False Front Fiction No.1: “The Orgonocrats”

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…

19 Responses to “False Front Fiction No.1: “The Orgonocrats””

  1. chronosynclasticteacosy Says:

    Great start! Now keep it going.

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    Yeah, the whole point of these is that I’m not going to continue them…May keep going with other pieces, but not this one.

  3. Jeb Says:

    Post made me reflect and start to think more about my own never written idea for a radio play. The Fearless Monster Hunter. It has a very vaguely similar inspiration with reproduction and an old theory from natural history.

    Late 17th century theory to explain away the stratification of fossils by Edward Llwyd. That fossils were preternatural monstrous creations that were engendered in foul sea mists by sperm carried high in the air which then turned to stone and hit the ground at force burying the remains deep in the earth. When I read it I was just struck with an image of someone anxiously staring at the night sky and letting their imagination run wild.

    Was thinking of fusing Edward Llwyd with John Aubrey (he seems to have had what I suspect may have been a bad case of paranoia about being murdered — he was badly mugged while involved in a serious dispute over land) with some other attributes of the time self medication with weird substances, minute detailing of effects, mood, bodily reaction, etc. Throw in some late 17th century apocryphal religion and a murder into the mix with the hero drawing the wrong conclusions.

    I really should give it a go.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: Brilliant! Indeed, you should give it a go. Do you know of Neil Stephenson’s books set in the 17th century? Good stuff involving characters from the history of science (Hooke, Newton, Leibniz, etc…). BTW — I added a link to the wikipedia entry on Llwyd to you comment because he’s kind of an obscure, but certainly fascinating, dude.

    Problem with writing novels never seems to be coming up with the good idea. It’s the 250 pages of narrative that has to spring from that…

  5. chronosynclasticteacosy Says:

    Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle is a monstrous work of which I’ve read the first volume, Quicksilver. It was amazing but you have to be ready for a marathon read.

  6. Jeb Says:

    Neil Stephenson’s books set in the 17th century?

    No give it a go — I have not read anything from this period using a related theme. Interesting!

    I find radio appealing as it’s more forgiving for a first time project and I am more at home with the spoken word, although from a performance rather than writing perspective. I suspect I will just do a more academic take. Mr L. has some interesting friends at an interesting moment in time in regard to species, reproduction and the beginning of biology.

    Radio is a good way in for a first time project, it serves as a testing ground. The Orgonocrats would work well in this medium I suspect.

  7. The Necromancer Says:

    @chronosynclasticteacosy: That Baroque Cycle is a monumental series of works. Not sure how Stephenson does it. Even Snow Crash, the first novel I read by him, is pretty epic. All I can seem to manage is some bits of ephemera…

    @Jeb: Radio play. Too cool. That would be really neat. Stephenson’s books set in the 17th century make a point of really highlighting the aspect of interaction and friendship so key to scholarship in that period. They call it “The Republic of Letters” now…

    Would consider a radio play for The Orgonocrats if I felt like this project had any play left in it…But I think this blog post is pretty much it!

  8. Jeb Says:

    “The Republic of Letters” now…

    “…if I have been so happy as to oblige the republic of learning with anything that is useful I have my design.”

    Martin Martin A Description of the Western Isles Of Scotland (1695), Preface

    A not unrelated figure with a seriously ambitious design. Book was my introduction to the period, “the republic” and related figures.

    Stephenson does look helpful, looks like I may be in for a useful and fun “marathon read” thanks for the link @chronosynclasticteacosy.

  9. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: Fun quote…A pretty esoteric introduction to “The Republic of Letters.” Been the subject of a fair bit of academic discussion in recent years. Importance of networks, links, connections, crossing borders, etc…

  10. Jeb Says:

    I read a recent attack on the arts and history using this interest as an example of why it is so crap (I think it my have been by a physicist although I may just be reverting to the usual suspects).

    But as a lover of ‘soft’ science and any messy yet to be fully worked out subject, it seems to me important in understanding how both individual and wider cultural identities form.

    The fossil theory looks to me like a potential example of cultural hybrid activity. The attempt to balance internal structures with external factors. The role of interpersonal relationship in modifying the internal is potentially interesting here, although I may be wrong. These are conservative individuals holding on to a belief system (they share distinct apocryphal childhoods) in a world of considerable commotion and change.

    I know nothing about Reich but it looks on first glance to appear the same form of hybrid activity. The relationship of these esoteric beliefs and the development of psychology itself is interesting. The way investigation gets aborted when it does not fit that internal sense of being is also a factor I find interesting. Most notable in relation to Martin Martin’s use of psychology and his embrace of second sight as a potential scientific truth.

