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In Memoriam

As my pub date approaches, and Strange Flesh bursts forth to be fruitful and multiply, it feels appropriate to spend a moment to commemorate the thousands of sentences that perished in its at times gruesome fight for survival. Here then, I exhume a few valiant snippets to honor the dead:

I can’t help stopping to listen, but it appears that the proceedings have been waylaid by a debate about whether the league’s mandate covers exclusively poetry written in PERL or whether it also includes using PERL to write poetry in other languages, such as Old Elvish. Chairs were set up for a much more ambitious turnout than they received.
– – –
“So the guy was no Van Gogh right. Who checks himself out with untold millions in the bank?”
“Kurt Cobain?”
“That was murder dude. And I never saw Billy hanging around with any psychopathic coke whore.”
– – –
“Given the utter sterility of the stage in the nineties, I elected to pursue my interests in interactive automata.”

Ave brave phrases! Your sacrifice was not in vain.


Gray Goo

A high level Stranger recently sent me an autographed copy of this marvelous book. Whipping through it, makes me wonder whether Mr. Gibson is particularly adept at pushing my mental buttons, or whether he installed the panels to being with.

Hard to otherwise explain the unaccountable delight at turning a page to see the chapter title: Will We Have Computer Chips in Our Heads? [Jan 19, 2000].  Apparently a question frequently asked of him…

His answer boils down to “No” :

“It has to do with a certain archaic distinction we still tend to make, a distinction between computing and “the world.” Between, if you like, the virtual and the real.

I very much doubt that our grandchildren will understand the distinction between that which is a computer and that which isn’t.”

But I doubt they’ll lose the distinction between “the world” and “themselves.” That one’s refrigerator might one day recite The Inferno, doesn’t much signify to me. I want to know detailed biographies for every extra in The Big Lebowski in the same way I know that I love Chardonnay. “Be they glass or goo” I still want the Wet Interface I was promised.


Gnome Anatomy

So rather than writing my daily post, prescribed now for the run up to SF’s launch, I find myself pacing around my apartment contemplating certain physical aspects of Gnomes. Strangers of the 5th Circle and higher will understand why. The rest of you may have to wait a few months.

The delights of gnome anatomy notwithstanding, the pacing is clearly aversive behavior. Having attended a kind of art school, I’ve certainly witnessed my share of sensitive types wrestling with the vicissitudes of self-promotion. My internal reaction was always a good natured eye roll behind which I guess was the sentiment, “Get over yourself. It’s part of the job, and not really onerous compared to the demands of other types of work.”

So imagine the perverse delight I’m now taking in my own struggles in the same regard. Which makes me wonder: is feeling schadenfreude toward oneself a sign of incipient mental illness?

Fear not, Strangers, it’s surely nothing a glass of chardonnay won’t take care of.

Nice Review

Here is a nice review from Eva van Emden, an editor in Vancouver:


Like the rest of the world, I am an avid consumer of internet ailurophilia, so I find it quite exciting to see SF’s cover model being ogled by this particular feline. It is well known that cats, being sensitive to tenebrous mystical forces, are astute cultural arbiters. So I’ll consider this a propitious sign.

From our Friend Donatien

As someone whose book deals extensively with the Marquis de Sade, I’m always surprised when I find quotes I haven’t run across before. Today this little delight:

“All, all is theft, all is unceasing and rigorous competition in nature; the desire to make off with the substance of others is the foremost – the most legitimate – passion nature has bred into us and, without doubt, the most agreeable one.”

“Make off with the substance of others” feels like a particularly lovely turn of phrase.

The Strange Story


In response to your rather insistent queries, I’ve compiled a brief genesis story for the book for your delectation:

Strange Flesh Started — 06/16/2007

First graf:

“Fine Yuri. Just do it. I don’t care anymore.”
I can barely remember the words in Russian. It’s perhaps the wrong thing to say to an irate former Spetsnaz officer trying to insert the business end of an AK-47 into my nasal cavity.

Astute readers will note that no paragraph remotely like this one appears in the final version.

Above is the only picture I have of my desk around that time…


First Draft — 06/28/2009

Sent first draft deemed fit for human consumption to Dustin Thomason. He is co-author of the marvelous Rule of Four, and his latest opus 12/21 is on its way. It is delightful.
Dustin was kind enough to fix the book for me. Sample comment: “Do we really need a game within a game within a game within a game.” I’d like to say he was exaggerating.
That first effort was an excellent example of why software developers should be barred by law from writing novels. Suffice it to say that the “elegant recursive structure” I’d been so keen on, did not quite achieve the literary effect I’d imagined.


Second Draft — 11/06/2009

Draft #2 went to literary Lacedaemonian Jenn Joel. She’d been expecting a non-fiction project entitled “Brains in Vats,” and so was presumably surprised to receive this 185k word novel.

Highly diplomatic reaction: “This book… is not without its challenges.”

But apparently the Imp is strong in Jenn, and she agreed to train it for battle.


Third Draft — 08/08/2010

After several months of manuscript mortifying, we had a version possibly palatable to editors.

First line:

Gorno. That was the word he was reaching for. That was what they called this kind of thing: Gore Pornography.

After submitting it, of course I immediately decamped to the North Pole [Svalbard Norway] thinking 1) it would be nice to get as far away from the book as possible 2) it will take busy editors at least 3 weeks to read.

I returned from molesting polar bears to find an email inbox filled with increasingly strident notes from Jenn indicating that there were some editors wondering why she couldn’t produce me for a conversation about the book. She subtly implied that one generally waits until after one’s debut before pulling idiotic stunts like this.

This is a picture of me on vacation.



Sold! — 08/16/2010

Today Strange Flesh officially sold to thematic thaumaturge and semantic sorceress Sarah Knight at Simon & Schuster.
This precipitated a roughly year long period where I alternated bouts of intense editing with an ongoing attempt to enact an appropriately-scaled version of the prologue to Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park.

And So It Begins


Finally, I can accede to your clamoring for a more streamlined medium of correspondence. Henceforth all treatises, testimony, and trivia should be channeled through this site. Please discontinue use of all our previous dead drops, delivery depots, and dovecotes.

I trust you’ll enjoy the repast, and may your appetite be passing strong.

The Strange One