1985 — a novel a-borning

I’ve started work on a new novel (or novella — we’ll see how lont it turns out to be. . .). It’s set in the year 1985 in a setting that seems to be some kind of hybrid of the USA, the New Kent of my “Cheap Complex Devices”, and Orwell’s 1984. Its subject, I guess, is the prison-industrial-military-entertainment complex, but I’m trying to focus (of course) more on the story than on any big themes or messages.

The story is about a kind of sin-eater who can possibly prevent a horrible catastrophe if he can only figure out which inhabitant of a prison village has a gangrenous soul before the contagion spreads. Anyway, I would be interested in any comments, leads, links, or whatever about the year 1985 in our universe as you remember it (or think of it), or about what 1985 might have been like for Winston Smith, the hero of Orwell’s book.


  1. Ok, I got John’s call for contribution through the yahoo group which forwards important notices to my email which I read in a timely fashion (unusual) because I can read it on my Sprint cell phone which I just got and am still playing with even when I’m upstairs watching the kids.

    Timetravel back to 1985, not very hard. First thoughts are on my blog (its a little long), and if you want more, just email me.

  2. Hey Derek, thanks! Excellent. I’ll post a comment on your blog later.

  3. So, I’m sure you googled, but here’s some linkage.

    Top movies of 1985: http://www.leesmovieinfo.ne

    Wikipedia’s entry for the year 1985: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik

    Personal recollections? Hmm… I was in Junior to Senior year of highschool in 1985. I believe that was the year a student set off a pipe bomb in our building. The guy who did it wasn;t the brightest bulb in the world. Of course, since this was pre-Columbine, and no one really seemed to pay all that much attention to the kids (we were the youngest brothers and sisters of the boomers… not the boomer children for the most part who would be ensconced in SUVs by soccer moms).

    Mostly, I was just a highschool student. I’d be a nerd on my home computer (an Apple //c, which was released the previous year… eclipsed by the release of the original Macintosh). We’d cruise around in my friend’s monsterous 1974 Ford Thunderbird (a 22 foot long 2 door car) blasting Van Halen and Led Zepplin. We’d rent videos (occasionally even a porn tape, since they weren’t too strict about checking ID back then) and watch them over at my friend’s house, play D&D, other typical adolescent nerd activities.

    We had a Betamax video recorder (I can’t recall what year it was built… probably 82-83) I used to tape David Letterman’s show and watch it. Thursday night was sitcomnight on NBC (Cosby, Different Ties… I think Cheers). I’d keep the TV on while doing homework.

  4. 1985, if you were the right age, was pretty much the year of Back To The Future and little else. Also recall that The Cosby Show and Family Ties dominated the teen circuit at this point…

    80s pop had just risen to true dominance, with all traces of disco, and for the most part punk, disappearing. Michael Jackson was a hit but not yet Bad, with Prince doing everything he could to *not* be him; George Michael was still straight; Phil Collins was ubiquitous. We Are The World made everyone check their egos at the door, and Madonna was still a virgin. The CG animation in the “Money for Nothing” video blows us all away, crude as it is.

    Rap was just starting to really be successful, with LL Cool J and Run-DMC starting to break into white suburbia. The word “dis” was in common usage among people who had no idea what it meant.

    My friend actually voluntarily drank a can of New Coke. ’nuff said.

    I think that was the year Gotti cleaned house in New York, making for an interesting combination of paranoia and bravado on the streets.

    We all learned that Gorbachev has a giant birthmark on his head, and every comedian made a funny about it.

    Have fun!

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