Gray World

Cover for 'Gray World: Stealing Fire'

This is a separately published, Celtic-themed science fiction novella. It is inspired by two dreams I had, the first one coming complete with the title The Fabulous Gray World of Vagabond, and featuring a visceral, very vivid science fiction noire atmosphere, centred in an ‘orbital world’. The other dream depicted a kind of far future ‘bard’, an antihero of sorts being challenged to help alleviate ‘the language famine’ plaguing a science fiction ‘orbital’ culture. I have ended up incorporating elements of Irish-Scottish mythic history.

Gray World: Stealing Fire is available for purchase here: http://www.whitecatpublications.com/products-page/scifi/ and here: http://www.amazon.com/Gray-World-Stealing-Fire-ebook/dp/B008A7W5OY

But unfortunately, I am seeking another publisher for this book. Although my science fiction book, Gray World: Stealing Fire is available for sale at White Cat Publications, and is available as an ebook on Amazon through Sam’s Dot (its former publisher that was bought by White Cat), like its other writers I have been receiving no communication from this publisher and for various reasons am convinced they are no longer a viable entity. I own the copyright to Gray World as it was not  transferred to White Cat in the changeover. I can be contacted here if you are interested: silexv@gmail.com

I truly hope that this very complex society that has been created is not just to be used in this novella as it is an intriguing one. I enjoyed “Gray World: Stealing Fire” and read it at a single sitting. Well written and different.”
–Gail Jamieson, Probe Magazine (from a review of the Sam’s Dot release of the book)

Here is the blurb that appears on the back of the book:

Gray World: Stealing Fire

In the far future a fusion of meditative practices, magic/witchcraft, and quantum physics has developed into a new craft called waveseership, practiced by waveseers, who dreamfold waves flowing in quantavium light, thereby shaping the form of outer events.

A majority of the affluent has taken refuge in vast orbital cities, powered by energy culled from massive mining of planetary resources.  This mining has led to planets rapidly entering an uninhabitable super-storm condition colloquially known as becoming a ‘gray world’.

In Westpoint, New Skye, on the dying hope of planet Skaha, a drunken Vagabond is lying unconscious in a park. Once a renowned waveseer, Vagabond has fallen to the depths, knows firsthand, as a failed hypocrite, the full range of human hypocrisy.

Sky, true warrior daughter of Skaha, embraces and knights Vagabond for exactly his convoluted, compromised virtues. In the silence of his eyes Sky finds solace from the murder in her heart. In his waveseer skill Sky finds Vagabond is also a worthy ally in espionage.

Together they must decide whether to trust an alien client who would charge them with stealing a most unusual, mathematical fire, and perhaps thereby honor the memory of a dead, gray world.

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The Infinite Living Room: Two Views of a Secret

Here is a chapter from my novel, The Infinite Living Room. I am currently seeking a publisher for this book

The Infinite Living Room is written in the style of magical realism, deals more directly with themes I have been exploring on this blog in posts like Bus Yoga, and Felt Sense and Nonsense, in the form of a psychological mystery characterized by frequent dips into the waters of dreamtime.

First, as a lead in, here is an idea of what would appear on the back of the book:

Gradually, half with the willingness of a daring explorer, and half with all-too-human terror, Martin Saxon finds his simple life expanding into an infinite living room.

What begins for writer Martin Saxon as a routine trip to give a lecture at a university flowers into a quest of such intensity that it splits open his psyche into bizarre, and by times violently competing approaches to that quest.

These approaches manifest in the form of three fantastical agents, who blur the lines between dream and reality.

Did he hire them, as they claim? If so, why? And why can’t he remember doing so?

These agents take as their debating platform and battleground the dreamscape city of Quantavium, into which Martin finds himself slipping while sleeping, and increasingly, while awake.

Is Martin going mad? Or is he experiencing some vaudevillian form of Zen illumination?

Chapter Eleven

Two Views of a Secret

Martin’s dream journal:

Fred and I were shown into a sort of heaven that didn’t seem right: It was too cutesy and typical, with friendly (heavenly) but disappointingly stereotypical angels and such flying around, in a swirl of pinks and reds. So we turned back to try again. A mysterious woman, a sort of secret agent (J. P. Infinity?), who apparently had led us to the first heaven or dimension, created another doorway for Fred and I to go through.

