How Juliette Got Her Name

Soon after she came into being, Chrome Underwood began typing her new name, Juliette ArtSong, on his gleaming silver typewriter, the very one he himself was named after. As it happened, his left hand was resting to the left and slightly above home position, and the word ‘Art’ had become ‘Q45’. He immediately recognized that by typing outside the lines, he had conjured up an acronym that evoked the magic moment when a needle drops into the groove of a 45rpm record. He then etched ‘Q45’ into the surface of a brushed titanium flash drive, which he gave to her in the form of a necklace, a gift she later passed on to Will Powers after their first meeting in Manhattan. He wore it as a talisman for the rest of his days.
At that point in Will’s young life, of course, the computer was still in its infancy; but much later the flash drive would prove to be the key to unlocking his future home, the virtual world of SubVersa. Eventually, when all three of them merge into a single, triune being, they each wear the same titanium bar around their necks, a symbol of the essential bond between them, Juliette Q45 being the mediating force. At that moment they will begin streaming the new infinity, Runtime Zero.

This Is Not A Pipe

Left to right: Fred de Filippo (Freddie the Flute), Joe Alper, Gino Antonioni and Yours Truly.

Joe began by explaining how the camera can be an extension of the mind’s eye, the key to a new adventure in seeing. A print of Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images‘ hung on the wall behind him, a simple illustration of a pipe with the caption, ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ (This is not a pipe). Oddly enough, the pipe in the painting looked just like the one in Joe’s hand. The adventure had begun before I even picked up a camera.
Joe Alper was one in a cluster of big names who joined the faculty at SUNY Albany back in the mid-Sixties, as then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller completed his sweeping upgrade of the state university system, a string of jewels spread out across the state with the new Albany campus as its centerpiece. A dubious distinction, in my view, as the muddled modernist buildings (rumored to have been designed for the pop-up city of Brasilia in the Amazon jungle) didn’t sit too well in the frozen tundras of upstate New York. But hey, it was the capitol, and he was the governor. Read More …

Butterflies Dreaming

From Runtime Zero:

“Then one fateful summer eve, on their way home from Provincetown, he and Ave Maria dropped some Sunshine on the hallowed lawns of Harvard Yard (a touchstone in the culture of consciousness still under the luminous spell of Dr. Timothy Leary, who was by then a major constellation in the midnight sky), and time—time itself—began to melt like Dalí’s clock, morphing into something infinitely more erotic and exotic than the endless shuffling from one moment to another in the world they’d left behind. They were starborn, traveling light-years together beneath the trees, soaring from one breath to another, pressed hard against the soft green surface of the earth, butterflies dreaming.”

True Story

As I walked down Hamilton Street, the very same street the great man himself once trod, I began to hear muffled voices coming from my backpack. Pulling out my iPad, I discovered a live video feed on the screen, apparently another accidental FaceTime call from my brother in Japan, who appeared to be sitting in the front seat of a car, talking to the driver. Positioned directly behind them, I could see we were headed down a winding dirt road in the middle of a dense forest.
“Bob!” I said directly to my iPad as a young woman in a Tupac t-shirt passed by with a smirk on her otherwise pretty face.
“Mick!” he answered, with some surprise, turning around to get a better look at me. “How the hell are you?” I continued down the street, device in hand.
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A Map of The Mirror Worlds

This is a ‘mind map’ of the physical and virtual locations that appear throughout my cyberpunk series, Dark Math Chronicles, beginning with the first book, Runtime Zero. The series traces the journey of a young artist named Will Powers as he struggles to find a way out of the growing darkness on planet Earth, eventually making his way to a virtual paradise called SubVersa, where he achieves a state of digital perfection and begins streaming an entirely new infinity. He is guided on this perilous journey by Chromium and Juliette, the avatars of his future self. It is one hell of a ride, as Chrome says; he would have given Icarus a run for his money.

French Vanilla

One of the true angels in this book is an enchanting avatar named Vanilla Titanium, first encountered at the Savoy Truffle having a drink with her fellow Code Warriors. Described as “a rare, exotic beauty of French and African design with a dash of Mongol code thrown into the mix…,” she is a founding member of the Daughters of the Sun, a troupe whose luminous dance performances were predetermined by the graphic coordinates of the wind, and could blow through a village at any time of day or night like a flock of magical faeries.

The soulmate of Manhattan Atlas and the closest friend of Chrome’s mercurial muse, Juliette Q45, she is, in many ways, the conscience of the Code Warriors. Where there is doubt or confusion, Vanilla steps in to fill the void. Possessing a deep and abiding air of calm, she invariably poses the most penetrating and incisive questions, providing a much-needed balance in fluid situations. More than any other member, she keeps the tribe on track in dangerous times.

Welcome to SubVersa

My new novel, Runtime Zero, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook formats. The first installment of a neo-cyberpunk series called the Dark Math Chronicles, it’s been hailed by noted author Alan Kaufman as “sandpaper prose to scrape the cheap paint off your mind,” and described as “spontaneous bebop prosody for the 21st Century,” by Albuquerque Journal editor Bruce Daniels. It’s a mind-bending psy-fi adventure for an increasingly digitized world.

The book traces the journey of a gifted young artist named Will Powers from his drug-fueled downfall in the streets of Manhattan to a future rebirth in a virtual paradise called SubVersa—a world where everything is possible and nothing is forbidden; where Chrome, his digital surrogate, finally lives out his maker’s dream of becoming a master artist and in the process becomes a master programmer—a Code Warrior. Read More …