About The Imaginary 20th Century
The Imaginary 20th Century is an historical picaresque novel written by Norman M. Klein and Margo Bistis, and published by the media museum ZKM. With a team of artists, the authors have invented a narrative engine where fact and fiction split off and return to each other to tell the story in a unique form.
In 1901, a young woman, while traveling in Europe, selects four men to seduce her, each with a version of the coming century. Inevitably, the future spills off course. We navigate through the suitors’ worlds; follow Carrie on her misadventures; discover what she and her lovers forgot to notice. Gradually we discover that Carrie’s misadventures are implicated in her uncle’s world of business and political espionage. For over forty years, Harry Brown was hired by oligarchs to erase crimes that might prove embarrassing. Thus, as he often explains, espionage is a form of seduction.
The Imaginary 20th Century is at once a comic picaresque and a treatise on the twentieth century. As the companion to the ebook, the narrated media archive features 2,200 rare visual artifacts, sounds, and texts. These components work together as a single ‘wunder-roman’, with its reveals and contradictions.
The Imaginary 20th Century is a playful and yet deadly serious meditation on one sentence: “the future can only be told in reverse.”
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