by Douglas Lain
Hardcover: 272 pages
ISBN-10: 0765321726 Hardcover 24.99
ISBN-13: 978-0765321725 Kindle 10.67
In “Billy Moon,” novelist Douglas Lain links poetry and politics, fantasy and violence, the real and the imagined. Paris, 1968. Wall Street, 2012. Winnie-the-Pooh.
“Billy Moon” was the family nickname of Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne and the child companion of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet in Milne’s classic children’s books. Known to the entire world as an adorable mop-headed child with imaginary friends, the adult Christopher Robin struggled to define himself and his life, but never really succeeded.
In Douglas Lain’s new novel, Billy Moon, coming from Tor Books in August, 2013, Lain grabs the real-world Christopher Milne, in the throes of a mid-life crisis in 1968, yanks him out of reality, and sends him to Paris, during the historic student uprising taking place at that time. Paris and the student revolt illuminate and transform Milne, helping him grasp his own image and use it to take control of his own unreality.
Participants in the Paris strikes of May 1968 refer to those days of uprising as a time when poetry ruled the streets. Their critics call it an imaginary revolution that led to nothing. “Billy Moon” stakes out a third possibility: that there is something dangerous about poetry and something real about the imaginary. It demands that, if we are to truly be revolutionaries, we must stop seeking solid ground and start taking our fantasies seriously.
Author Douglas Lain has a degree in philosophy and has spent the last decade writing surrealistic stories for science-fiction magazines such as Amazing Stories, Interzone, and Strange Horizons. In 2009, troubled by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing financial and political crisis, Lain started a philosophy and politics podcast, Diet Soap, in which he interviewed activists, philosophers, artists, filmmakers, and stand-up comics about their perspective on the situation. Is there a possibility for a better future? Can artists and philosophers do anything to help make it happen? If so, how? After four years of considering the question, Doug has a few suggestions, and he’ll be happy to talk about them.
“Lain proves himself adept at dramatizing such decidedly non-whimsical matters as autism, parent-child estrangement, and the quest for individual identity amidst political upheaval.” —James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder
“The mark of great writing is how it seeps into your everyday life without you even noticing and becomes part of your reality. This book is all about that spooky, enchanted place between fictions and worlds, and it will seep into your reality too.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto
“Douglas Lain has a great brain. I am hugely impressed with his prospects…” —Jonathan Lethem, New York Times bestselling author
“I don’t know anyone else doing quite what Lain is doing; fascinating work, moving, strikingly honest, powerful.” — Locus
“Doug Lain’s Billy Moon is postmodern SF, powering past mere science and into a cubist world of strange. It’s a mash-up of Phil Dick, Francoise Sagan, and Winnie the Pooh, with a jaded Christopher Robin at the heart of the 1968 Paris student revolution. Billy Moon is moving and profound, with a radically evanescent style. Just the thing for our new century.” —Rudy Rucker, author of the WARE Tetralogy
“Billy Moon is a beautifully told story gathering within its pages the original Christopher Robin, the Paris strikes of May 1968, the power of dreams, Guy DeBord and children’s toys. In Mr. Lain’s hands this unexpected and truly remarkable combination works in ways I’d not have imagined. Highly recommended!” —Jack Womack, author of Elvissey
DOUGLAS LAIN’s short fiction has appeared in many magazines and journals here and abroad. His other books include two short story collections and a nonfiction book about urban foraging. Since 2009, he has produced the weekly podcast Diet Soap, interviewing a wide range of fascinating, engaging people with insights for the new millennium: philosophers, mystics, economists, and a diverse group of fiction writers. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and children. And chickens.
Sample Interview Questions
• Why on earth did you place Christopher Robin in the student/worker strikes of May 1968? Does this book have anything to do with the real Christopher Milne’s life? Wouldn’t he have been in his forties then? Was he the kind of man who would’ve been involved with a revolution?
• In the course of “Billy Moon,” Christopher Robin adopts a real-life version of Pooh. Do the characters in “Billy Moon” try to live out the books they read? Do you try to live out the books you write?
• What is the connection between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the events of May 1968?
