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.)