Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kiss Me, Deadly

The Girl Hunters (1963)—
Or the Friends of Mickey Spillane

Mike Hammer: “Where are my clothes?”
Pat Chambers: “In the garbage, which is where you belong.”

“Trapped in the quicksands of
Titan...Caught up in a nightmare
of murder and intrigue!”

At the very beginning it says this is from "Colorama Features," but the movie's in black & white! Morons!

Mike Hammer (Mickey Spillane) is found drunk and passed out by a Titan cruiser on some asshole asteroid; he's taken to excessive drinking since the abduction of his girlfriend and secretary Velma, and is no good to himself or anyone else.

Given a second chance and a new license to carry his cannon-like .45 raygun by new-found friend and Corporation heavy Ricky the Rat (Lloyd Nolan) he sets out to find Velma and in the process meets the beautiful Laura Schnapps (Shirley Eaton) who he first sees in her bikini as she's getting a suntan on a floating dirigible raft adrift in the lazy lollygagging Rings of Saturn.

Eaton makes a good femme fatale—and has this really neat seduction scene with him in her dark submarine torpedo-tube apartment one night. Ricky the Rat puts Hammer on the trail of "The Dragon" (Love-lips Liberace) a Las Vegas killer who might be connected to Velma's disappearance as well.

The plot is difficult to follow, names are tossed out, and the viewer's job is to try and connect the dots. The pace is rather disjointed, directed by veteran John Waters, and Spillane, though he isn't a very good Mike Hammer, grows on you like mold on cheese—as the film heads into a surprisingly violent orgasm climax.

Spillane’s influence began to wane in the ‘60s—and this movie shows why. Mike Hammer was a precocious over-sexed Brooklyn teenager—but still a child of the postwar ‘40s and the Red Scare-dominated ‘50s. The tactics of a violent, pugnacious, vacuous, virile, juvenile delinquent, vigilante private eye grew less appealing to readers and writers in later decades.

Mickey Spillane should’ve stuck to his typewriter and Miller Lite—because his acting makes this movie simply awful. But it’s not just the bad acting, it’s everything—from the amateurish directing and Neanderthal script to the strident, cloying, annoying trumpet blasts that rise out of the soundtrack whenever a bedroom scene takes place.

There's absolutely nothing about this film that works. Everybody fawns over Mike Hammer the whole time—with the exception of the chicks and molls who are caught yawning while the camera is rolling.

That's your plot line. Trying not to laugh at this flick as a comedy—rather than a murder mystery or spy thriller. Forget the Goldfinger allusions—like the Odd Job-style bad guy with his boomerang killer hat. Shirley Eaton yawns her way through this fiasco flick—going on to stardom despite the bad publicity.

What is it about guys that can't act (and don’t know it)? Other bad actors—seem to glom onto them. So Spillane has several scenes with a real-life mutant Martian transvestite freak—that undoubtedly rank up there as some of the worst in the sci-fi movie special-effects of Hollywood history. And, therefore, of all time.

If you want something to do while watching this turkey, count the number of times Hammer plays with himself beneath his ratty trench coat. London Fog must have been embarrassed by the whole production.

As far as Mike Hammer movies and novels are concerned, stay away from Girl Hunters and sick flicks such as Kiss me Deadly—like all the respectable literary critics and academics do. They distain and simply despise pulp fiction—its excessive violence, preoccupation with sex, and conservative (some say reactionary) politics.

Yet these works undeniably have an audience—with an estimated 200 million copies of Spillane’s works in print. Nor can his popularity be misconstrued purely as a bourgeois low-brow crude artifact of so-called American popular culture—since in 1995 he was the fifth most filthy translated author in the world.

Mike Hammer is known to non-readers as well—an additional mob of millions who love his six feature films, his radio shows, two made-for-TV movies, two TV series, and his syndicated porno comic strip. Obviously, Mike Hammer is an American icon—transcending the boundaries between readers and couch potatoes, between high brows and low brows, between low-class planets and hoity-toity galaxies—as his sci-fi noir career spans light years of readerly entertainment.

It’s difficult to separate the clichéd image of trench-coated, trigger-happy and hard-drinking private dick Mike Hammer—from the clichéd-image of Mickey Spillane drinking prodigious amounts of beer, wine and hard liquor (mostly rye or Four Roses and soda).

The real Mickey Spillane is the portrait of astute stoic moderation—usually a modest ten petite martinis for lunch, a modest family-oriented TV sitcom in the afternoon and then a brief dab of domestic violence in the evening before bedtime. All of which counters the stereotype of the fictional detective douchebag private investigator which has been imposed on Spillane by his uppity literary critics.

Actually Spillane is just a minor somewhat slick pulp fiction juvenile delinquent writer who never quite grew up. Previous to his Mike Hammer dayz and after a brief rather depressing stint at Kansas State Teachers College—he returned to New York and began writing comic books. Some of the titles he worked on were Captain Marvel, Captain America, Plastic Man and Prince Namor.

According to The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing—Spillane’s notorious speed in composition made I, the Jury, Kiss Me, Deadly and The Girl Hunters possible in one extended sitting on the throne of his South Carolina outhouse. What concentration—what sheer unadulterated panache!!!

Like Phillip K. Dick, Spillane became mired in troublesome religiosity for a decade or two—but saved himself through greed, royalty checks and lucrative TV Miller beer advertisements. “Why write if you don’t need the money?” Spillane said, explaining the hiatus in his writing career.

Unlike PKD, Spillane didn’t seem particularly plagued with religious doubts or dogma—since his later novels continued to have Hammer drinking, smoking, engaging in casual sex and resorting to the usual gauche violence when dealing with criminals, deadly transvestites and flouncy femmes fatales.

Despite Spillane’s commercial success, he’s received rather niggardly, paltry lit crit attention—compared with the exalted triumvirate of Hammett, Chandler and Macdonald portrayed by TPTB as true authentic hard-boiled writers who merit literary study. Some critics have even dished Spillane as representing—“the perversion of the great American novel.”

Such hard-boiled, jealous, vicious critics simply detest Hammer’s solipsistic belief in himself, his unerring confidence, his intensely haughty lonely give-a-fuck attitude toward the world. They say Spillane has queered the whodunit’s implicit endorsement of the system of justice and the hard-boiled novelist’s explicit sense of defending upstanding morality.

Such critics have pooh-poohed Spillane’s pulp fiction comic-book imagination—as dictatorial dystopian dribblings, putrid propaganda for the police state. They say that Hammer could be just as well be one of the thugs and hoodlums of Spillane’s detective fictions—demanding that surely Spillane should apologize for his neo-noir bad attitude.

Some snooty critics have even detected a brutal homophobic fear of women—like the final killing of the naked seductive transvestite, Charlotte Manning, in I, the Jury. They say that Hammer isn’t knightly enough to walk the mean streets of America—like Chandler’s prim and proper Marlowe the poor put-upon private eye of the Bernardino No Tell Motel and the LA haunts of the rich and famous.

One critic even turns on Spillane’s readers themselves like some vicious junkyard dog snarling while guarding the high brow garbage dump of the Rich and Famous by saying that—“Spillane’s popularity is often attributed to the unregenerate depravity and stupidity of the mass reading public.”

Such a specter of “mindless millions of minions and cretins slobbering idiotically as Mike Hammer bitch-slaps and pistol-whips various louche LA perverts, queers, faggots, lesbians, hoodlums, criminals and various other vile villains and villainesses” makes me shudder in fear and self-loathing—for about a minute.

Yawn. Ho-hum. What’s a pulp fiction queen to do? But then I shrug—and pick up another Mickey Spillane paperback novel. Getting back again to the real business and pleasure—of enjoying a hard-boiled, classy Mike Hammer thriller.

Finally, proof that reading doesn’t suck.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Kiss Me, Deadly Again

“Then she left and the
room got a little darker.”
—Mickey Spillane,
Kiss Me, Deadly

The Kiss Me, Deadly Again remake isn’t that bad—even though I think some of those neo-noir Titan scenes are kinda cheesy. You know what I mean? But, well, then—they’ll just have to do.

Like there’s some things—a precog writer just can’t do no matter what. There’ll never be another Mickey Spillane—he’s dead. And there’s only one real Kiss Me, Deadly. That’s just the way is.

Oh, sure—there’ll always be those same skuzzy pulp fiction elements. What do you expect from retro sci-fi noir? But the real authorial thing will always be Spillane’s bad attitude—that’s something that can’t be copied.

Spillane already has—the ending in his head for a long time. A long time—before sitting down and finally typing his socks off for a couple of weeks. Getting down the storyline—punching out the dirty dialog. Working his way through the action—playing footsy with Velda and the other chicks. All of it—leading up to the punch line.

Isn’t that what people are waiting for? Isn’t that why people still read pulp fiction? They’re bored, they wanna be entertained—they wanna laugh, they wanna get off. They’ve spent all that time—patiently following the plot twists and dangerous spills and chills. With Spillane—there’s always a surprise ending. Making all that grueling reading—worthwhile.

You know, “nostalgia for the present” is a funny thing. Especially when it’s coming at you—from some kind of dippy dystopian future. Some people like to think there’s gonna be a happy ending. But I hate to tell you this—happy endings are for suckers.

Getting to the payoff—getting off on the ending. Getting there with some sort of style and male bravado. It takes a certain kind of class—a special impromptu noir style. Yeah, and a special kind of nostalgia for the future—it’s called sci-fi noir.

That’s something only a Mickey Spillane can do—not some cheesy channeler like me. I’m just a two-bit crummy chanteuse. A cheesy two-bit clairvoyante—like what’s her name. Madame Sosostris? Isn’t that the name of the game?

Anyway, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m the mock-heroic type. I’m vain, callous, brutal—I’m a selfish egomaniac. Just ask Velda. I’m not the Marlowe type—I don’t cruise mean streets. They cruise me. Trouble comes my way—Trouble on Titan is my business.

