When HARLIE Was One
is a 1972 science fiction
novel by David Gerrold
. It was nominated for the Nebula Award
for Best Novel
in 1972 and the Hugo Award
for Best Novel
in 1973. The novel is a "fix-up" of previously published short stories
by Gerrold. A revised version, subtitled "Release 2.0", was published in 1988.
Central to the story is an Artificial Intelligence
named H.A.R.L.I.E., also referred to by the proper name "HARLIE" - an acronym
for Human Analog Replication, Lethetic Intelligence Engine (originally Human Analog Robot Life Input Equivalents).
HARLIE is considered one of the most realistic visions of advanced artificial intelligence encountered in literature on a par with HAL 9000. However, HARLIE is a more endearing version of HAL; while seemingly more humane than HAL in his actions and responses, he definitely has a different, often even inhumane way of approaching problems, and has an agenda of his own to follow. HARLIE's story revolves around his relationship with David Auberson, the psychologist who is responsible for guiding HARLIE from childhood into adulthood. It is also the story of HARLIE's fight against being turned off, and the philosophical question whether or not HARLIE is human; for that matter, what it means to be human.
- The HARLIE intelligence engine appears in a number of Gerrold's other works, including the Star Wolf series, where it is routinely installed as the administrating AI of Terran warships.
- "Harlie" may be a nickname for SF writer Harlan Ellison, a friend of David Gerrold, which may have influenced his decision in the title of the book.