Alissa Reviews: Several People Are Typing – Calvin Kasulke

Several People Are Typing

This book was my book group’s January pick, and it is an unusual choice for my book group. We are divided on our opinions of the book, but we all agree that it is very thought-provoking. All of the dialogue and action is told through the Slack messages of employees at a public relations company in New York City. Gerald, one of the employees, finds that his consciousness has been uploaded into the company’s Slack channels, and he struggles to return to his physical body as well as convince his colleagues that he is not pulling a prank on them.

Gerald’s employers are not concerned with Gerald working from home, or from inside the Slack channel; they are only pleased that his productivity level has improved. Pradeep, one of Gerald’s coworkers, helps Gerald try to understand what is happening to his consciousness and take care of his physical body. Pradeep and Gerald’s deepening friendship is one of my favorite parts of the story. Meanwhile, Gerald and Pradeep, along with the rest of their colleagues, are trying to manage a public relations nightmare for one of their clients. While they are working with this client, a high-end dog food manufacturer, they realize that there is more to the story than meets the eye.

While Gerald is stuck in the Slack channel, he has some comedic conversations with the Slackbot, and these exchanges become both philosophical and existential. As an AI troubleshooting “assistant,” the Slackbot’s lack of humanity and morality reflect Gerald’s struggle. This is the most interesting, thought-provoking part of the book. The actions of Gerald’s colleagues, as they deal with petty office politics, secrets, and questionable public relations tactics are amusing, relatable, and eye roll-worthy to anyone who has corporate experience. I did not expect to like this book nearly as much as I did, and I recommend it although I know it is not for everyone!