Disappearance

Joyce creates a protagonist who…takes on the poignancy and emotional resonance of a modern day Quixote; his tragic real life experience is transformed by the Arthurian myths that…spill over into his perceptions of the world around him. – Los Angeles Review of Books

[T]he novel is made of a serial plot that swirls, drifts, reverses, pauses, and finally ends with what might best be described as a double turn of the screw…. Fans of William Gibson will recognize the lowlife metaphysics of cyberpunk…. And the shade of Kafka fills the place with a distinctive malaise…. To be is to be porous, fluid, and incarnated in multiple versions of oneself and others. – American Book Review

Michael Joyce’s Disappearance is available in paper from SPD and Amazon, and as a Kindle edition.

Reading Disappearance, to borrow Joyce’s own metaphor, is an elaborate game of pick-up sticks where pulling one stick from the pile without moving the others is virtually impossible. It’s an instant classic and a must-read for anyone interested in the boundaries between videogames and reality, consciousness and identity.
– ROBERT NASHAK, Interactive Media Division, USC School of Cinematic Arts

Disappearance is a magical tale of the struggle to make sense of a multilayered world in which change is the only thing to be sure of – to hold on to somehow – even when what you’re holding is never still, and so making sense means letting go. Here games and game worlds are sometimes a metaphor of sorts, and sometimes more tangibly, technologically actual. Like Cronenberg’s strange sci-fi reverie, eXistenZ, in which “real” and “virtual” are twisted to the point where you no longer can tell them apart, in this novel games do something more than transport you to other dimensions or layers in time and space. They ultimately transform you, and you will never be the same. Then again, it appears that you were never the same anyway, but always other. Reading Disappearance, I am other.
– JENNY SUNDÉN, author of Gender and Sexuality in Online Game Cultures

There is only ever one Michael Joyce, and Disappearance demonstrates that he is not simply a master of fictional craft, but of fiction itself, in its most vital and changing form. Joyce is a genuinely transformational artist capable not simply of imagining other worlds, but of extending the range of imagination itself. This is a book that may change not just the way you see fiction, but indeed the way you see.
– STUART MOULTHROP, award-winning artist, writer, and scholar of digital culture and a founding board member of the Electronic Literature Organization

Disappearance enmeshes us in nested networks from which it is impossible to escape unchanged. The novel spins up an elegant series of labyrinthine, mirror-rimmed puzzles that seem intended not so much for solution as habitation – propositions that bring into alarming clarity the strangeness of domains we so casually inhabit: memory, imagination, time. Arriving in a restless tidal flow of casually virtuosic language, the novel’s many mysteries twirl, invert, and disgorge more mysteries. As in other Joyce stories we could mention, we may have seen someone die this morning, or in the not too distant future, or at some point as yet unfixed in the viscous fore-and-backwardness of disappearing time. The narrator may be the victim, or perhaps a cybernetic detective who assumes the dead man’s memories, a version of everyone’s maze-trapped prisoner. Wayfarer, philosoph, this man may lie in the grip of dementia, or dystopian oppression, or a video game from the future – names, no doubt, for a common disorder.

This is a seriously playful book, hip to all the slippery ontologies of protean path-work, evocative both of old-school games (Mindwheel, Myst) and more recent philosophical entertainments (Passage, Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable). Fans of far-sighted fiction will find parallels with Borges, Robbe-Grillet, Burroughs, Hawkes, and the newer world-games of Mark Danielewski, Steve Erickson, and Jeff Noon. Followers of the graphic novel may find sublimely paranoid resonance with visions like Warren Ellis’s Planetary or Grant Morrison’s Filth. In life as not in fiction, however, there is only ever one Michael Joyce, and Disappearance demonstrates that he is not simply a master of fictional craft, but of fiction itself, in its most vital and changing form. Joyce is a genuinely transformational artist capable not simply of imagining other worlds, but of extending the range of imagination itself. This is a book that may change not just the way you see fiction, but indeed the way you see.

– Stuart Moulthrop

 

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