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I Finish Postsingular

I finished writing my novel Postsingular today.

I decided to refer to my chapters as “parts,” because they’re so long and there’s only four of them, and each part is in fact broken up into a number of pieces by my *** separators. And I won’t have any sections that are called chapters. The parts-and-no-chapters convention is used in, ahem, Gravity’s Rainbow. [Note: Pynchon’s 1,000 page new novel Against the Day is scheduled for November! Huzzah!]

Maybe I’ll design custom separators for Postsingular like for Mathematicians in Love. A different icon for each chapter! Here’s a list of the part titles and the name of the separator image.

1. “Nants and Orphids” (Ant)
2. “The Big Pig Posse” (My pig face logo)
3. “Thuy’s Metanovel” (A pair of lips)
4. “Lazy Eight” (The lazy eight infinity sign)

More on Thuy’s visit to the subdimensional world Subdee…. I already have two styles of telepathy: (a) the orphid-mediated electronic wireless-style telepathy of the postsingular Lobrane, (b) the Lazy Eight telepathy of the Hibrane, which is produced by an unrolled eighth dimension which projects out from every location in space and leads from each location to a single, accessible point at infinity. For Subdee, I’ll use a third style of telepathy, (c) root hair telepathy, in which the plant-like subbies send fine roots into each others’ bodies and into the brains of any unfortunate human visitors.
[Here’s a corny math joke about infinity as lazy eight.]

[End corny math joke interlude.]

I also used root hair telepathy in Frek and the Elixir, when they’re in the ship of the alien echinoderms who call themselves (with taxonomic incorrectness but Lovecraftian apropos) Radiolarians, and the aliens plug a vine-like nerve cord into the spine of each passenger.

Root hair telepathy is, I now realize, a metaphor for old-style land-line wire-based communication networks. Just as orphidnet telepathy is clearly an analogue of wireless.

Once Thuy destroys the encroaching root hairs with a zong of her magic harp, she realizes that the subbies aren’t Thoth-like Egyptian figures, no, they’re lithops plants. And she fights her way free.

Should I suggest that maybe the view of Subdee as lithops in a desert is an illusion, too? Naw. That would be too “knowing,” of me, in a bogus laying-my-finger-along-my-nose kind of way.

I end the book with Jayjay playing a magical “Lost Chord” on a stolen magic harp so as to unroll the eighth dimension. I did a bit of web research and found some sites with harp music, like this one for a Russian kid named Sasha.

I like Sasha’s face; that could be Jayjay.

I also listened to some harp music online it has this long reverberation time, the notes layer on each other like sheets of water on the beach after a wave breaks.

And then I wrote my octuple reverse climax now. To wit:

Start. (+) Jayjay thinks he understands about the eighth dimension and the harp, he’s figured out the theory of it during his sixty year dream. Jayjay knows the sound of the Lost Chord, even though he’s not quite sure about how to actually play it. He takes hold of the harp and strums.

Reverse 1. (-) Performing music isn’t like knowing a theory about music, even if you know what sound you want. Nothing happens. The Pig butts in, like, “Okay, it’s not gonna work, there’s 10-to-the-hundredth ways to strum that harp, and you’ll never find the right one, even though, yes, lazy eight could work, but maybe later and meanwhile I’m gonna open the nants, I’m sick of waiting, you guys are losers.” She’s assembled her mosquito shoons into a golem; he prepares to pound the nant farm.

Reverse 2. (+) As a stop-gap Thuy does a punk buzzsaw thing on the harp and it disables the orphids in the cave, also disabling the Pig’s control over the golem, who sits down and starts idly rolling around. The playing is hurting Thuy’s fingers again. She tells Jayjay about the weak spot in the wall where she climbed out in the Hibrane. Jayjay shoots a hole with Thuy’s P90 submachine gun. Jayjay gets up onto the surface of Easter Island where the orphidnet is. He firewalls out the Pig and teleports to the U. S. and gets a backpack-style atomic bomb and brings it back.

