Virtual Boss / Edition 1

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What would happen if a software system were developed to act as everyone's perfect manager? In the second of his darkly humorous novels about corporate life, Floyd Kemske has invented a software system that learns each employee's needs and weaknesses and then exploits them in order to make the employee as efficient and effective as possible. If all you need is a reminder now and then, that's all you get. However, if fear and abuse are what it takes to get you to work, the computer makes your life hell. The Virtual Boss is the story of three people at Information Accuracy, Inc.: Linda, the software specialist who created the system, but is managed by it; Arthur, whose life is a nightmare of intermittent reinforcement, and punishment; and the company president, Donald F. Jones, whose experiences as a manager were so frustrating and ludicrous, he created a company without any human managers at all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Frankenstein meets Brave New World in Kemske's second novel (after Lifetime Employment ) of distopian corporate culture in the not-too-distant future. At Information Accuracy, Inc., workers are discouraged from interacting with one another by a CEO who has turned the successive failures of his managerial relations into a quasi-philosophy of isolationism. The company's sole manager is an artificially intelligent software program that ``sleeps'' only four hours a day and requires humans to be on call during the other 20. The story centers on Arthur, who is browbeaten by the eponymous software system; Linda, who installed it but now lives in deathly fear of it; and Linda's former lover, deluded CEO Donald F. Jones, the only person who believes the system is benign. Kemske does a good job mining the quirks of human psychology--indeed, his characterizations outstrip his plotting. The software's reign of terror, however, could have been fleshed out by including more of the eerie, futuristic ``conversations'' between the employees and the machine that give the story its paranoid tone. The novel succeeds nonetheless in metaphorically justifying our fear of technology by playing out a scenario that seems very nearly possible. (Oct.)
David Cline
Kemske, author of "Lifetime Employment" 1992, paints a harrowing future in his second corporate nightmare in two years. Donald F. Jones is the frustrated manager of Information Accuracy, Inc. His work life has been a trail of failed manager-worker "relationships." And so when his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Linda designs a software system that replaces all management, he immediately installs it. An interactive program, the computer effectively becomes the boss and tailors its communication style to fit each employee. Enter Arthur, Linda's coworker and blooming love, with whom the system has developed a relationship of intermittent praise combined with nearly constant haranguing. The system is relentless and makes Arthur's life a living hell, disturbing him at home, creating overdrafts at his bank, and destroying his sleep patterns. Kemske delivers a fine, tense read of a future that is painfully close.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780945774228
  • Publisher: Catbird Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 237
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Floyd Kemske is the author of five novels, including four "corporate nightmares"—novels that use fantastic situations to approach the realities of office politics, reorganizations, and, especially, the management of people by other people. He lives in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

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