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Press Enter | [John Varley]

Press Enter

Victor Apfel, a troubled war vet, gets an odd, pre-recorded phone message, instructing him to go inside the house next door. He opens the door to find his neighbor shot through the head. But is it suicide - or murder? And is it possible that a computer is to blame?
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Publisher's Summary

This Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novella is part murder mystery, part romance, and more than a little bit scary.

Victor Apfel, a troubled war vet, gets an odd, pre-recorded phone message, instructing him to go inside the house next door. He opens the door to find his neighbor shot through the head. But is it suicide - or murder? And is it possible that a computer is to blame?

©1984 Davis Publications; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novella, 1985
  • Nebula Award, Best Novella, 1984
  • All-Time Best Novellas (Locus Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (44 )
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4.0 (21 )
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Story
4.0 (21 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 05-28-12
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2009

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you wish to know more, PRESS ENTER."

    IF YOU WISH TO KNOW MORE PRESS ENTER ???

    Victor Apfel, a lonely middle-aged veteran of the Korean War, gets a recorded phone call asking him to come to his reclusive neighbor???s house to take care of what he finds there. The voice promises that he???ll be rewarded. Victor would like to ignore the message, but he gets another call every 10 minutes. When Victor arrives at Charles Kluge???s house, he finds Kluge dead and slumped over his computer keyboard, so he calls another neighbor ??? a computer operator named Hal (har, har) ??? and the cops. When the computer screen asks them to PRESS ENTER, they do, and this initiates Kluge???s strange interactive suicide note. Things get weirder when Victor finds a large deposit in his bank account and the cops find no record anywhere of Charles Kluge. Even the IRS didn???t know about him.

    The police investigator doesn???t think it???s a suicide, so they hire a Vietnamese computer programmer named Lisa Foo to figure out what Kluge was up to. When she drives up in her silver Ferrari, she brings a little joy to Victor???s lonely existence. As the two of them get to know each other, both start to deal with troublesome issues such as Victor???s serious medical condition and the horrors of the wars they???ve lived through and the racism those experiences engendered. (The focus on the geo-politics of Southeast Asia during the middle 20th century is a refreshing change from the Western focus of most science fiction.)

    Press Enter, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards for Best Novella in 1985, works on so many levels ??? it???s a romance, murder mystery, psychological drama, and horror story. It???s exciting, moving, and scary. Though Press Enter is set in the early 1980s, it feels nostalgic rather than dated. Discussions comparing and contrasting the computer to the human brain feel current, as does Lisa???s understanding that her skill with computer programming gives her power over others ??? power that could corrupt her.

    I read Audible Frontier???s version of Press Enter which is 3 hours long and is narrated by Peter Ganim, who does a nice job, as usual. Press Enter is going to stay with me, and not just because I have a son who???s about to leave for college to study computer programming (shudder). I was enthralled from the first sentence to the last.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-26-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Good, but dated computer references"

    It's an interesting mystery by itself, but without knowing it's from 1984 you might be wondering a bit about the strange computer slang and references to middle-aged Korean war veterans.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maynard Moravian falls, NC, United States 01-03-13
    Maynard Moravian falls, NC, United States 01-03-13 Member Since 2011

    Scientist, artisan, anachronism

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    "press enter aaaaaand... DELETE"

    Really this book is so terrible, so awful, I just couldn't believe that a story could be so bad. Uuugh.
    I forgot to post a review when I read it. I was just so p’d that I wanted to have nothing to do with the damn thing. I wanted to forget it all together. and i had.
    then today I just stumbled across it in my library and I knew I had to post something. I knew I was needed to help my fellow readers. I knew I needed to step up and save you from purchasing this POS!!!
    unfortunately i don't remember any of the details to prove my case. But i just can't go back and listen to it any more. it is the worst story i have heard to date. if you want proof i got nothing, no specifics. all i can recommend is that you could look at my other reviews to see how my tastes run, and if we think alike then trust me...
    Leave now and forget you saw the publishers review that made you think it sounds interesting. It is not. I am doing you a favor here… DON’T DO IT, DON’T BUY IT.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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