A.I.Q.

Please note: This software is no longer being sold, developed or supported. Since occasional enquiries continue, we have made the complete A.I.Q. package available for free download. This includes full Help information and a PDF version of the former printed manual. Just unzip the contents to a hard disk folder (C:\AIQ rather than C:\Program Files is recommended, owing problems with over-fussy security in Windows Vista and Windows 7) and run AIQWIN.exe. Feel free to make an optional donation if you enjoy using it.

We now return you to our traditional sales pitch....

Not all software should run your office, organize your life, write your books, etc. Some, we stoutly maintain, should provide diversion and amusement without treating you like an idiot. With this reasoning, and because at the time Spring was in the air, we wrote A.I.Q. What is it? Here we flounder a little....

A.I.Q. can best be described as a text randomizer. It works on the basis of pre-prepared lists of words, phrases and outline sentences called "lexicons"; it reads them, shuffles what it finds, then presents the results in a highly structured way. An endless series of ideas, and odd but intriguing cross-referenced images, appears before you. Is this how the Surrealists used to get their inspiration? Nothing can be predicted; everything is random. As we were developing the program, A.I.Q. repeatedly came up with results that amazed us. Even non-programming members of the Ansible staff started writing lexicons, and passed them around, to mutual hilarity.

We supply several different lexicons for you to experiment with, and to convey some idea of what you can make the program do. Most of these lexicons are unashamedly for fun. One pours out page after page of blank verse in the inimitable style of the Immortal Bard. Another writes horoscopes. Another produces sonorous aphorisms. Another babbles poetry, of a kind. Another produces disgusting recipes; Bill Gates's Marmite and Turnip Surprise was a particular favourite.

One lexicon even has a practical use for writers: it suggests the seeds of short story plots. Random combinations of characters, situations, conflicts, themes, and so on, offer stimulating ideas for stories. Do you want its output to have a flavour of crime, Westerns, romance, SF? Add a suitable selection of terms and phrases to a spare copy of the lexicon, and A.I.Q will speak in tongues.... Since it has aroused such interest, we are anxious to avoid any misunderstanding about this lexicon. It doesn't write stories for you; it doesn't generate detailed chapter-by-chapter plot outlines. It is meant to spark off ideas by combining the "raw material" of its lexicon in unexpected ways. If you change the vocabulary of this lexicon to reflect your own literary preoccupations (it's just a question of editing a text file, as explained in our manual), the results will become more relevant to your own fictional work.

The real interest in A.I.Q. begins when you create your own lexicons, or adapt the ones we supply. Our plain-English manual shows you how to do it, and you don't need a degree in computer science to understand. You will be astonished, as we have been, by the way in which the computer absorbs ideas, rearranges them, then presents them back to you in a new and seemingly spontaneous way.


Here is an extract from an early review of A.I.Q., published in Stratford-upon-Avon (c.1602):

Ye vision of despond. Art pale and bright
Repel this day their winter of the crown!
Ye bloody falsehood that doth shatter shames
Where tether so an armour of ordeal
Not e'en a fragrant love doth dwell our shame
Admir'd compassion e'en by question dreams
So short abhorrence shakes without alloy.
O princely master that would lighten lords
Nor wither too a vision with dispute
Not little murder, yet abjures our truth
How weak the bank which cracks our air this day
To solemnize the finger of the dog;
Befoul'd betrayal so by rumour dreams
Bedim this day the master of defeat
Thou agent of surcease.

And so on, and on, and on ...