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January 20, 2004


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Glen Engel-Cox

In the past, I've called novels such as these "science fiction," if that definition encompasses fiction about science (or what passed as science in our history) as much as a novel where the science is fictional, but I think you may be on to something by creating a new term for these, because they are as removed from spaceships and aliens as they can be. (Do not take me wrong--I like a good space opera as much as the next guy, but these books are not that.)

Authors and novels that come to mind that fit this term include, of course, the new novel by William Gibson, as well as the last couple of novels by Neal Stephenson. My personal favorite author in this type of writing is Richard Powers (e.g., The Gold Bug Variations, Galatea 2.0).


I'd add to Glen's suggestions Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose), Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities . . . not so much about information as manifesting an information structure)and Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams. Okay, these last two probably don't fit within the genre you're talking about, Bryan, but I've long wanted a genre for literature that thematizes, either structurally or in terms of content, a certain granularity and emergence. It's not the same as hypertext, which isn't rigorous enough. Something like 21 Grams would be the cinematic equivalent. Does this make any sense?


Have you read Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction by Suzanne Keen? Crowley's work often falls into the trend she talks about (though its British).


I haven't, Jeremiah, but I am proceeding to Amazon right now. Many thanks.

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