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Ramp up for THE BIG AHA. Locus interview talk about it, May, 2013.

My new novel The Big Aha will be going live quite soon. Available in paperback and ebook via Transreal Books.

By way of building towards the official release, I’m gong to post some background material. Here’s excerpts of an interview taped by Liza Groen Trombi for Locus magazine in May, 2013. The complete interview appeared in the June, 2013, issue, and I recently added it to my “All the Interviews” document online.

I also made a podcast of my tape of the interview. You can click on the icon below to access the podcast via Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

So, okay, the rest of today’s post is me talking to Liza about The Big Aha in May, 2013, when I was about 85% done with writing the novel. I’ll put in some images of my paintings that I used as chapter illustrations for final version The Big Aha.

The Big Aha is set in Louisville, Kentucky, where I grew up, and I’m enjoying that. If you stay in Louisville, then all the people around you are people you’ve known your whole life, and you can pretty much say anything to them. Nobody cares. I’ve been visiting Louisville lately, and it’s strange.

I enjoy writing books about genomics and the biotech revolution. I think that’s going to be one of the really big technologies of the 21st century. We’re still just barely wading into that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suppose that in a century or so, lots of our devices won’t be manufactured machines anymore. They could be plants and animals that have been designed to behave in ways that we consider useful. Even things like a knife or a glass, it’s easy enough to imagine plants growing such things for us. Primitive peoples drink out of coconut shells, but we could tweak it so it’s more what we like. And for communication devices, there’s all this interest in squid skin—that would be a great visual display. Electric eels send out electromagnetic pulses, so that could be the basis of wireless communication.

I wrote a book a few years ago called Frek and the Elixir, set in 3003, where everything was biotech. I wanted to come back to a world like that. In The Big Aha , I wanted to have a book where the technology is based on living things. It’s not set too far into the future, more like 2100.

I was born in 1946, so the Summer of Love was the year I graduated from college. I really liked that period. It was over so quickly. It was getting really good, and suddenly it was over. I wanted to have a story where something like that was happening, but I didn’t want it to be based on drugs. By now everyone has ossified opinions about drugs, they’re for them or they’re against them. It sort of closes the imagination.

I wanted to have something to give people a cosmic experience. I thought, “I’ll use quantum mechanics.” As a science fiction writer, there are various nebulous “bogosity-generator” tools I can use. Something about quantum mechanics that interests me is there are two modes in quantum mechanics. You can think of the world as evolving in a smooth wavelike pattern, but then as soon as you start measuring things, you find a choppy discrete pattern. It’s what they call the quantum collapse, the collapse of the wave function.

In my own mind, I feel like there’s a pulse, where I’ll sort of merge into the place around me and then snap back. Say it’s a nice day, and you’re not really verbalizing to yourself, you’re not really forming opinions in your mind, you’re not doing anything consciously. And then you snap back and you think, “There’s so-and-so, I have to ask them for something; it’s such-and-such o’clock, I have to get in the car and go somewhere.” There are two modes, and I call them the cosmic mode and the robotic mode. It’s almost like sonar—you ping out with the cosmic mode and you pull back with the robotic mode.

The gimmick in The Big Aha is that people get quantum wetware. “Wetware” is already an intriguing word—it’s what’s going on in your body, your DNA, your chemicals. And then make it quantum, so you can consciously control how rapidly you do the oscillations between the cosmic mode and robotic mode. So my characters are party people, they just wedge their minds open to the cosmic, and they’re cosmic all the time. It’s like they’re acidheads, but they’re not taking any drugs. And they can teep each other. And instead of mechanical technology it’s all biological, so instead of a car you have a road spider, and you ride on its back. The animals you create can have quantum wetware as well. You can get in the vibe with them, and make them change their form. And so the world becomes more spacey.

Then, of course, you always need something bad to happen in a novel. It’s always good to have an alien invasion. So there are these things like mouths sticking into our world from another dimension, and they’re eating people. I call it The Big Aha because people always have the dream of getting a Big Aha experience! The big vision beyond the white light. My characters are seeking that. There’s also the Zen idea: “I was looking for enlightenment but it was here all along.” Just for a moment, you feel it—the big aha.

At this point [that is, in May, 2013] I’m not sure who’s going to publish The Big Aha . I’m unsure about my chances with publishers. And I’m starting to wonder if they’re worth the months or even years of waiting, and the begging for such meager pay.

I’m putting a little more sex into The Big Aha than I used to do for my Tor books. David Hartwell once said to me, “If you’re talking about the 13-year-old audience, there are some 13-year-olds who are very interested in sex, and some who aren’t. And you can guess which group is the one that reads science fiction.”

Not that The Big Aha is mainly about sex. But maybe it’s hard for me to judge what’s acceptable. Like I’ve been out there so long that I don’t even know what’s supposed to be normal. In any case I’m having a lot of fun with the book.

I like using the classic tropes of SF—I call them the “power chords.” That’s how I thought of cyberpunk, as a way of taking the classic SF things, like alien invasions, telepathy, giant ants, and making them rock a little harder. That’s what I’m doing in The Big Aha.

I’m confident I can publish The Big Aha with Transreal Books. Maybe I’ll do a Kickstarter. We’ll see how it goes. [End of interview material.]

And it went good! The release is soon!

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