Thinking written late 20th century, say 1970s-2000. Not a short-short, but not sure if novel length. Pretty sure populated by (future) earth-human types.

As best recall any (official?) communications were presented in three ways. In order of decreasing complexity, like so:

  1. academic/scientific journal level, newspaper level, and perhaps as a comic-strip or other graphic illustration or maybe something like
  2. professional level, man-on-the-street level, and non-reader level (video?), or
  3. some combination of 1 and 2

Don't recall any plot and so don't think it was integral to that story, but rather an aspect of the society (and/or not-so-subtle social commentary that the author thought was "cool"...).

  • "Presented in triplicate" - not Vogons? Jun 25 at 16:47
  • 2
    Think you might be easier to read if you used the first-person singular occasionally. Find that it helps myself.
    – TonyK
    Jun 25 at 17:55
  • @TonyK you must be a Class I read-rating. Jun 25 at 21:39
  • <grin> Having been required to write in the third for so long, cannot bring myself to type the letter "I" in isolation.
    – revans19
    Jun 26 at 3:03
  • My initial thought was Empire Star, with its concept of simplex/complex/multiplex. Jun 26 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


I think this is probably John Varley's The Ophiuchi Hotline

Various interstitial material is presented to fill in the background of the novel, and each item is given a "read rating".

The novel in fact starts out this way, with

(Class I read-rating)

The file was started on Lilo when CCR computers noticed she had been dealing with Ophiuchi Hotline data tagged by analysis as probably related to human DNA...

(Class II read-rating)

Crimcon G-cops will tell you "Lilo was tough. Crafty...."

(Illiterate read-rating)

Photocomics and holotapes attached.

  • 1
    Just what I was thinking.
    – Andrew
    Jun 25 at 12:18
  • 1
    That's it! Had no idea it was part of a shared universe by the author. Will have to re-read along with the others. (Did not recall Class II sounded as if inspired by Edward G. Robinson...)
    – revans19
    Jun 26 at 3:09
  • @revans19 I really like the original "8 worlds" series...IMHO you can skip the later additions, "Steel Beach" and its sequels. I'm rereading "Hotline" now spurred by your question and enjoying it. Wonderful how short novels were then, and how creative Varley was. Jun 26 at 11:28

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