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Aristotle OS by Tony Ballantyne

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“Aristotle OS” is a 2007 science fiction short story by Tony Ballantyne. It is about a man who’s computer operating system constructs an alternate reality.

Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:

Computer with orange screenJon is a man who uses his computer to make a living writing articles and such. When his computer breaks down he calls his electrician brother, Ken, to fix it for him. The problem is that Ken is always trying to “over fix” things, so he installs a new operating system on Jon’s computer. This OS isn’t based on the “shadows of reality ” that most current operating systems are based on, it assumes that everything input is real. That’s all fine and dandy as long as it works… right? Perhaps, but now Jon’s computer is creating images and messages that never really happened in his life!

“Platonic operating system?” I asked. “I thought it was just Windows, like everyone uses.”

He laughed at that.

“Windows, Linux, Mac OS. They’re all the same. They model the real world inside your computer. Whether you’re running a spreadsheet to do your household accounts, or playing a car racing game, you’re just running an imperfect model of the real world.”

My Two Cents:

• The good:

  • In case you didn’t know, I am a big time computer fan – working as a programmer and actively supporting open source software. Consequently I absolutely loved this story! If you too enjoy computer systems then you’re bound to like this story as well.
  • “Aristotle OS” is based on a very unique and nifty idea – a new type of operating system that is fundamentally different from anything we now have.
  • Tony Ballantyne is a great writer. He deftly explains the harder-to-grasp ideas (both computer and philosophy related) in a layman-friendly way.

• The bad:

  • The only thing I really didn’t like about “Aristotle OS” was that it ended so abruptly. I would like to have read more about Jon’s computer and what it was capable of doing.

Fact Sheet:
• Page Count: 12

Where you can find “Aristotle OS”:

Some Interesting Links:

  • Did you know that the author of “Aristotle OS”, Tony Ballantyne, enjoys “playing boogie piano?” Yep. Even though I am not entirely sure what that means I think it sounds cool. You can learn more about this science fiction author at his website.

Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you might also like Anda’s Game, about a twelve year old girl who belongs to The Fahrenheits – an exclusive all girl organization in an online game, by Cory Doctorow.