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This is a novel which does not exist explicitly, but only in its reviews of which it is a collection. Each review focusses on another aspect of story and characters and cites some especially convincing or abhorring passages so that the reader will eventually know all what is to know about this novel
without having read it at all. Since this is a tried and true method for party smalltalk you might call it baked. But I doubt if there is already a novel out in the wild adopting this technique.
Stanislaw Lem: A Perfect Vacuum
Book consisting of review of fictitious books. Not quite what you describe, but somewhere in the neighborhood. [jutta, Feb 19 2016]
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers did it in the title [Toto Anders, Feb 23 2016]
/r/Glitch_in_the_Matrix thread about thunderbird photo(s)
What [bungston] is talking about [notexactly, Feb 24 2016]
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||Lem is such a treasure, thanks for the reminder, jutta!
||The nice thing about this book is that you could have all kinds of different voices and tones. I call dibs on writing the review from Thrasher.
||It could be a mystery novel in which you try to discover
some secret about the backstory of one of the first
reviewers, who is a frequent commenter but dies
||[+] You could also have some interesting interplay in
arguments about what actually happened. The reviewers
could make reference to the tone and other subjective
qualities of the writing to support their interpretation.
The unique and somewhat annoying angle would be that
you can't go and read it for yourself to see what you think
||Another interesting aspect might be that the author
would not necessarily need to be a good writer in the
traditional sense, since reviews are not always that well
written. In other ways though it would require even
more skill in order to make unique writing styles and also
keep the whole thing readable.
||Many lovers of the written word are quite familiar with
many of the works of author Sir John Grisham* who's life
spanned the the colorful period of time during the rise of
the internet age, but there is one of his works that you
have not read before. In his later years when his initial
popularity began to fade and after the tumultuous falling
out with established publishing companies, he published
one or more works in eBook format. One of these novels
was a game changer. It was heralded as groundbreaking.
It also has been credited by many as taking the eBook
reader from a device owned by a very limited
demographic to being ubiquitous throughout all
generations. Also, it revived the novel in an era when
people thought that the written word had declined
beyond hope in favor of movies and video games. It was
for this work that he was bestowed the knighthood by the
queen of England.
||Sadly, this novel has been lost. As you well know, the
cyber-war of 2045 wrecked havoc on the computer
systems of the early 21st centrury. Distributed cloud-
based backup systems were infected and destroyed. It
has been more than 100 years now since that time, and
as our society is getting back to its feet I was lucky
enough to be hired to work for the data mining
commission. As I was working on the team attempting to
recreate the data on the Halverson method of treating
autistic children, I stumbled across references to autism
in this John Grisham novel. Being a Grisham fan myself,
but having never heard of this, I wanted to investigate
more, but at that time, the other research was by far
more important to society.
||After another 5 years spent attempting unsuccessfully to
resurrect this purportedly miraculous autism treatment I
was feeling broken and lost. I was put on a low priority
tasking in data mining tax records. Then while cleaning
out my files I ran across my notes again on this novel.
Out of boredom and curiosity I requested permission to
continue mining in my off hours between tax record
recovery to see if I could find it. Unfortunately after
another 5 years of work, I again came up empty. I had
found many more references to this work: from articles,
to reviews, to comments and discussions from everyday
readers. I had loads of data, but the one thing that was
always missing was the simple text. It was apparently
never printed to paper, and every trace of the digital bits
were lost forever. At this time it is a given that every
person who read the original has died of natural causes,
and considering the struggle for survival in the
intervening years, it appears that there has been very
little discussion of this work. A few people asked about
the novel in the 2070s and quite a few people chiming in
to request a copy if one was found, but beyond that,
||Again, I was at the doorway of despair, thinking that I
would never read this novel. And I loved this novel. But
how could that be? Well I came to realize that after
having read so much about it, I actually knew the
characters. I new the plot, I new the subtle secrets that
the author had hidden and the incredible imagery that
was used. I had a purpose: to recreate this jem of a
book. But after another year of labor I again despaired.
I am no author like Sir Grisham. I can't paint a picture in
words. I considered trying to get another author to help,
but among any that I would consider gifted enough to
perform this, I found no interest. So it has come to this.
In order to allow others to experience this story, I am
publishing the unedited material that I have found. After
some initial attempts to put them in order I abandoned
that too, because of the the interplay in discussions and
the evolution of the interpretation over time. Therefore
these are organized by source, with each collection of
reviews or comments in the order in which they were
||I apologize for the difficulty you may face while reading
this, but I trust that it will worth your effort in the end.
* One would need to get permission from a real well
known author of the appropriate genre. I'm hoping to
encourage his approval by predicting his future
||/get permission from a real well known author/
||I say get a dead one, whose estate will not mind the publicity. My tastes run to Ed Burroughs and HG Wells. Maybe Lovecraft? Lovecraft's stories often refer to the Necronomicon and numerous other occult and blashphemous writings.
||The fun thing about an effort of this type based on Lovecraft is one could deal with the book but also the results set in motion by its discovery. As the story unfolded one could include correspondence from his contemporaries, rare book dealers and then news clippings, public service bulletins etc. Maybe set the story in 1970s Cambodia and close with the SCP Foundation's herculean effort to cover up what actually transpired.
||Yeah, I'm sure you could come up with a good
introductory narrative for a dead author, but my
narrative would require some major changes to work
with an author who isn't around. I'm not familiar with
Lovecraft, but from what you say, that sounds like it
could be interesting.
||The problem with my intro above is that it over-hypes the
book and its impact on society. The reason for that was
to provide a motive for taking the unconventional step of
publishing the reviews. If the virtual book wasn't
groundbreaking, why not just let it be forgotten? But
that requires that the book (which has to be mostly
developed, if not actually written) has to be really good
as well, otherwise the whole thing will be a letdown.
||A good conspiracy theory could certainly be another
reason for the original being destroyed and a motive to
publish what remains. The trick is having a plausible
explanation for how enough people saw it to write things
about it yet no copies of the original survived.
||/ how enough people saw it to write things about it yet no copies of the original survive/
||Like the Thunderbird photograph!
||Brings to mind a certain well-known brand of flenting wax.