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Fiction & Literature

Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has endured in the popular imagination for two hundred years. Begun as a ghost story by an intellectually and socially precocious eighteen-year-old author during a cold and rainy summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, the dramatic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his stitched-together creature can been read as the ultimate parable of scientific hubris. Victor, “the modern Prometheus,” tried to do what he perhaps should have left to Nature: create life.

Our hero is Turing, an interactive tutoring program and namesake (or virtual emanation?) of Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and father of computer science. In this unusual novel, Turing's idiosyncratic version of intellectual history from a computational point of view unfolds in tandem with the story of a love affair involving Ethel, a successful computer executive, Alexandros, a melancholy archaeologist, and Ian, a charismatic hacker.

The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

Stories define how we think, play, and understand our lives. In this comprehensive and readable book—already a classic statement of the aesthetics of digital media, acclaimed by practitioners and theorists alike—Janet Murray shows how the computer is reshaping the stories we live by. Murray discusses the unique properties and pleasures of digital environments and connects them with the traditional satisfactions of narrative.

Coldness and Cruelty & Venus in Furs

In his stunning essay, Coldness and Cruelty, Gilles Deleuze provides a rigorous and informed philosophical examination of the work of the late 19th-century German novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Georg Lukács wrote The Theory of the Novel in 1914-1915, a period that also saw the conception of Rosa Luxemburg's Spartacus Letters, Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Spengler's Decline of the West, and Ernst Bloch's Spirit of Utopia. Like many of Lukács's early essays, it is a radical critique of bourgeois culture and stems from a specific Central European philosophy of life and tradition of dialectical idealism whose originators include Kant, Hegel, Novalis, Marx, Kierkegaard, Simmel, Weber, and Husserl.