Two hundred and fifty-three people (including one befuddled pigeon) ride a London tube train heading for a crash. In 253 sketches consisting of 253 words each, Geoff Ryman provides these unwittingly doomed riders with vivid individuality, getting inside the heads of everyone from a disillusioned Punjabi dry cleaner to that pigeon with a gleeful omniscience. Originally launched on Ryman’s own website in 1997, the offline ”remix” of 253: A Novel includes an index of links between characters, cheeky footnotes (William Blake makes a cameo trip to the present in a rambling note about the poet’s home on Hercules Road), and subversive ads (BECOME AN AUTHOR IN YOUR SPARE TIME!) that remind the reader that however real a novelistic world may seem, it’s still the creation of an all-powerful author. B
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