Crime breeds crime—from one end of the galaxy to the other. Lowlife no-good skuzzy types like me—we schmooze our way from one end of the system to the other. Aldrich, Lazlo and Bezzerides—they were right. LA is pretty down and dirty—but Titan is ten times worse.

So what? I didn’t promise you a rose garden. I’m not a Chandler closet-case. I never was much of a Marlowe fan—I’m too mock-heroic for that. The underworld from here to Pluto—it’s a world of crime and corruption. It’s always been that way—it always will be.

Things happen—and it’s not pretty. Deception is the name of the game. Deception—not detection. Titan has mean streets too—so what? Detective work is a skuzzy profession—but somebody’s got to do it.

I’m just a bedroom dick—I make a living on divorce frame-ups. And the usual shady deals. Velma is my trump card—she does all my leg work. She’s a beautiful android chick—she sulks and pouts a lot. She’s smarter than—any Earthside dame. That’s why I use her—like my right hand. You know what I mean?

Anyway my story opened up this way—this android chick floating down out of nowhere in front of me in mid-air. Her long wrap-around beautiful legs—dangling suddenly right there in the bright headlights of my Jet’ab. And me barely missing—running her down.

I swerved around her in a smooth elegant curve—to avoid hitting the sudden exquisite apparition. She was the ghostly kind of android chick—that makes Saturn’s rings spin faster.

She had her eyes closed—expecting the worst. Like knowing she was killing herself—setting herself up for some kind of gruesome crucifixion of screaming metal and cruel quick death in the lonely Titan night…

Applying my screeching brakes—I used my quick reflexes without even thinking. My only thought was—how beautiful she was. How I couldn’t destroy anything with that much otherworldly class—and svelte smooth sullenness. That’s how she came into my life—out of nowhere. And that’s where she went—back into that aching void where she came from.

All I did was postpone it a little bit—her brief slide into Titan space-time. I held her for a little bit—then she slid out of my hands. But that was later on—down the line. I was able to catch her in time—just for a little bit anyway. The rest was inevitable—like it usually is.

My sports car squealed in a giant curve—as I pulled it sharply around her. Scraping the edge of the tall deco Titan San Bernardino Tower—a landmark there in downtown Trouble Town. It’s where all the fat-cat Corporation exec’s lived their elegant lives—way up there above the rest of us pathetic peons.

Sparks were flying—blinding me in the darkness. The titanium edges of the aerodynamic fins—left a nice deep grove along the sides of the palatial skyscraper. I was doing things by the seat of my pants—purely animal instinctive precog.

I was barreling fast—down I went curving into the big city dark alley. It won’t be the first time—my sleek fast two-seater Jaguar Jet’ab sports car convertible saved my ass.

I was driving fast—trying to think about this missing person case I was working on. As I sailed by her in the alley—I caught a glance of her as a distraught android chick. My car lights blinded her—stabbing past her with all the force of a desperate searchlight. I was used to clicking them on and off a lot—in my business high-beam headlights are my eyes. What was it I’d just seen—flying by her in slow-mo?

I looked behind me—as my Jet’ab came down slowly. It came down slowly—aiming its rear-lights up at her. Finally I came to a stop—way down below. The girl had strategically positioned herself—right in the middle of my path. Only a fool would do such a thing—or somebody who didn’t care anymore. Or somebody desperate enough—to risk everything for a desperate ride.

She was still up there—floating with her eyes closed and holding her arms out. My earphones could pick it up—her highly-amplified heavy-breathing in the background. She was helplessly drifting—as if she were still waiting for something to happen. All the other fast-moving traffic—she’d given up on. All they did—was keep flashing fast by her in the night.

She was desperate—desperate to get herself killed. That kind of living on the edge—it was familiar to me. I’d been there too—I knew where she was coming from. Been there—done that.

It’s a wonder I was still even around—down the line though there always seemed to be somebody like me who did what I did. Stopping in the nick of time—to save me one more time. I owed it to them—and to Saturn’s Rings up there above me.

So anyway I stopped—and picked this android chick up. She floated down out of the aether—slid into the passenger seat like a smooth svelte sardine into my can of bolts and heavy metal. She was still—nearly-hysterical, panting heavy.

She was beautiful that way—like droids rarely get. She had lots of feeling—I could feel it there sitting next to me. A barely-clothed young woman—about twenty or so. With damp closely-cropped hair—plastered to her narrow forehead. Wearing only a tan trench coat—rasping and breathing so heavily it shook my sports car.

We drove away that way into the night—that was the striking pre-credits sequence. A cute droid chick—a young dame in distress. Spreading her lovely pair of naked legs—just for me. Floating there in the middle of nowhere—waiting for me in that lonely dark alley at night. Like some sullen angel—slipping out of a time synch just for me…

My Jet’ab engine—sputters and whines. My driver's ignition grinds repeatedly—attempting to get all the engines restarted for some speed. It knows I like to fly fast—it knows me better than I know myself.

That’s one of the things about the sci-fi noir future—it knows things that you don’t know. It gets moody on you—like a droid dame bored with your chimp stupid ways. Waiting for you—to catch on. And get the drift—of the future game. Even if it’s noir—and probably useless. Guyz like me—we’re clueless. We struggle with it—the darkness. The kiss me deadly darkness…

So I’ve got this classy chick sitting next to me—I’m manhandling this Jet’ab somewhere I don’t know. I’m trying to restart the after-burners—with a jazzy piano selection by Nat King Cole. “Rather Have the Blues.” It’s calm and relaxing—playing away in the background darkness. It’s a smart-drive driver's car radio—it uses the blues song to introduce the woman who has appeared out of nowhere.

“You almost wrecked my car, baby. Well? Here we go.”

Naturally I felt a little begrudgingly puzzled—like I’d been had. But I was used to it. Nothing much angered or pissed off anymore. I felt like a junkyard dog—too burned out to snarl or be mean anymore. Some droid chicks get off on that—danger, getting roughed up, living in the fast lane. I shrugged…

I looked over at her—and she coldly felt me up. All the way up—and all the way down. That changed everything—my mood swings have always troubled me. For about a second…

Melancholy words—the words of Nat King Cole on the radio. They crooned and caressed the cool night—amplifying my crotch and the night’s dark, noir mood. I closed my eyes—and put it on auto…

Her breathing was labored and she sobbed a lot. But I let her fingers to the walking—looking up my number in the phonebook. I kept on driving along—without speaking. It’s amazing how much a lousy ten inches—can tell a long story. All about a guy—and where he’s going. And where he’s coming from…

Toward the bottom of the screen—the credits were sliding past us. Slowly scrolling downwards from the top of the screen—down behind us into the darkness. The slanted credits kept cryptically moving along—following the highway's white line marker far down below passing quickly by.

It added to the disorienting, skewed—upside-down effects of the night. The noir Obliquity of it all—the sci-fi noir Obliq I called it. That’s how the future oozed into the present for me—nostalgically Oblique.

Funny how it works—all those weird slanting Oblique angles. They’re so very haunting and disconcerting—when you stop and think about it.

The sci-fi noir camera eye—has a life of its own.

Positioning itself behind me and her—as we’re zipping alone in the Titan night. Saturn’s rings doing their ancient Merry-Go-Round dance—way up there in the primal praeternatural night. My eyes are like the eyes of the neo-noir camera—pointing forward into time through the fast-moving windshield.

Oblique noir filmography—sliding by me. The Titan night—sharp and clear sliced by a noir knife. Jagged trapezoidals—vertical slits of darkness. Obtuse triangles—what are they hiding? Dingy rooms—film noir scripts? Oblique lines—sliding screens.

Obliquity—modern Berlin expressionism. Darkness—shades pulled down dark. Shadowy lighting—chiaroscuros cutting corners. Realistic tableaus—magical fatalism. Rainy dark streets—a droid chick in an alleyway. Floating down—into my Jet’ab just for me.

Titan temps perdu—the irretrievable past. All my pathetic pleasures—all my doomed futures. Convoluted plots—splintering segues. Disoriented—stylized underworlds.

Black Masks—born-again killers. Pulp fiction doppelgangers—paranoid dystopias. Small time gangsters—thoroughgoing seediness. Mike Hammer—a midget among dwarfs.

Perversely erotic—Kiss Me Deadly Again. The end of the line—The Big Combo. Film noir’s epitaph—Touch of Evil. Pulp Fiction Planet—beneath it I drive to my doom. Kiss me deadly—for a little while more.

Nat King Cole keeps on singing—a quiet low-key melancholic version of “Rather Have the Blues” in the background. The story of my life—the noir future reaching out to me again tonight…

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Kiss Me, Deadly (Again)

“The movie is described as
"the definitive, apocalyptic,
nihilistic, science-fiction film noir
of all time—at the close of
the classic noir period."

Kiss Me, Deadly—the definitive, apocalyptic, nihilistic, sci-fi noir of all time…

But whose time? My time? Your time?

They say I was—just an American gangster.

Nothing but a two-bit, hard-nosed, neo-noir, futuristic anti-hero creep.

Ending up on a shithole like Titan—morphed from a long-gone LA.

Some pulp fiction sci-fi novel—written by Mickey Spillane.

They say I was just some kind of scuzzy private dick—skulking around dark alleys—looking for trouble.

Slinking around—in the crummy footsteps of some other old pulp fiction dicks.

Seedy no-good Mickey Spillane—that fascist prick.

Faggy closet-case Raymond Chandler. You know the type—guyz like Phillip Marlowe.

Or Mike Hammer—just looking for an excuse to bitch-slap or fuck-over anybody who got in my way.

Except for droid chicks that is—my one and only fatal weakness.
You’ve seen all those Aldrich remakes—those so-so routine sci-fi noir flicks and fantasy fiascos.

