Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Marketing Australian Science Fiction

I mentioned at the start of my last posting that I feel the essential difference in values between the U.S. and Australia is that Australians tend to embody values in gesture, silence, and subtle contextual cues, whilst Americans tend to express values in actions, words, and appearence.

I cannot talk about the source of this difference authoritatively, but I would like to contemplate it in the context of the writer's platform concept.

In the United States one builds a platform in a very visible way, through individual effort and the support of a hidden team of helpers. In Australia, on the other hand, a platform is often related to success overseas (I'm thinking of world class actors and actresses), notoriety in relation to a contentious issue (such as our talk show hosts on TV and radio), or simply by being authoritatively aligned with an institution: Dr Karl and Robert Manne come to mind in nonfiction.

Many of the fiction writers we consider to be top Aussie writers are in the context of the world publishing market midlisters, who produce one breakout or bestseller work occasionally that flourishes abroad. I simply DO NOT SEE the large scale break outs that the United States. It would be an error to suppose that they do not occur, but the means are different than in the United States.

A friend told me that a guy in Sydney organised a weekend of writer's events for his sub-genre of fiction. The outcome, he said, was a series of bestselling books in that sub-genre for several years, which ceased when the writer's event stopped. So the role of such events is not to be underestimated in such a small marketplace. They literally create readerships.

This week a writer's festival is going on in Adelaide. I am not particularly interested in it since it features only one bestselling writer, detective fiction writer Minette Walters... although one could argue that Vikram Seth is a bestselling writer, I have somewhat arbitrarily presumed he is a midlister. The festival is a great way to create new readers for the writer's that speak there. Also, the cross-fertilisation of ideas and the fact of simply being in such a busy atmosphere is a way of reminding myself that no writer is an island.

But I get bored and tired almost immediately, and I find it dry and uninteresting, and then I starting thinking I would be better off going home and writing five pages of my novel rather than not-listening to these genteel stories of subediting woes and of getting letters from readers informing the writer of an error in the facts in her book. I get bored of myself, sitting there feeling pretentiously dull to be listening to writer's talk about their work. I get bored with my friends and either leave or roam about or speak intellectual shit.

Some of the main science fiction writers and agents in Australia have started groups of their own, for whatever purpose. At present I believe the UK and US both publish excellent SF that sells well in both countries, but Australia? Hardly.

The numbers of Australian science fiction writers known outside of Australia are vanishingly few. Greg Egan in Perth. Jack Dann in Melbourne (although he migrated his less than a decade ago from the States); Damien Broderick may be known internationally for the nonfiction book about Technological Singularity "The Spike"; in Adelaide Sean Williams and Sean McMullen are well-known abroad.

Egan's books remind me a lot of Englishman Adam Robert's: both bold in concept, their concise titles and single-tone cover design reflects the direct style and complex ideas within.

I suppose it is unfair to compare the works of the Seans to Alastair Reynold, but I feel it is accurate: the portrayal of nihilism and moral relativism does not entertain, inform, nor educate me, no matter how brilliant the writing is in all of the writer's work. Unfair but, for me, true. Genuinely vital works, by comparison, are seen in John C. Wright's Golden Age Trilogy, and while they have the same kind of style in many ways, the moral vigor of Wright's work is pretty breathtaking.

In trawling the net on this topic I have discovered another very successful Australian science fiction writer, Russell Blackford. I haven't yet read his books. His platform is clearly his academic excellence and background of many published articles.

Egan's "platform" - really the concept doesn't apply to him - is evidenced in a fine intereview at .

In the interview Egan's says that his agent, Peter Robinson, and editor at Legend, Deborah Bayle, both approached him because of his published stories in Interzone. He says "I used to submit diligently to all the major magazines, but Interzone and Asimov's kept accepting things, and everyone else kept turning them down, so it seemed like a waste of postage to keep it up. I could eat for a year on a sale to Omni, though, so I still try them now and then. And Ellen Datlow writes the nicest rejections in the business."

Egan also gives an excellent bit of advice: "I read Locus, SF Chronicle, Australian Science Fiction Writers' News, Thyme, and the SFWA's Bulletin and Forum. There's valuable stuff buried in all of them."

The second last question of the interview is about marketing: "Isn't it in the best interests of the author," Eidolon's interviewer asks, "to try to promote the work to the public, through interviews, signings, even appearances?

