Quentin Quark and the Cult of the Singularity was the first novel I wrote, about five years ago now under the pseudonym of Doctor Curt Vile (I went by “Dr Vile” as soon as Kurt Vile and the Violators began to appear regularly on my music horizons, before abandoning it altogether). It was a 60,000 word pulp story about the future and overcoming the end of the world.
(Actually, saying that it was my first novel is not entirely true. When I was eight years old, I wrote and illustrated The Giraffe from Mars, a piece of classic sf which featured me and my friends battling the titular threat to protect the future megacity of Wallasey. I am now able to finally end the debate by confirming that the supposed allusions to H.G. Wells were speculative inferences by critics and were not consciously intended by the author.)
Quark was all things to all men – a gay anarchist chaos-magician, a technologist and physicist (one of the characters described him as thinking of a particle accelerator as “a fashion accessory”). He was a black Mr Fantastic, but with Doombots instead of stretching powers and male concubines instead of the rest of the Fantastic Four. He was the world’s best martial artist, a multimillionaire and, like all the best pulp heroes, mad as a box of bastards.
At the time, I wasn’t reading a lot of non-genre stuff other than Homer and Yeats (the structure was ripped straight from The Second Coming). So for this, I was riffing on Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles and Ray Kurzweil’s non-fiction The Singularity is Near. The resulting book was, most likely, terrible. But by posting it in installments, I gained a small online following of deeply unhinged futurologists, who assured me that a lot of the science I was speculating about was indeed possible. I eagerly await being able to instantly broadband my consciousness to a robot body by way of the nanomachines in my bloodstream.
There was even a parody/homage by the unpublished (to my knowledge) but talented and prolific hard sci-fi author Jave Harron: Nate Neutrino.
In the end, I took the story down from the internet, briefly fantasising about publishing it for real and making a mint so that I could leave the crushing banality of university life without enormous debts. Alas, I had two obstacles:
1) The enthusiasm of the hyper-smart science anarchists who had made up my internet following rarely translate over into real life chart sales
2) It’s no longer the 1950s, and nobody in their right minds would touch a piece so self-consciously pulp as this. Not with what has been described by one of my best friends as “the worst title in human history; even Idi Amin came up with better titles than that”.
I then lost the manuscript. So, it’s unlikely that anyone again will ever have the dubious pleasure of reading Dr Quark’s first, and last, adventure.
It’s probably for the best.