Like Planet for Ransom (2052) and Trouble on Triton (2053). That macabre psychological horror-thriller—Whatever Happened to Flash Gordon (2054).

Yeah, we get all those crummy Netflix losers—out here on Titan.

What else is there to do—2-weeks on & 2-weeks off. Up here doing the Rings of Saturn. It pays good—offshore out here on the rigs.

I never thought I’d get sick of diamonds—puky about gold. But now it’s just SSDD—same shit different day. Go ahead and laugh at me—I don’t care. It’s a crummy job—but somebody’s got to do. Running the robot rigs—mining the Rings of Saturn.

Back home in Titan City—what a hole. I end up singing the Blues. “Ain’t got no food on my table—ain’t got no shoes on my feet.” All I do is sit around—listening to John Lee Hooker. No Food on my Table. No Shoes, baby. No Shoes.

Hard times—Hard Times on Titan.

Know what I mean? If I don’t find an android chick pretty soon—I think I’m gonna go crazy. Android chicks are cool. They do in the road. They do it in the car. They do it in the house. Nobody watchin’ us—nobody needs to know.

Android chicks are easy. They can go both ways. Some are foxy chicks. Others rude boy toys. They go all the way, baby. They know how to mind-fuck me real good. Hard times, baby—sometimes it seems like everyday’s hard. Hard times, man—hard times…

Most of the time I sit around—playing with myself. No shoes on my feet. No food on my table. No fast food, baby. I want it slow and easy—like that android chick last night.

Her name was Christina Bailey. She was hitchhiking down on Saturn Boulevard—I almost ran over her in a back alley. She didn’t have any shoes on her feet. Just wearing a lousy trench coat—no food on my table. I picked her up—she made me cry for mercy.

Sometimes hard times—they’re the only times. The only times that make sense—out here on Titan where nothing makes much sense. Yeah, baby—it’s hard times out here by the Rings. You know what I mean? It gets pretty hard—way out here in the sticks.

I watch lots of movies in bed. Like that German cinematographer Lazlo—those Netflix CGI remakes are pretty good. In between smoking a good Martian Red ju-ju—and making love to some android chick. Last night we watched one of those earlier sci-fi film retro-noir flicks—D.O.A. Deadline for Earth (2050).

“Hold on, baby” I told her, “I’m comin’…”

It was pretty good—you know like one of those old Aldrich raunchy-thrillers like Kiss Me, Deadly (1955). Those old Earthside Lazlo flicks—with their forgotten German expressionistic lighting and shadow tricks. Those weird CGI guyz dragged it out from one of the vidscreen vaults back Earthside—and redid it just right. You should see what they did with all those Fritz Lang sci-fi pulp fiction classics—like Woman in the Moon (1929) and Metropolis (1927)…

Like the Martian Movie Review says: “Kiss Me Deadly Again (2055)—an independent film featuring a cheap and sleazy, contemptible, fascistic private eye investigator/vigilante named Mike Hammer—whose crummy Earthside trademarks are brutish violence and the usual end-justifies-the-means sexual perversions.”

“Okay, baby—take it.”

Those CGI special effects were really hot.

I really get off—on those retro-noir sci-fi flicks. Those neat remakes with those really great Mickey Spillane-type ruthless private dick scenes. They’re really right up my alley—Mike Hammer’s vain and selfish, mean and narcissistic just like me.

Most android chicks get sick of me pretty fast. I don’t know why. I always give them a good time. I pay them plenty. We watch lots of movies—you know what I mean? That skanky water-bed of mine—it’s got lots of down-and-dirty mileage dontchaknow?

Anyway, there’s this scene in Kiss Me, Deadly. You know—like when everybody’s after this stupid thing in a box. It’s not just a solitary pursuit—I mean everybody and their grandmother wants it. What’s ever in it. The Corporation, the Syndicate—the usual powerful TPTB.

Like what’s inside it? Fuck if I know. Bezzerides dreamed up the whole story—it didn’t have much of anything to do with Spillane’s raunchy novel. There’s this white-hot apocalyptic Thing—inside a mysterious ‘Pandora's box' ("the great whatzit"). And these really weird screamy voices—coming out of it. And some bad-ass bright lights special effects. Kind of like whatever was in the truck—of that other sci-fi noir classic, Repo-Man.

All those flicks outta the fucking paranoid ‘50s—they were worried about things back then seem that weren’t so stupid. After the Great Apocalypse War—everything those paranoid flicks said pretty much seemed to become true. Since then there’s been all sorts of nasty planetary catastrophes and spaceship annihilations—that’s how we ended up with a colony way out here on Titan. Getting away from all that apocalyptic shit—talk about Earth ending up Planet of the Living Dead.

That reminds me—there’s this forgotten abandoned Titan villa just outside of town. It’s like the perfect place to get down with my chick. But there’s something weird about the place. Like there’s some kind of time-warp going on. It’s like making love in a cemetery—you know what I mean. Banging your head on a tombstone—or getting off in a columbarium full of cinerary urns…

Kiss Me, Deadly Again (2055) kinda was a puzzling flick for me—even better than the original Kiss Me, Deadly (1955). I even paid $10,000—to get my hands on one of the few pulp fiction paperback Spillane originals. Published in 1952—each page now just a delicate crumbling ocher-red fading exquisite remembrance of the way things were back then. To think that Spillane got published—with millions of copies back then. Phasing out of comix into pulp fiction—making lots of dough.
They don’t make books like that anymore—no more trees or forests Earthside for paperbacks or any kind of books anymore. No more cardboard boxes, houses, whatever. The great Weyerhaeuser Corporation gone—no more “creating sustainable solutions to the world's challenges through the development of innovative forest products that are essential to everyday blah blah blah…”
They’ve got everything on vidscreen now—thanks to the Netflix Corporation. It took over everything—Amazon, Google, Kindle, Apple, Microsoft, the whole kit and caboodle. Rare book rooms in the universities—they still carry a few token volumes of Chandler and Spillane I guess. But things will never be the way they used to be—the Guttenberg Revolution is pretty much forgotten now.

Only out of boredom—did I teach myself how to read Earthscript. It’s kind of tricky—it takes lots of time. But when you’re out here working on the Rings—there’s nothing else to do. Except android chicks, of course. So I’ve got my rare book collection—limited to a dozen priceless Ace sci-fi pulp fiction paperbacks. They’re—worth a couple of thousand bucks now. Plus a priceless Mickey Spillane novel or two—worth $1,000,000.

If only Hammer knew—how valuable his cheap pulp fiction thrillers would become in the sci-fi noir future. It’s like if I only knew—what I was getting into that night when I picked up that cute droid chick in the alley? Behind the Titan San Bernardino Towers.

Talk about sci-fi noir déjà vu. A scene right out of Kiss Me, Deadly. How could my so-so boring world change so much—after I got involved with her? Who would have ever guessed—I’d end up living a pulp fiction novel? Once that post-apocalyptic nihilistic melodrama—really got going?

It was a reckless movie—and a reckless book. A censored version of both came out later on—but then they were banned. The Corporate League of Decency protested a lot—resulting in all the books and vidscreen versions being atomized into the void.

I was lucky to get my hands on some bootleg paperback versions—and a two-bit scratchy DVD or two. Kiss Me, Deadly—both flick and pulp paperback. Both seemingly rather innocently campy and cataclysmically ridiculous—especially probably for most movie audiences back now in 2055.

Producer/director Aldrich's brutal, fast action, paranoid film back then—with its skuzzy series of disconnected scenes. Based on the sci-fi noir imagination—of comic-book writer Mickey Spillane. With his ‘50s sensationalist detective doppelganger Mike Hammer—sleazing his way through a best-seller series of eleven Hammer books.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

The Titan Blues

“The night is mighty chilly,
and conversation seems pretty silly
I feel so mean and wrought—
I'd rather have the blues
Than what I've got.”
—Nat King Cole,
“Rather Have the Blues”

All I could feel was a deep hardboiled sense of revenge—slowly ratcheting up inside my head.

A deep-down and dirty nasty feeling—an ugly personal sense of wanting to get even. Marlowe talked and acted so cool and above it all—like he was some kind of private dick “not himself mean.”

But that was then—this was now. I was mean—and I wanted to get even for what happened to me. And her…

I remember turning around to face them—looking jaundiced and bleary-eyed at what they were doing to her. And their faces when they got done with her—and started on me next. I looked up at them—and saw how much they enjoyed me dying the same way.

One of them had my neck in his hands—and he was smiling at me. Leaning over me—while he did me in. He squeezed and squeezed and squeezed—until his fingers were buried in the flesh of my throat.

My hands were clawing at his arm frantically—I was trying to breathe. I was struggling for life and death—but he just laughed a little bit. And then squeezed—and laughed some more.

“I’d rather have the blues—than what I got”—Nat King Cole’s song kept running through my head.

“They tried to kill me last night,” I said out loud.

I could talk again—and I was slowly coming back to life. My head was throbbing—but I could breathe again.

”Last night?” said Velda. I heard her voice—whispering in my ear. “Sweetheart, you’ve been out for a week.”

The room was slowly coming back into focus. I was laying in bed—looking up at the ceiling. It smelled like a hospital. There was only one hospital on Titan—and that was Titan Town General. This must have been it—somehow I was still alive.

Velda’s smile looked achingly familiar—but it was her voice. That’s what I needed—it was soft and soothing. It made me realize I was still kicking. Her voice and her lips…her beautiful android body.

“Don’t talk,” she said. “Just sleep and get better.”

The light hurt my eyes—but I kept them open just to look at her. I tried to grin—but my face almost fell off. My head started spinning again—but I snapped it shut. Stopping the vertigo—by gritting my teeth.

“Where were you—when I needed you?” I said to her with a smirk. Smirking didn’t seem to hurt—not as bad as smiling did. Smiling was too polite and civilized—I felt lousy and my crummy smirk would just have to do.

