Sunday, 30 May 2010

Part Five: The Silver Machine

picking through some of the offal, occasionally holding up a shred of red flesh and examining it more carefully. I caught his eyes and gestured for him to come over, not wishing to stand too close to the bloody pile that was absorbing his interest. He smiled at me and obliged.

“Hello, Dylan. Didn’t expect to see you here. Look at this.” He waved a strip of gore in front of my face. “See?” He pointed out some detail that I chose not to focus on. “Some strange Metzger’s tinkering with the wannabes, I reckon. You don’t see that too often.”

“Oh, really, fascinating. Look, I’d like to talk about the Janus for a minute.”

Richard looked around surreptitiously then put the little piece of flesh into his belt bag. “Sure, go ahead.”

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Part Four: The New Direction

splashing water all over the bathroom and knocking the set into the bath. Had I fallen asleep, was I dreaming? I grabbed a couple of bottles from the bench top over the bath, and took some uppers. Sleep was the last thing I needed right now!

I topped up the hot water, took a deep breath, dried off the set and slipped it back on. I ordered a set wardrobe, the Gallo Cork selection for that week, and patched through to the drama gallery to check out the latest on Beautiful Life. As I watched the lives unfolding (I was following Johnny and Martha at the time) I noticed the trace of Rod, so I opened up a chat line.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Part Three: A Little Bit Like A Lobotomy

to find something else first, so I got the mainframe to whiz me up a CV and faxed it out over the media to a dozen or so key people I knew in the industry back then. Key people, know what I mean? The same answer came back all round: “Thanks for thinking of us, great CV, but we don’t have an opening right now for someone with your background. This is only our opinion,” they said, “and we encourage you to keep trying with other agents,” but this unique opinion seemed to be held be everyone. They were probably all using the same HR screening software.

I checked with the bank. I had a bit over million, which could probably keep me going for another month or two, if I cut back a bit, but not enough cash to buy into anything, like Katy did, certainly not enough to retire.

by a visit from Kevin, the publishing manager. He was a little red-faced man, just past the peak of adulthood, with a strange, high-pitched voice. If you couldn’t see him, he sounded like a deep-voiced woman. I remember the first time I met him I laughed out loud when he spoke, but he just smiled, shrugged it off - I guess he was used to it. He lived with his Mum and Dad in Stokes Valley. Just looking at him made me shiver: a possible future laid out in front of me.

“Hello Dylan. I saw the ABC,” He sort of grimaced.

“Yes, well, temporary thing, just a blip. You know.”

He put his arm around my shoulder in a fatherly way, an action that required him to stretch up on his toes. “You know Dylan, I was a bit like you once. Before De Benoit I worked for the Lawn Bowls Association, doing what you do now.”

“Really? Lawn Bowls?” Kevin was a nice enough guy, well-meaning and occasionally funny – a sex symbol for people with low expectations.

“Things on the bowls circuit can get pretty hot, if you’re as good as I was.”

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Part Two: The Offer

there has been some confusion regarding the exact nature of my employment. The various remixes and mashup often overstate my authority, my place in the hierarchy, and my importance in the drug scene generally. So, in this confessional spirit, let me just clear things up a little before I go on.

I worked for De Benoit Ministry of Commerce, pharmacy division, not the other way around. They picked me up a few years after the revolution: the Magic Bus thing had foundered, the vehicle itself left rusting in a field near Levin, with the bodies of Eliot and Jude decomposing, unburied, beside it. Far from being the heroic defeat often portrayed, our final encounter with the Nomad gang was a fractious, humiliating rout, with Katy, Tanya, Buzz and Me just making it out before they opened fire. I still remember the last time I saw Eliot’s face, compassionate and understanding but resolute in his own determination to do the right thing. Fucking idiot.

The year after that I did my best to make a living as a political radical, but you know? I just didn’t have it in me. All the answers I had seemed to lead on to more difficult questions, every attempt at promoting liberty seemed to inhibit freedom a little more somehow. So complicated! You pull a lever, you gotta press a button. You press the button, you gotta turn the winch. You turn the winch and by the tinkling tunes of Metzger you got no time to relax, kick off have a bit fun cos you gotta be somewhere else yanking on another lever. In the end, I had to admit that I didn’t have any answers and the grass and pills and trips were making it impossible for me to think anything through anyway.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Part One: The Fear


This is a copyright check. The rights of the author have been asserted, copyright act… uh, etc, etc. Someone’ll put all this in, right?


Arlo Makepeace Dylan. I am telling it myself for the first time anywhere.
[keep reading after the jump]


Back in 1992, I was twenty-five and filled with the desire to be a writer. By this time I'd published my first short stories, but I knew that what I needed to do was write a novel. I just had no idea how.

