“The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.” — Jim Rohn
- Echoes of the Great Farewell
- Edge of the Bleeding Abyss
- Plight of the Humans
- Singularity Night Fever (which does not yet exist)
- Mindplex (which does not yet exist either)
Assorted Random Juvenilia
Echoes of the Great Farewell
Amazingly enough, in 2006 at age 39, after decades of farting around with fiction-writing in my spare time, I finally finished a novel!
OK, arguably it’s more of a prose poem than a typical novel per se … but it’s novel-length and with a novel-like complexity of plot and characterization, even though the style as often as not veers into surrealism and stream-of-collective-unconscious and such….
Anyway: this book is definitely not for everyone. You’ve got to like avant-garde, experimental literature. But if you do like experimental writing, and have a taste for sex, AI, mushrooms, superintelligent elfin aliens and the (real and imagined) End of the World, then Echoes may well amuse you.
You can download Echoes of the Great Farewell right here, in PDF form.
Edge of the Bleeding Abyss
After writing Echoes, I decided to strike out in a somewhat different fictional direction.
It’s here, in PDF form.
Edge of the Bleeding Abyss is a sort of meta-novel, structurally inspired by the Arabian Nights. It’s a series of short-stories dealing with radical-futurist themes: advanced AI’s going bonkers and/or doing naughty things, Singularitarian transcension events, the impending irrelevance of humanity, superhuman intelligences from other dimensions and so forth. But there is also a meta-story, involving some folks telling these short stories to a potentially destructive AI.
The stories are all quite different from each other in style, form and content. But some of them interconnect in various ways, including some common characters, universes and themes.
I wrote this stuff during 2007-2008, and finally finished it off during January 2009.
Brief descriptions of the main parts of the book follow:
The mad scientist’s daughter Shahrizad is railroaded by a quasi-sane, superhuman AI her father and husband have created, into telling it a series of stories in order to potentially avert it from destroying humanity.
Edge of the Bleeding Abyss (the story)
The last 1/3 of the book comprises the title story, which unlike the preceding stories is told in Echoes of the Great Farewell style hallucinogenic prose, rather than literary-SF style prose. This story is properly conceived of as a sequel to Echoes, conceptually and artistically (though it’s more precisely structured than Echoes, due to its diaristic format). It plays a key role in the meta-story.
Capsule summary: mad scientist gets trapped on an Arctic island all winter without his meds, hides in a hole in the ground wrapped in sealskin going insane in the dark winter, and comes into contact with superintelligences from another dimension, some of whom adopt the form of midget Elvis Presleys, and who communicate to him copious information regarding the true nature of the universe.
The second longest and most complex story in the collection, Bunnocalpyse is based on a bedtime story I told my daughter Scheherazade some time ago.
The setting is post-apocalyptic: the human race has annihilated itself via engineered nanobiopathogens, but fortunately, just before the end, some scientists used nanotech to create a family of highly intelligent rabbits … who turn out to be immune to the nanopathogens, and move surprisingly quickly toward their own Bunny Singularity, aka “The Bunnularity.”
However, half the tale is occupied with the other ramblings of Goran Badunovich, the mad scientist who hallucinates the Bunnularity on his deathbed — including a fake preface to a book, which includes a fake book review of another book (devices I borrowed shamelessly from Stanislaw Lem).
Badunovich develops the amusing mental issue of perceiving all humans as apes, with rare exceptions.
The Big Questions
Coauthored with Stephan Vladimir Bugaj, The Big Questions is perhaps the closest thing to conventional SF I’ve ever written.
However, it’s still rather odd, with multiple sections told from different perspectives, and a lengthy intellectual dialogue with a superintelligent AI….
This story was also published in three sections in the Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy, spread across three issues.
The intro paragraph at the start of the story, setting the stage for the action of the story itself, is as follows:
Life on Earth had been generally positive since the Transition: war, famine, aging and disease were things of the long past. A complex system of technological restrictions imposed by a sentient global computer network, created at the time of the Transition, prevented the various risks earlier futurologists had foreseen as potentially accompanying the advent of advanced nano-bio-info-cogno capabilities. Rogue wireheading was avoided via restrictions on mind-altering technologies, those that were available being carefully controlled by The Guardian. Most humans happily occupied themselves via social and sensory pleasures, but a significant subset also enjoyed more intellectual pursuits: mathematics, science, literature, art. A small minority, on the other hand, chafed at the restrictions placed on them and, for various reasons, wished that the advanced technologies that had enabled the Transition had been used for purposes more ambitious than the creation of a carefully-controlled human utopia. Post-Transition society tolerated this level of malcontentment due to the general value it placed on freedom of thought; and also because the overall socio-technological system in place was so powerful and robust as to render the odds of this malcontentment having any practical impact almost vanishingly small….