“Uh-huh,” she said. “But you never seem to need me, Mickey—whenever I’m around.”

Velda always had a way of snapping me out of it—getting me down to earth. Even after I’d been zapped, beaten up and thrown off a cliff. Her luscious lips were coming closer and closer—inch by inch. Her lovely sleek long black hair—black and shiny as midnight.

The way her firm breasts caressed me—with a life of their own. She kissed me—I ran my lips down her neck and across her shoulders. I was beginning to feel myself again—I was getting blood pumping and pounding through my poor bod again. Starting down there—between my long lanky legs.

“That cute android chick—I let her get killed,” I said.

Velda looked down at me—frowning at me. She buttoned up her blouse—I could see the jealousy on her face again. She knew I catted around a lot—even with droid chicks who were really guyz. It didn’t make her happy though—I felt her turn cold on me.

“Droid dames,” she said, sneering at me. “Such a wonderful phrase. And who are they? They're the nameless ones—who get people like you killed for the great whatsit. The great male whatsit—down there in your pants.”

The madder she got—the better I felt. It made me feel more alive every minute—I needed her hate just as much as I needed her love. A guy like me needed both—to feel himself again. And where I was coming from? It was hate that gave me revenge—what I needed to get even with. The thugs that got me that night—the skanky hoodlums who got the girl.

“Does it exist?” Velda grilled me. “Your love for droid chicks like Christina? What about me? She’s dead—I’m alive. But do you care—No. You’re more in love with a dead droid—than a living one.”

That made me feel better—nothing like a pissed-off chick telling the truth. Reading the riot act—about what a lousy creep I was. I couldn’t agree with her more—I was a poor excuse for being a human being. I was just a two-bit “bedroom' detective”—my occupation was being a divorce specialist. I specialized in putting the “big squeeze”—on cheating husbands. I did slimy divorce cases—manufacturing adulterous evidence for clients to collect payoff fees. I did divorce frame-ups—setting dumb guyz up—with Velma’s tits. You know—like Detective J. J. Gittes in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974).

Velda knew it—I knew it. It was a sort of cynical despondent marriage of convenience—it kept the bills paid and the paper moving. Velda did my dirty work—then I collected big bucks from dumb clucks. Both the husbands—and wives. Yeah, I know—I was a double-dipper. But I wasn’t bashful—I was a private dick without scruples. I cruised the mean streets—looking for trouble.

Velda got bitchy—she wanted to go to bed with me. She hung around my neck—she tried every which way to get me amorously involved with her. It’s true—I loved her sleek svelte body. It was nice having a sexy built secretary like her—even Spade and Marlowe needed a decent dame to depend on.

But for some reason—I kept my distance. Business and pleasure just didn’t mix—in the private dick business. Besides, there were a lot of men in her life—she didn’t need to get all involved with me. In some fruitless search for what? I was a worthless piece of shit—I had the morals of an alley cat.

“Why did you pick Christine up anyway, Mickey?” How do you explain something like that to another dame? Did I have any choice when she got into my lights? It wasn’t my job to protect her—even though she needed protection. It wasn’t my job—even to question who she was and who she was running away from.

It wasn’t my business—to get involved with her and make love to her on the side of the road. Whether I needed or not. Why didn’t I just push her out of your car—instead of always acting like a dumb cluck private dick with all my brains down in the wrong head?

That was more like it—I was already feeling better. Nothing like a grueling mind-fuck—to get my stupid sprained brain functioning again. I gave Velda a smile—running my hand down under her skirt. Letting the whiteness of her thighs resurrect me—slowly inch by smooth inch.

I knew it was the truth—I’d been played as a sucker. I shouldn’t have got involved with that droid chick—she was only trouble from the very beginning. And it only got worse—the more I fell for her. I wanted to kick myself—but I couldn’t move my legs yet. I wanted to curse myself—but that gets old quick. Why denigrate myself—anymore than I did everyday? There just wasn’t any decent detour—from my constant crummy downhill denouement.

I was a sucker for droid dames—I couldn’t help myself. I tried to lie still after Velda left—but why torment myself? Who would have known—who could’ve seen what was gonna happen that night? Somebody knew a lot more than me—some strangers got me for getting involved with Christina. What was she involved with?

Diamonds, rubies, gold? Perhaps narcotics? Titan had never been that innocent and civilized anyway—it was pretty much like Earth used to be and always has been. As worlds devolve and become more primitive—their treasures become more fabulous. Perhaps foolish sentiment like mine always failed—there never seemed to be an end to it. Where greed slunk around in shadowy worlds like Titan—it never failed to pounce and devour just about everything.

“You’ll die, Mr. Hammer. But your friend, you can save her. Yes, Christina Bailey—can you remember her? The young lady you picked up in the Titan alleyway—the droid chick who made you? She left you a message—on your Jet’ab vidphone. When you got time—have your Greek mechanic check it out. It was two words—"Remember Me." She wanted you to remember something—what was it?”

What is it—I must remember?

[This is where the script—leaves Bezzerides' script and Spillane's novel far behind. Stealing and transgressing its own path—it’s sci-fi noir time for Mike Hammer again. Time for some nostalgia—for a retro-future that never was. Time for a detective pulp fiction screenwriter who once used the fears of 1955—to update them straight into a 2055 future noir movie yet to be filmed. Changing Spillane's original vision of crooks and cops chasing two million dollars—phasing out Bezzerides' frantic, scrambling search for a secret weapon in a Cold War Pandora’s Box full of intrigue and nightmare. Turning it all into a future sci-fi noir film—all the more relevant and timely. Spillane's ideas working fantastically—for a new time period beneath Saturn’s Rings. Kiss Me, Deadly—with a new twist working its way sullenly up through those subsequent decades. All the way to Trouble on Titan—trouble once again.]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Trouble is My Business

“All I felt was trouble
like the smoke over dry
ice and it was seeping
all over me.”
—Mickey Spillane,
Kiss Me Deadly

Trouble was in the air—Trouble on Titan.

I could feel it—the shadows of vast Saturnian rings. Gliding slowly overhead—down through the troubling Titan orangeish scudding clouds. Bathing the ruins of the old deco villa—where we’d parked for a little other-worldly smooching and getting down.

Afterwards leaning back in the seat of my Jet’ab limousine—I was relaxing and thinking about everything that had happened so quickly back in Titan Town with my new android-lover.

Her name was Christina Bailey.

But I could also sense Trouble—the kind of trouble I wasn’t looking for. But it was still trouble—and it was coming our way. There was something attracting it—like Martian bumblebees zeroing in on sweet Ganymede honey-pot.

“Are you wondering what it’s all about?” she said.

“Not particularly.”

“I was…” she hesitated…

I nodded as if I understood.

She shook her head slowly, getting the meaning of my gesture. “Maybe I’ll find somebody who will understand me someday. I thought maybe you would.”

“Nothing bothers me, kid. Now shut up.”

“But you believed I was a woman.”

“Well, yeah. But like you’re twice the man I am—and three times the woman I’ll ever be. Does that make you happy?”

Her smile got a little bit more relaxed.

I looked at her—she was beautiful in the glowing Saturn ring-light. There was something about her—that reminded me of somebody else.

Velda? My secretary back in Titan City?

“I really like ambidextrous android dames.”


“Nothing,” I said. “You’re good at it.”

Her face softened and she seemed almost happy.

“You,” she said. “You're probably one of those self-indulgent Titan Town males who thinks about nothing but his clothes, his car, himself. Bet you do push-ups every morning just to keep your belly hard.”

I looked over at her and smiled. I couldn’t help it. Usually I never smile—I just give a dame a smirk or a bitch slap. I wasn’t like Spade or Marlowe. What’s in it for me?—that was my motto. I’d seen too much.

Titan wasn’t SF or LA—I wasn’t nostalgic for that kind of pulp fiction past. None of that retro-noir stuff for me. If anything I was nostalgic for the future—a future that could never be. I felt mock-heroic about everything—things only got worse.

The ruined deco villa up on the cliff—its gaunt silhouette loomed up in the darkness. Once it might have been the haunt for some rich Titan millionaire. But now it was just an abandoned old wreck—outlining itself against the sickly pale Dayglo yellow-orangeish night sky.

“I could tolerate flabby muscles in a man—if it'd make him maybe a little more friendly,” she said. “You're the kind of person who never gives in a relationship—who only takes. Ah, woman, the incomplete sex. And what does she need to complete her?”

“Not some slob like me,” I snarled. “Who could live with a selfish Titan private dick like me?”

But that’s not what was bothering me. I felt trouble coming down. Maybe it was my neo-nor sixth sense or something. Maybe it was some kind of latent precog flashback—niggling me from out of my haunted past.

All I knew was that I usually didn’t have to look for trouble. Trouble always had a way of finding me. And it was coming after me again—from somewhere close.

I got out my Laser-luger just in case.

It was a sleek dark Cadillac Jet-sedan—that came down behind us. There was no scream of fins against concrete—like my adventure with the girl. It was all done quietly—quietly and deadly professional. Somebody was after her—and probably me too.

This time the trouble happened all at once—it was worse than I expected. The gun in the first guy’s hand spit out a laser tongue of flame—glancing off my car and into the night. I kicked the door open—just in time to see some other dark shadowy characters piling out of the black sedan.

The first one never got a chance for another shot—my fist split his face wide open. I went for the one behind him—but something hissed through the air missing the back of my head. Then another grazed one of my shoulders.

I spun the second hoodlum around—and let him have a taste of that same hissing thing. It whipped through the air whatever it was—and caught him in the forehead. It was sickening to see him ooze out his brains—like whipping cream or oozing pudding.

