[ISEA97] Paper: Sue Thomas – THE [+] NET [+] OF DESIRE

Abstract

I have just finished writing my third novel, The [+] Net [+] of Desire. My first book, Correspondence, 1992, was aboutĀ  he meeting of mind and machine, and The [+] Net [+] of Desire is about the meeting of mind and cyberspace. It is set at LambdaMOO, where an entire personality can be condensed into a sentence or two or even just a smiley icon šŸ™‚ The book has been incredibly difficult to write, and this is ironic because when I first started I thought it would be incredibly easy – so much rich material there, so many interesting people and interactions – although as I settled in I found myself reluctant to use real material, and now I feel very strongly that we should enjoy privacy in our virtual lives. But generally, it seemed to me that text-based virtuality could only equal Heaven. It is fiction in action, happening on the spot. A player writes a phrase, and then another player takes the mental image and adds elements of their own to expand and construct it in rather the same way as we download a compressed file and use pk-unzip or stuffit expander to unpack it and make it active – except in this case we ourselves are also active in changing and contributing to the final product. In other words, we add our own preferences to the mind mix and make out of it whatever we will. The problem that although virtuality engages our most intimate intellectual imagination,it is incredibly difficult to express that conjunction, that feeling of being logged on, to a reader who has never experienced it. How does one describe, for example, the intimate union of minds which occurs when you type a message to someone several thousand miles distant and you know, you just know, that you are linked to this person in some incredible and inexplicable way?

  • Sue Thomas (UK), Nottingham, UK, has just completed her third novel, The f+METf+I Of Desire, which takes place in the unbodied realm of text-based virtuality. The landscape of the book can be found at LambdaM00 #87887. Her first novel, Correspondence, explored the choice to be made between a human or a machine body, and was short-listed for several awards, including the 1992 Arthur (Clarke Award for Best Science Ficton Novel). ln her second book, Water, she inventĀ­ed Ruari, a sensual yet wholly inorganic entity. She is editor of the story collection, Wild Women, and has written for Wired, Geekgirl, and Mute. Course Leader of the MA in Writing and Project Leader of the trAce Writing and Technology Research Project at Nottingham Trent University, England, she will be teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth for the Spring Semester of 1998. “She writes about our machined, manipulated landĀ­scape with bold sensual accuracy. Billed as a ‘roleplay’ as well as a novel, Correspondence is formally inventive with a rich sense of humour.” (Village Voice) “There is an interestĀ­ing surreal quality in Water. Mythic. Although the rules of physics are never actually broken, it feels as if they might be any second.” (LA Times Book Review).Ā  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Thomas_(author)

Full text p. 63-64