I just read this amazing essay about the narrative possibilities of our current networked lives, and it got me thinking about our discussions of Lady Audley’s Secret. We are very different from the Victorians in many ways — perhaps we’re hyper-Victorian — but one thing that I see in common between the sensation novel of the 1860s and the contemporary fiction discussed in the essay I just referred to is the difficulty of writing about the networked lives of one’s given time period. The big question about the 21st century is, how do I write fiction about characters who text and communicate by social media? In a similar way, the big question for the sensation novelists of the 1860s is, how do I write fiction about characters who are constantly riding the rails and communicating by telegraph? It seems to me that our current story-telling dilemmas are a kind of echo or return of the same concerns the Victorians were having about their own revolutionary advancements in communications and transportation.
What do you think?