Wait long enough, and even your best in-jokes’ll get stolen

In the fall of 1992, I commited to my hard drive (where it was to stay) some three hundred pages of an unforgiveably awful, utterly unpublishable novel: a work of vaguely noirish but otherwise genre cyberpunk I called The Carbon Sutra. And in this book our protagonists, SFPD detectives Thuy Tran and Sean “Chunkstyle” Salinas, happen to chase their prey into and through an illegal club called Lush Mechanique…

[T]hree floors of moiling frenzy, sweat and gender panic. Making it all even better, all that polymorphous kink in full bloom in direct view of the Supes’ chambers, under the blind aegis of so much civic respectability.

The upstairs a black box, superheated, bodyhumid and stale with skunky potsmoke. Packed up here – the DJ, a local favorite named Lamprey, cut back and forth against the backing track, playing silence like a drum, dropping an antipercussion of rapid-onset quiet into the spaces between beats, and in general fucking shit heavily up. The crowd responded in kind: you could feel something formless and a little scary rising as an undertow as the beat got heavier, harder, faster, denser. The individual movements of dancers across the floor went still jerkier, epileptiform and jagged as the BPM count headed north of 220.

The grind rose to an all-but-unbearable intensity for almost a full minute, then broke into abrupt, angular silence, as if the DJ simply couldn’t maintain that level of output. A burst of chant exploded from the dancefloor, filling the void to its edges – “ATTACK! DECAY! SUSTAIN! RELEASE!” – then the beat picking back up as the final hoarse sibilant hissed into nothingness.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty clever. But now look. That’ll teach me to bury my work.

Punks.

3 responses to “Wait long enough, and even your best in-jokes’ll get stolen”

  1. igj says :

    Unpublishable? Neh…plenty of works of the pseudo-cyberpunk-y ilk out there that saw the light of day that were TRULY unreadable…

    Now, if you meant unpublishable due to your own code of standards and internal measures for quality, that is a different story. But there was a time when I was sure that book was going to click with some ‘dare to be hip’ publishing house.

  2. John the Statistician says :

    Archive Fever, indeed

  3. stavrosthewonderchicken says :

    “ATTACK! DECAY! SUSTAIN! RELEASE!”

    Sounds like the story of my life. In fact, I think I might steal that for the title of my, er, long-awaited autobiography.

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