I'd made a few false starts over the years, trying to get find a story that would sustain a long narrative, trying to figure out how long narratives worked. How would I know I was done? I had no idea, so in a fit of inspiration I took a look in that year's Nebula Awards collection, and saw that nominees for the novel category had to be over forty thousand words long – I had my target. I figured if I sat down and wrote a few hundred words a day, I could get it done in just a few months.

Looking back, I see now that I set myself a rather low target. Later, of course, I learned that a commercial novel needs to be at least eighty thousand words these days for anyone to look at it, and a bijoux item like this was simply never going to attract a mainstream publisher.

Well, so it goes, I thought, and put it away thinking that it had been good practice, and now I should move on to something else.

Well, about this time I moved from New Zealand to Great Britain, and discovered the British small press. Among the small magazines were a few publishes of chap books and short novels, of exactly this sort. I returned to State of Change, therefore, when perhaps I should have been writing a full length novel, and spent a year or so, in between exploring London and the world, giving it another do over.

In 1998, I found a publisher, and excitedly told everyone I knew, that my novel was finally going to be published! How proud I was, how relieved to have my efforts finally rewarded! My friend suggested it was similar to an EP from an independent label, the culmination of years gigging and doing the circuit, and the first step on a glittering career.

Oh, hubris!

Three months later, I got a very apologetic letter informing that because of events beyond their control, they were forced to close. Crashing disappointment!

Still, it was encouraging: someone out there had though it was sorth publishing, so I didn't give up on it entirely. A few years later a second small press publisher expressed an interest and I went through the same naïve exultations, but, well, I dunno what happened this time, the guy just stopped answering emails. He's still publishing short novels and what-have-you, but I guess his enthusiasm for the project cooled, or something. End result: more crashing disappointment!

So, several years later, this darn thing is still hanging around, resolutely unpublished, seemingly unpublishable. No one else seems to be interested in publishing short novels from unknowns, so what's to be done? Having dipped my toe in the blog water, as it were, I decided I might as well get out there myself, and here it is.

It must be five years since I looked at this, and it's an odd experience, now. I've tried to present it as it was when it was finished. I don't really want to spend another lot of time on it now, but I'm fixing any obvious errors, and I don't have the discipline to leave some of the more distressingly unfunny jokes.

That aside, this is, basically, it. Is it as good as it could be? Well, nothing's ever as good as it could be, but this is what I felt and thought and pondered between the ages of twenty-five and thirty. There are some good gags in it, and the ideas were fresh in those days, even if it all looks a little passé now.

What startles me most is how I am still going on at these same issues – life on camera, celebrity failures, a life without privacy and we we retreat when there's no physical place for us left. It looks prescient to me now, that a lot of my satirical ideas on how hype and marketing would shape and infiltrate our lives have come true. It's truer still in New Zealand, where television has been gutted to the extent that most of the TV shows are nakedly and unashamedly advertising.

The other matter that maybe requires some explanation is the sexual explicitness. This is very much not me. I think love is a very important part of fiction, and novels without love in them are distinctly lacking in my opinion, but I'm a discreet fade out sort of a guy rather than a character-expressed-through-lovemaking sort.

I decided to approach the sex in this novel in this way for two reasons. The first is that I think that porn is the ultimate in hype and marketing. It's the most bizarre non-product on Earth. Nothing sells a bigger lie than porn, and so in my “take this to the extreme” take on the topics here, pornography is the place it all ends up. I think, in that context, it works quite well.

On the other hand, I was trying to directly challenge my own squeamishness in writing about sex. I was trying to explore some internal space about these types of expression and so pushed myself to make it harder and nastier with every draft. I don't know if this aspect succeeded quite so well: there's nothing in the text that addresses this, and it seems to have been entirely an internal matter for me. Maybe that's just as well, as a matter of fact.

Ah well. Here it is then, without further ado. In the words of Viv Stanshall, I hope you choke on it.

Patrick H, 2010

Creative Commons License

This version of State of Change by Patrick Hudson is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license version 3.0, which lets you share it, remix it, and share your remixes, provided that you do so on a non-commercial basis.

I am not a lawyer (or "IANAL" as we so colourfully say on the internet) so I'm not 100% certain this is right. If anyone spots any probs with this, let me know! Basically, I'm happy for you to read this, print it out and pass it around to all your influential friends. I'm happy for you to reprocess it in better formats - ebook formats and all that -if it makes it easier for you to distribute, and if you want to do something really whacky - like, I dunno, spoken word it over music or something - knock yourself out! If you intend to make money though, you need to at least ask me and I might ask for some of the cash, depending on the sums involved. That's basically what I hope this license communicates.

Legal stuff after the jump...