Raven (Nell’s Personal Tutor)

Lisa; “I also want a personal tutor.”

“Like Nell and her special book?”

The book spoke in a lovely contralto . . .

Once upon a time there was a little princess named Nell, who was imprisoned in a tall dark castle on an island in the middle of a great sea, with a little boy named Harv, who was her friend and protector. She also had four special friends named Dinosaur, Duck, Peter Rabbit, and Purple.

Princess Nell and Harv could not leave the castle. But from time-to-time, a raven would come to visit them.

“What’s a raven?,” Nell says.

The illustration was a colorful painting of the island seen from up in the sky. The island rotated downward and out of the picture, becoming a view toward the ocean horizon. In the middle was a black dot, and it turned out to be a bird. Big letters appeared beneath. “R AV E N,” the book said. “Raven. Now say it with me.”


Very good! Nell, you are a clever girl, and you have much talent with words. Can you spell raven?

Nell hesitated [the book sees that she cannot read] . . . after a few seconds, the first of the letters began to blink . . .

The letter grew larger until it pushed all the other letters and pictures off the edges of paper. The loop on the top shrank and became a head, while the lines sticking out the bottom began to scissor. “R is for Run,” the book said. The picture kept changing until it was a picture of Nell. Then something fuzzy and red appeared beneath her feet. “Nell Runs on the Red Rug,” the book said, and as it spoke, new words appeared.’

— Neal Stephenson – the diamond age (Source)

In the background Cyc informed us; “Professor Alfred Bork noted that; ‘The book has other skills that we see later. It can record and illustrate things that Nell tells it (writing). It teaches Nell the art of self-defense, and helps Havr and Nell escape when their situation becomes life-threatening. It can defend itself against those who try to steal it. Nell learns to cook healthy foods. The book contains an encyclopedia. It displays books, like the machine in The Troika Incident.’ “