SkyFi :: September 2019 :: Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson
Since 2011 or so I have been a part of a generally Science Fiction themed book club in Brooklyn. Most of us are architects, but we have a few other friends to bring some much needed escape from our insular community. I try to write up a record of our meetings and the shimmering cloud of discussion and reference sparked by the books we read each month.
SkyFi September 2019
On the subject of Shadowbahn.
Steve Erickson's disassociated melancholic journey through a fragmented disintegration of alternate time lines was captivating in its low hum of dread. This one touched on all the heart stings of the group with its heavy musical influence, refined post modern prose, and speculative fiction. There is apparently event a Spotify, or Pandora, or whatever hot streaming music service the kids use these days, play list out there for the music buffs of the group (Paul maybe you can share this). Paul and I were the only ones present that had made the full voyage through the temporal slippages, and unfortunately Nate had to miss the meeting with the nasty bug that has been floating around, so the discussion was somewhat short as to allow everyone else to finish the book. I definitely recommend this, it is a fast read, especially for the not so linear multiple overlapping time-lines and realities aspect of it all.
Some moments of joy (which I am seriously questioning about myself) came in the subtle vanishing of songs from the fathers play lists during is decent into a madness after life. The closer reading to find the missing titles made the literary connections and misalignments of the list more vivid, I recommend reading it out loud to really feel it roll off the tongue. The use of the twin towers as a symbol of a modern void in the soul of American, was at first obvious and later more insidious as the tone of the book creeps into the folly of loss.
There was also the classic American catharsis of the open road, the brother's and sister's road trip from LA to Michigan as a chance to unfold long trauma and tune into the shifting frequencies of time emanating from the beacon of the twin towers. Their personal journey is both beautifully touching and heart wrenchingly sad. The drive brings them closer together as a family, airing stale emotions, and ends in ... well, I will leave that till next time once everyone has made the trip.
And now for the real reason we all come here, make this time each month (or so) and spend a few hours as jolly nerds, the tangents, misadventures, new media, and nostalgia ignited by the reading and the skyfi crew. My notes ended up on a napkin this week, most likely in a strange order, just let it sink in I suppose :).
I am excited to watch this one - and it reminds me of an old video game my friend and I used to play - Interstate 76, full of dystopian 70's scifi dessert road rage fun.
There were a few references (I think initiated by Rachel) to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, the notables being, The Room, Sharnado, and No Holds Barred.
Amazon released a mini-series adaptation of China Mieville's The City & The City that is pretty good. strange and noir with an interesting take on the overlapping realities of two cities in one place. An interesting parallel to the disassociated time lines of Shadowbahn, perhaps The Country & the Country.
I recently reviewed an essay for a journal exploring the connection between David Lynch and Franz Kafka, specifically around Twin Peaks: The Return. Paul highly recommends this one, I actually started the first episode, it feels like a deep one, will have to focus. Rachel then brought up David Foster Wallace's essay on David Lynch. Joe, this one is for you, please provide a 1000 word synopsis and critical reflection for out next meeting on October 31st.
David Lynch Keeps His Head - David Foster Wallace: http://www.lynchnet.com/lh/lhpremiere.html
Alfred Bester made it into potential discussion for our next reading, the Stars My Destination has been on our list for a awhile and a few people have read dome of his work in The Demolished Man and The Deceivers. I am particularly interested in hi Virtual Unrealities short story collection, perhaps a post Halloween experience.
For next time (this is a quick one, or a double feature, depending on your preference)
We went classic for this month with Olaf Stapledon
Last and Fist Men & Star Maker
We originally chose Star Maker, but it is pretty short, so if you are so inclined we can do a double feature with the related novel - Last and First Men. They come conveniently bundled here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486219623/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Next meeting on Thursday October 31st?
Until next time, keep looking up, or in, or over there.