    Excuse my going on…I don’t talk out loud about these things. Been fermenting internally over the last few years.

    Fiction seems a possible way to break down complexity into a more simple form I suspect. Its seems a useful and helpful tool to play with these things.

  11. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: It is in the intersections between fields where the “messy” becomes something truly original and constitutes a real contribution to human understanding.

    There seems to be a lot of firm and furious divisions between the arts and sciences right now (c.f. Steven Pinker’s recent essay on “scientism” in The New Republic and the many responses to his claims) but good things happen when the clear lines between these realms fade.

    Re: Psychology and the occult: No figure seems more relevant here than Carl Jung (he actually wrote a book entitled Psychology and the Occult). But in more recent years there has been a concerted attempt to “scientize” psychology to the detriment of greater insight into the human mind and soul…

  12. Jeb Says:

    “…good things happen when the clear lines between these realms fade.”

    The lines only exist in people’s minds. My dyslexic brain found uni. rather frustrating on this point as you have to hide how you construct ideas and present them in an acceptable and very rigid form.

    As long as the Republic is filled with people having to hard sell and emphasize the importance of being a professional, these culturally-constructed reception issues and the marking and defining of territory will be a problem.

    It’s how people learn to play (I think education and learning is about playing with things). In terms of thinking it’s a non-issue, in terms of reception and how an audience reads, it’s a nightmare issue, I think.

  13. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: Your idea of play in respect to thought is key here. Do you know Paul Feyerabend? Philosopher of science who famously said “anything goes”. Labelled an anarchist, but associated himself more with Dada. Suggested thought should be playful, chaotic, ultimately not serious and structured. Or not.

    Final point…To an idealist (and I’m no idealist) if the lines exist in people’s minds, then they exist. Language is essential here. And indeed, it is a bit of nightmare…

  14. Jeb Says:

    No, other than his Stanford encyclopedia entry I have read nothing. He does seem eerily familiar. I trained at the Bristol Old Vic rather than Bristol University. It’s that craft based approach I suspect that’s responsible for my perspective.

    My teacher was German from the generation before Paul Feyerabend and he was a vital transmitter of approaches and methods developed in Germany in the 20’s and 30’s.

  15. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: Feyerabend was largely responding to that 1920s and 30s stuff from Germany (Vienna, more particularly). You could see his sometime mentor Karl Popper as a proponent of the “logical positivist” view that came out of that context. Hence the term “Vienna Circle”. Feyerabend railed against many of their assumptions (i.e. that all knowledge — philosophy included — should be founded on scientific principles) and was sometimes even quite rude. In a 1988 preface to his classic Against Method he described the Vienna group as the “rodents of neopositivism”.

  16. Jeb Says:

    I was speculating about his earlier training in arts. My own was in large part very old school German. I first came across his name a year ago and was struck by some very distinct similarities. Although my own perspective is more crude and hesitant.

    I left post graduate study after a heated dispute centered on my refusal to write a first essay on my methodology (alongside the issue of suggesting that a particular philosopher could be an object of attention in a folklore department). My own perspective is that you can’t stifle an early creative idea by imposing a rigid structure on it, as you have no hope of breaking with the past.

    I Also have an unfortunate habit of being rude when stressed. My suggestion, when it became clear that I was going to have to impose a methodological structure, that my first essay on methodology would explore the saintly and ordered society of beavers and tales of medieval beaver castration was rejected for some reason. I thought its absurdity was very apt given the circumstances.

    I privately thought of more conservative staff as monument keepers and took to wearing t-shirts with the old anarchist slogan “we are not in the least afraid of the ruins.” I think creativity needs total freedom in which it can range widely and play, and thought of myself as intellectually an anarchist when it came to ideas, if not politics.

    I think my perspective is drawn from the wreckage of cultural shock. Dealing with a university teaching system after a craft-based one, which gives you room to breathe, explore and just play with things at a more individual level. I expected far more similarity in approach. Study should be a creative processes I think, rather than simply one of imitation and repetition. Although I may be wrong.

    I should really start to read him.

  17. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: You should totally start to read him. Would be right up your alley, I suspect…

  18. Jeb Says:

    Really fruitful suggestion. Thanks.

  19. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: I’m glad. You’re welcome. Always happy to put someone on to Feyerabend. The radical stance personified. And awesome in the way he expresses himself…

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