by Rian Hughes

Part 2 as continued from here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/xx-by-rian-hughes/


When I continue reading this novel, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

31 responses to “xx


    Yesterday I reviewed a story about mirror writing and associated adroit and/or sinister ambideXXterity here (INTERFERENCE):
    Everything currently points to my current crop of reviews homing in on the ultimate gestalt. Here, a new Edison calling up spirits in the shape of the body of Warhol? Or a signal from alien extraterrestriality? Or “an artefact in ideaspace”? I am sitting here ‘writing’ this commando, by the way.

  2. THE 19th COUNT
    to be continued…

    • “Listen. We filtered out the superficial memes. Others will have a deeper pedigree, measured in years or even decades. We can extend that timeline back further than you might think possible — here’s the interesting part — because we’re also linked up, via digitised books, newspapers, manuscripts, et cetera, with a large part of the pre-digital world, all now searchable…”

      …where we used to use paper, maybe microfiche. A whole new gestalt, if a gestalt can ever be new or even fully known. And even serendipitous visitors from Porlock as notifications flashing on the screen that can even turn up and factor themselves in WHILE I am reading the Kindle of this book on my iPad. The preternaturalised synchrony here now potentially deployed in full via gestalt real-time reviewing, as I further delve into this book’s sort-of-séance of a mad scientist and his well-characterised cohorts, a deployment combining theosophy, religion, science fiction (old or new SF adventures and tropes), rare and commonplace diurnal artefacts, digitalisations, and real spirits or ghosts or extraterrestrial visitors that I can now begin to believe in for the first time via the miraculous medium of fiction, as I believed I always would one day. And there is so much more I could tell you about what is going on here. Including “ectoplasm for the ears.” This work somehow even covers the ground of my faith in music – music avant garde and tuneful, music classical and freak-zone. These characters wonder what Pandora’s Box they may have opened! As I probably should, too, having ‘opened’ this book itself. I CAN SEE YOU.


      “The Synchronised Shards of Random Truth and Fiction” – the printed sub-subtitle of ‘WEIRDMONGER: The Nemonicon’ (Prime Books 2003)

    • 19th count, one short of XX that is the arriviste’s prototype or beta name?
      Covid 19, its alpha ???

    • Or the XX arriviste as a symbol of today’s vaccine announcement that has set stock exchanges soaring???


    I hope now soon to have a 3D printed book to read, instead of the Kindle. Along with all the weight of literature in which it is now being embodied as its own unique Mythos. An imagination-pricking Picador for Jack’s plastic Pantheon of Gods and Demons to become real. Felicity Glass even creating shapes out of this morning’s punctuation of drizzle where I live.

  4. 4C61176C-47F5-4298-A31B-510F47CB5D47 A VISITOR FROM THE SHADOW CABINET

    “Yes, that must be it. The head was cut off, just above where the eyes would have been . . . if this thing originally had eyes. Had Jack noticed the blank face, and aborted the printing process?”

    …the 3D printing process, that is. The XX arriviste only partially complete, its digital code still working it out? In media res? At least with the real book now in my possession, parts of its inferred text don’t vanish any more when you turn the page as it often did (genuinely) with the Kindle version I previously used to read it. All seen, in this chapter, through the eyes of Nadine, alongside her life-and-art’s ongoing backstory et al.

    Today, I think of the cabinet as what the often blank-faced political disruptor and brainstormer — another alien arriviste? — created before he effectively started distancing, this very day, from being within close manipulative range of what he’d helped shape from his own shadow! An arriviste now become a vote-to-leave Caligari?


    “, she wondered how long it would take to evacuate Hell itself.”

    This underground show area near Waterloo station, beautifully evoked. Ripe area for fungal growth? Jetties and motion sickness. Or rather a Burlesque Harriet attends to meet the arch biohacker. Hackers who hack themselves to refashion DNA? The thought that the message itself — a message embodied by the Signal that IS the alien life-force rather simply being its message to us — blends with my long-term theories of literary or fiction texts as a series of messages accruing gestalt. I am over the moon that we seem to have now reached such an apotheosis by means of this book, a phenomenon that I had somehow inchoately envisaged by the real-time review processes that I first set in motion in 2008. Now it is being brought to more professional fruition by means of this autonomous book, a book via the medium of Rian Hughes. This name, upon my first glimpse of it, I genuinely misperceived as that of Rhys Hughes whose own fictionatronic work has generated the highest number of my gestalt real-time reviews so far for a single author (as linked from here).
    “Everything is connected.” Even Harriet’s Venetian Mask when visiting this Burlesque. And the “spanner” thrower as creative disruptor.


    “Give the Internet an endoscopy?”

    The reference here – amid much brainstorming to reach the arriviste XX through the arse of the computer – to near-hidden camera lenses in computers or tablets, whether the alien is looking out at us or we at it inside…
    …makes me wonder whether I did right in the foolhardy act of starting to read this book as an ebook on my iPad or whether perhaps it is even more foolhardy to stop doing so!
    Whatever the case, it surely is a great compliment to this book, in whichever form, that I replaced the ebook originally purchased with the purchase of the physical book partway through reading it.

  7. There may be spoilers hereon, so please read my review in future alongside reading the book itself, as its extramural, if interwoven, spawnings by just one bespoke reader — in the hope my humble ideas will be further triangulated by other readers’ coordinates.