Reverse 3. (-) When Jayjay gets back, he climbs down and still hears the harp and shoves the pack through and it gets stuck and time goes by and finally he gets in there and Thuy has stopped playing. She’s lying on her side, her fingers are bloody, she just can’t strum anymore. The golem smashes up the controls of the atomic bomb and pounds on the nant farm.

Reverse 4. (+) But the golem can’t manage to open the nant farm box for the Pig. Nantanium is tough. And Thuy destroyed all the antinantanium in Luty’s lab. So maybe the day is saved.

Reverse 5. (-) Just then a root hair from the subdimensional scarab beetle appears and exudes a tiny drop of antinantanium which dissolves the nantanium box of the nant farm. The nants swarm out. The orphids get on them, but they can’t stop the nants.

Reverse 6. (+) Quick, Jayjay and Thuy teleport out of there with the harp before the nants get to them. They go to San Francisco, to Thuy’s room over the garage. They dress Thuy’s wounds. They go downstairs to the garage, Kittie is showing Nektar her newly retrofitted SUV, decorated with a picture of Thuy’s head going through the grid. Kittie and Nektar are happy, they haven’t noticed the bad news in the orphidnet yet. Chu is there, helping to polish the car, content. Ond went to talk to Jil. Craigor is up the hill on a hot date with Lureen Morales.

Reverse 7. (-) The nants have eaten ten kilometer hole in Easter Island, it’s too late to bomb them. Kittie and Nektar and Chu realize about the nants. Chu wants to jump to the Hibrane. He can’t. Azaroth appears to tell them the Lobrane is quarantined, and Chu’s jump code won’t work anymore. He wants to take the harp back home. Chides them for not succeeding in unrolling the eighth dimension. Thuy says let us try a little more.

Reverse 8. (+) Jayjay and Thuy go upstairs and make love. And the technique for playing the Lost Chord comes to Jayjay; he jumps up and strums it, “letting the soft notes layer on each other like sheets of water on the beach after a wave breaks” The eighth dimension unfurls. The killer nanomachines are pinched out of existence by the flexing of the intelligent air world: Earth is defended by the once-digital gnomes, sylphs, undines, salamanders, and dryads that now inhabit earth, air, fire, water and trees!

As it turned out, the eight twists at the end went off nice and smooth. Like driving 60 mph up a hairpin road. And then zonggg the vista! It’s fitting aha that I end the “Lazy Eight” part with eight twists. And I didn’t even plan it to be that precise number. The muse did it for me.

So, yeah, I finished the book today. Another frikkin’ masterpiece. As it happens, I started the actual writing on this same date a year ago, that is, on September 12, 2005. So it took me precisely a year and a day (counting today) to complete the task. Like in a fairy tale.

Yesterday I thought I was done, but of course I wasn’t happy with the last three pages, I felt uneasy all night with that slight flaw chafing at me. So this morning I rewrote them five or six or eight (!) times and now the book’s nice and shiny from stem to stern. Ready to launch.

Two themes of the book:

How to get rid of machines. How to escape the digital age, and still get to keep the info goodies.

How to make art. The whole deal of Jayjay trying to play the Lost Chord is an objective correlative for trying to write the perfect scene; the Lost Chord represents trying to write about the Lost Chord. Finally you just go play it. And of course Thuy’s metanovel was all about that.

Cracks me up that I had Thuy sarcastically call her metanovel Wheenk, as “wheenk” is my private word for a certain kind of popular book that I’m kind of unable to write—I’m thinking of a book like, say, Girl With Pearl Earring or House of Sand and Fog where on every page the main character (often a woman) is mentally going over her longings, her hopes, and her fears; it’s an unceasing chorus of “wheenk, wheenk, wheenk,” as if from a rabbit whose foot is caught in the jaws of a trap, the trap being, dear reader, the pain and wonder of life itself. But, I submit, one can convey that without resorting to the tedious expedient of wheenk. I prefer to make each page a fresh adventure.


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