There Will Be Substrate Phantoms in Austin on Saturday

SF author Jessica Reisman releases new novel at Malvern Books

As if living in a demon-haunted world – thank you, Carl Sagan – isn’t harrowing enough, now we’ve got to deal with phantoms in the goddamn substrate?

But, wait – maybe that’s a good thing?

We’ll certainly find out after author Jessica Reisman releases her new novel, Substrate Phantoms, at Malvern Books on Saturday, May 27, 7pm.

Reisman’s name may already be familiar to many Austinites, as she was one of the originators (and one of the ongoing writers) of that big, bold, multimedia Intergalactic Nemesis spectacle that Jason Neulander & company have only recently ceased visiting upon the planet’s more theatrical stages and arenas.

But that, of course, is only the tip of the writerly Reisman iceberg.

“I've written science fiction and fantasy since I began writing as a kid,” says the author. “It’s pretty literary, as these things go, which somehow allowed me to get an advanced degree and a couple Michener fellowships writing the stuff. When I worked on Intergalactic Nemesis they crowned me the Sci-Fi Queen. Substrate Phantoms is a novel I wrote over the course of a couple of years, then revised and rewrote over a good number more, as it moved slowly along the road to publication. It's a novel – and a world and characters – that I still love.”

As is usual at these literary events, Reisman will introduce the book and read a passage or two from its narrative, providing a glimpse into what SF maestro Michael Bishop has called “An out-and-out breakthrough, with mystical and sociological roots trailing back to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.”

But this is Austin, right? And so … can we do anything, anything at all, without a little music getting into the mix?

No, is the answer: No, we cannot.

Fortunately for all concerned, in this case it means that local rock god (a bit low-profile, perhaps, but godlike nonetheless) Chad Nichols of the Transgressors will be providing some sonic background for the bookish shindig.

And how does such a cool thing come to happen?

“Chad is a beloved, longtime friend,” says Reisman. “As he tells it, I was one of his very first friends when he moved here after college – I was in grad school at the time. And when I was thinking on the launch event for this book, I wanted it to be more than a reading and signing. I wanted something special to mark the occasion, so I asked Chad if he'd be into reading the book and maybe composing a little music inspired by it to play at the launch.”

“Jessica is I think the second person I met when I moved to Austin back in '92,” confirms Nichols, “and we've shared enthusiasm for things cinematic, literary, musical, and phantasmagoric ever since. The short of it is that she asked me if I'd write something for the release, and I responded either “Hell, yes!’ or ‘Fuckin' A!’ – memory does not serve – and appended that it would be an honor. Which indeed it will be and is. The music is still in the process of becoming, but will most likely take the form of a 10-minute mostly instrumental theme – inspired by the emotion of the novel moreso than its events. And if I can wrangle him, it will also most likely be augmented by the hair and acumen of Mr. Coby Cardosa … but on that count the future is hazy.”

So, citizen, there’s a bit of a decent literary evening for you – with an author, potentially two Transgressors, and a [insert relevant collective noun here] of substrate phantoms. Looking forward to it in three … two … one …

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Jessica Reisman, Substrate Phantoms, Malvern Books, Chad Nichols, SF in Austin

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