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A Dispatch From Interzone

Have a great holiday! This is a long post, with some stuff to read, it may have to last you till 2011…

This month I made some imaginative efforts and finished the next chapter “Dispatches From Interzone” of my novel in progress, Turing & Burroughs. As I mentioned before, I wrote this chapter is in the form of letters from my Beat hero William Burroughs, some samples of which I put in my post, “Burroughs Letters, Tangier 1954-1956.”

Molding an SF action-novel out of William Burroughs letters is like collaging a landscape out of frames from the Sunday funnies. And I had to draw all those wacky little frames too. Or it’s like building an epic out of haikus. But I like the way the chapter came out. It’s funny, I think, and deep as well. You can read an excerpt down below, at the end of this post.

Right now I’m unsure of the upcoming story arc. To some extent I’m back where I was a month ago, when I wrote my blog post, “Skuggers

It’s daunting how many scenes and ideas a novel needs. But I don’t have to write the whole novel at once. All I need now is to write the next chapter. So now what I need is to outline Chapter 8 fairly well, and also get some clear idea of what happens in Chapter 9. And the chapters after that will take care of themselves.

It’s a long process, after all. And there’s no rush. But that’s not exactly true. My sense is that I don’t feel as if there is a rush, then I might not drive myself hard enough to actually finish the book. Onward!

No, wait, Christmas comes first.

Anyway, in my “Dispatches from the Interzone,” chapter I did indeed get Burroughs to organize a trans-Atlantic skugger-star teep antenna, as I’d planned to. By the end of the chapter the construct falls apart and the individual skuggers go their own ways. And this is as it should be, because it would be too much of an onus for Turing to have a skugger-star tracking him on his road trip to Los Alamos.

It’ll just be regular cops chasing Alan, although, for a while, there will be more and more of them. We’ll see an ongoing attrition in the forces of control, as more and more of them will be converted into being skugs.

I realized today, it’s as if I’m telling the story of The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, but I’m telling it from the p.o.v. of the pod people, and I’m viewing these alienated mutants as a positive force. Which is, after all, precisely what happened culturally as the 1950s segued into the 1960s.

If near the end of the book, I have Turing pulling the skugs up into a higher reality, it vaguely correlates with Tim Leary lifting the hippies out of politics and into Lotus Land.

And what happened then in the real world in terms of the culture wars. What aspect of reality might I transrealize into Turing’s final move?

I’m thinking of the internet as being the thing that resurrected political action. And it could be that Turing starts manifesting himself via the web. I could even go transreal for the last couple of chapters, and insert myself as an authorial character, getting messages from Turing in “real time.” Like there’s an astral blog site that only I and a few privileged others (such as the readers of this blog), can see. Maybe I’ll give you the URL in 2011…

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from the latest chapter. Burroughs is a skugger now, that is, a shapeshifting, mildly telepathic host for a symbiotic skug. And the British Embassy has engaged him to turn a basement filled with 64 captive Arab skuggers in Tangier into a telepathic antenna for tracking Alan Turing, who’s escaped to America. He knows one of the skuggers already, a youth named Driss.

The second day, Driss and the fellahs tell me they’re edgy at being in police custody. Only a few of them speak English or Spanish, but our short-range teep is working. The skuggers don’t wanna play ball. So I get the Embassy stooges to haul down a fifty-pound bag of refined white sugar. Everyone in the pit start feeling friendly.

The third day I double the sugar ration, and slime out some tentacles from my fingertips, plugging every navel in the room. Puppetmaster Bill. “Let’s all get soft,” I propose, teeping sexy images of mollusk reproduction. I chant whatever gone strophes come to mind, also feeding the skuggers’ real-time reactions into the mix. Feebdack feedback. The locals are easy-going people, if you give them a chance.

On the fourth day, even more sugar, also a carboy of olive oil. Everyone feeling festive—we shining and sticky with the sweet slick. I push my face against Driss’s so our heads merge. Plup! Feel real wiggy. I use my squiddy arms to gather ye rosebuds. And then we’re a starfish with a shared yubbaflop head on the Embassy basement floor, like the center of a wagon wheel.

I grow out a feeler with a lobster-eye to admire what we done. Our group face look like a gangland hit on President Eisenhower, a bald baby with slit-mouth scars and eye-puckers like bullet holes. Hopper and his boss upstairs are abreast of our session, they very pleased.

On day five, I engage three footmen to haul in hods of wobbly British pastries, barrows of dates, heaped trays of kumquats. The skugger fellahs are increasingly glad to see me. Great cheers. “Booo-rows! Booo-rows! Booo-rows!”

Driss and I plup our heads together, the rest of the gang piles on. We make a parabolic monster face, a dish-shaped teep antenna pointing towards the floor. We vibe our mind-rays through the watery gut of Ma Earth. You wave, we wave. Hopper is run a droopy tentacle down the basement stairs into my spine.

And then—lo! We pick up on Turing in Florida.

Happy X and a Great Y!!!!!!

5 Responses to “A Dispatch From Interzone”

  1. Ernest Hogan Says:

    Can’t wait to read that novel!

  2. emilio Says:

    Question is, how will you encrypt the URL?

  3. HAL-1701 Says:

    i think the burrowskug writing sounds like rudy, not wsb. that’s just my memory of reading a few wsb books and the yage letters and hearing him talk in tapes and films and tell stories both written and audio.. i hear your reading voice in that, and the voicestyle of your books. (i tried to hear his voice but it rapidly slipped back to a rudy voicepersonality saying it. not just due to the use of rudywords. maybe my mildly marginal telepathy needs tuning.) well, uh… i don’t have any of his stuff anymore to make more concrete suggestions about getting a wsb sound to it. just my opinion. maybe you have faithfully copied his stylemind but… hmm is there a web thing or other software that analyzes texts, that would give some kind of stats on how closely a writer was being imitated? but that sort of thing is probably not as good as a human anyways.

  4. HAL-1701 Says:

    plurping heads together with like 12 people to make a sort of starfish with one head in the center is neat, an octopus-shaped antenna. critical mass of brain too, that could do something implosive. neutron star-fish. a greymatter blackhole. (goo: the google brain-drain; is it a trade secret to say what a goo-gel-party is like? have you noticed the pro-drug-and-alcohol bent at goo-HQ?). why would the neural mess want to untangle (unentangle) after that orgasmorg smorgasbording anyway. ‘hey, you got your cingulate gyrus in my amygdala!’ try it on monkeys first in the lab: rhesus pieces. “and in this tank of formaldahyde we have an early attempt to make a bonobo-baobab, but it looks more like a bonobotomy”.

  5. Ted Hand Says:

    This is such a cool project. I have long been preoccupied with the notion of letters to interzone, and almost surprised that more writers haven’t experimented with the genre. But it takes a master of comedic restraint to pull of that Burroughsian deadpan, and what I’ll euphemistically refer to as a *disciplined* inventiveness, which explains why few attempt such a dangerous mode of discourse. (my favorite is still the monologue, aping Brian Oblivion)


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