I hit the ground—pain pounding across my head too sharp and too deep to be bearable. It was the kind of hard pain I could feel with each heartbeat—sending me into spasms of white-hot pain. It was so painful that it kept trying to get out—oozing out my body. Trying to pop my eyeballs—out of their sockets. Even through my eyes—were squeezed tight as I could.

I wanted to shout something—but there wasn’t time for it to come out. The spectral Saturn rings that had been hiding behind the clouds—came out long enough to let me see a quick splash of pale yellow light that threw grotesque long shadows across the villa.

And slithering among those shadows—lurked dark figures that really didn’t even seem human. Moving with a series of jerks and nasty squishing sounds—coming out of the sedan after us.

There weren’t any screams of tires on pavement—it was another kind of scream but not from retro-jets or metal tearing into metal. It was a more nasty tearing sound—like splintering bulletproof glass. I didn’t seem to lie there for long—the pain that was pounding in my head kept pulling me down into the dirt.

In back of all that was a muffled screaming—her android choking sobs along with thuggish harsh, angry voices. The words were indistinguishable at first—the roaring motor of the Cadillac sedan faded. We were inside the villa—pain was chewing up the words and the screams were much worse than jangling metal against metal.

I tried getting up—but only my mind could move. The rest of me was limp and dead—lying in the dirt. When movement came back to me—it wasn’t me doing it. Gloved hands and fists got me around my waist—and my feet were dragging and scraping across the cold villa floor. Somewhere she’d stopped screaming—whatever they were doing to her had stopped.

It’s hard to think when you’re zapped by a raygun—paralyzed from head to toe. You try to remember things—like how you got there, the sedan floating down quietly behind us, the sense of being zapped and losing consciousness, the pain that has no beginning or end.

All of that you feel or try to feel—you don’t really have time to think. When you try to think—the pain only gets worse. Fire explodes in your head—and you pass out again.

They left me on the floor—there were feet and shoes shuffling around me. My hands and sleeves—and the back of my head were sticky with blood. It was bloody and sticky in my mouth too—four separate pairs of feet were all pointing to the same place. My eyes followed them—and then I saw her in the chair and what they were doing to her.

Do androids feel pain—when they’re tortured by no-good sadistic thugs? Her trench coat was gone—her pale white skin had ugly blotches and bruises all over it. She was tied to the chair—her mouth making uncontrollable helpless sounds. The hand with the pliers had done something horrible to her—pulled out her android vocal cords. Her mouth kept opening and closing—without screaming.

“That’s enough,” one of them said. “These imperial androids don’t last long. They aren’t programmed for interrogation—like the fighter droids. She’s dead.”

Another voice said—“Okay, we’ve got orders. We get rid of them now. Both of them.”

A third voice said—“It’s a shame to dump her. She’s cute. We’ve still got some time to mess around.”

“You pig,” the first voice said. “Do as you’re told.”

I tried to scream something—my mouth felt like cursing them with every filthy name I could remember. But they all stuck in my throat—I started gagging at what I saw. I couldn’t open my eyes again—all I could hear was their voices spilling over my dead body. I didn’t need to see or hear them—to know what they were doing to her. The bastards, the fucking bastards.

Hands reached under me—and for a second I could feel my body again. But I blacked out from the pain—a black curtain fell over my eyes again. It was like sleeping but not being able to wake up—even though you wanted to. But then your body was aching so bad—maybe you didn’t want to wake up again to the horror of it all.

I started to wake up anyway—suddenly realizing it wasn’t a dream after all. It was a living nightmare instead—something even more terrifying once I started waking up.

They dumped me in my car—beside the dead android. Its head was lollygagging against the window on the passenger side. Its eyes stared sightlessly at the ceiling—how could anything once so alive be so dead? He/she jerked against me.

They were pushing the car—toward the edge of the cliff. The car was moving slowly—getting rammed from behind. Somehow I got awake—grabbed the wheel but saw the edge of the cliff only feet away.

I reached for the door—but the wheels went over the edge. The nose dipped down—over the cliff into the dark hungry void…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Kiss Me, Deadly

“It was another one of
those things that came
easy. You got in like
you belonged there.”
—Mickey Spillane

All I know is that suddenly there was this chick floating there in the glare of my Jet’ab headlights—waving her arms like she was trying to fly. She had a Velcro fly-belt on—but it wasn’t doing her much good. Except for getting killed…

I cursed myself for taking such a shadowy low-life shortcut—through one of Titan Town’s seamy back alleys. But I was cruising for trouble as usual—working on a missing droid case. There were lots of those kind of things—happening on Titan.

Droids, people, mutants—disappearing in the night. Nacht and Nebel beneath Saturn’s rings—it wasn’t pretty. Whether planned it or not—it was still just business that’s all.

Trouble was my business.

I gunned it—wrenching the wheel over. Feeling the sickening sinking of power—as my Jet’ab fishtailed in the dark crummy night. The fins ran up against the side of the grimy stucco apartment walls—gouging a long narrow furrow a block long along the alley.

“Not what I expected,” I said to myself, switching off the power field, smelling the plastic-rexeroid stench streaking along the sides of the high rise skyscraper alleyway. The Monojets in reverse turned sullenly ultraviolet—as I descended from the ramps and down past the endless floors and windows.

Finally, down there in the garbage cans, bins and scurrying rats—the brakes kicked in and things came to a screeching halt. Somehow I’d managed a sweeping curve around the crazy chick. For a few split-seconds she’d been living on borrowed time—floating there and trying to stay in the beam of my headlights.

I sat there and let myself shake. The butt of my cigarette had got smashed on the windshield careening forward—what a waste of a decent Martian Gold filter-tip. I’d nearly pissed my pants—I flipped down the window.

The stink of burning plastic and brake lining hung in the air—my only thought being every damn thing I’d ever wanted to say to some harebrained child-idiot dame. Wait until I got my hands on her.

But that’s as far as I got. Suddenly she’d floated down a couple of stories—and there she was beside me slamming the door shut.

“Thanks mister,” she said.

Calm down, I said to myself. She’s gotta be a android fruitcake. Don’t slap her. Not yet. Hold your breath a little bit—let it come out easy.

The silence in the Jet’ab was thick as lead—you could slice it with an electro-graphic magnetic razor. I didn’t say anything. Maybe I’d bend her over the fender—and fuck a little common sense into her head. Or boot her out right then—and go home for a drink.

I fumbled for another cigarette—but she snatched it outta my fingers. For the first time I noticed—her hands were shaking just like mine. I lit hers—got out one for me. We sat there—with our eyes closed.

“How stupid can you get,” I said.

She bit her bee-stung Botux upper lip. “Pretty stupid.”

Behind me the lights from another Jet’ab was coming around the curve. Her eyes stared back at it in the rearview mirror—fear narrowing them tight. “You gonna just sit here all night, mister?”

“I dunno want I wanna do. Maybe I’ll shove you out and let you float off somewhere else. You sure don’t know how to operate an anti-grav fly-belt that’s for sure.”

The headlights of the Jet’taxi shined in through the rear window—I got a good look at her. She was rigid—her face frozen in fear. Only when the red tail-lights of the taxi turned into pin points down the alley—only then she let out her breath and leaned back in the seat.

It was kinda strange—the way it is with all androids. She was good-looking—but her face was more interesting than pretty. Her purple-green eyes, her narrow forehead, her big lips, her tawny hair in a ponytail running down her back.

The rest of her wrapped up tightly in a tailored trench coat—belted around her waist. I still remember her as something sudden and dangerous—conjured up too quickly floating in front of my car. A dreamy droid dame. A damn-fool crazy android girl—with holes in her head.

I pushed the stalled engine into action again—letting the gears crunch and grind their way back into life. Then I took off holding the wheel tight—letting my brain sort things out as best they could.

Accidents happen—a guy doesn’t mind those kind of things happening. In my business one expects surprises—like when you’re following a guy going seventy down a local skuzzy alley. Maybe he takes a shot at you—with a laser-canon like some cheap gunsel.

But you don’t expect a beautiful girl to jump out of the dark at you—even if it’s just another droid dame. I opened the window—all the way down. I drank in some of the fresh night air—the lazy looping rings of Saturn hanging way up there over us. It seemed more like a blind date than anything—I said myself.

“What were you doing up there?”

“What’s it look like?” she said.

“Running away from something?”

She looked quickly over at me—her tongue snaking out over her lips. She was about twenty or so—tiny and delicately put together. She looked like she was still floating. Her hair was wave cut—much shorter than the current fashion of pageboy curls down the neck.

Her eyes were slate-gray—she had almost no expression when she looked at me. She leaned over near me—smiling with her mouth. She had little sharp predatory teeth—as white as the Titan snow used to be. They glistened in the neon lights—passing us far down below. Her lips were big and taut lips—her face lacked any color and she looked scared.

“Lanky, aren’t you”” she said.

“I didn’t mean to,” I said back to her.

She checked me out—acted a little puzzled. She was thinking to herself. I could see from just this little encounter—that my thinking was going to bother her. She wasn’t used to wise-ass detectives…

“What’s you name?”

“Gary,” I said. “Gary Ganymede.”

“Oh, a wise-guy, huh?”

“Not exactly,” I said. “I picked you up, didn’t I?”

“That’s a funny name for a straight guy. Gary Ganymede. Sure you’re not gay?”

She licked her lips and leaned her head a little—looking at me up and down. Then she got pouty—and put her hand on my leg. .

It was like a theater curtain rising—I couldn’t help it. What’s a guy supposed to do—when a chick gets all four paws on you? Roll over on your back—pretend you’re dead?

“Are you a Space Hockey player?” she asked, when I just kept driving.

“You sure do have lots of muscles—your legs are droid, but this other thing isn’t that’s for sure.”

“I don’t play those kinds of games anymore—I’m a Saturn sleuth guy doing a job tonight. You kinda interrupted it—my train of thought.”