Not to mention life-sized cardboard cut-outs of Madonna. I don't know. Like I've said, I'd do it badly, and I also think the value of it is overrated. I've bought books by my own favourite authors for years without knowing the first thing about them, other than what they've written. It's all down to reviews, past works, and word of mouth. I believe there's a large component of the SF readership who don't even know - let alone care - about all the bullshit that goes on. Of the people I know who read science fiction, the majority have no connection whatsoever to fandom, and they're quite oblivious to whether or not Writer X has had his photo in Locus every month, and juggled armadillos while filk-singing at the latest Worldcon."

Interesting platform there! I appreciate Egan's focus on quality writing, his humility about his skills, his hard work, and the fact that his novel "Diaspora" is really something extraordinary in my opinion.

The paradox of the few other examples I've reviewed of platform building in Australian science fiction is that those few folk who deliberately build an event, magazine, or convention of some kind are not able to write really excellent science fiction. So it seems that the best way to sell science fiction is to write excellent work, plain and simple. I'll go with Egan's view.

The Published Writer's Platform

Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman have authored an excellent book entitled "Author 101", subtitled "the insider's guide to selling your work". It charmed me right from the start.

Before I talk about it, I want to mention how much I love the frank, integrous style of American books and authors. Here is a whole system set up to produce want people want, and, remarkably, what people in America want much of the time is actually really fine quality. This book is just what I mean: it is frank, funny, and worldly.

As an Australian, I notice that values are often submerged and contextual - my friend Dan explains how the Australian Aboriginal use of gesture and silence indicates significance and unspoken values - and to a great extent the same is true of the rest of Australia. In the United States, by contrast, values are explicit and numerous: freedom, liberty, innovation, philathropy, personal responsibility. I could go on about it, but the main thing is that there is an appreciable difference between how Australians embody values and American express values.

The key concepts of the book for me, as a mainly fiction writer, are the second and third chapters, "Think Like A Published Author" and "The Author's Platform". The former chapter is essentially for me about obedience: the process of being a published author involves submitting to the market one's work, then simply obeying the requirements of both market (as embodied by agent, editor, publisher, and publicist) and concept (as expressed in the work). The latter chapter is the "how to" aspect of being a published author: the essence of being a published author is authority - in the sense of being authoritative but also in the sense of fully being the originator or source of the work.

Obedience and authority are not real friendly sounding words, and nowhere in this book do I find them. So this is more my sense of the essence of what I take from the book, rather than what the authors themselves have to say.

One builds a platform by volunteering to become an authority in the subject one writes about. Publishers look for books that are aligned with the writer's everyday work and practice, so that the writer's activities can support sales of the book.

This immediately makes sense in the context of nonfiction, but in the world of fiction this concept is a little harder to define. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" gives a great portrait of platform building in fiction writing. The composite writer he features simply publishes 6 stories; one wins an award; then he writes a friendly, personable, professional letter to a few agents and suddenly he's in business. It stands to reason that the short fiction arenas that publish fiction would be read by the same folk who read the long fiction of the same kind.

The approach - which has been successful with Dean Koontz's work - seems to be that one attracts a loyal readership from book to book whilst attracting new readers at the same time. But given the somewhat slimmer midlist of publishing these days this seems to be less like a journey of discovery where greater numbers of readers tag along, and more like a mountain to climb where the readers must be dragged along behind!

Perhaps the solution is to take a detour from the conventional and time honored route of fiction publishing by self-publishing, giving the book away online, or creating an attractive website on the subject; but simpler alternatives are just to write fiction and nonfiction about the material or topics of research, which bolster the platform and increase the chances of attracting an agent for fiction.

The book was fascinating for the fine grained detail of how to write an excellent proposal.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"You Can Do It"

I introduced myself to a kid, about 23, by the train today. On the journey into town, I had overheard him loudly telling an older woman his goal was to create and direct epic films.

I said hi and told him I write thrillers, suspense, and epic novels. I told him I can’t be of service right now, however I own a book which I didn’t want which he might find very useful by a Californian director. I couldn’t remember the title at the time, but it is… let me see… Dreams into Action, by Milton Katselas. Much of the advice is focused on people in the entertainment industry in California, specifically in acting and directing where Katselas’ experience lies. I asked him if he would like it.

His reply indicated he had no intention of creating and directing epic films. He told me he basically wanted to do epic films in 20 years. He told me he did not read books. He told me that the only books he has ever read are two star wars novelizations. Three strikes, not out.

