Did everyone have a pleasant journey of 253?
253 added another layer to the experience of Writing the City. It may have been the most London novel read so far in the London Reading Club.
Unlike the condensed index of 253 characters written in 253 words, the work of 253 was proven to be saturated with full of complexity. As the author says, ‘however unlikely, numbers are always there for a reason. ‘ (p.1)
More than half of the group read 253 as a book in a conventional linear style starting from Passenger 1, leaving the end of line until later. The hypertext readers tended to jump from one place to another like hopping on and off of the Tube.
The unorthodox style of 253 reminded some of flash fiction for its brief and crisp writing. Regardless of the sum of the characters, the author Geoff Ryman seems to have succeeded in characterisation. The well observed details offered a variety and enabled the characters to be believable and more true to life.
It is interesting to note that the author is an advocate of Mundane Science Fiction Movement setting stories on the Earth with a believable use of technology and science.
Although there is not much futuristic element to label 253 as Science Fiction, the hypertext employing the burgeoning technology of computers and World Wide Web was certainly an innovative experiment which could have been regarded futuristic at the time.
Mr Tony Colley (Passenger 18), a magician carrying a live rabbit in his bag who works on a cross-Chanel ferry and can hardly see his daughter. He wants to leave the job but he can’t afford to do so.
Mrs Eva Simmonds (Passenger 53) who married to her cousin. She does not realise how ugly he was when she married. He does not allow her to work. Now she is becoming herself as well.
Mr Leon De Marcho (Passenger 134) who lives on the street where William Blake used to live.
Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Passenger 186) who is a thatcher working on the roof of the Globe Theatre.
Miss Anne Frank (Passenger 253) who is now an elder woman, thinking that she is still on the train to Auschwitz.
Those vividly depicted characters are sometimes poignant and seem to induce an essence of satirical social realism to the story.
As 253 is also known as Tube Theatre, the story is like a play performed by the passengers of the Tube involving the dramas that occur on the stage of life.
Being a writer may be sometimes like being an observant passenger on the ride of life. After all, ‘the world is full of coincidence as 253.’ (p.257)
Stories may unfold themselves before us.