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A Fractal Novel

by Douglas Thompson


304 pages


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Under the biological microscope, fractal geometry reveals itself as the secret structure of Life itself. Like Russian dolls, the closer we zoom in, the more we pass into repeating realms of infinite divisibility. In Ultrameta, Douglas Thompson searches for just such patterns in the confusion and social devastation of modern urban life. Ultrameta is the metropolis of all metropolises. The city we all live in, wherever we happen to be in the world. London, Glasgow, Athens, New York, Tokyo . . . the ‘City of the Soul’ that has grown within all of us. The time-span of the text ranges from Ancient Greece to the unnervingly familiar present, leading us to uncomfortable questions about ourselves and the life we live. It encompasses a vast emotional and social spectrum, which we plunge through as we follow the main character, Alexander Stark, through a vivid range of different identities, moving from one time and place to another in a seemingly endless cycle of death and re-emergence.

What is Ultrameta? Visionary horror? Experimental surrealism? Trippy outsider art? Like Danielewski’s House of Leaves, this is one of those few books that possess a core of something genuinely unusual, both in its ideas and its approach to storytelling. A tale of ‘Serial Suicide’ – or perhaps of immortality. A circular novel – or is it a story collection? A four-dimensional shadow of, or an enigma modelled on, Life itself? Ultrameta represents a striking development in Slipstream writing and a unique way of looking at the world.

Ultrameta containes 25 illustrated titleplates and a very unusual contents page!

“Ultrameta the story, the book, the concept, the ultra meta-fiction is set to be a landmark post-modern experimental novel, one whose visions and concepts will linger long in the memory and itch to escape or at least be reconsidered with fresh eyes and evidence. In this existence or some other. Make no mistake, this book is technically stunning, a rollercoaster ride through the psyche.”

Allen Ashley


“You can read it at many levels, dig deep for parallels, references, associations, significances, unpick its imagery, reflect on meanings and significances large and small. Let your imagination go to town and enjoy the riot. Or you can take it on a much simpler level, as if jumping into a little boat on a vast sea which is the beautifully composed language of the novel, its poetic rhythms, its sonorities and sensitivities – and, indeed, its sheer driving force, and just see where it gets you. Be swept along with it on this strange, sometimes . . . disturbing but certainly magical mystery tour of the extremities of human experience – without trying to interpret or explain – and discover which shore, or shores, it casts you up on. You will certainly be stimulated, enlightened, and wiser, for the trip.”

Joy Hendry


"Part fantasy, part horror, there is no denying the power of the prose.

On the most surface level you can see a story of a man living many lives, but like Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, what you see on the surface is but a reflection of the immensity which is hidden beneath. Really, I don’t throw those names around lightly; I really was that impressed with the novel, this represents a new form of literature for a new century.

If the review appears short then maybe a new form of criticism needs to be employed, for my part I was just blown away. There are few book which clash imagery and ideas in such a perfect union as Ultrameta. If this isn’t a modern classic, then there is little justice in the world, which would be an irony considering the content of the book."

Charles Packer - Sci-Fi Online


"This is a fascinating journey into other realities, other times, other personas. The story, or stories linked by subtle threads, takes the reader into a literary maze. The ideas overflow the narrative, but the structure is precise (like a maze).
I found the whole experience (because that sums up what it is) absolutely compelling. I don't pretend to understand everything here, and am sure the book deserves a second read, but the prose sparkles, the images sear the imagination, and the reading experience is very much like an adventure into the many lives, genders and guises of Alexander Stark, the central character(s).
The book is described as 'a fractal novel,' explained on the back cover as 'the secret structure of life itself.' All I can say is, read the book for the multi-layered experiences, for the adventure and the narrative excellence..... but do not hope to understand everything. Wonderful!"

Trevor Denyer, -Midnight Street Issue 13.

Douglas Thompson graduated from the Mackintosh School Of Architecture in 1989, then went to busk on the London Underground and win the Grolsch/Herald Question Of Style Award for new writing, all in one strange summer. Since then he has published short stories in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, including Ambit and New Writing Scotland, and reviewed architecture for The Herald. He won second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007, and currently works as an architectural designer and computer 3d-visualiser. He maintains the website with his brother, the contemporary surrealist artist Ally Thompson. Douglas lives in Glasgow with his partner Rona. Ultrameta is his first novel.

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