In the old days science-fiction writers didn’t have to write so fast. But now reality has taken to outrunning the imagination. By the time you finish a draft, all you’ve got is something that reads like history.
In Leary’s terms, it’s like our whole world is on tilt. The following rap comes to us from the late 2050s.
Life is like this, what I’m going to tell you. So listen up.
You spend your first 30 years on a plateau, only you don’t know it’s a plateau. It’s flat, you see, and it stretches off forever, no end in sight.
Remember that youthful sense of immortality? Intellectually, you knew everybody had to die, yet your time extended so far ahead that this death sentence didn’t apply to you personally, not on a gut level.
Then, around the time you turned 30, you noticed your plateau had developed a slope. It was as though existence had tilted a bit, and you found yourself rolling forward. But no real problem. Not yet. It was only a few years later, when you realized the tilt was becoming more pronounced, that you were starting to pick up speed, and you thought: “Hold on, now. Let’s just stop here a while. Or maybe even go back.”
Except you find you can’t go back, and you can’t stop. In fact, now everything tilts faster and faster till you’re hurtling off towards the precipice.
That’s what they call life.
* Leary, Full of It: The Way Things Are, Vol. I (Reading Group, AD 2059).
That was Leary. The following is me:
But these days things are different. It’s as though the entire world is sliding into old age.
‘No, no,” says Big Zbig Slotsky. “That’s only humanity you’re talking about. Everything else is doing fine.”
Well okay, then. Best strap yourself in, fellow human beings.
Is it too late to take our collective foot off the gas?
In fact we need to think about exactly whose foot is on the gas. Who’s driving the bus, eh? I hesitate to refer to techno-utilitarian algorithmic engineering — an expression that makes its global debut in my new series of novels, though you shouldn’t refuse to read them on that account — and what it means in terms of how modern individuals and collectives are being shaped, what’s choosing our ends, and what’s responsible for the policies and actions leading us to those ends.
Just saying, eh?
* Leary. Who’s Leary? He was already something of a mystery when he first appeared to me many years ago. I was writing Bangkok Knights, my first book, and a minor character called Leary quickly took on real flesh, even though he was no one I’d ever known; he was in part a composite of people from my underground mining days and an oil platform worker I’d once met on a fishing boat. Leary’s main Bangkok hangout was Boon Doc’s bar. In Knights, Leary was in his early forties. He turned fifty several years later, in my novel Yawn. At this point in his life, he was partners with Big Toy and Dinky Toy in a Pattaya bar call Hot Licks, and he ran the Down Down Scuba Center, the diveshop next door. He was also writing a book called Half Full, the story of his first half century.
If you read my books MOM or Genesis 2.0 (the first two novels in the MAGIC CIRCLES series, you’ll meet the 115-year-old Leary, who, in MOM, is living in the ESSEA Mall, roughly where Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard used to be. With help from mid-21st-century nano-medicine, he’s still firing on most cylinders. By the time of Genesis 2.0, his pronouncements on existence are rather more Olympian. He’s now an ascended ebee, or “scendent,” biologically dead yet still living in the year ad 2059 in a generated reality known as Aeolia. He’s making notes towards a second book, this one called Full of It, and he has chosen this blogsite to channel his thoughts from the middle of the Third Millennium, a unique perspective looking back on the late 20th and early 21stcenturies. Collin’s books.
Don’t ask me how all this happened; I haven’t the faintest idea.
- Leary’s Laws.