I replied that I knew of an illiterate guy who wrote over 150 successful screenplays and started his own company doing TV screenplays. I replied that I knew of a man who went from a mailroom to directing at a major studio. And I told him he could do it.

“You can do it,” I said.

Faced with the truth, he faked it: he told me in the exact intonation of one of his film school teacher’s voices that “this industry is not hard to break into, it’s impossible to break into.”

Then the flake tried to ask me for my number so he could ring me in twenty years time and give my work a read. Ignoring his discourtesy, I offered him to post him the Katselas book and he replied he didn’t give his address out to strangers.

“Do you have a card or post office box?” I asked.

“No; I’m just a student,” he said.

“Okay, thanks for your time,” I said, walking away. I couldn’t offer him any act of service, but he sure offered me a good lesson or two.

Thank you, flaky film school kid. I can do it.

The Power of Polite

I read a Chinese philosopher, (maybe Master Kung Tse, maybe a modern Chinese novelist, I’m not sure) saying that when a wise man meets someone he wants to understand, he asks about the person’s work, family, and ethnic loyalties.

This is the cat equivalent of staring straight at another cat, looking down and blinking, then staring again for the exact same length of time. This is the dog equivalent of smelling one anothers genitals with wagging tails. This is the frog equivalent of – well, the frog social millieu is perhaps the subject of another blog entry and for another time.

Asking about a stranger’s work, family and ethnic loyalties is the social skill that comes just after being able to say hello. Political correctness be damned: I like to do it a lot. It is traditional, fresh, universal and commonplace all at once.

Success with people for me arises from friendliness and awareness of our common wealth, which in turn implies the willingness to put away childish things, things that intervene and obscure clear and friendly talk.

Two disciplines of Kung were chatting about his politics. One had noticed that whenever Kung arrives in a new country he is always well informed about the politics. How does he manage to learn so much about a new country, he asked his friend.

The answer is fascinating:

“The master learns about the politics of a country by being cordial, kind, courteous, temperate and deferential. The master has a way of learning which is quite different from other peoples, isn’t it?” (My rendering of Simon Ley’s translation of Analects, 1.10.)

Kung was a man who had certainly put away childish things. In his courteous friendliness and plain awareness of things as they are, he seems to me to have been a wiser statesman than perhaps any politician we have in the world today.

I *heart* apple

My computer is amazing.

It is amazing not just in terms of where it came from – it’s lineage if you like; nor simply because of where it is going. It is amazing just as it is.

I have a Mac iBook G4. The screen is 14 inches. The memory alone would have made my childhood self gawp. It is a marvellous creating machine. And I love it, I really love it. Truly madly deeply.

That is not to imply that, in the context of science fiction, there is no attraction in creating full body sensoria on wireless mobile computing. Not at all. Nor does the love imply that, in the context of computing history, there is no simple aversion to loading my brother’s machine-coded word processor via cassette on the Commodore 64 to write novels on.

But this love is something new.

You see, when this computer arrived, it was a kind of a shock. What could it do? How long would it take to master? How easy would it be to work? I now have the answers to those questions. It is a creating machine. It took until today to master. And it about as easy as it needs to be.

When it breaks, there’ll be grief, attachment, and worry about fixing or replacing it. But any resistance to owning the new “thing” where the words go seems to have dissipated. I am grateful and glad to have it now, on its own terms, in its own time, however long or short that may be.

Everything I learnt about Punk from Henry Rollins

What I learnt from watching a documentary tonight on the brief and strange history of punk music, ws not that it’s social beginnings were explosively remedial to widespread alienation in the youth of London and New York for a vbreif hundred days; not that it’s almost immediate overemphaasis on violence and hatred brought it down as quickly and quietly as it had risen; not, even that while hateful and perverse punk bands struggle throughout America, hiphop and punk momentarily formed a league in the years of 79, 80 and 81; but rather, that in spite of al this, it remained a continuous and unitaary thread of challenge to the hatred itself; paradoxically, those for whom hattred was not enough, punk became the vehicle for integrous success. By embracing proffesionlism, craftsmanship, and the commercial contingencies of touring and working with the authorities, punk transformed itself from a youth mioment to a commcercial voice for youth.

Nirvana, Henry Rollins in the Black Flag, are two of the most obvious popular manifestations of this underswell of suppport, both emerging in the early nineties, 91 and2

While I was first meeting the dance culture of the large cities, this other movement flourished among less secure and stable people and gave an answer to their angst and depression and loneliness. That answer was music.

