Cover Image: Several People Are Typing

Several People Are Typing

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Member Reviews

A hilarious and pitch-perfect sendup of working at a startup and struggling to disconnect from work, however literal that might feel. A quick read that I absolutely adored every minute of!
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After a year and a half of lockdowns, work apps have slowly infiltrated more people’s lives. But what if you were to infiltrate your work app?

That is the premise of Several People Are Typing – Gerald was working on a spreadsheet about snazzy coats and then suddenly, unexpectedly, is absorbed into Slack. While his colleagues consider his pleas a joke, he’s left to meditate on life and reality with his new friend, slackbot.

Told in fragments of Slack messages, it’s quick to get into. The perceived difficulty in facilitating a plot of highs, lows, tension, and character development in direct messages and Slack channels is navigated deftly – big topics like surveillance are all :dusty-stick: and giphy references, then you’re laughing at an implied screenshot of supposed secrets, or watching romances unfurl in hidden chats. The action element loses pace slightly, but it’s the flow of characters across channels – the work, life, gossip divide – where it shines.

Maybe it’s one for the Slack aficionados and others like us who are glued to these annoying work apps and would love nothing more than to be a sunset GIF and leave responsibility behind. It’s surreal and off the wall; it’s also incredibly witty, deals with existential crises, and makes you hate how recognisable this whole book is in terms of living in apps – minus the (literal, at least) absorption. [excellent.gif] posted using giphy
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Several People Are Typing is a compelling and refreshing work-from-home comic tour de force that takes place entirely within a PR firm's Slack channels--a strange digital landscape where an employee claims to be literally trapped inside. For fans of Office Space, Then We Came to the End and Severance. And anyone who has ever struggled with an emoticon. Gerald, a mid-level employee of a New York-based public relations firm, has been uploaded into the company's internal Slack channels--at least his consciousness has. His colleagues assume it's just an elaborate ploy to exploit their lax work-from-home policy, but now that his productivity is through the roof, they are only too happy to indulge him. Disembodied and alarmed by the looming abyss of an eternity online, Gerald enlists his coworker Pradeep to find out what happened to his body and help him escape. As Gerald plunges deeper into the surprisingly expansive Slack landscape, he finds a unlikely ally in Slackbot, Slack's AI assistant, who helps him navigate his new digital reality. 

Meanwhile, the team's real-world problems are in danger of snowballing out of control. Top client Bjärk dog food might be poisoning Pomeranians across the country; someone is sabotaging the boss's office furniture; Tripp and Beverley are breaking the unspoken rule against office romances; and the incessant howling of wild dogs is starting to drive Lydia insane. Also: Why is Slackbot so interested in Gerald? And what in the hell does the :dusty-stick: emoji mean? This is an engrossing and compulsively readable debut novel rich in satire and sardonicism relating to contemporary corporate culture. It's unusual to discover a dark comedy set in the workplace and it revolves completely around the employees of a New York City PR firm, and I found that the juxtaposition between themes such as capitalism, surveillance and the singularity and the absurd and surrealist plot simply works. Consisting solely of messages written on the workplace app Slack, this is relatable, timely, tender, funny and hugely entertaining from start to finish. Highly recommended.
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Imagine you wake up one morning to find out that your consciousness is being trapped inside the Slack app where you communicate with your colleagues, whereas your body sits unconscious in your room with a growing beard. That’s what happened to our main character, Gerald, who suddenly found himself in this strange situation. He tried to contact the Slackbot for official assistance, but the bot does not help. And worse, his superiors thought that he exploited the lax of his office’s work from home policy for his personal benefits. But that is only the beginning of the funny idea inside this story.

Far from conventional, this story consists of many group and personal chats inside an office through Slack app. We could see conspiracies commonly found in an office where colleagues talk behind the back of each other, secret affairs between Tripp and the newly hired Beverley, the howling that never ends for Lydia until she suddenly disappeared and no one remembered her except for Rob, and many other micro-stories. I would say ‘micro’, since sometimes they start and end really fast much like how we communicate through instant messaging services these days. It’s really tempting to read this story continuously since there are no paragraphs or lengthy explanations about what’s going on with only continuous chats to rely on understanding the story.

Some might say that this is not really a novel, but even our history has shifted so much in the past few decades. We are no longer humans who solely converse with each other following the oral tradition, but there is also new parts of our history in the form of textual exchanges through instant messaging platforms. Texting will not fully overtake real-life interaction which is still a primary form, but it has become a worthy alternative with the advance of internet connection and smartphones. There have been new ways to transform facial expressions into emoticons as well which support texts as a more advanced method of digital communication.

