“The Irreducible Complexity of the Analog World”
Nodes, Networks, and Actants in Contemporary American Fiction
Pages 121 - 138
Using Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory as an interpretative framework, this paper discusses Daniel Suarez’s ‘Daemon’ (2006) and Richard Powers’ ‘Gain’ (1998) as two contemporary novels that attempt to represent (and ultimately map) a world governed by social/technological/ economic networks. Both texts investigate what happens to our notions of agency and self-determinacy when characters and environments are conceptualized as distributed processes of interconnectivity and recursiveness. Whereas ‘Daemon’ largely relies on particularized and psychologically coherent characters who have to navigate a networked world in which a decentralized computer system begins to take over the United States, ‘Gain’ pushes the network trope even further by suggesting that the individual itself (both as a social and as a narrative construction) is actually a complex network and that fiction must respond to this paradigm by reevaluating both realistic and postmodern modes of representation.