I think of this enormous suffering and I felt that if it can be converted into something – not even something good –but something anyway, then maybe it stands a chance of becoming a transformative vehicle. For the downtrodden, anger can seem the only viable solution to fear and craving And this entire movement – not the dogmatic and reductionistic movement of music, but this motion of consciousness from which punk arose, seems to me to be the natural route of ascension to integrity, and a kind of twisted grace.

It did me good to see. Afterwards, I reflected – what was in this for me to know, to learn, to understand? But there was nothing to understand except that simple fact: they suffered, they did their best, and when it was done they looked upon it, and they saw that it was good. pervading even demonising and vilifying art, at its essence the mystery of creation still retains an inspirational quality.

Incidently, among the many voies of the documentary it was Henry Rollins that stood out. I knew that voice. I recognised it. It was the voice of a celibate speaking.

We have so few of them in the world now that it is impossible to know until you hear them And then it like hearing a castrati sing for the first time in is a liquid and mellow adult male soprando, and you recognised as if it had been around all along, hidden by the modern world. I wonder – idly, because it is none of my fucking business – if Mr Rollins is in fact celibate. It seems to me I can hear it in his voice, in his word choice, and the overall context of his personal presentation.

Ideas For Novels in 2007

From Dostoyevsky and Balzac, unlike Charles Dickens work, we see the narrative verve of the plays stripped down to, in Balzac, pure plotting on the scale of Iago himself; and, in Dostoyevsky, the pure psychologism of Hamlet. Dostoyevsky's protagonists live closer to the edge of survival, skepticism and spiritual death than Shakespeare's, but invariably they reflect the self-awareness so unique to Hamlet himself. Balzac's protagonists, on the other hand, have the same self-will and manipulative brilliance of Iago and Richard the III. Neither emphasises the soft side of Shakespeare's work particularly, so the hard-edged, hard-nosed Russian and Frenchman are more interesting to me as a source of instruction than the Englishman.

I like to daydream of Balzac as Iago and Dostoyevsky as Hamlet - of these characters sort of as emanations of these guys writing personae.

Balzac definitely has some ill-will against his readers at times (a feature he shares with Stephen King's early work); as Balzac works to manipulate the readers into the most complicated embroglio of plotlines imaginable, commonly the book ends with a crash as the plotlines collapse into disaster and tragedy around him. I can imagine Iago like a guardian spirit on Balzac's shoulder while he writes, chuckling at the plot twists.

Dostoyevsky clearly has very Russian concerns with religious faith and doubt, political power and its misuse, and the role of the hero in the context of a disintegrated and dysfunctional family and social structure. In this he is very similar in his central concerns to Koontz, whose central themes could be said to be the various dysfunctions of family, state, and religion.

My main interest at present is eastward: an apprehension of the unity of nature and science forms the essence of Gaia; while the inevitable conflict between technology and spirituality, on the other hand, forms the substance of Pureland, my next novel. These two themes are so important to me, so compelling and fascinating, that I suppose that the traditional notion of the hero for me is really not sufficient to these themes. Shakespeare is not enough. Instead, Gaia shows how the role of hero is in fact an illusion and a presumption in the consistent failures of Allan and Valery and Cutter to win control over nature, and Pureland simply replaced the Western hero with the Eastern version of the hero: the Bodhisattva.

Dean Koontz's biography is instructive in that he began writings science fiction and moved into suspense, then mainstream and literary success, only over many decades of writing. The takeaway lesson here is not, as Dean suggests early on in his career, to write in many genres, at least not for their own sake; but rather to find the form and genre that best suits what is closest to your heart and essential concerns. I do not know what this form or genre will be for myself, but I have a few interesting ideas.

This year I am writing Gaia, Pureland, and a third, a novelization of the life of the musician George Frederick Handel. If the Handel piece is fun and effective I might consider - assuming no such piece is in print already - a novelisation of key moments of Rembradt's life, which I see as a companion story to Handel's in the medium of art.

But the year after I have a few ideas for new directions which I would like to share here.

Firstly, the destructive role of the media in the world at present, and a recent news story have inspired together the concept for a novel. First the news story: a 96 year old woman was repeatedly raped in a nursing home by one of her so-called carers. This shocking story shows a despicable action by a criminal pervert that mars a lady's final years.

