Over the last two weeks, I had the privilege of following along as one of my favorite writers unveiled, piece by piece, an extraordinary, ambitious experiment in fiction. Jon Bois’ 17776 is quite something: depicting a distant future crushingly similar to our present; conveyed in writing almost exclusively through conversations between characters, but these conversations supplemented by still images, GIFs, and video; and—here’s the clincher—published via, of all places, the popular sports site SB Nation. I will not offer any sort of synopsis for the piece here. You should read 17776 in its entirety anyway, and you should definitely do so before reading this essay. You won’t regret it: it’s a fantastic, absorbing, and remarkably poignant read.
What it isn’t, however, is all that weird—at least if you’re familiar with Jon Bois’ previous work. 17776 treads very similar thematic ground to several of Bois’ previous projects—which is a strange enough statement, considering that the man is technically a sportswriter, an employee of many years of a major sports website—and in his previous work, we can see the genesis of ideas and themes that eventually manifested themselves more fully in 17776. (more…)