Upcoming events: My 2011 painting “A Skugger’s Point of View” will be part of the group show ILLEGAL, curated by Kal Spelletich at the Luggage Store gallery on Market St. in SF. (“P. S. We don’t sell luggage.”)
===Poster for the “Illegal” show in SF. Opening party Friday, Nov 10, 6-9.
And I’ll be at Windycon 44, an SF con in Lombard, Illinois, near Chicago, from Nov 10 – 12, as Author Guest of Honor, doing some panels and giving a talk.
===Either this is Rudy’s painting “A Skugger’s Point of View,” or it’s Rudy’s view (including peripheral vision) of his audience while he gives his talk on “Cyberpunk Future” at Windycon in Lombard, Friday, Nov 10, 8-9.
By the way, all the images in the rest of this post were taken on my new Pixel 2 phone camera over the last few weeks. I’ll say a bit more about this furhter down.
I’m rockin’ it on Return to the Hollow Earth these days, really pushing it along. I’m about a third done. It’s common to think of novels and films as having three acts. I’ve written Act I, with two more to go.
===Rudy at the Luggage Store gallery, shyly joyful.
With the two acts to go on my book, I need to concoct twice as many events as I’ve already described. I worry about this, as I already have had so much stuff happening. And I can’t easily see that far ahead. Foggy road. But it’s always like this. The muse feeds me one scene at a time. And I hardly even pretend to make outlines anymore.
To keep me going, I always have a few big upcoming scenes in mind. This is my twenty-third novel, and by now I’ve learned not to not to hoard my big scenes for later. Don’t vamp while planning to do the big scene later. Write it now. The muse always feeds me more big scenes once I’ve written the ones I already have. It’s can be nerve-wracking to work this way. To depend on the unseen and unseeable muse to step in, over and over, always handing me the next cue card. But it keeps working.
But I do a lot of stuff to get ready for the muse. I find ways to, like, invite her to sit down by my campfire here in the darkness. I use logic a lot—I do have a Ph.D. in mathematical logic, after all. And I know a little bit about physics. So when something physical is happening, I might run some formulas and numbers to find out what has to be done. And when this is working well for me, the numbers turn out different than I expected, and this forces certain new decisions about how to write a scene.
===I’ve been writing so much that my body is sore all over, and I need to start doing daily yoga again.
I have a number of large creatures in Return to the Hollow Earth. There’s the giant flying nautilus with hydrogen in its shell. They’re call ballulas. The one in my novel is named Cytherea and she belongs to Edgar Allan Poe. My guys ride in the ballula through the hole in a maelstrom at the North Pole. Normally ballulas eat people so—logic dictates—I need for my guys to have, um, magic telepathic gems that can control Cytherea.
===Here’s Rudy Jr. at the Luggage Store gallery with me, in front of googly eyes, and with a badass look.
And there’s these fat flying shrigs, who are pigs in front and shrimp in back. Size ranging from a cow to to a three-masted ship. Very dumb. And there’s a couple of krakens, three miles long, and one of them, Jumungo, is swimming in a circle underwater below the Arctic Sea to keep that maelstrom open (more logic here) and the other one, Fafnir, catches shrigs to eat and to feed to Jumungo, who is slowly, slowly brooding upon a clutch of two dozen eggs on her stomach.
===Kelp in Big Sur. Or neurons in my brain. A ganglion. As above, so below.
To help the process along, I write a book of notes in parallel with each novel. When I’m done the novel and the notes are about the same length. At first, when I’m wiseacreing for the swing of thought (a phrase from Gurdjieff’s intro to one of his books), the notes are much longer, and they continue growing all along, but at some point, I get into a bloodlust writing frenzy and the novel pulls ahead.
===Secret of the universe, revealed in a parking garage. The secret is, however, ineffable and cannot be spoken.
And all along, when I don’t know what to do in the novel—or don’t feel like doing it—I go and put something in the notes. Making drawings, maybe, or a timeline, or a case-by-case discussion of what might happen next, or a to-do list of things I need to fix, or kvetching about not getting enough writing done. And none of this is actually where the ideas come from. The ideas come, as I’m always saying, from sudden random thoughts, fed in by the muse. General principle: if an idea seems too wackball and out there to use…then probably you should use it. Readers enjoy being surprised, so the book should keep surprising the writer too.
===I generally do not write about psycho human lurkers in the basement. Squid, okay, or krakens or man eating ballulas, but not lurkers. Too mass media. I write escape literature, right?
I got excited about the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but then after reading about them and about the competitors on the web, I decided to break out of the fold and get a Google Pixel 2 phone—as I mentioned above. Some say the Pixel 2 camera is better than the cameras in the new iPhones, although, of course, this kind of thing is endlessly debatable. The Pixel 2 has only one camera lens (unlike the high-end iPhones which have two lenses), but supposedly it makes up for this by automatically shooting a bunch of images and munging them together for each photo, achieving high dynamic range (detail both in the bright and the dark areas), knocking down motion blur, and suppressing low-light high-ISO artifacts.
