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Frek 2? Recalling Early Glimmers of Frek 1.

These days I’m caught up by the idea of writing a book aimed at younger readers. I really liked Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema . On my end, I’m starting to think about writing a sequel to my 2004 young reader novel, Frek and the Elixir—you might call that one Frek 1. It was marketed as a regular “adult” SF novel, but the hero was twelve years old, and the material is kid-friendly. I’d like to come back and do a Frek 2 where he’s fourteen.

I’ve been thinking about a Frek sequel for a while. You can find a January, 2008, blog post of mine that includes an an interview on Frek and the Elixir and Postsingular, where I say a bit about this…although some of my thoughts on Frek 2 have changed—and I’ll get into that in some upcoming posts.

For some happy reason a photo of Frek and the Elixir appeared in a Barney’s ad. A high point. The way it happened was, I seem to recall, that the photographer just happened to be reading Frek, and they wanted a shot of the model looking “brainy,” so they gave her lorgnette-type glasses and had her holding the book. No doubt she insisted on taking Frek home and stayed up all night reading it…

Looking back through my book-length writing notes for Frek and the Elixir, online as a free PDF file, I came across an entry I wrote in Tucson on December 15, 2000. This was when I had the first glimmerings of the book that turned out to be Frek.

[===Begin old Journal Excerpt===]

I’m in Tucson to give an after-dinner talk at a conference on genomics, which is the latest word for what we were calling biotech or genetic engineering. Supposedly genomics is to biology as electronics is to electricity. A modern, high-tech spin on an old-school science.

I haven’t been able to locate any of the conference people at the resort, so I pretty much wonder why the f*ck I’m here. My room is in the basement, and I’m down here typing on my laptop.
I keep thinking about On the Road, which I’m rereading this week. I got a copy at City Lights in SF last week. I’d always fondly thought of my novel Secret of Life as being my On the Road, although now, rereading Road, I have to admit I don’t hold a candle to Jack. I did what I did, that’s enough, and I don’t need to go and pretend I did more. My routine of comparing the cyberpunks to the Beats—what a crock.

As I writer, I’m more inner-directed, more self-centered, less generous and less lyrical than Jack. The way he describes the weather and the sky and the sunsets! And, most specifically, my Secret doesn’t have any character like Dean Moriarty—I don’t have a really complex foil for the narrator.


[Rudy with college friend Roger Shatzkin at the W Hotel in NYC.]

So now my clever simian mind turns to thinking about how I might better ape the Master. What if I did an SF novel that set out from the start to be an homage to Road? That might be fun. It could be a picaresque planet-hopping kind of thing. Call the homage novel, say, Galactic Kicks. It could be transreal or I could do it as a pure fabrication. Or a mix. Another plus is that it would be way to do a space-opera thing, which I’ve never yet tried.

My Dean Moriarty character would need to be tragic—Dean’s tragic quality feeds the richness of Road. Over the course of the book, Dean is losing his mind. A desperate downward spiral. But maybe I don’t want to write a book like that. Maybe I’d like a galactic kicks quest that was a little more G-rated and little sunnier.

Anyway, reading another page of Road here in my dismal room, I read this amazing scene about sleeping in a cheap all-night movie theater in Detroit. He says, “The people who were in that all-night movie were the end.” Love that use of “the end.” Jack talks about how the theater’s double bill of movies goes deep into his mind, because he’s seeing and hearing and sleeping through these movies over and over during the night.

All my actions since then have been dictated automatically to my subconscious by this horrible osmotic experience.

What a beautiful line. What a genius to write that. Yes, Jack’s unmatchable. As it happens, Jack himself addresses the issue of trying to model your work on the work of an unmatchable artist. He writes about some musicians trying to play right after the legendary jazz pianist George “God” Shearing has performed.

Everybody listened in awe and fright…and the boys said “There ain’t nothin left after that.”

But the slender leader frowned. “Let’s blow anyway.”

Something would come of it yet. There’s always more, a little further—it never ends. They sought to find new phrases after Shearing’s explorations; they tried hard. They writhed and twisted and blew. Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would someday be the only tune in the world and would raise men’s souls to joy.

Galactic kicks, man, galactic kicks. Two gone wigged cats roistering across the Milky Way in 3001.

What if my hero’s road pal is human-sized alien cuttlefish? My version of Neal Cassady. The cuttlefish looks “demure” just like Kerouac always says about Dean Moriarty. I saw some cuttlefish at the Monterey aquarium the other day, and they did indeed look demure, their bunched tentacles pointing tidily down, their hula-skirts wavering about their middle. Neal Cassady as a cuttlefish, yas. Love it.

[===End old Journal Excerpt===]

2 Responses to “Frek 2? Recalling Early Glimmers of Frek 1.”

  1. Steve H Says:

    Yeah! More Frek! Frek driving a black Caddy along the Milky Way, picking up hitch-hiking cuttlefish. Give the kids something to dream about besides mutant turtles.

  2. Nick Says:

    George Shearing was asked at a party
    if he had been blind all his life.

    “Not yet.”


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