The story tells the tale of one of these malcontents and how he nearly brings down the whole system via cleverly exploiting a natural catastrophe, with a goal that is not destructive in orientation but rather aimed at resolving various philosophical questions.
Not a conventional story, but an interview between two journalists and a superhuman AI, followed by some stream-of-consciousness angst lifted from one of the journalist’s minds.
As well as highlighting the familiar issue of the dangers of superhuman AI — even when said AI is well-intentioned according to its own ideas — this story manifests my ambivalent, complex feelings toward spiritual “wisdom traditions” in general and Zen Buddhism in particular. The AI in the story is an AI Zen Master, but using his superior architecture and processing power to intensify the glory of his Enlightenment, he arrives at conclusions different from human Zen masters, and not terribly palatable to his human creators….
My Spurious Self
This is contained within Bunnocalypse, but I’ll describe it here separately anyway — what the hey.
After reviewing a lot of papers for the AGI-08 conference (many of which were in fact extremely excellent, both in content and in style), I was feeling incredibly fed up with academic prose, especially in its more bloviatorial incarnations.
So I decided to write a story in an incredibly convoluted and annoying prose style.
If you can bear to get through it, it actually makes some interesting points about the future, and comes to a fairly humorous punchline by the end.
Philosophically, the essential question posed by this story is whether, if we do choose to arrest the development of advanced technologies due to fear of existential risks, we’ll be dooming ourselves to eons of soul-killing boredom.
Taking a cue from some of Stanislaw Lem’s later works, the story is written in the form of a review of a fictitious book, by a fictitious reviewer. However, as it progresses it diverges a fair bit from the Lem inspiration into regions that might be considered more Dostoevskyan — or even Goertzellian….
Two Actual Dreams
These two constructs aren’t technically fiction, as they are accurate recountings of dreams I had.
After writing so much dreamlike fiction, I found it interesting to spend a little effort writing down actual dreams, rather than just semi-dreamlike imaginations. For sure, actual dreams are different, in the nature of the symbolism that emerges, and the nature of the rhythm and (in)consistency…
The two dreams I wrote down are:
- Colors, a dream of life in an abstract colored world, with obvious parallels to transhumanism. This one is actually a recurrent dream I’ve had for years.
- Copy Girl and the Pigeons of Paraguay, a whackier dream that rambles from one theme to another, but with the ultimate thesis that the Singularity is already here. This was an unusual dream in that it included a mushroom trip, and the trip in the dream was pretty faithful to the actual experience. I personally found this dream rather amusing, though I may be the only one (echoing Auden’s famous comment that everyone loves the smell of their own fart….)
In Edge, I embedded the former dream inside the latter, just to go with the Arabian Nights theme — and because the latter dream did contain hints of the former throughout.
Plight of the Humans
The most insane book ever written, a concoction of my favorite schizodelic alter ego Jesucopter Crudslinger…
As it says on Amazon.com,
Beyond plot, narrative, character and sense, at times even beyond insanity, “Plight of the Humans” is an anti-novel mourning and celebrating the loss of the human race, and an illustration of Antonin Artaud’s dictum that “All true language is incomprehensible, like the chatter of a beggar’s teeth.” Leaving the likes of Burroughs, Celine, Henry Miller and Kathy Acker far behind in a cloud of quantum dust, Crudslinger’s bizarrely rambling yet carefully wrought prose digs deeper than ever before into the mathematical precision of ultimate madness. Have you ever felt the urge to plunge simultaneously into the unconscious minds of a dozen different schizophrenics, including humanity itself, while experiencing thirty-three orgasms and a large dose of curiously tainted DMT? Do you have the guts to embrace the Plight of the Humans?
