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SF in SF, Blumlein, End Draft MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP, Gunnar, John Shirley

June 14th, 2016

I did a reading event with Michael Blumlein  for an SF in SF event in San Francisco on June 12, 2016.  I read my story “Knobby Giraffe,” about a woman rescuing her girlfriend from the dead, and Michael read an essay/memoir called “Unrestrained and Indiscreet,” which turned out to be about the fact that Michael is dying of cancer.  It was deep and profound.   I posted a podcast of my story. And I posted a podcast of Blumlein’s amazing performance as well.

Here’s the audience. The discontinuity is because Richard Kadrey and Pat Murphy were off to the side.  A good crowd. If you were there and want to find yourself, view the larger version. Many thanks to Jacob and Rina of Tachyon Press for keeping the SF in SF readings going, and to Terry Bisson for serving as the leathery emcee.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve been talking about my novel Million Mile Road Trip for nearly two years. I finished the first draft this week. What you see above is a sketch for a scene that’s in the second to last chapter, entitled “Cosmic Beatdown: Part I.” The attack of the giant saucers. A classic, classic theme.

“Saucer Bagpipe” acrylic on canvas, June, 2016, 24” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

In the very last chapter, “Cosmic Beatdown: Part II,” my characters finish off a certain evil alien bagpipe named Groon. Who’s he? He’s a mountainous bagpipe that spews flying saucers, and who forces the saucers to act as leeches. But you don’t need to know that. As I’ve said before, I like to regard many of my paintings as being illustrations of unknown parables or proverbs. Like medieval illos of tales gone missing in the flow of time. Just from the image, we have no way of knowing of the horn is sucking or blowing. We also have to wonder about the outer, wider horn, what is it for? And why does that top saucer look more alert and disturbed than the others? And who are the three tiny people watching? No answers are really needed. The bagpipe and the flock of little saucers are enough.

I had a nice time working on this painting in my backyard “studio.”

Priliminary sketch of how to eliminate Groon. Click for a larger version of the drawing.

Here’s a quote from Million Mile Road Trip where the characters discuss how to kill Groon. The “Figures” mentioned in the text relate, somewhat, to the frames in the preliminary sketch above.

“A new era’s coming,” says Villy. “Scud’s talking about how we’ll kill Goon. He’s giving us an illustrated lecture.”

Scud is glad to have Zoe here. “For my pictures, I’ll draw two parallel universes that are 2D planes in 3D space,” he says. “But really it’s supposed to be one dimension higher. Two parallel universes that are 3D spaces in 4D hyperspace.”

“Hyperspace,” echoes Villy in the dumbest hick accent imaginable. “Haahpurspayce.”

“Saucerpeople” oil on canvas, Sept, 2015, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

By the way, Maisie is a saucerperson, that is, she’s half flying saucer, so she has a rim or flap around her waist that Scud can draw on. The rim has a cuttlefish-skin-like ability to change colors.

Scud starts drawing on Maisie’s flap. “So we’ve got two universes that are like 2D planes. And in one universe we’ve got a really and truly flat cow, like a cut-out piece of paper. Also a flat bagpipe with a flat horn. And in the other universe we’ve got, well, let’s put a flat person with a flat eye. These creatures can’t normally travel from one universe into the other. They’re inside their home surfaces—you shouldn’t think of them as sliding around on top of the surfaces. They’re like inkblots in paper. And they just see what’s in their home world.”

“And now you want to show how they do sometimes go from one universe to the other,” says Maisie.

“Exactly, says Scud. “We travel from world to world by using unny tunnels. And I happen to know a lot about unny tunnels from reading popular science books about the fourth dimension.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” goes Villy.

“An unny tunnel is what we call a wormhole or an Einstein-Rosen bridge,” says Scud, drawing his second picture. “The idea is that you bulge down the space of one world, and bulge up the space of the other, and they meet and join together like soap films, and there’s a, like, throat connecting the two worlds. Unny tunnel.”

“The flat bagpipe and the flat cow fall through the hole in the middle of the hole?” says Villy.

“Precisely not,” says Scud. “Remember that these guys slide around inside the surfaces. Moving ink blots! What they’ll do is creep down the side of that wormhole I’ve drawn.”

“Which side?” asks Zoe. “The inside or the outside.”

