So I've remembered bits and pieces of this over the years, but I know I never read the book. I know I read an excerpt of it in the back of what I'm fairly certain was an pre-y2k Star Trek novel.
- The basic notion is that society has gone silent in day to day life.
- Words and sounds made by people one day began to appear in the air like physical speech bubbles, before the mysterious and spontaneous signage would drop to the ground creating a pile of refuse.
- Garbage became a whole new level of problem to manage as governments crack down on social gatherings and vocally spoken communication.
- The implications are just being laid out when the apparent protagonist somehow stumbles across an alien device in a city dump. I'm pretty sure this is where the preview in the back of the Star Trek novel ended, as I can imagine many directions for these tropes, but I know not where that plot went.
I'm pretty sure this was a published book with a proper title, so if anybody recognizes any elements of it I'd love to get around to finally reading it and would appreciate being guided in the right direction, as some fifteen years later I'm quite intrigued by the entire concept.