Here you go, free of charge except the infinite cost to your immortal soul: Plight of the Humans
The Last Aphhrodisiac
In gloriously seductive pdf, aqui
I was driving late at night listening to a Morphine CD in the car, then got home, lay in bed and fell asleep with the song “Cure for Pain” in my head. I had a number of dreams on the theme (what if pain were really eliminated, in some interesting sense? what would life be like? what if it were rediscovered?) and woke up plagued by this story. At first I thought it would take a single page to write down, but it wound up 15 pages, and the punchline doesn’t start to unfold till page 7 or 8. This is the first story I’ve written in a long time that doesn’t involve AI in any serious way. Rather, it uses future tech like uploading-to-superhuman-form and cranial jacks to enlarge upon certain aspects of human relationships, especially romantic ones. It’s probably the closest thing to a maudlin love story I’ll ever write (well, I hope so). Also, I think Suzy is my best female character so far — in my novels so far the female characters are largely props for the male ones (with the exception of the narrator Shahrizad in edge, but as the narrator Shahrizad doesn’t get to do too much). But Suzy is definitely nobody’s prop!
Warning for tots and tykes: there’s not really any X-rated stuff here (unlike what may be found nested deep in my novels ;-p), but the theme is relentlessly “adult” … most of the story occurs in bed … (ahh, the things that can transpire between a man, a woman, and an illicit cranial jack modification device…!).
In 100% free pdf, just for you…
Listening to Buckethead’s “In Search of The”, and trying to practice Buddhist “Neti neti” practice while halfway in the middle of the dissipation of my second marriage…
The plight of the humans prelude on Buckethead?
Ladies Night #3
In gloriously seductive pdf, aqui
I used to write a lot of poetry but I gave it up a decade ago, deciding prose-poetry matches my skill-set better. There are some pretty poetic portions of my novels, but still, hallucino-poetic prose is different than poetry.
I suppose this made me (for a while, anyway) one of the five people in the world who read poetry but don’t write it!
However, one day when reading Kate Braverman’s poem Ladies Night #2, I kept reading words different than the ones on the page. I was rewriting the poem in my mind, much as, when I listen to music, I often hear my own mental improvisations rather than what’s being played in the outside world. So I wrote down my Goertzel-ized Braverman, and was also unable to resist mixing in some of Bukowski’s poem back to the machine gun and the lyrics to the Hendrix song Third Stone from the Sun.
But, the whole thing is not plagiarisms and mutations — there is plenty of original unadulterated Goertzelitude in there as well…
Though there are some bright spots, overall I was clearly in a dark mood when I wrote this, frustrated by aspects of my relations with the “fairer” sex. When I’m in a perky mood I don’t think about poetry, I play music. (Actually, music is great regardless of my mood 😉
Assorted Random Juvenilia
I classify pretty much every piece of fiction or poetry I wrote before Echoes of the Great Farewell (which I started in 2006, I think) as “juvenilia.” Which is another way of saying — no matter how cool the basic idea was, and how good some of the sentences are, still it kinda sucks….
Not that it all totally sucks though — there are some great bits and pieces — but the style overall was never really what I wanted.
Whereas the fiction I wrote and linked above, even if YOU think it sucks, truly did realize my vision for it….
Anyway, the thousands of pages of whacky fiction and poetry I wrote in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I now view as “practice at the art of writing.” I didn’t try to publish the stuff (except via posting it on my website and not advertising it at all) because I generally wasn’t very happy with it.
True, in my mid-30’s I was a pretty old juvenile, but I suppose the fact that I matured as a scientist earlier than as a writer can be attributed to the fact that the former was my profession and the latter “just a hobby.” I always loved surrealist fiction and poetry writing but never spent as much time on it as on science. So it’s not surprising my fiction/poetry took longer to get honed. (Of course, by “honed” I mean according to my own standards! My writing may still not be to anyone else’s taste, but starting with Echoes, at least it’s to my own taste!!)
Some of my writings from that period can be found here, in rather disorganized form. Muck around if you wish! There are a few jewels amongst the silliness, awkwardness and chaos. For instance, this quasi-random excerpt from my old unfinished rough-draft novel Wargasm, though badly formatted and organized, contains some pretty nifty psychotropic quasi-poems from my early and late twenties. I would love to find the time one day to filter through this stuff, and extract and clean up the good parts and make a real work of art out if it…. But that seems unlikely to happen, as writing new stuff is much more fun.
Also, in 2000 or so I wrote a quasi-theological prose-poem called The Journey of the Void , which isn’t quite either fiction or nonfiction….
FYI, my favorite poem, for a long time, was The Petrifying Petrified, by Octavio Paz. The last & best verse of it is here. I’m not sure what my favorite poem is now. I think I may have come to prefer Paz’s Blanco, finally.
And there were also some experiments with Web poetry — such as The Truth —