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The MANIAC By Benjamin Labatut Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593654477
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Penguin Press - October 3rd, 2023

Labatut's genre is entirely his own, his philosophy both rigid and curious. With The MANIAC, we're given the lives of Austrian physicist Paul Ehrenreich; the Hungarian-American mathematician Johnny von Neumann, often cited as the grandfather of artificial life, a foundational figure in computational mathematics, a key figure in the development of the hydrogen bomb and a half dozen other surreal acts of destruction, a man endowed with abominable and limitless intelligence, like 'fog on a fog,' and yet unable to tie his own shoes; and finally, a chilling play-by-play of global Go champion Lee Sodel's historic 2016 match against Google's AlphaGo AI in South Korea—often cited as the first moment in history in which artificial intelligence expresses 'creativity.' How does this triptych form, in my opinion, one of the greatest novels of this year, a stunning, hair-raising literary achievement? It is difficult not to let Labatut's obsessions become your own. To see clearly what we will soon lose to our own intelligence. Benjamin Labatut dwells in the foggy, cosmic, uncanny valley amidst math, science, history, and literature.