Norman Spinrad’s ‘Police State’

Creative Commons Photo by Gruntzooki.

Lemme tell you about this guy Norman Spinrad. In countercultural science fiction, Norman Spinrad’s a legend. His Nebula-award-winning metafictional novel The Iron Dream, in which Hitler emigrates from Germany and becomes an American science fiction writer, remains one of the most important politically-minded alternate histories of all time. It’s at once a critique of what Spinrad saw as fascist subtexts in science fiction and a deconstruction of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. His 1969 novel Bug Jack Barron is one of the dominant precursors to the Cyberpunk movement. He also wrote that awesome Star Trek episode with the ice cream cone that eats planets.

Spinrad, who underwent surgery for stomach cancer earlier this year, alerts us via Facebook that he has just signed a deal on a new novel, set in New Orleans. The 113-page treatment for Police State is available free online at Scribd. Spinrad says he thinks it reads well as a novella. Who are you to argue?

Funny thing about the thread, by the way. If you follow his Facebook updates, he posted two days ago at 12:46pm that he was looking for a publisher for Police State, and at 12:51 that he had just signed a deal and needed connections in New Orleans to research it. I’m pretty sure that’s a function of Facebook populating the FB update with the Scribd blurb, which was surely published earlier. If it wasn’t, that’d probably be the quickest turnaround in the history of publishing. “Two weeks to two months” my ass.

I certainly wouldn’t be all that surprised. I seem to recall reading in Locus in something like 1988 that Spinrad had just made internet history when he performed the first electronic manuscript submission in the history of publishing. He delivered a novel manuscript to his New York publisher from his Paris home — by modem.

So in this hyped-up, info-fueled world where Tweets by foul-mouthed old fogies become TV shows starring William Shatner? A five-minute book deal would just about fit. Unlike the rest of us, maybe Spinrad’s still working thirty minutes into the future, you dig?

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