“Riding the Flat Cow” acrylic and oil on canvas, April, 2016, 24” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

[As I mentioned before, the novel has a character called the flat cow, or Yulia, although she’s not really flat, she’s just flattish, like partly squashed. Turns out she’s able to fly into the fourth dimension. But back to the quote from the text.]

“Wrong question!” cries Scud. “I’m telling you, they’re not really on one side or the other side of the surfaces. They’re like tattoos. They go all the way through. But! Our flat cow, she’s different. She has real thickness. She can peel free of the surface and fly around.,”

“And if you’re flying around in hyperspace outside the tunnel, what do you see?” asks Zoe.

“You’ll see a sphere that keeps bulging and warping and changing size while you move. Like this.” Scud runs his finger along Maisie’s rim, enjoying himself.

“And what does an unny tunnel look like to regular people in 3D space?” asks Villy.

“To us, the gate to the tunnel looks like a sphere with another world inside it,” says Scud.

“And what about when we’re inside the tunnel?” asks Villy. “Sliding down along the wall. What do we see then?”

“It’s effed up,” says Scud. “In one direction you see the back of your own head. And maybe you see a ball that has your old world inside it. And in the opposite direction you might see a ball holding the world you’re going to. We saw stuff like that when we hopped over here from Los Perros. But I don’t want to draw it. Too hard. Let’s show something easier.” His finger moves caressingly on Maisie’s rim. “Here’s a bagpipe going through the unny tunnel,” continues Scud. “That’s supposed to be Groon, right?”

“Kill Groon,” goes Maisie.

“I want to see the attack of the flat cow,” says Zoe.

“Yulia’s out there in hyperspace. Let’s suppose she has an agile person squeezed inside her flesh like a maggot. A heroic helper to pull the strings tight around the unny tunnel at either end.” Scud looks at Villy.

“Thus trapping the evil bagpipe in Nowheresville,” goes Zoe.

Some of my old friends have been leaving town lately. My neighbor Gunnar Vatvedt, 82, who’s been renting up the street from me for thirty years—his landlord decided to sell the house, and Gunnar’s outta here. I’ll miss him. He was a real character, very enlightened, but not via book-learning. With a great Norwegian accent.

My fellow Dark Lord of Cyberpunk, John Shirley, is moving up to the vicinity of Portland with his wife Micky. Here again, the Bay Area’s current real estate bubble and price inflation played a role. It’s been nice having John and Mickey around. You never know what John is going to say next, which is why it’s fun to talk to him. We had a farewell dinner at a tapas place in the Mission, with the oddly distorted artist Paul Mavrides and fellow cyberpunk Richard Kadrey there as well.

And here’s me, Sylvia and Micky. We were laughing about the Mondo 2000 party where we’d met Tim Leary around 1989. Tim asked Micky if she had some drugs. And then he asked Sylvia…where she had gone to high-school. Ow! Sylvia says that Tim asking her that proved that, just like me, he was, deep-down, kind of a preppie. Preps gone freak.

John and Micky left town via a teleport through this odd slab gate on the shores of Santa Cruz. The flat cow was busy that day.

Podcast #95: Michael Blumlein Reads “Unrestrained and Indiscreet”

June 13th, 2016

June 12, 2016. Michael Blumlein read this essay/memoir called “Unrestrained and Indiscreet” at the SF in SF series in San Francisco, during an event I shared with him. Blumlein’s deep and courageous piece begins with a light-hearted account of naming a minor Sierra peak after the author Henry David Thoreau. The talk progresses to an increasingly agitated discussion of Thoreau’s eventual death by tuberculosis—and Thoreau’s relative silence on this topic. And then all at once Blumlein switches to a harrowing personal account. He tells about learning that he himself has lung cancer, about having large sections of his lungs removed, and about learning that the treatments have failed and that he’s approaching death. Blumlein is a doctor as well as as science-fiction author, and he ends with a profound meditation on the process and experience of death. Press the arrow below to play Michael Blumlein’s reading. This talk is like nothing you’ve ever heard before.


And, if you like, Subscribe to Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

Podcast #94. “The Knobby Giraffe” at SF in SF

June 13th, 2016

June 12, 2016. I read my story “The Knobby Giraffe” at the SF in SF series in San Francisco, an event I shared with with Michael Blumlein, whose piece appears in a separate podcast. “The Knobby Giraffe” appeared in print online in April, 2016, in Lightspeed magazine, and is also available as a Lightspeed podcast, read by Stefan Rudnicki. Or press the arrow below to play the Rudy Rucker reading of “The Knobby Giraffe”!


