The Ticket That Exploded

The Ticket That Exploded is a 1962 novel by American author William S. Burroughs, published by Olympia Press and later by Grove Press in 1967. Together with The Soft Machine and Nova Express it is part of a trilogy, referred to as The Nova Trilogy, created using the cut-up technique, although for this book Burroughs used a variant called 'the fold-in' method. The novel is an anarchic tale concerning mind control by psychic, electronic, sexual, pharmaceutical, subliminal, and other means.[1] Passages from the other two books and even from this book show up in rearranged form and are often repeated. This work is significant for fans of Burroughs, in that it describes his idea of language as a virus and his philosophy of the cut-up technique.[2] It also features the cut-up technique being used by characters within the story. The Ticket That Exploded lays the groundwork for Burroughs' ideas of social revolution through technology, which he would later detail in his book-length essay The Electronic Revolution.

The Ticket That Exploded
First edition
AuthorWilliam S. Burroughs
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Nova Trilogy
PublisherOlympia Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)

The revised edition published in 1967 was 50% longer than the original, as Burroughs added more material and an appendix. In 2014, a 'Restored' edition was published by Grove Press, edited by Oliver Harris, which made a number of corrections and added an introduction and extensive notes. Establishing the text's manuscript history, the introduction showed that Burroughs wrote The Ticket after The Soft Machine and before Nova Express, and argued that the Trilogy defied any fixed sequence.

Plot introduction edit

The Ticket That Exploded continues the adventures of Agent Lee in his mission to investigate and subvert the methods of mind control being used by The Nova Mob, a gang of intergalactic criminals intent on destroying Earth.

From the book:

"The basic nova technique is very simple: Always create as many insoluble conflicts as possible and always aggravate existing conflicts—This is done by dumping on the same planet life forms with incompatible conditions of existence—There is of course nothing "wrong" about any given life form since "wrong" only has reference to conflicts with other life forms—The point is these life forms should not be on the same planet—Their conditions of life are basically incompatible in present time form and it is precisely the work of the nova mob to see that they remain in present time form, to create and aggravate the conflicts that lead to the explosion of a planet, that is to nova—"

In popular culture edit

  • A phrase in the book, "Language is a virus from outer space" was the inspiration for the Laurie Anderson song, "Language is a Virus from Outer Space - William S. Burroughs", originally composed for her performance work, United States. Under the shortened title, "Language is a Virus", the song was performed in her 1986 concert film, Home of the Brave, in which Burroughs also appeared.

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ [1] William S. Burroughs and Love: Cutting Up The Ticket That Exploded (1962 and 1967) by Katharine Streip Concordia University
  2. ^ [2] William S. Burroughs and the Language of Cyberpunk by Brent Wood Science Fiction Studies #68 = Volume 23, Part 1 = March 1996