It’s more interesting to see how this book will be received in a decade or two when the Slack technology might not exist anymore and be replaced by something else. But the thing with digital interaction is that the traces could still be re-read at will, as the chat history will remain accessible to users if backed up properly or during the retention period. In some ways, texting is also a modern method of archiving our daily life, a new territory that used to be covered by diary. Much more so, it doesn’t only cover personal life, but also dive into professional life as well, just like the story of the office in this book.
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A very strange read but enjoyable at the same time. 

I liked the format of the book and that the office dynamics were well written. 

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC
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This is an extremely silly but also very good book about a man who gets stuck in Slack, as told through Slack logs. It's not actually about working from home during the pandemic, but definitely captures the slight sense of being unhinged by virtual living. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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Thanks to NetGalley For the opportunity to read and review this book. What an unusual read! Absurd, funny, strangely compelling. I enjoyed it, though the style might not be to everyone’s taste!
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The idea of this novel was very clever and I did like the Slack aspect of it - having started a new job in January that is primarily Slack-based to interact with my colleagues. I was intrigued to see how Gerald, Gerard? I’ve actually forgotten got stuck in Slack.

To be honest this was a disappointing, forgettable novel. It was a super quick read but there was just nothing to it at all, which was a shame. There were interesting threads - the concept of Lydia and the Slack Bot potentially being sentient but the follow through was poor. It’s as if the author just did not know how to explain it, he had a great idea for a novel but forgot to come up with an ending of any description.

It just….

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Gerald has become stuck inside the office software system. He doesn’t know why or how and no-one believes him anyway, they just think he’s taking the ‘work from home a reasonable amount of time’ rule too far. 

This was hands down the most bizzare book I’ve ever read. It wasn’t terrible, in fact, I couldn’t stop reading it, but it was STRANGE. Told entirely in inter-office online messaging, it’s like an episode of The Office in book form. Several People are Typing takes us through office romances, general office dramas and a client disaster they’re trying to smooth over. 

This was absurd and funny at the same time. If you enjoy satire, especially office banter, this is a short fun book to try!
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Several People Are Typing is a surreal novel told entirely through Slack conversations, as a man finds himself trapped within his company's Slack workspace. Gerald was working on a spreadsheet when his consciousness became trapped in Slack, and how he can't get out. His PR colleagues think he's WFH whilst doing a 'bit' and are busy dealing with a crisis around poisoned dog food, his only support comes from his colleague Pradeep looking after his physical body, and it seems Slackbot might be getting some ideas...

I use (and support people using) Slack at work, so the blurb of this book appealed to me, but I was surprised by how gripping and accurately satirical it was, mixing what you should and shouldn't say on work Slack with absurd concepts (at one point, Gerald becomes a vaporwave-style sunset GIF for a weekend) and maybe even some kind of message you could take away from it about how much of ourselves we might give to work digital tools. At times it's almost surrealist horror, not only about being trapped in a digital form, but with Lydia who keeps hearing howling and the weird subplot about the dog food fiasco, and in that way it was maybe similar to books like Grady Hendrix's Horrorstor (horror, but in a fake IKEA) just with less of the horror and more surreal satire.

Before reading Several People Are Typing, I was worried it would be a bit naff or just not work, but actually I found myself gripped by the clever satire of workplace Slack conventions (yes, in-joke emojis actually aren't so funny) and also enjoyed the absurd narrative that played around with ideas of digital consciousness and what is real or not when working entirely digitally. People who don't use these kinds of tools for work might find it less funny (and it may not be a book that ages that well as it's very current moment), but for me this was a well-crafted use of a gimmick that allows you to confront the absurdity of digital life.
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This was a fun and heart-warming story told in a very innovative way. The entire narrative told through the medium of slack messages and it really makes use of the fact that somethings are better left unsaid and you are able to draw your own conclusions from certain characters and their actions. This was a really enjoyable and easy read and I'm looking forward to reading more from the author.
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This book is exactly what I thought it would be after reading the blurb: funny and absurd. I have worked at a company that used Slack, and it was so well-done and recognizable! Except for the part where Gerald accidentally uploads his consciousness into Slack, of course.
It was a laugh-out-loud, light, and quick read, but in the second half it felt like the book was beginning to spiral out of control a little bit, like the author lost control over his own idea. So for me, the plot could have been worked out a little better, but other than that: a terrific and hilarious book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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