This time we entered a sort of bus or train terminal with people standing around (broad spaces, high ceilings, lit with bright sunlight coming in through narrow windows and open doors). We left quickly—it was an uncomfortable, threateningly ‘official’ place—and began walking across a field, through the town.

It was an alternate, utopian or dystopian world—It wasn’t clear which. But I saw a clear vision of a city bus going by. On its side, written in big letters, were the words ‘Transit Vace.’ I immediately inferred from this that their language was altered but still similar to mine.

Then at a bus stop we were standing around with a group of people on a muddy, trash-covered curb. Suddenly an environmental policeman pulled up to the curb in a sci-fi van. He assigned particular people to various trash disposal duties. It was illegal to disobey. The chosen people piled up trash and sprayed it with a special super glue that made the piles solid, then they threw all the solidified piles into the policeman’s specially equipped disposal van. I contemplated picking something up voluntarily, but didn’t (I justified this to myself, with dubious conviction, by noting that I wasn’t one of the people chosen by the policeman).

The scene shifted to somewhere else in the same world. There was a student who was being questioned outside his room, in a university residence. The man who questioned him was an agent of the state. The agent drilled him to prove his merit in society. The student listed his academic achievements. It appeared that he was doing exceptionally well  . . . except for his environmental duties. The agent began to recite something taken out of state dogma, but the student cockily finished what the agent was saying for him, listing The Three Things that everyone in society was supposed to uphold, which just happened to be tacked up on the student’s door on a piece of paper (there was a feeling that they were tacked up on every student’s door). They were self-against-self, self-editing, or self-criticizing injunctions, known as The Three Paranoias:

1 The Paranoia of Survival

2 The Paranoia of Social Conformity

3 The Paranoia of Responsibility

Martin read over what he’d written of his dream carefully, keeping mentally in touch with the feelings and certainties he’d felt while dreaming. As he often did, he noticed upon looking back that there had been a reality surrounding the dream which was simply assumed, like the way everyone assumes the complex, meaningful world surrounding their waking identities. And there were vivid emotional nuances that he felt while dreaming, which he couldn’t get down on paper, just like with normal memories.

Martin placed his dream journal beside the bed again. He decided to go back to sleep, since there was nothing pressing he had to do that day.

He drifted into sleep, into sitting at a kitchen table, drinking coffee and looking across at the linear flux-time assassin, Voratio Santini.

Their table was in the middle of a low bridge stretching across a harbour. The grey colours of the scene seemed to shift around them, a blurry, rhythmic movement, like an image reflected in water. But Voratio’s form stayed sharp, the boundaries of his image remaining as dark, thick lines, like a character in a black and white animation.

Voratio took a deep breath through his nostrils, made a sweeping gesture with his hand, and said, with absolute conviction, “Wishful thinking assumes that what you desire is unlikely to occur, whereas making things really happen is accepting the idea that your firm, determined intent will in fact cause that thing to happen, step-by-step. If it doesn’t happen then you are being insincere in your conviction, there are hidden reservations in your psyche, or the intentions of others may be blocking you. It helps to have abundant energy and good concentration. Although the exploration of methods to take advantage of this is up to you, there are traditional ways, long ago worked out, which I highly recommend you avail yourself of.”

“That having been said, it is best that you work with the situation you find yourself in, such that you view it as having naturally arisen out of your individuality and decisions.” Voratio placed his hands palms down upon the table and thrust his face at Martin. An open, but grey sky framed Voratio’s angular features. “You have chosen me to be your representative of systems, of tried-and-true methods that can provide sure success along the path. I strongly suggest that you follow the few basic principles I am presenting to you. It is best that you not ignore the examples of the many who have gone before you.” He began to trace figures on the table with his finger, as if etching these basic principles into its wood. “Look for possible openings without setting your sights on one particular route, because the path of least resistance that would best fulfill your truest intent may be something you could not possibly foresee. It is not for you to plan out, in all of its ineffable details, the scenario of your ultimate fulfillment, as perhaps you already know.” Voratio looked at him searchingly, and maybe somewhat suspiciously.

“Yes.”

“So it comes down to not just focusing your attention on particulars, although that is important, but also on the overall intent of a thing, because to obsess over one part, is to neglect the whole.”

