Science and Society

Lauren Ipsum: a book about which I'm rather excited

I imagine many of you are familiar with Lorem Ipsum*, the ‘nonsense’ text used as a fill-in for websites and other things-using-words under construction.

Presenting, however, what looks to be a charming, and distinctly clever, new book: Lauren Ipsum.  It’s the story of a little girl who gets lost in the woods one day, and what happens next.  It describes itself as being “A story about computer science and other improbably things’, and then goes on to warn one that “no computers will be found in this book”.

It’s full of brilliant drawings, too ** :)

An excerpt:

“It’s just a bunch of Jargon,” he said. “Hold still and stay calm.” He cupped his hands to his mouth.

“STANI!” he shouted at them.

All of the Jargon froze, their ears a-quiver.

“CEPAT! AFVIGE! SCHNELL! SCHNELL!

And just like that, they were gone.

Laurie collapsed against a tree. “Th-thank you,” she said.

“Sure thing, miss. Just rest here a while,” the man said. He dropped his pack with a loud jangle, then sat on top of it.

“What’s a Jargon?” she asked once she’d caught her breath.

“Jargon live in the swamps. They feed on attention. If they can’t get that, they’ll settle for fear and confusion.”

“But the first one was so friendly! I just talked to it a little and it started following me.”

“That’s how it starts,” he said. “A little Jargon doesn’t look like much. Some people even keep them as pets. But they form packs, and they are very dangerous.”

“That’s terrible!”

He shrugged. “What can you do? Stand your ground and act confident. If you show any fear, a pack of wild Jargon will run you right over.”

“What did you say to make them leave?”

“I have no idea. It sounded good, though, didn’t it?” he said. “So what’s your name, miss?”

“My name is Laurie. I think I’m lost.”

“That’s wonderful!” the man said. “I’m lost too.”

“Oh no! You mean you don’t know where you are?”

“No, I know exactly where I am.”

“So you don’t know where you’re going?”

“I know exactly where I’m going. I’m on the way home.”

Laurie was almost too confused to feel confused. “But if you know where you are,” she said, “and you know where you’re going, how can you be lost?”

“Because I don’t know how I’ll get there,” the man grinned. “I’m a Wandering Salesman.”

“A Wandering Salesman? What’s that?”

“We wander from town to town, selling and buying. There are two rules: You have to visit every town before going home, and you can’t visit any town twice. Every road is the road home except the road behind me.”

“So you always go to the next place you’ve never been to?” she asked.

“That’s right! You’re guaranteed to get home eventually,” he said. “It’s only logical. Along the way I’ve seen the sunrise over the Towers of Hanoi and climbed the Upper Bounds. I’ve sat down at the Lookup Table and floated on the Overflow River. It’s a good life. Being lost can be fun!”

“It’s just a bunch of Jargon,” he said. “Hold still and stay calm.” He cupped his hands to his mouth.

“STANI!” he shouted at them.

All of the Jargon froze, their ears a-quiver.

“CEPAT! AFVIGE! SCHNELL! SCHNELL!

And just like that, they were gone.

Laurie collapsed against a tree. “Th-thank you,” she said.

“Sure thing, miss. Just rest here a while,” the man said. He dropped his pack with a loud jangle, then sat on top of it.

“What’s a Jargon?” she asked once she’d caught her breath.

“Jargon live in the swamps. They feed on attention. If they can’t get that, they’ll settle for fear and confusion.”

“But the first one was so friendly! I just talked to it a little and it started following me.”

“That’s how it starts,” he said. “A little Jargon doesn’t look like much. Some people even keep them as pets. But they form packs, and they are very dangerous.”

“That’s terrible!”

He shrugged. “What can you do? Stand your ground and act confident. If you show any fear, a pack of wild Jargon will run you right over.”

“What did you say to make them leave?”

“I have no idea. It sounded good, though, didn’t it?” he said. “So what’s your name, miss?”

“My name is Laurie. I think I’m lost.”

“That’s wonderful!” the man said. “I’m lost too.”

“Oh no! You mean you don’t know where you are?”

“No, I know exactly where I am.”

“So you don’t know where you’re going?”

“I know exactly where I’m going. I’m on the way home.”

Laurie was almost too confused to feel confused. “But if you know where you are,” she said, “and you know where you’re going, how can you be lost?”

“Because I don’t know how I’ll get there,” the man grinned. “I’m a Wandering Salesman.”

“A Wandering Salesman? What’s that?”

“We wander from town to town, selling and buying. There are two rules: You have to visit every town before going home, and you can’t visit any town twice. Every road is the road home except the road behind me.”

“So you always go to the next place you’ve never been to?” she asked.

“That’s right! You’re guaranteed to get home eventually,” he said. “It’s only logical. Along the way I’ve seen the sunrise over the Towers of Hanoi and climbed the Upper Bounds. I’ve sat down at the Lookup Table and floated on the Overflow River. It’s a good life. Being lost can be fun!”

At present you can read (what I presume to be) the first chapter – Mostly Lost – and you can preorder the book.  Which will be available in both physical and digital formats, and hopefully in languages other than English too.  And, because it’s a Kickstartr project, you can pledge anything over a dollar, as as much more than that!

I pledged enough to get me an advance copy, and can’t wait for more!

———–

A story about computer science
and other improbable things.

*Or Beer Ipsum.  Or Bacon Ipsum.  Or Hipster Ipsum. Or Liquor Ipsum. Or Gangsta Ipsum. Or Vegan Ipsum. Or Veggie Ipsum. Or Tuna Ipsum. Or Samuel L. Ipsum. Or Bogan Ipsum. Or, even, Corporate Ipsum.  The list goes on. And on. And on. And on. And on. (As, apparently, does my ever-worsening RSI).

** Apparently it is a kids’ book.  Thankfully I define myself quite firmly as a kid.  Phew.

  • http://sethop.com Seth Wagoner

    Fantastic. The world needs more books like this. Reminds me a little of Godel Escher Bach, which was of course targeted at older audiences, but had similar amusing stories / dialogues to illustrate the points he was trying to make – not all of which were immediately apparent, which was one reason he wrote “I am a Strange Loop” as a followup – and of course, it also referenced various computer science subjects.