One of the great pleasures of putting on Brighton SF right before last year’s dConstruct was how it allowed me to mash up two of my favourite worlds: the web and science fiction (although I don’t believe they’re that far removed from one another). One day I’m interviewing Jeff Noon about his latest book; the next, I’m introducing Tom Armitage on stage at the Brighton Dome.
Those two have since been collaborating on a new project.
You may have seen Jeff’s microspores—a collection of tweet-sized texts, each one an individual seed for a sci-fi story. Here’s Spore #50:
After the Babel Towers attack, lo-fi operators worked the edges of the language, forging new phrases from the fragments of literature. They filled boxes with word shards in the hope of recreating lost stories.
Tom has taken that as the starting point for creating a machine called the literary operator
It’s quite beautiful. It fits inside a suitcase. It has an LED interface. It has a puck that nestles into the palm of your hand. It comes with a collection of books. You take the puck in your hand, pass it over the spine of one of the books, and wait for the LEDs to change. Then you will receive a snippet of reconstructed text, generated Markov-style from the book.
It is an object that is both entirely fictional, and entirely real. Not “design fiction”; just fiction.
You can use/play with the literary operator—and hear from Tom and Jeff—this Thursday evening, September 26th at the Brighton Museum as part of Digital Late. Sarah and Chris are also on the bill so don’t miss it: tickets are a fiver if you book ahead of time.