===Wow! The tree is God. I think the built-in HDR (high-dynamic-range) is what makes this looks so good. Also the Google Photo app’s “auto” setting is usally very nice.
On the Pixel 2 camera, AI, in other words, is supplanting lens glass. Good image is all about having a lot of info about the thing you’re shooting. More info means more photons. Big glass lens means lots of photos being processed. But one might argue that if you quickly, sneakily, take ten shots each time you press the shutter release, then it’s like your lens had ten times the area. This sounds good, but even so the fine details and the low-light shooting of a camera phone is not as yet able to match a heavy duty big lens.
Anyway I’m quite happy, and even pleasantly surprised, and even at times wowed by the Pixel 2 shots. As I said, all the images in this post were taken on my new phone camera over the last few weeks. Although, as I just said, if you zoom in, the detail sharpness never matches what I’d get on my trusty Fujifilm X-100T with the largish wide-angle glass lens, or on my monster-lens Canon 5D. But, as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you, and this often happens to be the Pixel 2 which, although larger than my old iPhone SE, fits in my pants pocket.
It has been a bit of an ordeal for me to leave the familiar and well-thought-out user interface that that Apple products provide. By now I’ve put in maybe fifty solid hours of, tweaking my Pixel 2 settings, posting on forums, searching for info on the web, and experimenting. I’m still not totally happy with my new workflow from camera to desktop to online posts. But I’m getting there. It’s too complicated and geeky to go into here. But if you’re a phellow photo phreak, you can check my forum discussions online. Disclaimer: I’m often wrong.
Other recent events now: Halloween, Michael Blumlein, Big Sur, walking around Los Gatos, and Blade Runner II! Photos of all that here, with quick comments.
Halloween, we went up to SF and went around Bernal Hill near Precita Park. Kids line-up. I don’t admit to knowing any of these rag-tag urchins.
Some of the adults in costume too. Love this psychedelic garage. The woman’s wig glows, not sure how.
And a house of freaks all dressed like people from “Wizard of Oz.” That might be the wizard himself with the glowing glasses. One woman had a little house atop her head, she was the house that fell on the bad witch.
===Rudy, Michael Blumlein, Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, Richard Kadrey
Sylvia and I went to a talk by Michael Blumlein, a fellow Freestyle Cyberpunk Transreal No Wave SF SF writer. We all had dinner together an a new Hungarian restaurant called Duna on Valencia St. Nice easy place, good food, decent prices. So great to sit around with other writers. They understand. The months and years of work at the keyboard, the fuck-all scraps of recognition, the derisory levels of pay, the sweet solace of the craft, the joys of discovery, the pleasure of forgetting you’re alive while you’re lost in the subdimensions.
The big Blum himself. Last year we thought he might be dying, but he keeps hanging in here and maybe even getting better, which is great. We like having him around.
Sylvia and I drove down to Big Sur a week or two after they opened up the bridge, or overpass is more like it, just south of the village itself. On the way home we stopped at Phil’s Seafood in Moss Landing. They had a great bluegrass band playing, “Glad to Be Here.” One of those gifts from the gods, to sometimes happen up on wonderful music.
Wonderful food too. At Phil’s you order at the counter and sit at a picnic table, and they have tables out back on a sand dune sloping to the beach and the sun was setting, so fabu, with the *ping* crescent moon up there. It’s so good to be alive. And every day is the only day.
With that bridge open in Sur, we could go to Pfeiffer Beach (public park, although very nearly unmarked from the highway). The turn off is about a hundred yards north of the new bridge or, as I say overpass. Went down to see the wonderful square hole the big seastack rock, with the surf coming through, a magic door to another world, which I used in my novel Mathematicians in Love. I put the Pixel 2 phone video on YouTube to make it lightweight enough to fit into this post.
Cosmic gnarl brimming through.
And magical sun rays through the pines. Pfeiffer Beach is one of my favorite spots in the world. Oddly enough it is the setting for several scenes near the end of Marlon Brando’s movie “One-Eyed Jacks,” now out on a Critereon Blu-Ray at last. So I went and bought that DVD, can’t seem to stream the new hi-res version online. Marlon was such a physically beautiful man, and had such a perfect “bad attitude.”
Warming up at Rudy Jr.’s hose before Halloween, dig the baby pumpkin and the hand. Alien objects. If you ever really look hard at a human foot or hand…how strange.
So that’s almost enough photos for this blog post. A month’s worth. This is me waking up as Blank Reg from Max Headroom after a night of uneasy Franz Kafka dreams about metamorphosis…
And a still photo from the new Blade Runner movie, which I liked very much. I posted a bunch of stuff about it over at FaceBook. The photo above, that’s the hero K and a 60 foot tall hologram of his girlfriend Joi, who is a hologram even when she’s small, a hologram run by some AI software that poor K is in love with. The image, to me, captures something at the core of a person’s relationship to the internet. The internet so big and sexy, toying with you, pretending as if you, as an individual, matter.
Never mind. The daily world is always just outside my window, incalculably rich and detailed, always free.
The past, not now
The future, not yet
Between two nots