For many commentators, revelations this week that the federal government is sweeping up records of communications and transactions between millions of Americans sounds uncomfortably like the vision of the British novelist and journalist George Orwell.

His novel Nineteen Eighty-Four portrayed a society in which the state constantly tracks the movements and thoughts of individuals. Its slogan is "Big Brother Is Watching You."

"Throwing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared," says Michael Shelden, author of Orwell: The Authorized Biography.

Jane Smiley, author, "Private Life" Reading fiction is and always was about learning to see the world through often quite alien perspectives. This remains essential. Matt de la Peña, author, "Mexican WhiteBoy" Kafka believed a book should wake us up with a blow to the head. But we don’t want our novels to do that anymore. Robin Sloan, writer and media inventor New and maturing media are not a threat to the novel, but a reminder of why it has endured. Thomas Glave, author, "The Torturer's Wife" The ways in which we respond to the work of art in

10%, 9%: Percent of adults who claim they own, respectively, tablet computers and e-readers, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study. It could mark the first time that tablets have overtaken e-readers.

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