Books : reviews

Mark Ward.
Virtual Organisms.
Macmillan. 1999

rating : 5 : waste of time
review : 23 April 2001

In the Preface, Ward says "in writing this book I have been more concerned with ideas than people and where ALife is going rather than where it has come from". I was very disappointed, because, unfortunately, too much of the subsequent book is taken up with biographical and historical detail. It isn't really until the last chapter that we start to get into ALife research and applications today. This is a pity, because what he touches on there is actually very interesting indeed. But what we get is rather lacking in depth -- it's just skimming over the glossy surface. Although the subject is being written about with enthusiasm, from my reading of some of the parts I already knew something about, I did not get a warm feeling that Ward has a full grasp of the subject. Some gross oversimplifications at best, and errors at worst, mar the content.

He also has a stylistic quirk I found irritating. Incomplete sentences.

Read Steven Levy's much better Artificial Life instead.