I have a lot of influences when it comes to books .. and a lot of books in general, but for Angels See In Sepia, these are the main ones that have resonated with the entire concept … covers are the versions I own …
"The story begins with a cryptic passage:
to wound the autumnal city.
So howled out for the world to give him a name.
The in-dark answered with wind …
What follows is an extended trip to and through Bellona, a fictional city in the American Midwest cut off from the rest of the world by some unknown catastrophe. William Gibson has referred to Dhalgren as "A riddle that was never meant to be solved." Thats only the beginning of it, and this is one of the books that completely remapped my idea of the written word. "
Don’t read the wikipedia entry if you want to be surprised – this book will break your head worse than House Of Leaves ever did. It’s objective and the whole concept behind the book actually eluded me on the first read, and it was only when I read it a second time that it dawned on me what was going on. I wont say what it is, because everyone should discover it for themselves .. but once I got the concept, it opened the book up again. I have read this many, many times, and each time, I come away having learnt something new about it or have found a different twist on things – but as William Gibson said in the quote above, I don’t think I’ll ever truly solve it or come close to understanding everything in its pages – which is exactly why I’ll keep reading it again and again. Remarkable literature.
"Vurt is a 1993 science fiction novel written by British author Jeff Noon. Both Noon and small publishing house Ringpull’sdebut novel, it went on to win the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke Award and was later listed in The Best Novels of the Nineties.
Vurt tells the story of Scribble and his "gang", the Stash Riders, as they search for his missing sister/lover Desdemona. The novel is set in an alternate version of Manchester, England, in which society has been shaped by Vurt, a hallucinogenic drug/shared alternate reality, accessed by sucking on colour-coded feathers. Through some (never explained) mechanism, the dreams, mythology, and imaginings of humanity have achieved objective reality in the Vurt and become "real"."
I read this book way back in 1993 when it first came out – I saw it on the shelf of the old and much loved Supernova books in Perth. At the time I’d finished reading through pretty much every Golden Age scifi book I could get my hands on, and was looking for something new – and Vurt changed everything. It was difficult at times to follow, and its premise was odd – a universe found in a drug, a backdoor gateway to an alternate realm with its own myths, characters and legends. Its impact on my tastes both literary and technologically was immense, and Jeff Noon is to this day one of my most loved authors.
"Needle in the Groove is a 1999 novel by Jeff Noon. A music/spoken word CD was released on the same day as the book. It tells its story through the eyes of Elliot, a young twenty-something bassist, as he finds himself playing bass for Glam Damage, a new DJ-based band who are experimenting with a new recording technology – a weird liquid/drug that remixes music when shaken."
Another really cool premise from Jeff noon, set slightly outside of the Looking Glass wars universe – the premise, that music is recorded onto a special liquid – the ultimate remix, combine tow liquids, get a different sound … then, when you drink it …
I have always loved the idea of remixes and collaborations, and this book took a completely different spin on things. Its things like this that make me love collaborating on art with people, and why I wanted to have that aspect of things in the show.
"The good news is that you have just awakened into Eternal Life. You are going to live forever. Immortality is a reality. A medical miracle? Not exactly.
The bad news is that you are a scrap of electronic code. The world you see around you, the you that is seeing it, has been digitized, scanned, and downloaded into a virtual reality program. You are a Copy that knows it is a copy.
The good news is that there is a way out. By law, every Copy has the option of terminating itself, and waking up to normal flesh-and-blood life again. The bail-out is on the utilities menu. You pull it down…
The bad news is that it doesn’t work. Someone has blocked the bail-out option. And you know who did it. You did. The other you. The real you. The one that wants to keep you here forever."
This premise along with the whole Singularity idea is the main one – I read this book when it first came out, and it shaped a hell of a lot of my ideas in regards to technology and futurism, and has driven a lot of my artwork from the word go.
"Permutation City asks whether is there a difference between a computer simulation of a person and a "real" person. It focuses on a model of consciousness and reality, the Dust Theory, similar to the Ultimate Ensemble Mathematical Universe hypothesis proposed by Max Tegmark. It uses the assumption that human consciousness is Turing computable: that consciousness can be produced by a computer program. The book deals with consequences of human consciousness being amenable to mathematical manipulation, as well as some consequences of simulated realities. In this way, Egan attempts to deconstruct notions of self, memory, and mortality, and of physical reality."
This book holds a special place for me beyond the fact that the themes directly relate to my thinking behind the show.
Somewhere in the mid 90s, I had lent a copy of it to my best mate, Adam, aka Karnage. It was a running joke between us that he hadn’t given it back to me, and I always gave him shit for it … but he loved it, had gone and re-read it many many times, talking of how something like this would be possible in our life times, and how excited he was about the prospect of this "digital life"; topics we talked about a lot .. it was very much a shared passion between us that spoke volumes on our friendship.
When he passed away, suddenly, several years ago, I placed that same copy of Permutation City by his side when he was laid to rest.