“Understood.”

“It seems to me that to a degree you are already informed in what I am telling you.” Voratio said, a little pointedly.

“Yes, but it helps to have someone as casually familiar in its actual implementation to explain it, to get a taste of that . . . casual assuredness.”

“Glad,” Voratio said, his face transforming into an enormous grin, “to be of service.”

Martin then saw a flash of movement within the top periphery of his vision. Voratio put his hand out quickly, grin vanishing, to catch his attention, but Martin was already looking up, at J. P. Infinity, who stood balancing on top of a high wooden pole, like the lookout on a sailing ship. Her sturdy, voluptuous form, along with the vitality that made her flesh firm, her glowing cheeks, her breasts, made her like a fruit-bearing tree, the wild hair on her head breathing the sky, the light. She had her hand up over her eyes, as if she were scanning for land, or saluting the horizon. Above her in the sky hung a full moon, shining.

The water surrounding them had become the endless, vast ocean, the unknown, the landscape of the unsaid. It remained hidden, unseen, like the deep ocean below you as you swim on your back, yet it seethed with an awesome, terrifying intelligence, infusing Martin with a secret excitement, an exquisite knowing. It was the genuine promise of mystery which has always yet to unfold, the true vastness of things, forever in between the lines.

She jumped, all in one motion, performing a swan dive, down into the abyss. He could feel her descent in his guts. He wanted to cry out, a victory howl, in celebration of her bravery.

At the last moment, just as the fingertips of her outstretched hands were about to break the surface of the deep, he saw that she had tied a bungee cord to her ankles. She bounced smoothly back up to the top of the pole, then gazed coolly down upon him, eyebrows raised, questioningly.

My most recent (science fiction) book is Gray World: Stealing Fire: https://theinfinitelivingroom.com/2012/04/13/gray-world-11/

Haunted Flesh Flames go to Dinner

They sort of careened into each other downtown, spinning around each other’s drunken trajectory, somehow instant friends, bonded by the endless night, by the pact of debauchery, all the edges of daily grinding, the hard knocks, and pay-the-bills headaches, put on hold. But all that was in the background, chasing them down with their drinks.

They followed Emmanuel up the hill, which seemed replete with buildings, superimposed on each other, stacked on each other; Emmanuel was taking in the surrounding city like an Escher painting, a new permutation of seeing double. It was all part of the film these people he met were making. They took advantage of their drunken ascent to get some choice shots. Unfortunately the twilight was only allowing them a few surfaces upon which they could project artistically meaningful and humorous phrases. They only got two in.

The phrases failed to really register on Emmanuel; it was their thing, this film business, and he only brushed up against it obliquely. Well, maybe it was becoming more his thing too. He was kind of escorting them, had fallen into the role of organizing the mood.

On the way they related to Emmanuel their intense distaste for cutthroat restaurant kitchens. They seemed to be getting across that they worked in such, to be giving Emmanuel their impression of them. They were using him as an audience, a sounding board for their displeasure at being used, being driven by the insane, selfish busyness of these greasy consumer culture kitchens, which trapped them in a double bind of ‘I need money but I hate this, and I am so much more but here I am trapped in these stuff-your-face factories, getting paid shit to do shit…’

They were like haunted flesh flames, and he could see their Celtic blood harking back in them, feeding their presence, that old proud fire, and they could be roaming the battlefield, a war band of headhunting picts, finally rising up to settle the score with the infidels who’d broken the bonds of honour.

Emmanuel took them into the restaurant at the top of the hill. He knew it would be different, a counterpoint. Inside it was mellow, respectful. The atmosphere was truly aesthetic, understated, beautiful in that soft, gentle way, reconciled with the hard lines of the world, finding balance and peace and sober artistry anyway, but not in spite—just so.

They sat down.

There was a subtle feeling from the kitchen. It was like a sort of concern, a conscientiousness that was intent to do well by them without being cloying. It was an intelligent feeling, the organized intent to create an aesthetically pleasing, efficient and enlightened atmosphere.

They were all simply wordlessly impressed by this. The kind of thing where your heart hurts because it is relaxing, when so used to constricting in defence.

