Sugar in the Air

E. C. Large

     5 × 7.5 in (12.7 × 19.1 cm)
448 pages
Publication date: 5/8/2009
Rights: North and South America only
ISBN: 9780907259367

Back in print after an absence of nearly 70 years, the facsimile editions of E. C. Large's novels Sugar in the Air and Asleep in the Afternoon are what we now call "mash-ups," made up of scientific research, social satire, and fictional flights of fancy. Sugar in the Air (1937) is a "scientific romance" in which the idea of extracting sugar from the air is held, for the duration of the book, in suspended disbelief by characters desperate for work in a period of economic recession. A description of the product development and manufacturing process doubles as a critique of capitalism's stewardship of technological progress that suggests alternative production models for today's designers. Sugar in the Air concludes with the novel's central character--unmistakably modeled on the author--receiving his pension and beginning work on a novel called Asleep in the Afternoon, which was the title of the novel E. C. Large wrote in 1939. This meta-fictional satire tells parallel stories about one woman's belief in sleep as a cure for society's ills and her advocacy for a mysterious new device that can induce it. The alternating tale concerns this fictional author's writing process and family life.

E.C. Large (1902-76) was (in chronological order) an industrial chemist, writer, and plant scientist, best known for his book The Advance of the Fungi (1940): a magisterial popular history of plant diseases. The novels Sugar in the Air and Asleep in the Afternoon come from the period of the mid- to late 1930s when he had left his work in industry and was writing full-time. In 1940 he went back into salaried employment as a research scientist.

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