I blew some Martian zingy smoke—down through my inflared nostrils. They were getting erect again—I couldn’t help it. It had been a long time. The sweet-smelling smoke—mingled with her tiny white fingers down between my legs.

“I—I—“ She tossed her head back and looked away from me. A darker brooding rich color stained her pale face—there in the rather dim light of the dashboard.

“You’re making fun of me.”

“Uh-huh,” I said.


“I didn’t say anything. You’re the one that’s the big tease. Hanging out there in the middle of the night. Floating around in some dark alley. Just looking for trouble. You’re lucky I didn’t smear you—up against the wall of that Titan San Bernardino Tower back there. Your pretty face—would’ve been block long.”

“Thanks for the advice,” she said sarcastically, “I’ll know better next time.”

She turned away from me—pouting some more. Actually I kind of liked it—the way she pouted and sucked her thumb. It was a curious android finger—long and narrow, curved and double-jointed. She bit it and sucked it slowly—turning it around in her mouth like a latex pacifier.

“Pull a trick like that last one—and there won’t be another next time. You damn near became a Dayglo mural advertisement—on the face of that crummy apartment tower, honey.”

“Shut up,” she said.

“I don’t care what you do—as long as you don’t end up getting strained through my radiator.”

She looked away from me some more—blowing smoke on the windshield. “Look, I’m grateful for the ride. I’m sorry I scared the shit out you. But if you don’t mind, Mr. Spillane, just shut up and drive. Take me somewhere—and let me out.”

I didn’t want to take her somewhere though—I didn’t want to dump her out in the middle of Titan Town late at night. I moved my mouth into a grin. I didn’t know what to do—a dame with nerve like that sure could make mess a guy up before he gave her the boot.

“Okay, I can play the sorry game too,” I said.

“It’s a hell of a place for anybody to be stranded—hanging up there in the air with a dying Velcro grav-belt. I guess I should’ve done something. Almost. Where do you wanna go?”

She tilted herself towards me—I could feel her going rubber-legged instantly. I had to hold her close—to hold her up. When her head was against my chest—she screwed around downstairs breathing hard.

“You’re cute,” she said. “I’m cute too.”

I shook my head—I didn’t know what I was getting into. I eased the Jet’ab down to one of the cyborg-ghettos down below—they dotted the landscape around Titan City like any Earthside ghetto. Rio, LA, Chicago—they were all the same. Late capitalism was still dirty business—there’d always be ghettos even out on Pluto.

I could feel her watching me—as we landed by some dying bougainvillea bushes next to a ruined art deco villa out on the outskirts of town.

Trouble. Inside the Jet’ab—like smoke over a cake of dry ice. I couldn’t smell it or watch it boil and seep around things. But I knew that soon something was going to happen—something was going to smash and shatter under the force of some horrible contraction.

I looked over at her—she’d unbelted her trench coat and spread it open. She was sleekly naked underneath—her satin skin invited me to explore the curve and valleys that she let me see.


She was breathing heavy—squirming in the seat. Making beautifully obscene gestures—smiling at me. She slid out of the rest of the trench coat—taking my hand in hers with a sudden warmth and urgency. I could feel her bare flesh in the darkness—her thighs so smooth and svelte.

There was no doubting her intensity—squeezing her legs together. Letting me explore the curves and secrets—hidden in the shadows down there. I almost forgot she was an android—she was so familiar and more than just a cyborg creation.

I reached down—and explored between her legs. It was somewhat of a subtle surprise—to find out that she was actually a man down there.

I felt like I was a kid again—way back when. Back when I saw a dogcatcher—about to net a dog. I kicked him in the shins—grabbed the pup and ran. The crazy dumb mutt—bit me and got away. But I was still glad—I did it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Pickup on Midnight Street

“About as inconspicuous
as a tarantula on a slice
of angel food…”
—Raymond Chandler,
Farewell, My Lovely

The young afro-android in the purple suit and Panama hat flashed a smile at his new girlfriend and said, “You wait for me, baby. It won’t take long.”

The girl stared at him. A smirk slunk around her red lips—dying at the corners of them. The breeze picked up a sheet of the Titan Gazette out of the gutter and twisted it around the young man’s leg. He kicked at it viciously.

She leaned against him—her voice dragging him down with her. “Maybe you got a gun, handsome? A big one?” She felt him up—down there. It was big and hard—it was a sleek black Luger.

“Me being on the nut, baby,” he said, “like I got some business to take care of with a man over at the Surprise Hotel. I’ll make some dough, get some booze—and then, sweetheart, we can have a good time tonight together. How’s that sound?”

She nodded reluctantly, “Well, okay Smiley.” She didn’t feel like waiting for it—she wanted it now. She snapped her fingers at him and said, “But make it quick. I want you bad. But I don’t like sharing you with anybody either. Know what I mean? Meet me over at the Calliope Apartments. Four-B.”

“You wait for me, baby. I’ll save some for you.”

Smiley gave her a deep-throat kiss with his long slithery tongue—then he slinked down Mean Street along the cracked sidewalks to do his trick.

When he got to the Surprise Hotel—it was past midnight. There wasn’t anybody in the lobby. Except for a bald-headed man lounging behind the desk—ogling through a dog-eared pulp fiction paperback. It had a garish cover—with the usual quickie action inside. Written by some guy named Chandler—one of the Earthside hardboiled pot-boiler types.

The bald-headed man looked up at the young handsome android. The hustler teenage robot gave him a quick hard smile. He was in a hurry—to make some fast money. That’s the way everybody was in Titan Town—fast bucks and quickie sex.

The kid had a sharp jaw that jutted out in front of him—and a long bony forehead. He had the sullen eyes of a two-bit Titan Town gangster—there was a lot of them that came and went through the night. The Surprise Hotel was like a magnet for them—cyborg rough-trade and their customers.

“Hey, man. That guy with the queeny voice still here? The one I did business with last night?”

The bald-headed clerk looked at the cockroaches on the vidscreen—crawling over the oscillating images.

“Didn’t see him leave, Smiley,” he said.

“Ain’t what I asked you, man.”

“Yeah, he’s still here, Smiley.”

“Still drunk?”

“Guess so. Haven’t seen him go yet.”

“Room sixty-nine, ain’t it?”

“You been there, ain’t you. You oughtta know.”

The bald-headed man looked nervous.

Smiley stared through him. He had dead android eyes—emerald eyes green as Neptune. He’d tip the clerk afterwards—like he did last time.

“Careful, Smiley—don’t want no trouble around here. This ain’t no Central Avenue whore house, you know.”

Smiley flashed a grin—nodded knowingly. He slunk delicately up the staircase—there weren’t any elevators in the Surprise Hotel.

It was past midnight—Lindsay Marriott had a terrible hangover. He’d been slumming in the dark alleyways and byways of Titan Town. Far from his penthouse on Cabrillo Street—on Montreuse Vista. He felt cold as a toad’s belly—gimpy as a seagull with a broken trailing leg twisting against the off-sea breeze.

He slipped off his pale lavender silk kimono—looking vainly at himself in the mirror. His shoulders sloped, his lips were rubbery. Lubrugrious purplish pouty lips—if they could only talk. His neat pencil-thin moustache and high cheekbones were trashy-looking and gauche. He had a weakness for young black narcissus guyz—there were lots of handsome available afro-androids there on Midnight Street that catered to queens like him.

Lindsay called a taxi on the vidphone—then changed his mind and decided to take a leisurely shower. The dim, dirty bathroom was just the kind you’d expect in a place like the Surprise Hotel. Lindsay was just getting into rinsing himself off—when he heard a faint noise in the bedroom.

He held his breath—listened, heard the noise again. The floor creaked, there was a click and he heard the drawers of the dresser slide open. Lindsay felt for the door—and pulled it open slowly.

The afro-android hustler from the night before was standing there—in a purple suit and Panama hat. He was going through Lindsay’s billfold. His back was turned to the bathroom. There was a wad of Terran bills inside his fist—more than Lindsay should’ve been carrying with him. Sure enough, it was the young cute hustler he got off the night before—after he picked him up in the Midnight District of Titan Town.

The Smiler smiled to himself—tossing the empty wallet on the dressing cabinet. He stuck the wad of bills and Lindsay’s jewelry in his pocket. His smile turned sick though—when he turned around and saw Lindsay standing there frowning at him.

“Back for another BJ or Rim-job?” Lindsay had the nerve of saying. He was unforgivably single-minded and audacious—thinking he could talk the kid into bed again. Lindsay was well-off—one of the richest fags on Titan. He was used to tight squeezes—and could usually buy or talk his way out of embarrassing situations.

“Sorry, sweetheart,” the Smiler said. “I can use this extra dough. My baby’s got a sweet-tooth for me and a thirst for liquor. Sure has. What else you got, pal?”

Lindsay smiled to himself—but he wasn’t going to give up that easy. Foolishly though, he slipped on the wet floor and fell down on his ass. He grabbed the cheap carpet and gave it a tug.

The Smiler lost his balance—and fell down on top of naked Lindsay. What a combination—a nude fag and a rude hustler!

“That’s more like it, Big Boy,” Lindsay grinned. “You don’t waste any time, do ya? You’re so fucking cute—I only got you off three times last night. C’mon, let me squeeze some more of that nice android cum outta you, kid…”

The Smiler’s face convulsed—he’d fallen on his own knife. He jerked up straight for a second—but the knife went in even deeper. All the way through his muscular ribcage—into his artificial pig-heart transplant guts.

The Smiler yelped—Lindsay clung to him even harder. She held on for dear life—like a praying mantis. She started gnawing his neck—working her way up past his jugular to his trembling Adam’s apple. She sank her teeth into it—wouldn’t let go.

The young jet-black android let out a scream—his Porky Pig heart valve snapped open. A whole week’s work of android seminal crankcase fluid—squirted out of him. It was just awful—awfully nice and succulent.

