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Wendigo Mountain

February 22nd, 2008

Journal Info

Clint Harris


February 22nd, 2008

Remember those volcanoes in elementary science class?  You know, the ones where you mix baking soda and vinegar and get the dang thing to bubble up in an eruption of stinky foam?  Sheer joy.  It was the closest thing to controlled pyrotechnics we were ever allowed during grade school.  Even today I smell that smell and get excited.  I start looking around for displays of brains or marine animals in jars and people crushing heated soda cans by sticking them in water.  Science fairs had that effect on me as a kid.

Last night, LOST gave me that feeling once again. The fires of my inner geek were stoked the moment John Locke pulled a copy of VALIS off Ben Linus' bookshelf.  For years I've been watching the show, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on.  Even the slow season when they didn't do much but flash back and forth between the tail-section survivors and the rest, I was into it.  I held on for an entire season of John Locke pushing the button instead of whooping some ass.

This season is back to kicking some serious butt.  It has become the subject of discussion at water coolers, internet forums, and the dinner table yet again.  But last night especially, somebody poured that vinegar into the baking soda of my soul and the chemical reaction than resulted was just like being a kid again.

I recognized the book immediately and could hardly get out the words.  "That's Philip Dick!  John Locke is reading Philip Dick!  What the heck does that mean!  It's got to mean something or they wouldn't have put it there.  Tell me what it means!!!"

Truth be told, it might mean nothing.  For whatever reason, I got VALIS confused with UBIK and for a moment, the entire mystery of the island unfolded before my eyes, as sure as I had been shot with a pink laser by a gnostic satellite drifting in space.  My thoughts raced, "They are all dead.  Just like in UBIK and slowly their world is crumbling as their combined consciousnesses wink out one by one."  It was only this morning that I realized the book was VALIS and I was back to being clueless again.  "What's this got to do with God being a satellite transmission?"  Who knows.  Maybe everything.  Maybe nothing.  Makes as much sense as the smoke monster being the Black Rabbit from Watership down I guess.

So, in all honesty, I think the writers were giving a wink, a nod, a shout-out to their fans and fans of Philip K. Dick.  Maybe some day LOST will be like Oprah's Book Club, inspiring people to rush out to the bookstore the next day to buy whatever John or Sawyer or Benjamin Linus are reading this week.

Anyway, it was good to see VALIS in the show.  It shows that the writers might actually be on top of things.  As though the last three seasons weren't proof of this.  But to me, it also says that they walk among us.  The lowly geek fans of the show.  Those of us who read Philip Dick and various others who most people only experience as bad movie plots, rather than the masterpieces of science fiction literature that they truly are. 

The writers of LOST are among us.  And they are listening.
Remember that riff from Guns 'N Roses?  If so, I'm sorry I've gotten it stuck in your head.  Complete with Slash's pedantic guitar solo.

I checked out Fantasy Magazine's "blog for a beer" subject today and saw that the subject was "Musical blog for a beer."  Oddly enough, movements in genre writing often reflect musical movements, as well as literary and art movements.  One of the big deals is cyberpunk, as discussed on my rants about Johnny Mneumonic.  And yes, to the die hand readers, I know that Johnny Mneumonic is not cyberpunk in the way Snow Crash is cyberpunk.  But not everyone has read Snow Crash.

Anyway, tacking the word "punk" at the end of words doesn't have to be the end.  No no no, sweet child of mine!  When the 'punk era of SF ends, gone will be the day of steampunk and cyberpunk.  ArenaHairFic will rein supreme.  Starting off in the seedy clubs and backdoor whiskey bars of Sunset Strip, writers will embrace their inner straight male lesbians and put on the fishnet stockings, friz their hair, and learn to type in falsetto to blazing riffs, tricky hooks, and pedantic sililoquies that would make Slash blush.  Writers will appear in stadiums where they cast aside their Remington Rand manual typewriters and plug in their HighRes 8 ghz laptops, complete with ties and scarfs attached to the USB jack, editors, agents, and other roadies will hang out, passing out free drugs to fic-groupies, book-sluts, and naughty-librarian types.  The writing might suffer under the pressure of drugs, sex, and run-ins with the law, but for a time, HairFic will be king.

Eventually when fans tire of wearing mascara and having raw meat and livestock tossed onto them at book signings.  Authors will no longer yell out "show me your tits!" to busty girls in tiny t-shirts bearing the cover art of the novel on tour.  Those days will have faded and the stories will be seen for what they are, low quality, editor driven pablum.

"Reader-writer" stories will emerge again, with writers taking to the streets, pecking out short-stories on the corner for loose change, yet all the while keeping focus on what is important--the writing.  Cyberpunk writers will cash in on this movement, returning to the scene "unplugged" and trying to rejuvenate their subgenre for those who enjoy independent writers and low-tech, unagented fiction. 
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