But what about the media coverage of these bare facts? The media was as sleazy as it could get away with being about it - which, here in Australia, is not quite as bad as it might be in the US or UK. So what if the case dragged on... and on... and on? What if the story became a media feeding frenzy? What if the poor old lady was beseiged night and day with requests for interview, commentary, and opinion?

And finally, what if the old lady were a woman of great integrity, blessed with the strength to forgive, transcend, and let go of things that would crush an ordinary person? What would she say and do in her healing process after the rapes, and how would she deal with the added trauma of the media wolf pack? This is the seed of my first novel project for 2007.

The second is an enchanting alternative history idea. Have you heard the cliche that the winners write the histories? Well I got wondering one silly day what would happen if that were reversed. What if the losers wrote the history.

Hold on, I thought, what if the losers WON the battles?

So I went through recorded history reversing the victories and giving comeuppance to the losers. And I combined this with an idea I have had for a few years (since I heard an English pop song entitled "Beautiful"): What if the faery realm of Britain was real, and had never left the company of humans, and what if magic were real only in the British Isles and helped them repel the Roman and Norman invaders?

The results, an alternative history complete with travelling celtic magicians, druids and bards, is pretty bizarre. But the project, which I think of as "Prydain" (the old name for the UK) is kind of compelling to me precisely because it is so weird and humorous. Ideally such a story would trigger a kind of meltdown in the readers' mind between the arbitrary perceptual categories of winning and losing, creating the way for a clear and humorous view of history as the simply unfolding of potential from unmanifest to manifest, nothing more or less. I also hope it might help clear away some historical baggege in my own mind I suppose.

The third idea I have for a novel is also a bit strange. I feel I might like to write a novel about cancer.

My aims in this are complex and partly beyond consciousness. I just have the sense that in the collective consciousness of humankind the fear of cancer is something that warrants compassionate investigation and loving recontextualization. In the context of science I am interested in clarifying and presenting the current knowledge on the subject. In the context of spirituality, I am a little averse to presenting "cures" and "healings" and "miracles", when I know full well that, in the collective consciousness, there is a great deal of negativity and fear around the topic; and I would like to speak to that directly somehow rather than seem to promise solutions.

Particularly of interest is the emerging marketplace in genetic interventions in cancer treatments. The day is only years or months away when the cancers that afflict the majority of people will have effective cures. As to the rarer cancers, for which there do not exist adequate time or funding to create cures in the immediate future, they too eventually will have cures as the technology speeds up and public interest evokes funding.

We are looking at a time, I guess, when cancer ceases to be a major illness!

That in itself is remarkable and moving, so even being able to portray that would be a great thing.

My understanding is that, aside from cancers of the immune system, marrow and endocrine system, the main condition for the emergence of the disease is cell toxicity. I also believe that persistent negative attitudes and attachments play a role in the emergence of cancers. So examining the role of environmental toxins, on the one hand, and familial toxicity on the other, may be the best way to proceed. And setting it close to the action on the US East Coast would also be the best perhaps.

On Dean Koontz and Will Shakespeare

I read 'Dean Koontz: A Writer's Life" last night.

I loved how a publicist described his rise to stardom: He built a loyal following with every book, then added new readers with every new book while keeping the old readers. She added that this was the "traditional way". Seems to me to be the ONLY way!

Koontz speaks of the New Wave SciFi writers interestingly, confirming my sense that the larger part of the movement tested weak due to political and social positionalities. Only Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg treated the younger writers graciously in his bio.

I am impressed also by his Honorary Doctorate speech, where he lays it straight out for the students: He says the world does not want your new ideas, but they need them. Interesting; tough view.

The stuff about his father sounds so much like one of his novels. It made for pretty harsh reading and helps contextualise the frightening and rough reading in his novels. The role of experience takes primacy over the interpretation of experience in the early novels, while in the latter the inclusion of self-awareness allows an openness and inclusiveness which seems to attract more readers to his work.

I also appreciate how the biography connects Koontz's work to Charles Dickens novels. The genealogy of influence from Shakespeare is interesting to outline: novelists had trouble coming to grips with Good Will's influence for a long time. So I would like to trace that line of influence here for my own clarification.

I met Will through the plays themselves, of course. But even before them, I had met him indirectly in Pere Goriot, perhaps Balzac's most Shakespearean novel. Then later I learnt that, before writing Crime And Punishment, Dostoyevsky had translated into Russian Pere Goriot, and it became clear that the line of Will's influence had migrated into fiction directly through these two writers whom I read at 15 and 16 years, before reading Shakespeare for two years while I was 17 and 18.

