The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 6, No. 4

Literary Devices

by Richard Powers

Richard Powers speculates about the narrative complications of the digital age. By invitation of an anonymous e-mail, his narrator tests a computer program, DIALOGOS, which weaves its stories from bits of data around the web, without any central authorship. He sends out e-mails into the DIALOGOS void–to Emma Thompson, to an estranged friend, to Goethe, to Emily Dickinson. Each missive is returned with implausible accuracy. In time, the narrator gets lost in DIALOGOS, and wonders if he has lost touch with reality or if the reality of narrative has in fact been changed.

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