Things best left unknown
I was reading this book, quite happily — well, not *quite* happily, that’s the problem, that’s why I slowed, stopped, looked around. And when I looked around I became —
— blocked —
— unable to continue with confidence. It was weird, but to start from the beginning: when I was, what, 19, maybe, I read a book. Well, several, but let’s deal with just this one for now.
I read this book called DREAM DANCER & it was like a blow to the head. There was such energy & force in it that even a decade and a half later I could still recall its images. Despite the fact I couldn’t keep up with all its vocab or ideas, I loved that book.
I had to hunt out a copy in a second-hand bookshop so I could return my borrowed library edition. And it was the first of a trilogy, so then I had to hunt out the other two. This hunt took several years but eventually I had all three books on my shelf.
On. My. Shelf. I never read them. I was afraid of the disappointment, because DREAM DANCER loomed so large in my mind. What if it wasn’t as good, & I lost the joy of that memory. Perhaps it was best left alone. Perhaps, perhaps.
I am not good with leaving alone, I suppose.
Curiosity overtook me this year, or a desire to re-connect with my past, & I read DREAM DANCER again. And it was great. It was remarkable in its detail, astonishing in its breadth, delicious in its baroque cadences, impressive in its structure & strategy. I leapt straight from book one to book two: CRUISER DREAMS.
This author is new weird, this author is smart & has a sense of earthy beauty, this author is accomplished. This author mixes science with grand gothic tropes. This author should be more famous. Why isn’t everyone talking about Janet Morris, I wondered.
Anyhow, CRUISER DREAMS slowed me down because its baroque sensibility tipped, IMHO, towards prose of the decidedly mauve kind. I found myself chuckling sometimes, & the unrequited love that seemed so painful in the first book just kinda, I dunno, I’m not good with romance plots anyhow, it’s probably just me. But I still wanted to know why Janet Morris wasn’t famous. So I googled her.
And now I’m —
— blocked —
— torn, because I know an author is not her work & her work is not her, I know this, I shouldn’t be letting this interfere with my reading. Why am I letting this interfere with my reading?
“I can’t remember a damn thing worth mentioning before I started writing in ’76. Those were the SISISTRA series days, and it came as a shock to me that no one read SF had ever gotten laid or even considered the possibility. Of course I was still reading the scandalized letters and reviews, but before I went to my first convention and saw the folks. Then I understood. Obviously, I’d made a mistake. These were literati (sic); sexual politics wasn’t their strong suit.”
I mean, the interview (if such it is) is so dodgy they can’t even get the name of the SILISTRA series right. I shouldn’t care. Right?
“I avoided the horde of rabid feminists who wanted to string me up and the lesbians that wanted to…well, you know…and I decided that I’d write something different for these folks. I did a convention where they said they wanted to be challenged. Like a fool, I believed them. I also noticed that the SF types had a slavish devotion to and blinding awe of people with strong scientific backgrounds. Shit, I can write that stuff, I told myself. I was elected to the New York Academy of Sciences in 1980; I was a card-carrying member of AAAS.”
And anyway, who’s to say Morris even said any of this? And if she did, perhaps she meant it all in a kind of self-deprecating way. Perhaps she said it with a glass of champagne in her hand and she was chatting away at a party & trying to downplay her achievements because she’s embarrassed to admit how important her writing is to her. You know? Could be. Could be that.
“So I wrote the Dream Dancer series, which acquired the dubious distinction of having all three volumes, published six months apart, on the LOCUS best seller list at the same time. [snip] Worse people began comparing me to Gene Wolfe, and even though I sold the damned thing in England and Germany and I forget where-the-hell-else (I’ve got titles in French and Italian as well), I got tagged as writing “rigorously intellectual” “baroque” novels by a bunch of reviewers who didn’t know science when they saw it. But then, neither did my editor at the house that bought the books, who thought they were fantasy.”