The Americans Koontz and King come at it more frankly. Dickens was emmersed in Shakespeare, marinated in the rhetoric and dramatic technique of the plays. He knew many monologues of Shakespeare by heart and performed them. So the dramatic inheritance of Good Will enters Koontz's and King's work with some of the flavour of Mr Dickens, some of the sense of place and time, some of the picaresque poetry, and some of the sentimental attachment to childhood vulnerability. I find Dante more useful in lessons on depicting place, poetry, and innocence personally.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Kim Stanley Robinson's "Blue Mars"

I just reviewed Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars. It brought a tear to my eye it was so good. Specifically, the final scene, Ann’s spiritual rebirth, and Maya’s practice in the third final chapter of simply living sanely and helpfully, are two scenes charged with clarity, mindfulness and the powerfully compassionate presence of a fierce and disciplined dakini kind of woman. I love Robinson’s women because they are so similar to the kind I love to create.

I also noticed patterns.

- An “Ann” and “Sax” chapter bookend the opening and the conclusion. The actual narrative core of the book, chapters 5 to 8, showing Michel rememebering, Ann observing, and Nadia governing, itself is bookended by two brilliant chapters showing Nirgal witnessing Earth then Mars.

- The book is dominated by issues of quality of life. Each chapter builds on this question: “What is the good life?” This theme reaches its climax in two chapters which contrast two extreme versions of the good life, Zo’s hedonistic headlong kind, and Maya’s serene, sane, accepting kind. One is left in no doubt of the benefits and disadvantages of each kind of good life.

- The issue of how one strives for quality of life when there is no apparent direction or purpose is treated before these climactic scenes with Zo and Maya, through a long discursive narrative about Nirgal. Nirgal, having returned to Mars, disocciating himself from his former historical identity, strives to attain the good life and mostly fails, but the point is that he is successful in the striving itself. And his apparent lack of success bears fruit in the final chapter, where he ends up with Bao, and is carefully set up during this part of the book.

- I wrote a line on each chapter to capture it. Zo’s is: “Chapter 11, Zo does Mercury, Mars, Sax (literally), Oberon, Miranda, Ann, and death.” Short and sweet. Maya’s is “Chapter 12, Maya does living sanely”.

- Broadly speaking the Ann and Sax chapters that bookend the book are about death and life. I wrote: “Chapter 1, Ann does war,” “Chapter 2, Sax does terrorism.” And: “Chapter 13, Sax does mnemogenesis,” “Chapter 14, Ann does spiritual rebirth.”

- The portions of the book where contemplation predominates over action are: “Chapter 5, Michel does Provence”, “Chapter 9, Sax and Bao do science”, and “Chapter 12, Maya does living sanely.” What purpose they serve precisely will require careful rereading.

So that is my overview of the bare bones and the underlying essence. I am not sure whether I will dig deeper, especially since the other two thirds of the novel remain to be explored in the way I have above as well (Red Mars and Green Mars).

Landscape and the quality of witnessing are the predominant aspects of Robinson’s novel. Red Mars is strong on landscape. Green Mars represents landscape admixed with turbulent subjective emotions, distortions, madnesses, and frenzies. But Blue Mars is serene, and the subjective quality of the character’s inner life aligns with the landscape in an educative way. That is to say, within the subjective field of awareness of the characters, they grow and evolve through and by the land; when a character detects she is projecting onto the Mars, she begins to re-own her projection and grow as a consequence.

Unlike Shakespeare where the main character overhears himself and changes as a consequence, in 'Mars' characters see and hear the world and come to realize themselves first in, then of, and finally beyond it. That is a great high level way to summarise the entire three book Mars novel: characters self-actualise in, from the beyond the subjective experience of external reality.

The essential premise of the three-book novel seems to be that science trumps politics. How each book and chapter does this will be the matter for a more comprehensive review of the three books as one novel.

1. Ann does war
2. Sax does terrorism
3. Art does diplomacy
4. Nirgal does Earth
5. Michel does Provence
6. Ann does blue Mars
7. Nadia does government
8. Nirgal does Mars
9. Sax and Bao do science
10. Nirgal does running, self-development, and leisure activities
11. Zo does Mercury, Mars, Sax, Oberon, Miranda, Ann, and death
12. Maya does sanity
13. Sax does mnemogenesis
14. Ann does spiritual rebirth

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