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On December 23, 2008, during the big family Christmas reunion at our house, I had a few spare minutes and managed to write a kind of start for my next novel, with working title Jim and the Flim. I pasted together some bits that I liked from some SF warm-up raps that I wrote this summer while I was still getting ready to write my memoir—see, for instance, my blog posts, “Cow Liver Goddess Satori,” and “Novels as Memoirs.”)

I put the material into the past tense and changed the parts that were first person to third person, though I may yet flip back to first person. And now I’m smoothing the material and revising it, and thinking about how to complicate it into a novel. I can feel a little pulse, it’s coming to life.

The main character Jim Oster lives with a woman, Weena Wesson, whom he believes to be an otherworldly being called a flim. The flim mind is embedded in a body that she’s grown from a cow liver. Jim and Weena are seedy older people living in Santa Cruz. I’m looking for a Dickian tone this time out, with the tech pretty simple and some what-is-reality elements.

I’d like the reader to believe, initially, that Jim Oster is mistaken in his belief that Weena is an alien flim inside a cow liver. But I think by the end of the first or the second chapter we learn that he’s not nuts—for if he were, we wouldn’t have much of an SF novel, would we?

Why is Weena living in a tweaked cow liver? Well, mainly I’m goofing off the traditional notion of UFO cattle mutilations. But I want a science reason to explain it. Suppose that the flims can’t physically come here unless they’re in one of those spacetime regions where our mundane world and the Flimland happen to overlap. When the worlds are separate, a flim can nevertheless project their personality information into a piece of mundane host matter. And for some mumble-mumble science reason, a cow liver is very suitable. If carried out fully and for a long period of time, the flim’s astral projection kills the flim’s original body. Weena makes this sacrifice as she has an important mission in the mundane world.

What is the mission? This has to do with my theory about where the flims are from. Note that I’m not interested in having the flims come from distant stars or planets, that whole concept feels hackneyed and boring. I want them to come from right here, like nature spirits.

A standard way of explaining otherworldly beings is to suppose that they live on a universe parallel to ours, and they are able to reach over into our world or even hop back and forth. Like from the astral plane. But I want a sense of the flims being essentially embedded in our world—like elves or ghosts. So I want a more intimate connection than a some parallel world, something more integrate than alternate sheet of spacetime that’s stuck to ours like a protective plastic sheet stuck to the viewscreen of a new digital camera. If there’s any fixed, uniform distance between the two hyperplanes of reality, the worlds are separate, even if the distance is a mere Planck length.

So I’ll suppose that, yes, flims live in a parallel spacetime, but that their astral plane and our mundane plane are in fact precisely the same in many spacetime regions. I think of an astral veneer that’s irregularly delaminating from a mundane tabletop. At certain places and times, the world of the flims is identical with our quotidien reality, in other spots their reality sheet bulges up. I suppose that the bulge pattern is, like any other naturally occurring shape, a chaotic fractal.

If we go with the delaminated sheets model, we can have the traditional fantasy notion of there being certain times and lands where “the elves are real.” Locales where Flimland and our mundane world are one and the same. And the action of my book has to do with a Return Of The Magic. We’re about to pass into an era when the flims are fully visible to us all the time, and the astral and the mundane worlds are one.

Do the flims welcome the impending unification? I think not, no more so than will the conservative elements of our own society. Let’s suppose that the elvish flims are green and Earth-nurturing. They won’t relish being merged into a world full of real estate developers, gross polluters, and shopping malls. Weena’s mission is to try and reform humanity a little before the worlds merge. And it may be that Jim’s mission is to teach the flims to love us.

4 Responses to “Starting JIM AND THE FLIM”

  1. Mac Tonnies Says:

    “We’re about to pass into an era when the flims are fully visible to us all the time, and the astral and the mundane worlds are one.”

    Your ideas re. the origin of the “flims” remind me of some of the esoteric speculation about UFOs and the “Grays,” their ostensible occupants. Some speculate that, in order to infiltrate our reality, the UFO intelligence gently encourages our collective belief in it. As more and more people find the prospect of alien visitors acceptable, the UFOnauts are able to interact with us on a more versatile basis, even taking on organic physical form — which is the direction some of the cattle mutilation mythology takes.

  2. Rudy Says:

    Mac, that’s a really useful comment.

    Possibly the collective unconscious mind of the beings in a given mundane spacetime region affect whether the astral/saucerian/UFOlogical/elvish plane can in fact merge into our normal lives.

    Can you give me a link to some good info about “cattle mutilation mythology”?

  3. Mac Tonnies Says:

    I recommend Linda Howe’s “An Alien Harvest,” a seminal and well-researched (if credulous) look at “mutes.” Her book predates some more of the now-familiar ideas that the “Grays” are seeking human assistance in order to become physical.

    I’m fascinated by the books of John Keel (“The Mothman Prophecies”), who’s speculated along similar lines, although I suspect Jacques Vallee is more up your alley. (Aside from years of serious research, Vallee’s a science fiction writer and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Ever met him?)

  4. Steve H Says:

    Rudy, Tim Powers used a ‘frozen river’ analogy in The Anubis Gates to explain why time travel was only possible at certain times: the ‘river of time’ is generally completely iced over and impossible to enter or leave, except at certain periods when the ice is ‘broken.’ If you live in one of these periods, you can leave the river and slide back to when the ice was last broken. Perhaps the flims are from a bulge or break in the future, or dim and distant past, bridging a gap so far that bodies would never endure the trip? The future merging hasn’t happened yet, so they don’t know what will happen either? Perhaps we’ll rub off on each other and have flim real estate developers and tv stars.
    Mac, I always figured the aliens were going to barbecue . . . after coming all that way, they need to blow off a little steam.

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