LOT 49



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This Shoal of Space. Written and re-written in the 1990s, this novel was the first SF HTML novel on the Internet, originally published under the title Heartbreaker by me writing as John Argo at our SFFH website The Haunted Village. In 1998, I retitled it This Shoal of Space. Earth is indeed a shoal of limitless space. As prelude to this story, Earth was the target of an alien invasion plan gone wrong a hundred million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the swamps of Earth. Now, in a small Pacific Coast town (San Tomas, California), by a fluke of coincidences, the long-dead ship's computer core comes back to life. The avatars on board begin actively to rebuild the ship and resume their conquest of Earth. Standing before them is a young trainee newspaper reporter named Zoë Calla, who begins to notice a series of murders at the town zoo. What unfolds is a dark journey toward truth and destiny for the planet and its inhabitants.

Sense of Wonder. On this subsite, I'm going to share with you some of my excursions into the realm beyond experience, and into the imagination. I'm not talking about fast food sex-guns-and-car-chases fiction, but really what became of a certain dreamy, romantic, struggling teenage poet who went on to write a lifetime of serious fiction. I hesitate to use the word 'literary,' which for many has connotations of snobbery and inbred myopia to the point of sectarian crowd-bullying. (I hated being an English Major; wish I'd run with my real passion, History and Languages.) These are full-fledged stories, character driven, from a world traveler and literature/Classics reader with something to actually write about.

Ultimately: de gustibus non disputandum. For a certain type of reader (think: fans of Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, William Golding, and so many other poetic novelists) this is ambrosia, food of the gods. For others, it's meh, blank looks, and move on. I totally concur {shrug} c'est la vie, or what-evvah!. Look, I'm a guy who also loved Arnold in Terminator and Predator, for example, and I wrote the second half of Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D. with that partially in mind. That's a little context for how Woman in the Sea came to be.

Poetic & Atmospheric. In many ways, this novel blends a moody, atmospheric poesy (a lyric, poetic symphony) with a strong plot and thoughtful character exploration. As with Ridley Scott's great movie Blade Runner (my all-time favorite) or a novel like Cordwainer Smith's The Planet Buyer, this is for audiences who seek more than sex, violence, and gratuitous chills. Don't get me wrong: DarkSF—the 'Dark Chocolate of Speculative Fiction' as I like to describe it—has plenty of action and character development, just like Blade Runner in fact, a film that was widely hated by critics seeking formulaic fast food, but is today recognized by most as a great work of art and one of the finest movies ever made. I knew that instantly while watching Blade Runner for the first of many times in a San Diego movie theater shortly after its wide release. I felt at home with it, because it spoke to my artistic soul, which loves to enter creative shaman space and sing of the atmosphere and wonder there. I know, bullies and trolls will howl with ridicule and cruelty at such notions amid their darkness and shallowness, poor beasts that they are; but this type of literature is ambrosia for enlightened souls.

Virtual Reality. Just as few people 'got it' with Blade Runner in 1982, and certainly Cordwainer Smith or James Tiptree, Jr. (actually Alice B. Sheldon were great artists but hardly household names, so a literate, poetic, or even epic style of writing is, well, not real but virtual. Add to that the fact that Woman in the Sea was/is actually a VR (virtual reality) novel before the concept came into popular view, and you have a mission lost in space. Not only was it probably the world's first SF HTML novel, but it foundered upon the shoals of complexity by exploring VR. More info here.