The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

William S. Burroughs’ Nova Express (1964) initially appeared as an independent work, but Burroughs has remarked that after he assembled Naked Lunch (1959) by making selections from a pile of pages, he used leftover pages for The Soft Machine (1961), The Ticket That Exploded (1962), and Nova Express. The various sections of Nova Express embody scraps and pieces of Burroughs’ previous work; for example, a foreword indicates that the section “This Horrible Case” was written as a joint effort with Ian Sommerville, who also added some notes to the section; furthermore, a headnote to the section “Gave Proof Through the Night” reveals that this section was done collaboratively with Kells Elsin in 1938 and was included in Minutes to Go (1960), written in conjunction with Sinclair Beiles, Gregory Corso, and Brion Gysin. Nova Express stands as an independent novel but should be taken as the concluding work in a trilogy that includes The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded.

The story line in Nova Express focuses on the battle between the Nova Mob and the Nova Police. The nova criminals, including the Intolerable Kid, Dr. Benway, and Uranian Willy (in various manifestations), having arrived from the Crab Nebula, which is the result of a supernova caused by the mob, aim to take control of Earth and its inhabitants. The plan to seize control depends on...

(The entire section is 449 words.)

Nova Express Literary Techniques

Although Burroughs himself had reservations about the success of the Space Age trilogy, mentioning a number of times that he did not feel...

(The entire section is 543 words.)

Nova Express Ideas for Group Discussions

The Space Age trilogy is more difficult for most readers than much of Burroughs's other work, and should be approached from a more...

(The entire section is 214 words.)

Nova Express Social Concerns

Among the three novels that were formed from the material remaining in William Burroughs's "Word Hoard" after the completion of Naked...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Nova Express Literary Precedents

The originality of Burroughs's work reduces the field of resemblance considerably, but the use of the "cut-up" or "fold-in" has some...

(The entire section is 78 words.)

Nova Express Related Titles

Nova Express is part of the Space Age trilogy including The Soft Machine (1961) and The Ticket That Exploded (1962). The...

(The entire section is 136 words.)