Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Are You Listening?

Music has always been an important part of my creative process. Many of my favorite CDs have provided inspiration for stories and scenes, and I always have loud rock music playing while I edit. From the time I was in high school, I became hooked on the imaginative work of Kansas, Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Styx, Rush, and others. In fact, my first novel RESURRECTION, INC. was directly inspired by the Rush album "Grace Under Pressure." Because of that connection, I got to know Neil Peart (the drummer and lyricist for Rush), and we've been good friends for close to twenty years now. Neil and I wrote the short story "Drumbeats" together and he also provided the introduction to my story collection, LANDSCAPES. The first "Terra Incognita" book, THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, is dedicated to Neil.

As the years go by, I continue to listen to my favorite classic albums, but I have also kept up with new music that also paints pictures in my mind -- Tool, A Perfect Circle, Kamelot, DragonForce, Karnivool, Rob Zombie and Evanescence (now *that's* both ends of the spectrum) and others. My stepson Jonathan (21) shares much of the same tastes in music, and he introduced me to a great band that had somehow not appeared on my radar screen -- Dream Theater. Dream Theater has been around for more than two decades and has sold millions of albums, and they are the gold standard of modern progressive rock. Jonathan and I even went together to see them in concert in Denver (neither his girlfriend nor my wife wanted to go). I'd particularly recommend any of their latest three CDs, "Systematic Chaos," "Octavarium," or "Trains of Thought."

I was contacted by an avid reader of my novels, Shawn Gordon, who owns the label ProgRock Records. Seeing my tastes in music, he sent me some of the CDs connected with his label, and introduced me to the great work of Erik Norlander, Lana Lane, Frameshift, The Third Ending, Shadow Gallery, Ghost Circus, Prymary, Rocket Scientists, Amaran's Plight, and Invisigoth. (And imagine my surprise when in the CD booklet for the second Invisigoth album, the bandmembers acknowledged being inspired by some of my books...an artistic full circle). I particularly recommend Lana Lane's "Queen of the Ocean" or "Secrets of Astrology" and Erik Norlander's double-CD "Music Machine."

At the Hollywood premiere of the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries of "Children of Dune," Brian and I were pleased to meet Brian Tyler, who composed the absolutely wonderful score for the miniseries. Brian is a big fan of our new Dune novels, and I have since been sending him a copy of each book as it comes out...and he dutifully sends me a CD of each new soundtrack he releases (most recently, "Eagle Eye.")

Science fiction has inspired a great many musicians -- DUNE especially. Songs by Iron Maiden, Lana Lane, and Rocket Scientists are without a doubt sparked by a love for DUNE. And, as I've described above, the inspiration goes both ways. Very soon, I'll be announcing a remarkable and unique new project that connects the worlds of fantastic fiction with rock music. It's unlike anything that's ever been done.

Stay tuned.

-- KJA


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