cover image Xorandor


Christine Brooke-Rose. Carcanet Press,, $0 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-85635-655-1

While playing one day on a pile of stones from neolithic times, computer whizzes Jip and his twin sister Zab, age 12, learn that one particular rock is a wondrous computer, which feeds on atomic radiation leaking from the secret nuclear-waste dump managed by their father. The computer, which the twins name Xorandor, is endowed with the ability to replicate itself and is soon proclaimed the solution to the nuclear-waste problem. But pandemonium breaks loose when it is discovered that the insatiable Xorandor is also capable of consuming the active ingredients of nuclear weapons. The kids are more than geniuses at comp-sci; they are also ""megavolt at literature.'' As they relate the tale to the computer in computerese, they learn the basics of novel-writing, and Brooke-Rose, whose concern with metalanguages and the esthetics of narrative has been well established in her previous work (Amalgamemnon, etc., explores method and rationale. This story, at once vexing and amusing, will prove both maddening and intriguing to computer-illiterate readers. (June 20)