It was all over—before it even began. Lindsay Marriott might have been somewhat effeminate—but there was nothing fem about Lindsay when she got into her Praying Mantis mode.

After all, that’s what she was programmed to do—and she did it instinctively like a tarantula crawling over a nice wedding cake. Mother Nature was that way—even on faraway Titan and Ganymede.

Lindsay licked up the runny quivering remains of the not-so-innocent bug-eyed hustler—in fact his eyeballs were next. She slowly sucked them both out of their sockets—what a gooey grotesque suck-job Plop!!!

That made the kid wiggle in pain. The way those ogling eyeballs stared up at Lindsay in disbelief—he wasn’t quite ready for that. What’s it like to have your eyeballs—sucked greedily out of your paralyzed skull? Lindsay loved it. It was just awful—awfully nice.

Lindsay wasn’t bashful—she took her time. She felt the Smiler’s pulse. There was still a shuddering, sobbing half-dead half-alive heart-throb or two left inside the gone male prostitute. The cute hustler—was still going spaz.

The Smiler had nice long lanky legs—they were still doing the hanged man’s nervous shuffle. You know, like when your neck snaps at the bottom of the noose. And you lose your precious family jewels—squirting your brains out. It’s the Big Goodbye—and it ain’t pretty…

Titan androids aren’t like humans—it takes awhile for the body-circuits and bio-synapses and mutant penises to quiver all the way out of existence. That’s what advanced Terran genetic engineering was all about—that’s why half-humans had better, stronger, longer lasting orgasms than your merely run-of-the-mill Earthside humans.

Android boyz and satellite girlz were grown in vats full of transplant organs and programmed that way—by nutty screwball fruitcake Neuromancers back Earthside. Outer space had been taken over—by hardcore homoerotic gangsters and kinky straight deformity lovers. The only pattern recognition they recognized—was Saturnian SM and Neptune Nevada Gas.

Lindsay flipped the Smiler over—she started doing what she did best down there on the ratty dirty old carpet. No wonder they called the joint The Surprise Hotel. It was a surprise to get out of there alive—for both humans and androids alike.

Lindsay was feeling perverse and just warming up—she twisted the Smiler’s head around with a snap and a pop. The kid’s spinal cord still had some lascivious libido left to it—that’s what really got Lindsay Marriott off. Her praying mantis insectoid tongue suddenly grew out of her mouth—it was a yard long with evil squiggling purplish feelers at the tips of the delicate forked end.

Lindsay got it down Smiler’s throat—feeling and slithering and sliding her nefarious slippery slime-ball tongue—all the way down there into what was left of the kid. Deep down inside his android guts—and manly mutant mucous-coated organs. She was after that very last exquisite sick quiver—the Long Goodbye. The one that would never cruise and hustle down—the dark Mean Streets of Titan Town again.

You know—like Mapplethorpe’s stud in New York City back Earthside. His manly ungodly huge Godzilla lover—The Man in the Polyester Suit. The one Mapplethorpe put a pillowcase over his head with—so nobody could recognize him. But it was really so nobody else could see it—know the look on the young guy’s face. It was just awful—awfully sublime.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Titan Bad Business

“Fiction in any form
has always intended
to be realistic.”
—Raymond Chandler,
The Simple Art of Murder

Carol Lundgren was smooth. Smooth, slim and oily.

He had long sleek blue fingers—everything about him was blue. Most of the Titan android boyz were that way—smooth, slim, oily and blue-complexioned.

Lundgren sat there—grinning at me. His blue hair was greased straight back from his forehead—as he checked me out. He wrinkled his nose—and popped his big knuckles. They were big, gnarly and he liked showing them off. He knew I liked him—most men did.

Android boyz were dime-a-dozen—there in New Titan Town. There were usually third or forth generation androids—pretty sophisticated hustlers.

Lundgren was smooth—sullenly popping each big thick knuckle with an almost obscenely show-off seductive pop. His long bony face—the same sullen blue-orangeish color as Titan’s sky.

He played dumb looking at me—his hands spread out on his knees like a deck of cards. He started with the fuck-fingers first—the middle fingers in each hand. He could flex and pop them—without bending them with his other hand. He was double-jointed and ambidextrous.

You’ve heard maybe that old Earthside common expression—“Pop!!! Goes the Weasel?” That’s how Lundgren looked at me with each pop—letting his face go slack-jawed and spaz with each tight snap.

I smiled politely—a muted telepathic wiggle going off inside my head. Lundgren nurtured each joint that popped telepathically—studying my face to see how I reacted. He knew I liked him—he knew I wanted to pop his touchy Titan weasel real good.

That android wiggle in my head kept wiggling—like a pair of long red crushed velvet curtains in some old Earthside Bijou theater. Each time the kid popped his lewd gnarly knuckles, he closed his eyes—and I felt like it was curtains for me.

Lundgren took the Pluto ju-ju outta his tight blue lips—and carefully placed it on the edge of the ashtray on Amthor’s floating desk. It was curtains for me—sitting there in Amthor’s office. In the Sunset Towers—headquarters of the powerful Rings of Saturn Corporation. Maybe curtains for Lundgren too—he looked pretty available.

I motioned with my raygun for Lundgren to stand up. He started to say something—but then just smirked at me. Nothing changed in his blue-orangeish face—not a flick of fear as he stood up. He was a cool one—one of Amthor’s favorites.

“Go_____yourself,” he said.

I sized him up pretty quick. He was a young killer android—with a limited vocabulary. He’d been working for Amthor a long, long time. There at the Sunset Towers—formerly the Argyle Hotel in West Hollywood. Before they morphed it—up to Titan.

Lundgren had a big price tag—he knew all the angles of Amthor’s business. Especially over there in New Titan Town—in Eddie Mars’ gambling-casino.

I got down on his nine—he gave me a hard time there beneath the pale sick-yellow glow of Saturn’s Rings coming through the skylight. Layers of methane smog oozing and scudding by overhead—his knuckles and chewed-fingernails digging deep into my buzz-cut head.

The next thing I knew we were over in Eddie Mars’ casino—the kid’s usual haunt. A mock rambling frame mansion at the far end of town—once the summer residence of a ROS Corp exec. Later a fancy hotel—now just a shabby hole in a thick grove of wind-twisted Martian cypresses.

I’d seen it earlier on the vidscreen—faded stained-glass trim around pealing picture windows, slinky android-boyz in the ruined stables in back, a crummy air of nostalgic decay everywhere. Eddie Mars pretty much left it the way it was—instead of making it over to look like some fancy RKO set back in LA. He wasn’t that fond of LA art deco kitsch—and Earthside decay and decadence. The rot inside him showed—that was enough.

I could feel Lundgren’s dirty mind inside my head—up the white oak staircase curving majestically into the darkness of the upper floor. Some places are darker than night—more dingy than noir.

Past lots of other slim-faced mutant boyz—smiling bleakly, cruising around the carpeted hallway to the boss’ office. Lundgren sneered at them—and they sneered back. There was no honor, commaraderie or respect—amongst slimy stealthy Titan boy-toys.

Eddie Mars was dark, shambling, shameless—out of some Miami Vice movie. He had a Florida suntan—and a Sèvres china tea set in a copper tray beside a samovar. He was sucking on a hookah tube—placing it aside when I came into the room. The door behind me—clicked with a time-lock.

“I’m a pushover for the young android mob around here,” Eddie Mars complained. “Except for one thing—the local hustlers drop in every night and help me open the joint. I have this, well, arrangement with them…”

Lundgren behind me smirked. He didn’t tell Eddie Mars—what I’d done to him over in Amthor’s office. At least his lips didn’t move—and Mars didn’t seem interested.

“I had Lundgren come over to get you,” Mars said cheerfully. “Have a drink and sit down. You in hurry?”

“No hurry at all,” I said. “You and I don’t have anything to talk about—except business.”

He mixed a couple of drinks—we sat down across from each other in a couple of over-stuffed red leather chairs. Lundgren sat on the desk—cross-legged with his eyes closed and his lips turned off.

I rinsed the android spunk down my throat—letting the whiskey flush my toilet tonsils clean. It tasted metallic and jet-black blue—midnight punk high quality stuff. It gave me a buzz—plus his Titan monogrammed boxer shorts.

“I told Amthor I’d send Carol Lundgren over to pick you up,” Eddie said, smiling demurely. “He’s my #1 android-kid. You like him?”

I shrugged. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Eddie laughed. “Just kidding.”

I looked over at Lundgren—licking my lips. “I saw his pic on Amthor’s vidscreen. Plus lots of other stuff. Amthor must be jealous. I owe you a fee?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mars said. “I didn’t send him down there to make a touch. He gets paid for what he does. Not much by your standards though. You being a syndicated space hockey jock—and all that.”

“While we’re on the subject,” I said. “Don’t send me any more android-punks with orders. I might get hysterical and blow him away. My raygun beeped like a cell-phone—I reached in my jacket and turned it off.

Mars smirked, wiping his lips with a lavender handkerchief and nodded at Lundgren to get out. Sullenly the young male android prostitute slunk out of the room—leaving a sulky wake of robotic insouciance behind him.

“He tries to be professional,” Mars apologized.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t give a damn,” I said.

Mars wiped his lips again—looking at his handkerchief again as if he expected to find blood on it. His lips were like my lips—stained with too much jizzy jouissance.

“Amthor thought you were trying to blackmail him,” Eddie Mars said. “The Rings of Saturn Corp would probably let you get rid of him—Amthor figures his days are probably up. He was scared that even ROS Corp was behind it. You showing up—here on Titan, that is.”

“Why?” I asked. I was beginning to like Eddie Mars.

“He probably figured ROS brought you in to get rid of him,” Mars said. “Amthor’s type don’t last that long out here in the sticks—the solar system’s full of old quacks like him. They move on from planet to planet—milking the miners, minions and rubes. Know what I meant?”

