Editing is about half-way done. I’m just summoning the nerve to get it together into one cohesive thing, and say, that’s it done, come and see. Partly I’m worried that it’s not very good, partly I’m worried (as all creative types are) that people will come and look at it and see more of me in it than I’d like to admit. I’ve already said, I think, that the characters in Playing Doctor are downright disturbing. I wouldn’t like to identify with any of them too closely.
Moving on. To ease the boredom of editing I’ve started work on Euphoria, which instead of being a regular-sized novel (Playing Doctor is about 65K words) will be more like a short story, more like 25-30K. I think I already said it’ll be about everybody becoming infected by a disease that doesn’t behave like other diseases – rather than making them sick, cough and stay in bed, it makes them really happy, risk-taking, sex-having, dancing individuals.
Thematically I think it’ll be a sort of “satire” on the war on drugs, which has always struck me as absurdly draconian. I’ll give you an extract. Bear in mind I haven’t been sleeping much and this is red-hot, straight off the keyboard and into your brain. Anyway,
“Nobody knew what had caused it and nobody talked about it. People didn’t care any more. They had no motivation to think about it, or discuss it, or debate it. There was nothing that anybody could do. The fatalism of being those who remained was their sole motivation for existence. It was, so it was. We’re here because we’re here. The world is an insoluble problem, not to be discussed.
Only the provisional government who ruled with a rusted fist across the burning remains of the country still had the motivation to decrypt and decipher the mystery. In lead-lined bunkers scientists probed with needles finer than human hair and devices that used single electrons to probe and tease fact from the obdurate matter. In chilled rooms rank upon rank of sky-blue bodies glittered with frost under the neon lights. If the dead had a secret they kept it well, pressed into their bosom, unresponsive to all the tests that man could devise.
These men and women in their bunkers, surrounded by high-tensile wires that dispensed bolts of electricity only against the curious wildlife, and chain-link fences designed to keep armies out, and armed guards with armour-piercing bullets they never fired, these men and women were unconcerned with the world. It was their sacred role to understand, and with the elegance of priests they dutifully carried out their worship of the god Science. Around them the countryside burned, the grass soaked with propane and napalm, and the clouds of carbon and sulphur drifted into piles and rose into the sky. They could be seen across the curve of the earth, in Europe, and video-link footage weaved its way telephonically across the globe to appear on newscasts as far away as Los Angeles and Shanghai. A whole country was being systematically burned. Forests from Weymouth to Nottingham were alight, and burned through the night, and could be heard as far away as Cardiff. Wheat fields were sprayed with napalm from rotating squads of black helicopters. Roving crews of neoprene-covered soldiers shone lamps of liquid fire into the night, always on the move, smoke-blackened and rendered dumb by what they had seen and been a part of. Already whole crews of men were disappearing into the smoke and the dark, never to be seen or heard from again, and nobody knew what happened to them, if they were defective or just defecting. “
You can see i’m aiming for an eerie, 28-days-later sort of feel, without actually directly paying homage. Speaking of which, 28 Days Later is one of the best films ever made. I just thought I’d point that out.
I don’t have a joke to end on, but here’s a soundcloud embed of a Gary Numan song and a picture. Hey, you remember Cars, right? Well Gary Numan’s doing some dark shit these days.
And here’s a picture of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. I wish she was real.