    …being a font that is FOP? (Think about it.)
    XIX, still counting towards another figment that is XX?
    A long chapter that is tantalisingly revelatory, the perfect prophecy of today’s co-vivid dream? Autonomous ideas as words rorschaded, strung in some meaning-order between woke and unwoke. Confident of their own struggle to exist and talk with these words intertwined within previously accepted reality’s storage items wherein or whereby we all think we live. Words with white spats.
    I am finally captivated by this book, if not captured.

    “Yes, to survive, ideas need to reside outside the minds that thought them up.
    They need to be shared, to enter other minds.
    Ideas want to travel, so they can spawn new ideas.”

  8. 74DE584C-3E3F-450B-94ED-A169152B59A8

    Edward Wadsworth


    “…a dogtooth chequerboard of black and white.”

    A cross between a fist fight and a chess match between XX and what I called the Fop, here the Count. Words cover the pages like Vorticism become holograms, with real Rian text squeezed between. Another Lewis comes to mind. Much to the restrained bemusement of Jack and Harriet. Even a mention of a blank book to assuage the chess minded mania (I have been watching the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix lately and The Crown!). By the way I published the first discrete blank story in the world – verifiably so in Nemonymous in 2002. The first Rien fiction ever? The purity of nothing in a nothing Utopia? My ideas, but no scoundrel am I!

    “He’d been wondering if the Count would show some backbone.”

  9. GIRL, 21

    “@XX @XIX”

    This ‘girl’ as another now discrete whologram? Twitter as a panoply of ideas or leitmotifs or objective-correlatives, in ideaspace, now gestalt, and this series of tweets from the girl gestalt reminds me of when I was reading this book on a screen and kept getting tweet notifications at the top of the screen from this book’s God. And here one of the many tweets from the girl is simply the word “god” on its own. And there is one of my own tweets reproduced further above in this review. The creation of this girl entity working like I have learnt coronavirus is working since this book was written, with due consideration of its potential vaXXines. One of the girl’s self-bolstering tweets even asks: “does a virus know if its gd or bd?” Jack discovers he is never sure what was real and what was real real. I simply reply: Rongorongo! Soon enough be Easter and perhaps the first of God’s vaxxines?


    “You’ve always been our go-to guy for picking the patterns out of the chaos.”

    I like to think of myself in a similar light! Here, Jack’s ‘secret’ call with data from JB reminds me of our habits today with FaceTiming, seeing our own tiny face girning in the corner, like those audio aids of real people signing that stand small-ly alongside some TV programmes. The word ‘semaphore’ crops up here, and I wonder why I have not thought of this before in respect of the recent foregoing scenes in this book, as connected with Barthian (John Barth as well as earlier mentioned Roland Barthes) semiotics and with my own study of linguistics &c. with Anne Cluysenaar in the late 1960s. Not to speak of Plato and Socrates. Also, in this chapter, reminders, from the data imparted to Jack, of some of the graphs we have got used to as revealed by the Science in many recent Downing Street briefings, “colour-coded lines rising and falling from left to right.”


    Even if sheep do?
    This chapter brings the XX novel into real novel territory, and we become truly involved not necessarily by its novelty but by its literary or SF novel-ness. Its steampunk and pulp mad scientists, too. Its characters and places, as well as its events or plot. A play on Chiang’s Arrival, too. And the black square art that follows a language I could not read spurs me to suggest you also read Vantablack that I once reviewed here. And we also learn the surname of Dana, who is still on the moon apparently.

    “: looking out into the Universe also meant looking back in time.”

  12. One of the Earth’s secret Signal-receiving stations I managed to track down this morning….


  13. THE FIRE OF ‘88

    88 — two lemniscates up-ended to match XX?

    Surely Dan Dare had better than this.

    When I first encountered DD in the 1950s in The Eagle, I little knew I would reach this book in the MMXXs and its blend of old-fashioned hardware and still evolving digital hyperspace, a Jodrell Bank and a destined snubbing backfaced Boulder (that we have known as the moon) to house a dying alien’s fall, like the fall in Genesis?, the first alien we have met beyond being in SF. The letters S are F are phonetically very similar. I wonder if there is any significance in the Daniel and Dana characters, Dan Dare and DNA? I turn the themes of this book upside down sometimes, just like Jack does, to aid my pareidolia, or, rather, to disable it?! There are some remarkable revelations and mind-adjusting concepts in this chapter, including some connected with ‘quarantine’ and ‘autoimmune responses.’ My own brain and its thoughts have sort of been de-encrypted by this book, I sense! Best to keep the Signal in encrypted quarantine, though, for fear of releasing even more plot spoilers than such spoilers’ own autonomous release of themselves! Things that were once marooned in a lockdowned cell of the Jungian consciousness, a special cell that is a secret from the rest of the world population’s wider consciousness — till today gradually being released by co-vivid dreams?


    “Signs and symbols, and the ability to read them. It always came down to signs and symbols.”

    We watch Dana, by drone, along with Jack back at Jodrell, as she in PPE and spacesuit protective of herself and of the alien in its creatured, created bubble on the moon. With a mottled rash on its flank and seemingly dying, but of what? Till the bubble is punctured, and human mind as well as body infected by the closest encounter ever? Now created their own bubble together? This highly moving material, beyond its signs and symbols. I feel it. The “numinous and sublime” felt by this bald git reading it, as well as Mu(sic)sorgsky.

    “You’re a very long way from a hospital.”

    END OF BOOK I: Analysis

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