For background info on this story, read Liz Argall’s interview with me about it in Lightspeed magazine. And, if you like, Subscribe to Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

Buttload of Photos. Rudy and Nick.

May 25th, 2016

Another buttload of photos today, listed more or less in reverse chronological order.

The one above is a panorama of a hill near where I live in Los Gatos. I think it’s great that I can find fairly wild-looking natural spots close to my house. I feed on nature. I shot these first three photos on my iPhone SE, which as the same camera as the 6S model, but which has the same small size in my pocket as the 5. This seems like the first iPhone that’s actually usable for (fairly) decent photos. The panorama feature works really well, once you frikkin figure it out.

It’s kind of a cliche to shoot a single bush on a hillcrest, but it’s a nice tras effect. I think at a deeper level it speaks to a person as an image of themselves, alone (at least a lot of the time) in the world. Wonderful clouds on this one particular day.  Like thoughts in the sky.

I like the path along this hill, it’s near the Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos. The path looks, in my mind, like a smile. Or the expression when someone’s eyes are amilng, but they’re holding their mouth straight, or even downturned a bit, because for some reason at that moment they have to look serious, but really they’re smiling. The hill is alive.

Switching now to my Fujifilm X 100T camera. It has a fixed wide-angle 23mm lens, and basically I PhotoShop and crop nearly image I shoot with it. Like just shoot what’s in front of me like I’m fogging a swarm of bugs, and then I scoop out a sections I want. Anwyay, this is a cropped timer photo of me with Nick Herbert, ten years my senior, that is, about 80, and a freak from the way-back. I think we didn’t quite think the timer would work, which is why we look so casual. Nick says his three big influences were the Catholic Church (as a boy), LSD (in his 20s or 30s), and quantum mechanics.

Nick lives in a fairly primitive cabin near Boulder Creek, and he spends a lot of time on his battered porch among the redwoods. I think this is a bucket of rainwater. I hope it’s not piss. I dug the dust and the dead bugs and the sun reflection in the bucket.  Like god within the lowliest elements of the world.

Nick’s wiring is a little like what you see in photos of third world countries. That cool ball is, I think, originally for brewing tea, and I’m not sure why it’s there now, although it looks great. Nick has a theory that at some point we’ll be able to apply quantum effects to our mind—I wrote about this idea in my last novel, The Big Aha, a great work, although curiously neglected by the public at large (as I so often end up saying about my books). So maybe those wires and that ball make Nick’s porch into a macro-quantum-effect platform.

For some other unkown reason Nick has three branches tied into the shape of a triangle in the air. A “feral triangle” I termed it to a friend, and he warned, “they’re vicious when cornered.”

I love reflections like this. A familiar photographic trope…I think the mirror suggests the idea of introspection and the notion of some skewed alternate reality which perhaps we inhabit. Re. Nick’d ideas about quantum consciousness, here’s a great essay by himcalled Holistic Physics – Or – An Introduction to Quantum Tantra. I drew on this essay a lot for my (did I already say curiously neglected?) novel The Big Aha.

When I visit a place with a lot of clutter, I like to take my camera and carve out little compositions. Always a good trove at Nick’s.

I wanted to talk to him about the unny tunnels a.k.a. Einstein-Rosen bridges a.k.a. wormholes that my characters travel through in my novel Million Mile Road Trip. But we never quite got into that. Didn’t matter. Good to have a day off.

Now back to a couple of earlier shots. A ceiling fan is always a fascinating theme. A symbol of divine grace? Breath from above.

This one’s near Aldo’s restaurant in Santa Cruz Harbor.  Love all the action.

Here I am with my nephew Embry Rucker III, who’s an extremely accomplished pro photographer. He has a great eye, and great timing. Helps you see. Little E always liked me when he was growing up…I was the off-beat uncle. He’d call me Uncle Dudley. Always great to see him. Passage of time.  I can’t believe Embry’s in his forties, and I’m a seventy-year-old man. Let’s go back to those old Christmas mornings and Thanksgiving dinners and vacations in Maine!

And here we are back in the hills of Los Gatos. Getting exercise for my healing leg. It’s just about summer.

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