eBooks: 1999 – The internet as a novel character

by Marie Lebert on July 20, 2011

eBooks: 1999 - The internet as a novel character

The internet is one of the characters of Alain Bron’s second novel, “Sanguine sur toile”, available in print from Le Choucas in 1999, and in PDF from 00h00 in 2000. This novel won the Lions Club International Prize in 2000.

About the novel

Alain Bron wrote in November 1999 in an email interview: “In French, ‘toile’ means the web as well as the canvas of a painting, and ‘sanguine’ is the red chalk of a drawing as well as one of the adjectives derived from blood (‘sang’ in French). But would a love of colors justify a murder? ‘Sanguine sur toile’ is the strange story of an internet surfer caught up in an upheaval inside his own computer, which is being remotely operated by a very mysterious person whose only aim is revenge.

I wanted to take the reader into the worlds of painting and enterprise, which intermingle, escaping and meeting up again in the dazzle of software. The reader is invited to try to untangle for himself the threads twisted by passion alone. To penetrate the mystery, he will have to answer many questions. Even with the world at his fingertips, isn’t the internet surfer the loneliest person in the world? In view of the competition, what is the greatest degree of violence possible in an enterprise these days? Does painting tend to reflect the world or does it create another one? I also wanted to show that images are not that peaceful. You can use them to take action, even to kill.” (NEF Interview)

What part has the internet played in his novel? “The internet is a character in itself. Instead of being described in its technical complexity, it is depicted as a character that can be either threatening, kind or amusing. Remember the computer screen has a dual role — displaying as well as concealing. This ambivalence is the theme throughout. In such a game, the big winner is of course the one who knows how to free himself from the machine’s grip and put humanism and intelligence before everything else.”

About the author

Alain Bron is both an information systems consultant and a writer. He explained in the same email interview: “I spent about 20 years at Bull. There I was involved in all the adventures of computer and telecommunications development. I represented the computer industry at ISO [International Organization for Standardization] and chaired the network group of the X/Open consortium. I also took part in the very beginning of the internet with my colleagues of Honeywell in the U.S. in late 1978. I am now [in November 1999] an information systems consultant, where I keep the main computer projects of firms and their foreign subsdiaries running smoothly. And I write. I have been writing since I was a teenager. Short stories (about 100), psycho-sociological essays, articles and novels. It is an inner need as well as a very great pleasure.”

As for the aim of the internet, “the important thing is the human value that is added to it. The internet can never be shrewd about a situation, take a risk or replace the intelligence of the heart. The internet simply speeds up the decision-making process and reduces uncertainty by providing information. We still have to leave time to time, let ideas mature and bring an essential touch of humanity to a relationship. For me, the aim of the internet is meeting people, not increasing the number of electronic exchanges.”

What was his best experience with the internet? “After my novel ‘Sanguine sur toile’ was published, I got a message from a friend I’d lost touch with more than 20 years ago. He recognized himself as one of the book’s characters. We saw each other again recently over a good bottle of wine and swapped memories and discussed our plans.”

Copyright © 2011 Marie Lebert

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