Review; Nova Express by William Burroughs

I like a good sci-fi book as much as the next person, but for me, this experimental, “cut-up” novel didn’t quite hit the spot. It was published in 1964, and Burroughs continues his experimentation that he had used in the series’ previous novels, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That 413D5WEX4ELExploded. The “cut-up” technique is exactly how it sounds; Burrough literally cut passages of text out and pasted them back in somewhere else, rearranging said passages to produce new meanings but also, inevitably, confusion. There are no main characters, only Inspector Lee, the narrator, and any characters that we do see have unusual names such as the Intolerable Kid and Uranian Willy.

The (sort-of) plot includes a battle between the Nova Mob and the Nova Police. The Nova Mob controls communication by using broadcasted words and images to create disorder in the world. The Earth is stuck in the middle of this war between the mob and the police and is becoming silent and dead. The police, however, are glad to have the mob, in a strange messed-up kind of way, because it keeps them in business and keeps them in control and powerful over the rest of the race. Burroughs jumps continuously through sentences, words, phrases that it becomes so confusing to what he is talking about. Whereas some people may enjoy this type of writing, I become confused and much prefer order and structure.

I still don’t entirely know what happened in the end, because I didn’t understand it, so if anyone out there could enlighten me, that would be fabulous.

Overall rating – 2/5

190 Pages

Genre: Sci-Fi, American Fiction, Experimental, Futuristic


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