A mosaic novel is a novel in which individual chapters or short stories share a common setting or set of characters with the aim of telling a linear story from beginning to end, with the individual chapters, however, refracting a plurality of viewpoints and styles.  So says Wikipedia, adding, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is a very early example.  Or then there’s OXFORDREFERENCE.COM which simply says a book of short stories that share a common setting or characters and which taken together form a larger narrative.  This last of which taking in whcentral-station-sweepsat I might call a “novel in stories,” as with my own TOMBS, upcoming next year.

But it can get complex — I think myself Of John Dos Passos’ three-volume USA.  But still, back to the idea of “novel in stories,” I think as well of Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN.  Then for more examples there’s today’s email and TOR.COM, bringing us Angela Slatter with “Five Mosiac Novels You Should Read,” who also explains:  A mosaic novel, you say?  What’s that when it’s at home?  How’s it differ from a common or garden novel?  Well, my favourite explanation is from the inimitable Jo Walton:  “A normal novel tells a story by going straightforwardly at it, maybe with different points of view, maybe braided, but clearly going down one road of story.  A mosaic novel builds up a picture of a world and a story obliquely, so that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.”  And for more of which, one is invited to press here.

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  1. How about Delaney’s Dahlgren? I gave up about 4/5 from the end–a mosaic by a narrator and it got so muddled with inconsequential scenes that the “overall picture” became itself a mass of chapters which went here and there and nowhere much.

    But set in a “world” –Belona. A dystopia. I know it doesn’t fit Fletcher’s description but it also eludes descriptions. Maybe I’m wrong on that, of course!




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