And what’s it matter anyway, if I like the books, right? I like the books. I should just keep reading the books. Should forget trying to find out why Morris isn’t considered as major a talent as Wol– oh, wait. Right.
OK. And wrote under pseudonyms. Right, fair enough, too. I mean, that’s what she wanted. She didn’t like where she was, so she changed. Good on her. I admire her practicality. I mean, a lot of people find SF fans (like me, like ME, goddamn it) freakish, so, you know, whatever.
“[snip]leans heavily on hardware. But then, so do I every now and again. Somebody in my weight class has to, when that somebody attracts as much unwanted attention as I do. So I usually have an odds-evener on me, and I drive a fast car, if flight is the best response. But I’ve also got a short fuse, especially when people decide they just have to put a hand on me. So the carry permit came years ago; I don’t think about it much; it’s a part of me.
What I carry depends on where and why. I’ve got some special stuff, like a Walther TPH; two custom .45’s, and usually am trying something new. Right now that’s the Glock 17, but I probably won’t keep it. Plastic guns make me nervous. The equipment has to fit the job you want to do with it, and the Glock’s not better at anything than my Commander or my Detonics Mk VI, it’s just lighter. Being a lightweight myself, I can tell you that that’s not always an advantage. As for the 9mm advantages– ammo availability in NATO and Third World countries, and number of rounds per magazine: a)I’m not offshore right now and b) I’m not expecting to be overrun by a hostile horde anytime soon; in non-police social situations, if you can’t solve the problem with six to eight rounds of 230 grain nyclad interspersed with Glasers, you’re flat not going to solve it.
Being unexpected, which I also am, can be a distinct advantage, however. Keep your hands to yourself and buy me a cup of coffee, and I’ll tell you about the time I waltzed a Colt CS gun right through a security check and into a closed Senate hearing on terrorism….”
Unexpected. Yeah, good call. Thing is, I found more, too. I found a Janet Morris involved in a movement to do with ‘non-lethal weapons’, & of course I figured Google was just throwing up all the Janet Morrises of the world. It is the same one, though, same Janet Morris if you choose to believe the written word.
Janet Morris, co-author of The Warrior’s Edge, is best known as a science fiction writer but has been a member of the News York Academy of Sciences since 1980 and is a member of the Association for Electronic Defense. She is also the Research Director of the U.S. Global Strategy Council (USGSC). She was initiated into the Japanese art of bioenergetics, Joh-re, the Indonesian brotherhood of Subud, and graduated from the Silva course in advanced mind control. She has been conducting remote viewing experiments for fifteen years. She worked on a research project investigating the effects of mind on probability in computer systems.”
Could be a joke, of course, the internet is full of jokes.
According to nonlethal weapons’ original designer Mrs. Janet Morris’s white paper, the nonlethal weapons include portable microwave weapon, Non nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse weapons/High power microwave weapon (HPM), electromagnetic technologies (mind control technologies include ELF which can be used for mind control to implant thoughts into people), Infrasound, acoustic beams. non-penetrating high frequency acoustic bullets, hand-held lasers, low-frequency RF, etc. (see details on NonLethality: John B. Alexander, the Pentagon’s Penguin by Armen Victorian from UK magazine LOBSTER”, in June of 1993).
Though reality is always stranger than fiction. That’s true, too.
Chris and Janet Morris concept of “non-lethal weaponry” is taking some time to catch on in many military and law enforcement arenas. The couple, who foresee a fundamental change in the way people decide to practice violence, are the co-owners of the New Hampshire company M-2 Technologies.
But the thing is, I can’t get past the feeling that the author is laughing at me for liking her books, that she thinks I’m freakish & undesirable, that she played me for a fool, that’s she’s sniggering at the dubious distinctions I would otherwise consider achievements. And when I read her stuff now, all I can see is the face of a gun-toting, non-lethal violence specialist, looking down on me, and smirking, sneering, even. Just like that, like a stake through a vampiric heart, the smooth beauty of her story has become as ash to me.