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Science Fiction
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The Soft Machine


"In this work I am attempting to create a new mythology for the space age".
-- William S.Burroughs.

The Soft Machine is a postmodern science fiction book by William S. Burroughs. It was published in 1961. It is first in a trilogy of science fiction novels: The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and Nova Express.

The book is an absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy.


Burroughs presents an Earth inhabited by bizarre aliens, perverse doctors, brain police, seedy criminals, and verbal virus. This is the original cyberpunk novel.

The book is the logical answer to Burroughs Naked Lunch that served us the sliced up meal of contorted reality in order to make us see the truth. The battle is now raging in the language itself. And therefore in our own minds. The sentences with which humanity has manipulated its existence are under siege. Their order is cut up in the hope that through the black holes that are thus struck in them we may reach the silence so we may hear what's going on. Sometimes this means we have to struggle through a heap of rubbish, until we are no longer repelled by it and are free from its diseases. As a reward new ways of giving words to things are singing their strange but compelling songs to us in phrases that defy one dimensional meaning. The real sound of silence. To make us realize that these experiments are more than 'thoughtplays' and to keep us engaged in the process of 'unwriting' glimpses of stories weave themselves into this amalgam of prosepoetry and cut up text. In awe we get almost too physical views of the warfare and the journeys and haunts that accompany it, all on a science fiction and futuristic level. Details of this Nova Mob detective like narration are given to us in the next part of the trilogy, without entirely raising the curtain. It's a see for yourself message Burroughs is giving.

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