“Suppose a vast number of civilizations are distributed throughout the universe, on the order of the number of detectable stars. Lots and lots of them. Those civilizations make up the body of a cosmic society. Cosmic sociology is the study of the nature of this super-society” (p 12).
As a writer there is always the temptation to be a cruel god over the imagined characters, typing down conflict after conflict without sympathy; there is also an even greater risk of loving the characters too much, coddling them as babes, and becoming benevolent creators over the fiction.
Oedipa stumbles upon a conspiracy in California which eventually leads her onto an amazing adventure, landing her by the end of the book in an auction room as she awaits the crying, or an auctioneer shouting out a sale, of a stamp collection once owned by her former lover, Pierce Inverarity, who is deceased.
Even though E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel was first written and used for lectures inside the classroom at Trinity College, Cambridge, I cannot help but to imagine sitting in a stuffy classroom, loosening my collar, briefly staring out the window onto a sunny spring day in 1927 only to be drawn back to a powerful sermon concerning the craft of writing, given by a professional who knew what he was talking about.