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BOOK REVIEW: Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

| 12 September 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

Hodder Studio
September 2021
Paperback, $22.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Science Fiction / Dark Humour / Satire

88% Rocking

Is it still WFH when you’re now just binary code?

Whilst working on a spreadsheet for a New York-based PR firm, Gerald has his consciousness uploaded into his company’s Slack channel. He posts for help, but his colleagues assume it’s an elaborate joke to exploit the new working-from-home policy, and now that Gerald’s productivity is through the roof, his bosses are only too happy to let him work from . . . wherever he says he is.

Faced with the looming abyss of a disembodied life online, Gerald enlists co-worker Pradeep to care for his body and Slackbot, the service’s AI assistant, to help him navigate his new digital reality. But when Slackbot discovers a world (and an empty body) outside the app, will it hijack a ride into the ‘real’ world?
Meanwhile, Gerald’s co-workers are scrambling to stem a company PR catastrophe like no other, their CEO suspects someone is sabotaging his office furniture, and if Gerald gets to work from home all the time, why can’t everyone?

Hilarious, irreverent, and wholly original, Several People Are Typing is the perfect remedy for any idle fingers waiting to doomscroll: a satire of both the virtual office and contemporary life, and a perfect antidote to the way we live #now.



it sounds like you’re having an existential crisis, I searched for that on our Help Center.

It’s strange to think you can form an attachment and start to notice little idiosyncrasies between different people when you’ve never met them, they’re only communicating in fits and starts of a few words at at time and, oh yeah, they’re fictional, and all written for you by the same mind… or are they?

Okay, maybe it’s not so strange, especially in our current times, what with our internet access, and our ‘rona-affected in-person communications. 

Who hasn’t made friends with people they’ve never met in person – might never meet in person, gotten to know someone better online before taking their relationship “IRL”, or been removed from their body and had their consciousness sucked into a work productivity chat app? 

Sure, so maaaaaaybe not that last one, so much!

This book feels a little voyeuristic at the start, like you’ve gained access to a chat full of people you don’t know, where you don’t understand some of their in-jokes, and everything feels a little removed from your world. But Kasulke shows his skill at subtly introducing you to these people in a way that will pull you in, meanwhile hiding a few breadcrumbs for the keen-eyed reader to find. 

It’s an odd format, the whole novel being told in slack chat, but the humour and pace manage to stop it from becoming wearisome. The lack of chapters, with transitions between chat rooms serving as the most logical pausing point, will likely have you telling yourself “just one more section” repeatedly, until you get to the twists, and then you won’t be able to put it down until you know how it all resolves!

This is where we keep the sunsets!

Category: Book Reviews

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