Natalie’s eyes took on an odd focus then. She swore. They looked where she was gazing. Out the window, visible from a few blocks away, high up, was one of those eye-grabbing, digital animation advertisement billboards, the ones with the cleverly psychological phrases that dig into your psyche, trying to find that piece of ground to plant its flag into, to claim you for the corporate empire. Natalie didn’t say it, but it was clear how her reaction was a bitter reproach for the way it intruded into this beautiful, considerate restaurant realm. Cognitive trespassing.

Emmanuel didn’t react, continuing to let the atmosphere take him, to assume it as the rising sign of their evening. He watched as the haunted intensity slipped into a place that was like an opening in the woods, with mossy green rocks to sit on, and a river to contemplate, after walking out of the hardcore porn, quick easy buck, concrete jungle district. It takes a moment to adjust, but the contrast is clear, the effect obvious.

Lake Absorbs Knife

(A dream vignette based on a dream I had before getting any of my weirdly extreme/extremely weird, ‘Canadian writing’ published–not in Canada so far interestingly, it strikes me now, just in Germany, the UK and the States):

Emmanuel clambered down the embankment—the fastest way in—to the backyard, where the party was in full swing. He felt himself to be like a breeze blowing in, joining the whirlwind, the dust devil of the party, immediately blending in and mingling with them, popping a beer.

Shortly after he arrived, he noticed several closer friends seeming to circle around him in the way they positioned themselves in the crowd, while conveying by their body language a subtle message, as if they’d planned in advance some code to communicate with, like hunters in a jungle using sign language and bird calls, so as not to startle the prey. He didn’t actually make verbal contact with any of them, except for Micah who of course he connected with, since it was Micah’s party.

Eventually Emmanuel found himself in the kitchen, now nursing his second beer. There was that crowded party atmosphere of people flitting around, a haunted, frenetic inebriation, frothy champagne communing with itself.

He felt him first. There was a wave of unsettling force, welling up inwardly on the one hand, and at the same time coming from the door leading to the hall.

Joshua entered.

All the subtle cues from his friends came to a kind of point in Emmanuel’s mind and emotions, stirring up a complex tangle of inner trajectories. He wanted to continue the light mood he’d been enjoying since entering, yet due to the warnings and to his past experiences with Joshua, he was bracing, with a sort of ‘inner poker face balancing act’, for one of Joshua’s penetrating attacks, preparing actively not to react.

At first it seemed Joshua would just walk past in a fierce flow of haughty energy, letting the burnt bridgeness between them resolve itself, in this instance, as a cold, brief acknowledgement, before moving on quickly.

But then he stopped, turned to Emmanuel. He felt the room also bracing itself, everyone half listening, casting their attention toward them, while continuing their current fraternizing focuses.

At this point a few peculiar perceptual events took place.

Joshua, in a flash, seemed to alter his form in Emmanuel’s eyes, becoming, in mannerisms and even in physical appearance, to be like an old woman. To say he had become like a ‘scolding’ woman, would not do justice to the complexity of Joshua’s manifestation, to the depth of history also conveyed between them, in every fraction of a second. But there was something like that present; Joshua became like an old woman who presumed with intense emotional fierceness, self-justification, and righteousness, to have a say in Emmanuel’s life, regarding Emmanuel’s character. It was this sort of aggressively intimate, convoluted energy that Emmanuel had poised for.

He managed to remain neutral.

Also peculiar, was how Joshua reached out with his wine glass, and kind of hooked Emmanuel’s own, beer-holding hand and arm. He didn’t touch Emmanuel’s arm or his drink, but the energetic action of it was such that Emmanuel experienced it as a thrust into his personal energy field, as an opening up of a line of contact, in a certain clever sense—like a martial arts move.

This too was part of what Emmanuel had prepared for. He remained on his horse.

Then Joshua unleashed a volley of paragraphs. It didn’t appear directly to be a criticism. It was more complex than that–the nuance of his manoeuver consisted of a misdirection such that Joshua wasn’t, by his verbal content, overtly criticising Emmanuel, but by the way he said it–‘speaking on behalf of the collective’–he was allusively indicating that Emmanuel had sadly fallen short of this inarguable artistic commentary. So it had the character of a pronouncement with the clout of the collective will behind it, the collective opinion; it borrowed of that wider power signature, as in “This is the way things are objectively, as everyone agrees,” with the added sense of it being a highly elite and intelligent view that only could be formulated and understood by the very intelligent. It was something like a presentation of extremes, of poles of expression, which then looped the attention into ‘a middle’, to a kind of vacuum-like centre–‘the perfect area’–against which no one could argue, thereby conveying the inexorable conclusion that “Canadian Writing Is Too Extreme…”

Emmanuel knew enough not to react to this complexity, to just see it for what it was, and let it defeat itself, thereby countering Joshua’s literary kung fu with his own non-manoeuver of ‘lake lets knife sink to bottom’.

