Paul Green grew up in London and studied at Oxford and the University of British Columbia. He has worked in education - notably as lecturer in media at the Royal National College for the Blind - and as a radio presenter and second-hand book operative. As well as Beneath the Pleasure Zones, his work includes the novel The Qliphoth (Libros Libertad), and his poetry collection The Gestaltbunker (Shearsman Books). His radio/stage plays have explored dream-control, Nazi necromancy, a haunted saxophone, electronic voice phenomena and the mysterious death of occult rocketeer Jack Parsons. He was lyricist/vocalist/sax player for the Riff Power Band and contributes articles and audio fiction to www.culturecourt.com.
What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
At a time of accelerating change and uncertainty, speculative fiction allows us to explore "he myths of the near future," in the words of J.G. Ballard. It also permits us to use the logic of the dream to question our received paradigms about consensus reality. Speculative fiction is a probe, sometimes a painful one, as in Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition. As for its social impact, hard to quantify. But it's interesting that the adjective Ballardian is now part of every journalist's vocabulary.
Why do you write in this genre?
Sometimes I think I'm trying to write out of it. Genres need to mutate and cross-breed to hold the reader's (and the writer's) interest. BPZ incorporates poetry, rap, collage and elements of urban cyber-punk eliding with the paranormal and occult. It seems to me to be the best way - maybe the only way - to deal with the crazy multiplicity of the modern world and the enigma of consciousness itself, where for all our rationalism, we still feel there could be forces and presences lurking at the edge of our awareness...
Writers I admire include William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Nigel Kneale, Michael Moorcock, and M. John Harrison, our best living speculative fiction writer. His Light sequence is outstanding. See my review at: http://www.culturecourt.com/Br.Paul/lit/LightMJH.html.
Others, perhaps more in the mainstream canon, are Thomas Pynchon, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, Lawrence Durrell, Franz Kafka, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Wyndham Lewis, Angela Carter, Don De Lillo, and Iain Sinclair.
The American Beat poets and the French Surrealist poets have always meant a lot to me, too.
How did you come up with the idea for Beneath the Pleasure Zones?
It evolved out of my earlier one, The Qliphoth, in which young alienated Lucas goes through an occultural rite of passage that takes him into a curious alternative world, a sea-side resort thronged with scheming magicians and sexy priestesses. This world is destroyed by malign forces but there's a blow-back on the 'real' world, releasing random psychic energies and subverting everyday causality. BPZ takes the story a few years on, with Lucas struggling to survive on the margins of society.
The metaphysics behind both books owe a lot to good old Aleister Crowley and the Chaos Magick writings of Peter Carroll. I also did some research into artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons. But the trigger for the title was an obscure quote from W.B.Yeats: "the doctors have told us that the dreams of the night are but phantoms of sexual desire - but of what is sex a phantom?"
What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
Apart from finding the time, the main challenges were working in the back-story from The Qliphoth without getting bogged down in explication - and then developing a way of conveying a complex story line and the experience of a fractured world without totally bamboozling the reader. I hit upon a technique of using short sections with sub-heads (like Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition but following a more linear narrative). As in The Qliphoth, I also used a number of esoteric techniques to break story-blocks and open up new lines of narrative, like the Tarot, Qabalistic correspondences, cut-ups and automatic writing.
What are you working on now?
I've recently finished a play about eccentric witchcraft historian Father Monty Summers and I've started a new novel, more conventional in form. It includes old sci-fi movies, mad scientists and quite a lot of sex. I'm also working on a long poetry sequence, Shadow Times, parts of which are starting to appear. I enjoy readings, and like collaborating with musicians and media artists. Some of these can be found on YouTube, Soundcloud and Reverbnation.
About Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Rupture
Anomalies erupting from the Polyverse have undermined the UK's reality-consensus and the economy. Urban citizens escape into the virtual reality of the Pleasure Centres while Borderland communities like Leynebridge embrace neo-paganism and magick. Fundamentalist militias - the Heavy Shepherds and the Mo-Boys - battle for supremacy.
In Leynebridge poet/magus Lucas broods over his ex-lover, Carla, while in London Dr. Crowe, a traumatised ex-MOD scientist , seeks work with Pleasure Centres, which also employs Carla, now an erotic virtual-reality producer.
The Pleasure Centres operation is driven by manic mogul Lombard, who conspires to fuse immersive virtual reality with a post-web technology, the Lobe, combining Crowe's top-secret knowledge with energies evoked in the rites of Leynebridge. But Crowe blunders, while Carla loses her secret Mo-Boy lover and her job, only to be hi-jacked by the Heavy Shepherds. Rogue cyber-entities are evolving in the Lobe - the menacing Quantum Brothers. The world-lines of Lucas, Carla, Vivienne and Crowe converge in Leynebridge¹s convulsive Feast of Smoke...
Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Rupture develops the central character and core concepts of the author's first novel, The Qliphoth, but can be read independently. It also sets the scene for a sequel, Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Polyverse, now completed.