Though my novel, Unside, is Science Fiction, it has some Literary elements, such as innovative structure, which I feel should still leave it accessible for genre readers. What this means is that the Plot Reversals are are so sharp, they turn in on themselves.
A Plot Reversal is a core element of plot which keeps any successful book from proceeding linearly and being boring. The protagonist’s encounter with the antagonist shows him some new insight and he reassesses and veers off in a different direction.
In Unside, these reassessments are drastic because of the nature of the illusions and deceptions the protagonist is under, as he learns things are not at all what they seem. I chose this structure partly to mimic the intensity I experience, and others like me, when we look deeply into the reality of our society. It becomes full of thrills and chills, more and more euphoric, perhaps grimly euphoric.
CounterIntelligence’s job is to fool the public, and this does not just apply to foreign countries but domestic citizens as well. For example, to protect the secrecy of military advanced technology, they created the hoax that aliens were interacting with us, to throw people off the scent in other countries, but of course, we had to believe it here too. Unside obliquely references this history at some point in the novel. As people who believed in such hoaxes try to look into them, they find layers and layers of deceit by Counter Intelligence agents who pretend to be involved. This particular hoax began in the 1940s and and is well documented.
Kenneth Arnold was a CIA disinfo agent and invented his story about a UFO for them; similarly, the Maury Island story from 1946 was is disinformation; Fred Crisman was a CIA disinformationist. The CIA promoting the lie of alien vehicles in 1952 in the mainstream press using assets like Henry Luce and Roswell was perhaps the most famous cover-story to make people look away from the reality toward the hoax that aliens had landed.
While many sitings remain mysterious and unidentified and strange things do occur, in general, UFOs have been shown to be military, based on Paperclip technology, and various countries’ Intelligence agencies fabricate hoaxes to cover up their military secrets, which only makes sense for them to do strategically. It does mess with people’s heads, though.
CounterIntelligence agents took on different roles to look like they were hiding it, were contactees, were disagreeing with other contactees over which aliens were good and which bad, etc. to make a maze for people trying to get at the truth. So, in situations like this, people who penetrate those illusions find themselves aghast which each new layer they uncover, being fooled with each layer until finally seeing past them all.
The experience of reading this novel should mimic that, as the reader realizes more deeply how the characters are being tricked. As the story progresses, it becomes more obviously Science Fiction the more the layers are revealed. That sense of realizing the deceits in our culture is tingling, scintillating, a rush, and I wanted to create that sensation in the reader with each new turn that spins the narrative around to took at itself from a completely different angle, on a deeper level.
I also chose the spiral structure to mimic the closed time-like curves, and the Lens-Thirring Effect that creates Frame Dragging. Various scientists and pseudo-scientists have proposed the energy from that — the friction created by the spinning of a body such as the Earth — can be milked as a power source, and that possibility is considered in this novel. It is not only considered in the macro sense, but also in the micro sense, in a whimsical way, and also in a sinister sense that involves the reader himself, his own experience of the spiral structure’s mind-blowing Plot Reversals being a kind of Lens-Thirring Effect in itself.
The Table of Contents reflects this spiral effect, not in its shape on the page, but numerically. As the characters begin again and encounter the realm of The Fool, it begins again, at 0. By the end, it has broken down into fractions, imaginary numbers, etc. This is the main cerebral, playful Experimental element of the novel, something to entertain my Innovative Literary Fiction audience.
In another sense, the plot is traditional, just very dramatic, as the tension arcs over the course of its 80,000 pages. I have studied and taught and edited traditional structure and know it very well. I like to venture beyond predictable formula at times, however, if there is a good reason for it, and I encourage other authors to do so too when it’s feasible and entertaining.