Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Madness and…Um…Civilization?

October 26, 2013

Really clever and incisive review of the new DSM-V, the manual of psychiatric disorders that serves as a kind of bizarre taxonomy of the human condition. Herein the author treats the text as a novel, with startlingly effective results. Highly recommended reading.

From The New Inquiry.

False Front Fiction No.1: “The Orgonocrats”

September 23, 2013

This is a new idea for a series of posts. What follows is a collection of ephemera — bits and pieces of fiction projects I have started, but never managed to finish. It’s in keeping with the subtitle of this blog (“fragments”) and an attempt to exorcise some creative demons and clear the mechanism for future forays. Hope you enjoy this first offering…

This incomplete fragment of fiction (hence the “false front”) was written a few years ago and intended as the beginning of a chapter of a sci-fi novel tentatively titled “The Orgonocrats”. It was inspired by research I was doing on Wilhelm Reich, the pioneering psychiatrist who proposed the idea of “orgone energy” — a kind of life energy permeating the universe and crucial in his understanding of sexuality and health. I’ve argued in a chapter of a book I recently co-edited that he is a kind of vitalist.

The premise behind “The Orgonocrats” was pretty straightforward, if quirky. Set in the fairly near (cyberpunk-esque) future, it envisions a society heavily influenced by eugenics, genetic engineering, designer babies, and all that jazz. Sexuality for the sake of reproduction has become somewhat passe — “normal” sex is thus a kind of taboo. This is made even more problematic because STDs and the like have mutated and spread in deadly proportions. At the same time, scientists have discovered that “orgone energy” is real; that it can be harvested and distilled. And in a world of alienation and isolation it has become a very desirable substance — both as drug, and (as I was going to reveal as the novel developed) as source of almost limitless “cosmic” energy with all sorts of potential applications. It is thus the “currency” in this new society — like oil is in ours — and there are attempts to control and dominate its production and distribution. That’s where the title — “The Orgonocrats” — comes in. The reference to “unbusted” clouds is a nod to Reich’s development of a device called a “cloudbuster” (which you can still go and see) that he thought could harness orgone energy to control the weather. I was going to use this idea, and the notion also hinted at in this piece that orgone has a key spiritual component, prominently in the novel. Without further ado, here’s a fragment of chapter one — “Hell’s Altar Boy”:

1. Hell’s Altar Boy

The stars, obscured by clouds – unbusted – for years. But that didn’t prevent the search for light. The girls were glowing, ringed with the rapture. Those Sisters of the Cosmic Embrace were cute, boy. All dressed (if that’s what you could call it) in slick sheer silver sass and high black bitch boots. Two of them were standing in front of a small marquee some clever, pseudo-literate wag had arranged to read: “Cum commune with the cosmos…”. But Mako didn’t have the “sense”, and rubbing wasn’t on his mind.

The Church of the Cosmic Embrace was tucked in a dark alley, indistinguishable from the rest of the rotting relics of the age of guns, germs and steel. No shiny glass and synth-ceramic bizboy arcologies around these parts. Just lots of forgotten middle tech, crumbling red brick and human detritus…And the sisters.

One of them moved into the alley to intercept Mako; A tall girl, no more than nineteen, but looking like she’d been to hell and back with a smile on her face – maybe she had. Her long, full, firm thighs were exposed and pale, framed by short shiny hot pants and high-heeled boots, laced about fifty times all the way up over her knees. Above a wide clear plastic belt was a stretch of creamy bare midriff, soft but tight, and a half-hearted silver sequin halter, barely covering the bottom of her big, round breasts. They spilled out of the top too, creamy quarts of fulsome flesh. Her hair was high and elaborate, like a blond bird of paradise, little twisty tendrils dangling alluringly at her temples. She completed the look with dark red-black lipstick, fake lashes and too much azure eye shadow.

“You looked charged up,” she said, smiling widely and reaching for his arm.

“Got places to go,” Mako replied, stopping at her touch but still half-turned to head down the alley, away from the sisterly temptress and her curvaceous cadre.

“Can take you wherever you want,” she beamed up at him, leading his eyes with her obscenely long silver painted nails. They slid sharply down from his temple to the collar of his weathered leather jacket. “And bring you back, too.”

“Sorry,” he turned to go, gently brushing her claws away from his face.

“What are you afraid of?” The girl asked, taking a different, more challenging tangent. This caught the attention of her companion, a shorter redhead with heavenly hips and hypnotic green eyes.

“Nothing” Mako replied. “I’m in the same business as you, just have better guarantees.” He reached into his jean pocket for something.

The girl panicked a little and stepped back, her thick-lash-framed eyes widening apprehensively. A professional, Mako knew she sensed a deal going bad. But not in the way she thought…

His hand came out with a small chrome vial, about twice the size of his index finger, with a bright, sharp digital readout along its side.