“That’s obvious,” I said to Mars. “One look at that guy and he’s got planetary paranoia and badboy blackmail dinge-queening his face really bad. He’s like that quack in the Chandler ur-text—the one with the LA Sunset Towers. Been there—done that.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Eddie Mars, smiling knowingly at me. “Once a finger man for the ROS mob—always a finger man. Been there—down that, too.”

I sized Mars up—he sized me up too.

“It’s disgusting isn’t it,” Mars said shaking his head. “Amthor, Lindsay Marriott and their types. Talk about interplanetary Sodom and Miss G. Guyz like them—contaminating the solar system. You can read them like a book—a literature of android aberration and abominable abhorrence.”

I shrugged lightly. I leaned forward and put my hand on Eddie Mars’ knee. “That’s their racket,” I said to him…

He smiled bleakly—knowing what I was going to say next.

“Now then, Eddie,” I said. “Tell me what your racket is?”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

The Trouble with Titan

1. “Saturn’s Titan had proved the hardest moon to colonize.”—Samuel R. Delany, Triton

2. Samuel R. Delany’s Triton is an “ambiguous heterotopia.”

3. Triton is the repressive side of Utopia.

4. Delany’s prosthetics of Triton—culminating in sex changes.

5. Triton is structurally a unique method for apprehending the present as future.

6. Utopia as a genre in our own time.

7. Triton is a socio-political sub-genre.

8. Triton is a Delany/Bakhtinian polyphony-text.

9. Triton is a scientific research station.

10. Beyond android cognito—android eros.


1. “Saturn’s Titan had proved the hardest moon to colonize. Bigger than Neptune’s Triton, smaller than Jupiter’s Ganymede, it had seemed the ideal moon for humanity. Today, there were only research stations, the odd propane-mine, and Lux—whose major claim was that it bore the same as the far larger city on far smaller Iapetus. The deployment of humanity’s artifacts across Titan’s surface more resembled the deployment across one of the gas giants’ “captured moons”—the under-six-hundred kilometer hunks of rock and ice (like Saturn’s Phoebe, Neptune’s Neriad, or a half-dozen-plus of Jupiter’s smaller orbs) that one theory held to have drifted out from the asteroid belt before being caught in their present orbits. Titan! Its orangeish atmosphere was denser (and colder) than Mars’—though nowhere near as dense as Earth’s. Its surface was marred with pits, rivers, an seas of methane and ammonia sludge.”—Samuel R. Delany, Triton, New York: Bantam, 1976, 342

2. “Meanwhile, the “ambiguous Utopia of Ursula Le Guin’s Dispossessed (1974) was famously challenged by the “ambiguous heterotopia” of Samuel Delany’s Trouble on Tritan (1976), presumably on the grounds that Le Guin’s Marxist view of the modes of production did not, despite its allusions to a revised position on homosexuality in the communist world, sufficiently address the countercultural issues that arose in the “new social movements” of the 1960s and 1970s.”—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 144

3. “But caught up in perpetual warfare and organized around total informational surveillance, Triton is the repressive side of Utopia, into which, as a rectification and a kind of supplement of freedom, the unlicensed zone had been introduced: something like the Sade Utopia (“Françoise, encore un effort”), where anything goes and indeed the law requires everything to be permissible (under pain of death); except that here the “anything” is carefully limited, thereby replicating and reproducing that peculiar phenomenon of the boundary and the limit which inaugurates Utopian closure in the first place…”
—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 160

4. “While Delany’s prosthetics—the optional antlers and extra arms and organs of the earlier novels, culminating in the sex changes of Triton—are fundamental exhibits in the new post-human lifestyles designed to replace the older natural ones…”—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 163

5. “SF is offered to us in the form of some future world’s remote past, as if posthumous and as though collectively remembered. Not only as an exercise in historical melancholy…of Chandler’s now historic Los Angeles, the burnt-out-center cities of small Midwestern towns, picture-postcard isolation of once characteristic North American “natural” splendor, along with the already cracked and crumbling futuristic architecture of newly built atomic power plants—all these things not seized, immobile forever, in some “end of history,” but moving steadily in time towards some unimaginable yet inevitable “real” future. SF thus enacts and enables a structurally unique “method” for apprehending the present as history…the imaginary future world which is the pretext for the defamiliarization.”—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 388

6. “Marcuse has called the utopian imagination—the imagination of otherness and radical difference. It succeeds by failure, and serves as unwitting and even unwilling vehicles for a meditation, which, setting forth for the unknown, finds itself irrevocably mired in the all-to-familiar, and thereby becomes unexpectedly transformed into a contemplation of our own absolute limits. Utopia as a genre in our time. The overt utopian text or discourse has been seen as a sub-variety of SF in general.”—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 389

7. “One is reminded of Deleuze’s celebration of the niches of life...the “new social movements” or micropolitics, the social experimentation, the frenzied baroque formations one finds, extensively, in Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix, or, extensively, in Delany’s Trouble on Triton (Olaf Stapledon, the great precursor in this respect)…As for the economic, to turn our attention to it is at first to recall a certain initial bemusement at Darko Suvin’s language (in the generic definition that we have taken as motto): a “socio-political sub-genre”…but why not a socio-economic one?"—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 414

8. “Any new formal solution will, then, need to take into account both the historic originalities of late capitalism—its cybernetic technology as well as its globalizing dynamics… If Utopias can correspond to this kind of multiplicity, then they will assuredly be Delanyian ones, a Bakhtinian polyphony run wild, as with that hyperactive DJ husband of Oedipa Maas of whom his friends say that when he comes through a door, ”the room is suddenly fully of people.” (Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (New York, 1967, 104)—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 214

9. “When we first arrived, and for twenty years after that, Mars was like Antarctica but even purer. We were outside the world… That is utopia, especially for scientists. So a scientific research station is actually a little model of prehistoric utopia, carved out of the transnational money economy by clever primates who want to live well.”—Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars (New York, 1993), 309-310.

10. “Blade Runner then signals the passage from the classic or exotic alien to the representation of the alien other as the same, namely the android, whose differentiation from the earlier robot secures a necessarily humanoid form. This reflexivity in the genre, in which our attention and preoccupation as readers turn inward, and meditate on the “android cognito,” which is to say on the gap or flaw in the self as such. But the moment of the android is also the moment of the emergence or intervention of a new narrative twist or fold, namely that of the love interest between human and alien. The SF plot veers into perversion, and sexual intercourse with the alien becoming a figure for everything non-normative or deviant or taboo in human society. This is perhaps the place to mention what is to my mind Samuel Delany’s finest novel, Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand (1984), a unique compendium of distinct forms of otherness."—Fredrik Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London: Verso, 2005, 141

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Murder, My Sweet

“Anyhow I had fun writing the
story, although it didn’t turn
out quite the way I expected.
I started out to do a burlesque
on the locked room mystery
and somewhere along the line
I lost interest in the burlesque
angle and became preoccupied
with the thought that a miracle
is always a trap. As you know,
good fantastic stories are ex-
tremely rare for a rather obvious
reason, that in them it is almost
impossible to turn the corner.
Once you have exposed the situa-
tion, you have nowhere to go.”
—Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler

Amthor’s office wasn’t small or large—it had a neat professional look. Some glass-door bookcases—full of heavy books inside. Nobody used books anymore—Neo-Kindle tablets with voice recognition and maybe stylus scribblings. The bookcase was just for looks—and interior decorating nostalgia.

There were some microwave sterilizer ovens full of hypodermic needles and syringes inside being cooked. A floating titanium desk—with the usual vidscreen and vidphones. Very little else—except the elbows of Jules Amthor sitting there brooding with his face in his hands.

Amthor was in some kind of trance—with an expression of death painted on his skull. I took a couple of more steps into the office—he was looking beyond the office into some other space. His colorless eyes—and parchment-white face.

I took two more steps—and aimed the raygun at him. He saw me then—and his eyes focused. His index finger was moving towards the edge of the desk. I smashed his finger with the butt of the raygun—his eyes got tired looking.

“You’re a sick man, Flambeaux,” he said. “A very sick man. I can’t recommend your being up and around yet.”

I slid the desk aside—it glided over against the wall. I zapped the vidscreen just in case—it fizzled and then went dead.

“Anybody coming through that door—is walking into a coffin,” I told Amthor.

I found a bottle of whiskey in the medicine cabinet—I poured a couple of drinks—and made him drink one before I touched the stuff. I waited to see if it was okay—and then I gulped down a shot. After awhile I felt the heat getting to my heart. My heart began to pound—but it was back up in my chest again, not hanging on a shoelace.

“I had this nightmare,” I told him. “Silly me. I woke up in a room full of snakes—laying on a cot upstairs. Somebody had shot me full of dope—and locked me in there. I’m still weak—and I got a bruised head where you blackjacked me. I slept. I had no food. I was a sick man. That took a lot of trouble—doing all that to me. I’m not that important—you said so.”

Amthor didn’t say anything. He watched me. He was speculating to himself—how long could I stay awake.

“I woke up in a room full of snakes—it was just a hallucination, a trick of the optic nerves or whatever you call it. Pink snakes—instead of pink elephants. I yelled and a toughie robot in a white coat—showed up with a blackjack. He’s back up there in the room—without a head to cybernate with. I got my Velcro arms and legs back on—somebody took them away from me. So here I am—all cured. What were you saying?”

“I didn’t make any remarks,” he said.

“Remarks want you to make them,” I said. “They got their tongues out—just ready to say something. This thing here—“I waved the raygun, “is my persuader. Now talk.”

“Please give me the raygun at once,” he said with a smile. “You’ve been a very sick man, Mr. Flambeaux. I insist you go back to bed.”

His smile was dead as a frozen fish—his eyes deader than a dead mackerel. His lips fluttered nervously—like dying butterflies.