slackbot's aid) becomes at one with a popular GIF image of a sunset that is constantly viewed all over the worldwide Internet. All ultimately ends well; the tale adds an effective sf dimension to its office sitcom setting. [DRL]

Calvin Kasulke

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