Just as the big blonde was about to shriek with fear, her petite redheaded friend came up behind her and touched her lightly on the shoulder, briefly startling her but also calming her.

“This is Mako,” the redhead said. “He’s a loan shark.”

Mako looked down at the vial in his hand, and reflected on how accurate that description was. “Lone” indeed.

Suddenly the sultry seller became a potential customer, as Mako uttered the simplest of pitches: “You want some?” He was deadpan, as if he didn’t care whether she bought from him or not. Someone always eventually, and eagerly, did.

“What is it?” the girl asked. Looking somewhat innocently from Mako back to her friend. Like a deer caught in headlights, this one. He looked over at the redhead and shook his head in disbelief.

“If you don’t know, you probably don’t want any.” The redhead intoned, trying to wake her luscious blonde friend from a stupor. Mako could already see she was hypnotically drawn to the vial in his hand. This was the part that always amazed him.

“You girls give it away in the ‘spirit’ of the church, or whatever they’re calling it these days. This is Holy Water to you, sugar.” He was being too cute – this poor creature was like a pretty pet. But the redhead might be more feral.

“Listen, Mako, we don’t need your theology lesson tonight, hun.” “Why don’t you keep rolling…” As if on queue, he thought.

“Right…Like I said, got places to be.” True enough. He turned to go.

“Is that pure o-gone?” The blonde asked, her mascara-laden eyes wide with amazement.

Mako spun back around with a devilish grin slowly spreading across his face. “Sure is.” He said…

A Novel

January 21, 2013

I would like to point my readers’ attention to a blog — The Art of Life — featuring a wonderful serialized novel. You can find the first chapter, “Start with gratitude”, here. Set in a place that will probably be familiar to readers of this blog, it’s a fast-paced and sharply written mystery/thriller full of intrigue, murder, ghosts, environmentalism and art. In addition to being a brilliant writer and a totally amazing human, the author also happens to be my mother.

And yes, she’s looking for a publisher…

Financial Fictions?

June 23, 2012

Very interesting editorial in Bookforum about the appearance of money and class in contemporary fiction. Fascinating — a “wealth” of lit crit. and critique. Best line?:

“There might, however, be a decent conceptual fiction to be written under the title A History of My Student Loans.”

Makes me think I could write a novel after all!

By way of Arts & Letters Daily.

Notes Towards a Short Story Inspired by Lovecraft

May 6, 2012

Malevolent forms.

The dark ichor of shapeless shadows.

Fiendish pulsating polyps.

Mean beasts with myriad eyes and twisted, horn-like fangs. Hellspawn that befouled the earth before time itself.

Giddy with forbidden knowledge, of names too horrible to speak aloud, of dark designs and glyphs recalling rites of monstrous immoral bestial doom and the shapes of things best not know by men.

Venomous and dripping, possessed with a menacing hunger, these forms were carried by their mind-mad masters across the stars, from galaxies still unknown, to the caves beneath the still bubbling seas of eons past. And there they grew…

Beings of incomprehensible size and shape, unburdened by the known laws of life, the mere sight of which would surely guarantee instant and irreversible gibbering madness — insanity without cure.

Black Book of the Skull. Greek; only known surviving copy at Dwayne University in Amoston, Kansas. Latin; incomplete. English copy by Crowley published by Starry Wisdom press in the 1920s.

Black Tome of Alsophocus. Written by wizard Alsophocus of Erongill. Latin extant? Miskatonic.

Book of Iod. Discusses Iod, the Shining Hunter, Vervados, and a being, Zuchequon. Gnostic influence?

L’Histoire des Planetes. Tome written in 1792 by Laurent de Longnez. May be a translation of a 17th century work, Die Geschichte des Planeten by Eberhard Ketzer. Describes the cacophonous “music of the spheres”.

Necrolatry. “Worship of the Dead”. Book written by Ivor Gorstadt, published in 1702 in Leipzig. Extant copy at Miskatonic?

Glances could kill. Love was outlawed.

January 17, 2012

This, I feel, is the best of the six word stories from my now defunct blog. It’s also my response to the short story challenge presented by Aggie on Sithy Things. Hope it’s not too verbose…

New Blog!!

October 4, 2011

Trying out a new project: “Number Six in the United States”. A daily six word story blog based on my “experiences” as a new resident of the greatest country on earth, the United States of America (no hyperbole intended). Check it out! Links, comments and generous gifts of a promotional and encouraging nature gladly accepted…

The Novel

November 13, 2010

“The novel, which is a work of art, exists, not buy its resemblances to life, which are forced and material…but by its immeasurable difference from life…”

Robert Louis Stevenson quoted in Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime, trans. Christ Turner (London: Verso, 2008 [1996]), 95.


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