• Is your fiction always political?
• If you’re so interested in politics and social change, why do you write fantasy? Why not write about the real world?
• Your fiction is sometimes described as surreal. Is that true? Does that make you a Surrealist? Is Surrealism as an art movement still alive today? What does it have to do with politics?
In the Media
Christopher Robin Milne, aka “Billy Moon,” has never quite outlived the image of him presented to the world by his father, the illustrious A.A. Milne. After service in World War II, Christopher and his wife operate a low-key bookstore (sans the tales of a certain stuffed bear). When a French college student invites him to Paris to witness the student uprisings in 1968, Christopher accepts on a whim—and enters a scenario every bit as “magical” and much more dangerous than any from his fictional childhood. Lain’s first novel combines two unlikely topics to form a tapestry of life in the late 1960s, when Europe, as well as America, experienced the revolutionary fervor of youth. Milne’s friend and guide, Gerrard, has a curious relationship with time and space, and Milne finds himself caught up in the transient nature of both while seeking desperately to anchor himself to his real present. VERDICT Luminous storytelling and brilliant period descriptions make this fictional biography a priceless addition to the American magical realism canon; the book should be recommended to fantasy and general fiction readers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/25/13.]
iO9, Billy Moon does for Pooh what The Magicians did for Narnia, 8/23/13
Billy Moon, the first novel by famed zinester, short story writer and podcaster Douglas Lain, is an exceedingly weird tale about Christopher Milne — the guy whose father A.A. Milne immortalized him as Christopher Robin, the boy companion of Winnie the Pooh. And in this book, Lain puts an adult, somewhat anhedonic spin on Winnie, sort of how Lev Grossman did Narnia for grownups in The Magicians.
Publisher’s Weekly, Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
What would it be like to be the real-life Christopher Robin? This fascinating question is movingly explored in Lain’s imaginative debut novel. In 1959, Christopher is 38 years old and operating a small bookstore that pointedly doesn’t stock the Winnie-the-Pooh books. But that choice isn’t a shield against their influence, as he finds himself, unconsciously, playing with a piece of garbage in a way that echoes Eeyore’s playing with a burst balloon. Things get surreal when, in 1961, Christopher spots a poster that uses Pooh’s image as a symbol of protest against the French authorities; dated seven years in the future, the poster is an anomaly that proves prescient. The narrative is laced with humor. One chapter begins, “While Christopher was coping with toy cats, Munchies wrappers, and Kinsey’s report on sexual behavior in the human male, a 10-year-old boy in Paris… decided that he was dreaming, during a field trip to the police station.” But the overwhelming poignancy, as Christopher prays to be allowed to “finally be an adult,” is what gives this book its power. Agent: Kristopher O’Niggins, Scribe Agency. (Aug.)
C-Realm Podcast #370: New Kind of Cobblestones
KMO welcomes author and podcaster Douglas Lain back to the C-Realm on the eve of the publication of his novel Billy Moon. The conversation starts off with some light banter about tv shows before moving into the events of May of 1968 in France. In the novel, Doug has placed Christopher Robin Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame in Paris for the 1968 uprising. Topics covered include the invention of “childhood” once industrialism had reduced the need for child labor, Occupy Wall Street and it’s seeming failure to force concessions from the oligarchic class, and the dream of bringing imagination into the world of work.
Alpha to Omega Podcast, August 11th, 2013
This week, Doug Lain, the host of the excellent Diet Soap podcast, has returned to the show to tell us about his novel ‘Billy Moon’, that is due out from his publishers, Tor, on the 27th of August. Using Doug’s novel for the basis of the conversation, we meander through an array of topics including the May 1968 aborted revolution in France, the interaction of ideology, architecture, and space, the rationality of socialism, the Situationists and the Occupy movement, how we need to dream and escape the dream, the structure of a new revolutionary strategy, the need for bastards, feminist literary critique, and his upcoming Think The Impossible book and podcast tour to San Francisco, Chicago, and NYC. Oh yes, and no conversation between myself and Doug would be complete without a rant about our dear friend, Karl Marx……