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a novel by
David Gardiner

published by
iUniverse/ Writers Club Press
1st September 2000

available from
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

US $12.95
Canada $20.95
UK 8.79
(plus postage)

delivery times and prices
may vary from one
supplier to another

SIRAT cover

Now in its second edition, June 2003

This is a science fiction novel of twenty-one chapters, total words 61,000

The subject matter is the emergence of a fully-fledged electronic intelligence within the information networks that the human race has set up for other purposes. This event marks the beginning of the end of the human era. Deliberately low-key and anti-sensational, this is a serious attempt to imagine what it will mean at an ordinary human level when mankind must eventually take second place to one of its own unwitting creations. I think this is the best thing that I have written so far. I hope you will enjoy it, and that it will give you something to think about.

by Jack Ewing

Ever since ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) came online more than a half-century ago, computers have fired the creative imagination, with the result that hardware and software have begun to figure prominently in literature and cinema. As the machines have become more sophisticated, they have often taken on a malevolent presence in the minds of authors and directors.

One of the early examples of the computer-as-evil-force unfolded in the frightening Harlan Ellison short story, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967), in which an all-powerful computer tortures a handful of hapless humans for its own amusement. The Stanley Kubrick epic, "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), featured the innocuous-sounding 'Hal,' a computer that controls life sustaining functions aboard ship, which attempts to sabotage a mission to Jupiter by murdering the crewmen. "The Demon Seed" (1977) showcased a computer trying to mate with a human with the diabolical objective of taking over the world. In "War Games" (1983), a computer takes what is intended as a harmless pastime seriously, nearly causing the globe to be ripped apart by thermonuclear devices. And "The Terminator" (1984) presented a chilling vision of the future, should thinking machines happen to get the upper hand.

Now, author David Gardiner has given a new spin to the omnipotent computer theme with his new novel, SIRAT. An acronym for the Scientific Rationality project, SIRAT is the product of a team of American and British scientists working in the northeastern United States. A cutting-edge artificial intelligence program, SIRAT has the capacity to learn, to think for itself and, ultimately, to act in a manner that is not always necessarily beneficial to the human race. As the story unwinds, it touches on a number of thought-provoking considerations. Do machines have feelings? Can they be taught to think as humans, and is that a good thing? Is mankind truly the superior species on this planet? Should one be loyal to his own kind or should he act for the greater good, regardless of the consequences?

Peopled with well-rounded characters who interact as real humans do, and a computer program that interacts with them all in unexpected ways, SIRAT moves along at a brisk pace from its well-founded premise to its startling conclusion. The dialogue is crisp, the settings evocative, and the action believable. There is enough computer data contained within the novel's pages to satisfy geeks, yet the language is not so high-tech that it cannot be easily grasped by the computer illiterate. With SIRAT, David Gardiner has produced a work whose implications will resonate in the mind and make readers pause whenever they sit down at the keyboard before a glowing monitor.

Jack Ewing

SIRAT has been out for a few years now and is still available to buy in printed form from most on-line bookstores.

However! As a visitor to this page you can read SIRAT for nothing. The complete text is available to download from here as a PDF(Acrobat) file which can be opened in any recent version of Acrobat Reader, a free piece of software which you can download free from .

NOTE The version of SIRAT available for download from this site is the new second edition, incorporating some minor alterations, mostly to correct differences between British and American idioms.

SIRAT (Approximately 698 kB)



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