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Mad Professor, Thuy's Metanovel.

Last week I was talking about how great I felt, but then I got the flu, and I’ve been sluggish, in a bubble, leafy. Still writing anyway.

Last month, I was working on variations on the idea of a metanovel, that is, the idea of much-larger-data-base work of fiction that authors might write after a computational singularity brings vastly enhanced memory and crunch to us all. I posted a series of three or four Borgesian or Lemesque descriptions of imaginary metanovels on the blog — if you start at the indicated link and read down from there you’ll find them.

And I recall some reader commented that these seemed “irrelevant,” which annoyed me, but now as I revise my nearly completed Postsingular Chapter Three: “Thuy’s Metanovel,” I realize that those long descriptions do in fact stop the narrative dead, and I’m drastically compressing them. By way of mitigating this loss to society, I collaged the cuts into a Borgesian story called “Visions of the Metanovel” and I’ll drop that into my new collection of stories.

By the way I’m changing my story collection's title from Freestyle SF to Mad Professor. Wiser not to put SF in the title and Freestyle, well, that was 20 years ago, dude…

The main thing I’m working on this week is finishing Postsingular Chapter 3: “Thuy’s Metanovel”. Here’s today’s version of the last scene.

“Nanomachine goo!” gasped Jayjay, his echoing voice seeming to come from every side. “The Ark of the Nants was been booby-trapped! The stuff’s all over me! Oh, it tingles, it stings! Get back, Thuy! And don’t forget that —” Jayjay gurgled and fell silent. In the local orphidnet, Thuy could see that her lover was fully enveloped by the rippling nanoslime. He twitched, spasmed, and dropped motionless to the stone floor.

Thuy cowered at the far end of the cave, remembering the rainbow sheen on Grandmaster Green Flash’s skin — like the surface of a rancid slice of ham. Jayjay lay mute and still. Thuy hated herself for being afraid to approach him. Her heart skipped a terrible beat and seemed to explode. And in that instant of extreme grief and despair, she finished creating Wheenk

The pieces of the metanovel came together like a time-reversed nuclear explosion. Today’s adventures at the fab, her love for Jayjay, her worries about the nants, the Easter Island shepherd boy who’d given her a cone shell, her mother’s face the day Thuy had graduated from college, her father’s bare feet when he tended his tomato plants, the dance Thuy had done down the rainy street one night while exulting over her metanovel — everything fitting, everything in place, Wheenk as heavy and whole as a sphere of plutonium. Critical mass. Thuy pulsed the Wheenk database to the Big Pig, terrified that her Great Work might be lost. The Pig understood; kindly she posted Wheenk to the global orphidnet.

Pain had produced artistic transcendence.

And now, having completed Wheenk, Thuy finally remembered Chu’s Knot. There was one final twist and wrap she’d been unable to visualize, but now she had the knack; it was a bit like time Kittie had showed her how to knit a Mobius strip. The Knot was perfectly clear in Thuy’s mind, hanging there in three-dimensional glory, revolving at the touch of her will.

Meanwhile the Pig was tending to a cloud of orphids surrounding the nant farm. And a second cloud of orphids was attacking the vile goo that enveloped Jayjay’s inert form. Thuy hadn’t even thought about him for nearly a minute. She was such a terrible, self-centered person.

“I could go to the Mirrorbrane now,” Thuy told the Big Pig. “But what’s the use? I don’t want to live without Jayjay.”

A streamer of the goo pushed across the cave, reaching for Thuy. Nimbly she moved out of its reach.

“You don’t look quite ready to die,” said the Big Pig, sounding amused. “Anyway, Jayjay’s not dead. He’ll be fine once the orphids clean that junk off him. But I’m keeping him here to make sure you return. Go on with you now. I’m open to whatever you learn. But, remember, I don’t want to wait past tomorrow.”

Thuy focused on Chu’s Knot. Nothing happened. Remembering how Ond and Jil had done it, she let go of her internal voice and interrupted her eternal writerly narration of her personal life story. She saw the spaces between her thoughts. She saw the spaces between the worlds.

She was off.

One Response to “Mad Professor, Thuy's Metanovel.”

  1. Steve H Says:

    Dear Mad Professor,
    I remember that guy – he said it was irrelevant because it wasn’t bringing down the government or something. Calling him a ‘reader’ might have been an exaggeration.
    I don’t think you actually intended to bring down the government as a side-effect of writing POSTSINGULAR. Maybe that can be your next book, POSTGOVERNMENT. Make it a trilogy with POSTGRADUATE. Or maybe postliterate.
    Did you ever read Ballard’s VERMILION SANDS stories, about the world’s weirdest artists’ colony? Cloud sculptors, sonic art, flying manta rays. Boy, could they have used a bucket of orphids.
    The excerpt’s great BTW. No wonder you’re happy!


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