Plenty of Room

Emmanuel and Alex were in the club space. Emmanuel was aware of the space as a location where an indeterminate multiplicity of modalities came together.

To some extent it had the character of a laundromat—where complete strangers but also intimates all gather to wash their clothes.

It was also like a cafe.

But, more essentially, it was that space in which they had established a certain stability, within a mode of insight, a way of being and acting in relation to the collective world.

It was not exactly true to say that he and Alex had ‘figured this out’, because this insight-stability-location was inherently a work-in-progress, a focused art of improvisation.

The occasion at hand was about being there in the club space to receive Malcolm, who was coming along just now. They could see him passing by the window.

Malcolm was always coming by and was always welcome.

Malcolm pushed open the door and entered, came over and sat down at their table.

Emmanuel began to speak, to gesture, but mainly to convey via a species of non-verbal ideation, the nature of their stabilized-yet-dynamic insight club space.

Malcolm was taking it in like a regular cafe conversation at first, but then, as the import began to sink in, Emmanuel saw that the characteristic existential vertigo was affecting Malcolm—it was a feeling like suddenly becoming aware that there was an immense sky above one, silent, opening out vastly all around, and that the ordinary objects, and one’s very bodily being, were becoming unnervingly transparent, tenuous.

Predictably, Emmanuel began also to feel the unsettling vertigo, the ‘too high feeling’; it rubs off. Alex of course picked up on it too. But more strongly present was that stability, the matrix of insight feeding forward to Malcolm an equanimity, their hard-won certainty, via the momentum of long repetitive work or focused play.

Emmanuel remained poised, shifting into a light, improvisational mode, whereby he adopted the tactic of unfolding the expressive, dynamic feedback nature of the new stable space. He teased out for Malcolm the underground interplay of subtle perceptual-cum-communicative emanations they utilized consciously here, revealing how there was an ongoing, non-verbal stream-field of environmental energy that, in broadcasting everywhere, was also everywhere its own feedback—making it a highly flexible condition. The trick was to ride this with a certain attentiveness, to get the knack of synching up with it, learn to float words across to each other on its silent waves.

The nature of their improvisational flow was tuned to make it the new normal, the new everyday, just about adapting to a more thorough, more rich and resonant level; it was taking fuller advantage of what was already there.

And they could see now that Malcolm was getting it, saw him settling into his chair, relaxing into infinite potential space. 

Collapsing the Wave Function

To work with Frank was a mixture of being his colleague and of being his friend. It was pleasant to be in Frank and Sara’s large house. The ongoing motion of their lives was Emmanuel’s engagement for now. He noted that nothing in their possession was seen as terribly important in comparison to the self-evident flow of friend and family interactions. Presently Emmanuel was in this intimate flow, as they all poured into the kitchen.

In the kitchen the locus of attention naturally became the young daughter. She was so enchanting, so beautiful. Such a marvel. What a spell she was weaving on them now, without intending it, yet knowingly somehow, as an emissary from the heart of the smiling sun, holding her fragile arms out, gesticulating at them with her lazily flowing hair and shining, relaxed face, cradled in the arms of her father.

“Hello Amanda.” Their friend Harry said from a corner of the kitchen.

Amanda began to babble various things in response to this statement, her actions full of arcane meaning. Emmanuel strained to understand what she was saying… It was cryptic poetry, an announcement of the deep, sacred processes of her child’s mind, like the ripples of light cascading off the impossible complexities of a morning ocean. He seemed to catch some meaning in what she was saying: “You collapsed me into my name,” he thought he heard her say, with her arms sort of languidly floating into the atmosphere, bespeaking her primal innocent knowing, as a sigil of her status, honestly won as a newborn, as a mediator, at the gap between life and death.

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