Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Most Extreme Crueltie and Revenge of Shylock of Venice



Stripped of his fortune, his daughter, his religion, and even his name, Shylock of Venice (now baptized “Christoforo”, under duress) broods over his injuries alone. A mysterious traveler, dressed in black, offers him the chance to avenge himself upon those who have wronged him, and to seize back all that they have taken. When Shylock agrees, they embark on a journey that takes them across Renaissance Italy and through the history of post-Humanist philosophy – and what they find is not what either of them expects.

As some of you may have seen by now, my latest release has gone live at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It's ebook-only for the moment; the paperback should be available in a few days.

Warning: this is a play in five acts, written in early modern English. In other words, I totally committed to the conceit that I was creating a sequel to Shakespeare's play. If you hate EME or the play form, this might not be up your alley.

In a piece for the New York Times, Kevin Kelly of Wired fame wrote of the future of ebooks:

...In the universal library, no book will be an island. Turning inked letters into electronic dots that can be read on a screen is simply the first essential step in creating this new library. The real magic will come in the second act, as each word in each book is cross-linked, clustered, cited, extracted, indexed, analyzed, annotated, remixed, reassembled and woven deeper into the culture than ever before. In the new world of books, every bit informs another; every page reads all the other pages.

I was pretty heavily influenced by this somewhat heady vision. It reminded me a great deal of the fictional "glass bead game" in Hesse's Magister Ludi. It's also reflective of the way I think in general. Those of you who read De Bello Lemures can probably see how this vision would appeal to me.

Shylock of Venice was written with this concept of the future ebook in mind. I don't get there, by any stretch of the imagination, but I take a few baby steps. The text is largely composed of repurposed text from other sources [along with original text that is itself heavy with allusion], and the selection process is itself supposed to contain information that informs the primary story. If that sounds really annoying and pretentious, I apologize. I found it fun, and I hope readers will find it fun too.