Eclipse Corona

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Shirley, John. Eclipse Corona. Book Three of The Eclipse Trilogy, vt A SONG CALLED YOUTH trilogy.[1]; New York: Warner, 1990. Revised and updated edition, Northridge, CA: Babbage Press, 2000.[2] Erlich listened to the 2014 unabridged audiobook from Audible.[3]

Note description of fascist Second Alliance ("SA") police/troopers in opaque/reflective helmets offering insectoid anonymity, suggesting the conflation of the robotic and insectoid, in what Thom Dunn and Rich Erlich have called "The Ovion/Cylon Alliance" (from the pilot of the original Battlestar Galactica series).

More significantly, note the "Plateau" as a version of cyberspace more realistic — if less central and exciting — than, say, in Neuromancer, ordinarily seen not within the virtual space but only as a means of communication and cybernetically-performed action at a distance, mediated by removable "implants" into the brain[4], which allow a limited-mind meld and a kind of telepathy; cf. and contrast, e.g., Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace. The limited mind-meld is reported in some detail in sexual contexts. (CAUTION: There's nothing in Eclipse Corona that would get an upload thrown off of, say, the S/M portions of X-Tube for violating community standards, but if you don't recognize the initialism "S/M," or can't imagine what would be on a website called X-Tube — you've been cautioned.)

We get suggestions of the subjective experience on/inside the Plateau in the climax of the narrative (Part 2, chapter 7 ca. 38.5 minutes into the chapter in the audiobook). At a time and place in spacetime that may be near the "Entelechy" — or not (the issue is not resolved in this novel) — two lovers "roam the cybernetic steppe where there was no night or day"; for the lovers from the Resistance, "there was only the Plateau and the communion," at first a communion "with one another through the chips" implanted in their heads. "Then a new stage" as they mentally meld with the system "that informs the Grid," where they meet "the others, from all over the planet: the wolves of the Plateau, tolerating now intruders on their turf, certain computer criminals with an urge to tinker with global politics" — and others, from the Anarchist Underground to Communists and Liberal-Democratic Capitalist Party members, to Catholic nuns, Buddhists, the Mossad, et al.: what we'll call a world-wide antiFascist Popular Front. "Each of them was cerebrally-implanted, chip-augmented, skilled on the Plateau; they were linked to the grid through the international tele-vid system." After the more traditional propaganda preparation of the equivalent of a TV show, the public was ready for a deeper "blitz," of concentrated "testimony" on Fascist atrocity and plans for racially-targeted genocide by an engineered virus — etc., for a large dump of information on the plans and atrocities of the SA. Climax of the blitz "capsule" is a transmission of the destruction of the Arc de Triomphe by Jaegernaut with Rick Rickenharp playing his composition, "A Song Called Youth" as an anthem of the revolution.

More immediately relevant for early-21st-c. real-world politics is the possibilities of a super-Web, the world-wide Grid, and its uses to disseminate effective propaganda and indoctrination, even when not subjected to a "blitz" from the Plateau (throughout, quoting from audiobook).


For the mind-meld in a jail escape sequence early in Shirley's novel, cf. and contrast the non-technological Foretelling in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), ch. 5, "The Domestication of Hunch." Passim but importantly, note connections of human brains/minds to computers or other cybernetic devices via implants or other penetrations into what we'll call flesh-space and what William Gibson's cyberspace cowboys would call "meat." The connections go both ways, with different emphases in different scenes: penetration of the cybernetic by hackers to insert viruses and beyond, using devices to extract data from willing or unwilling brains.
In Eclipse Corona, p. 184 of the 1990 edition,[5] note an escaping Jewish prisoner named Roseland coming up against an autonomous "autotank" and watching it just roll over an injured woman, breaking her back and then head and just smashing her up — unconsciously, automatically: as just something in its way and to be rolled over. To appropriate and somewhat modify a term from T. S. Eliot, the autotank becomes for Roseland an "objective correlative" for the things wrong in his world, and more.

The autotank was [....] all fascists. It was all intolerance, all inflexibility, all racism, all xenophobia, all absolutism, all of it. In one machine. [...] It was implacable. It was murderous, it was efficient; it was murderously efficient. It was the mechanical embodiment of his enemy. [...] He say Hitler; he saw the Nazis. He saw the Holocaust. ¶ All of it somehow compressed into this one machine.

A short list of "Technologies and advances" in the trilogy are given in the Wikipedia article linked here.[6]

RDE, March 2017, addenda 14Jul21 f.