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V-Bomb Blast, Painting #3 for my Turing Novel

I did three paintings for my novel, Turing & Burroughs, “Turing and the Skugs,” “A Skugger’s Point of View,” and “V-Bomb Blast, ” which I finished today. You’ll find it at the bottom of this post. As always, more info on my Paintings Page

Note that Turing & Burroughs treats a timely theme, as 2012 is the centennial of the man’s birth, and has been dubbed the Alan Turing Year, with a number of conferences and events planned for that year.

For those of you who just tuned in, Alan Turing was one of the primary inventors of today’s computers. He is believed to have died wretchedly in 1954, a suicide persecuted by the British authorities for his homosexuality. Turing & Burroughs proposes that Turing’s supposed death was a cover-up, and that the man himself escaped to the open city of Tangier.

“Turing and the Skugs”, 40″ x 30″ inches, Oct 2010, Oil on canvas.” Click for larger version.

For the purposes of Turing & Burroughs, I’m supposing that Turing has carried out some biochemical experiments leading to the creation of slug-like creatures called skugs. In “Turing and the Skugs,” we see Turing encountering a handsome man who may well become Alan’s lover. In my novel he’s rather promiscuous.

In Tangier, Turing meets the Beat writer William Burroughs and they become lovers. Turing invents a parasitic biocomputational organism called a skug. Both he and Burroughs welcome skugs into their bodies, thereby becoming skuggers. Skuggers enjoy both telepathy and shapeshifting, that is, a protean ability change their bodies’ forms.

“A Skugger’s Point of View”, 40″ x 30″ inches, January, 2011, Oil on canvas.” Click for larger version.

In “A Skugger’s Point of View,” I wanted to render an extreme first-person point of view in which we see the dim zone around a person’s actual visual field. Turing has become a mutant known as a “skugger,” and he has the ability to stretch his limbs like the cartoon character Plastic Man. He is traveling across the West with two friends, a man and a woman.

Turing’s cohort is being attacked by police, one of whom bears a flame-thrower. Turing is responding by sticking his fingers into their heads, perhaps to kill them, or perhaps to convert them into skuggers as well. We can see Turing’s arms extending from the bottom edge of his visual field. Even though it’s not quite logical, I painted in his eyes as well because they make the composition better..

Turing and Burroughs have been busy spreading the skugger infestation to the people around them. My novel takes on aspects of a Fifties invasion story such as The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. The difference is that Turing & Burroughs is told from the point of view of the mutants themselves, and the alienated mutants are a positive force. Society at large becomes consumed by a hysterical hatred of the skuggers, and the authorities seek to exterminate them.

The subtextual kicker is that this mirrors what happened culturally as the 1950s segued into the 1960s. Outcasts such as Beats, artists, radicals and homosexuals began to gain more control, sparking reactionary efforts to suppress them.

“V-Bomb Blast”, 40″ x 30″ inches, July, 2011, Oil on canvas.” Click for larger version.

Of course no Fifties-style SF novel is complete without a nuclear weapon. At the climax of Turing & Burroughs, Turing and Burroughs are in Los Alamos, New Mexico, working to block the detonation of a V-bomb, which will emit rays to annihilate the skuggers wholesale.

Sacrificing his own life, Turing crawls inside the weapon before ignition. Upon the V-bomb’s detonation, he uses his higher powers to alter its radiation—preserving the lives of his fellow skuggers while removing their parasitic skugs. And in an afterword, Burroughs explains what happened.

The “V-Bomb Blast” painting doesn’t exactly depict what I’m talking about. But reading from right to left, you can view it as three stages of the V-bomb—on the right, someone (who I happened to paint as a woman) is inside the V-bomb, about to pull the detonation cord. In the middle is a semi-happy face nuclear explosion. Oddly enough, the V-bomb fireball shrinks instead of expanding.

And on the left, we see the explosion slipping through a rent in the fabric of reality. “Turing died that we may live.”

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