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Detached (2014)Moonassi

In Frank Hinton's future, problems aren't Googleable

A world in collapse where the Internet and skyscrapers are a thing of the distant past? Get an exclusive preview of the futuristic sci-fi novel now

As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day.

Dennis Cooper, the punk pioneer of the written word and Visionaries collaborator, brings his transgressive spirit to Dazed today. There's an interview with the man himself – "America's most dangerous writer" – as well as his curated selection of other writers who go against the grain: including Eugene LimFrank Hinton and Joyelle McSweeney with her Oscar Pistorius opera (no, really).

Frank Hinton's upcoming novel might have the title of some future android's wordy thesis title for the class of 2460, but if this exclusive extract is anything to go by, it's also got a lot of heart – if by heart you mean the way its unflinching portrait of humanity on the brink of collapse wrenches and spits on your own heart from the get-go. As if you didn't already guess, we can't wait for Eternal Freedom from Social and Natural Programming, the ucpcoming master work from the Action, Figure writer. Luckily for us, Hinton has shared a preview of her futuristic exploration of society on the edge – so you can let her prose burrow its way into your subconscious before the big event later this year.

Dennis Cooper:
"I think Frank Hinton is a really immense talent. When I read her I feel like there's so many possibilities there. She's young, she's new, and she hasn't put out that much stuff yet, but when I read her I feel like there's just a huge range there. She could really do so much. There's a huge area that she could work in if she wants to. I think if she continues to write she's going to be a really major talent." 


Our bucket in the soup, baked with sun n’ rusted, she plods the slosh. Old man keeps talking, always talking, his mouth caked and pinked; a finger at our faces. He’s blind-ish and white eyed, jowls caved. Some old hat soaked and torn, he calls it a baseball cap, rests oddly casting shadows on his mazy face.

“An our problems were Google’able. We’d make videos and status updates and little sentence thingies called tweets. Imagine that, fu-uck. Men would talk and talk because it was the cheapest thing on Earth! At once we were all so connected, it seemed any man could speak to another man, across the city or across the world. Art and music and electronic games, the lushest of electronic flesh kids- I saw whores in such HD you’d lick the screen to taste em. So, yeah, you’d think we were happy, but we weren't, cos we knew. We knew.” 

Old man’s silent helmsman steers us off in any direction but back. Another day out here, hot sun and salt burn. Long time since land, long time since time, heh. Today a continent of dead fish floats north-east, silver sheen horizon.  Yesterday we seen a keelboat, so beautiful even with the old bodies floating by, buoy-skulls, her little dead totems. Old man made the cross at them, I spat. 

“"An our problems were Google’able. We’d make videos and status updates and little sentence thingies called tweets. Imagine that, fu-uck."” – Frank Hinton

Now I crumb rust chips into the surf pretending not to listen, pretending to be tough, pretending. I think he’s looking at me. Those white freak eyes, the old are the worst. I cut him once, he spared me. Shoulda done it full.

“Now we don’t talk, or make,” he says. “We barely fuck. Hah! Never thought that would be. Floaters. Just this, stupid floating. Stupid world. Our new gods are just as cruel as the last. Cold bones and more cheap talk.”

“Shut that cunt hole,” Barber, my brother says. “Doom and doom and doom some more. You complain about talking so much and yet you en stoppin never, man!”

Old man swats air, his skin all cracks. I just watch, I’m ten, but crazy. Out here the strays are all crazy. Last bucket we had was full of em, mad laughs that used to bring whales up to snort. 

“My boat, my way,” the old man says. “Fuck, I fishe’d ye dinn I?” 

“Leave it,” I say.

Barber shuts up, he’s wiser now, more mouth than fighter. His mouth has lost him lots. His scalp is pink where they’d burn’d em.

“There are all kinds of goodies, I remember. I’d charge across a yellow prairie fucking girls in wheat fields. Fucking girls. Getting blown. You ever fucked a mouth boys? You can’t imagine the softness of a little one. Jesus, how bout this: you ever even seen a girl?” 

I cock my head and eat a thumbnail, I’d never even seen my mother.

“Half a hundred towers up ahead. Barber sees em too and scratches. Quiet grey fingers rise in the soup like drowned gods revived.” – Frank Hinton

“Who’s Jesus?” Barber asks and that makes the old man so happy he spittles and slaps a knee, jumps the bucket right into tilts.

“I was in a goddamn punk band!” he howls, “The whole damn country was in a punk band. I saw men do things you can’t even imagine-electric things, you hear me? Eeeeelectric!”

With that he climbs a mast pole, quick like a kid, peers out over the sea. He grunts and hoots and cups fingers around his eyes. Can he actually see something? 

We wait long and silent.

“Oh my fuck boys loooookie!” All sudden-like, he points a finger west. A structure somewhere, structures. Some solid thing. It got no sway. It ain’t floating.

Half a hundred towers up ahead. Barber sees em too and scratches. Quiet grey fingers rise in the soup like drowned gods revived. 

“The hell?” Barber says.

“You don’t know eh? You just bowl-to-bowl it, eh?” the old man hoots. “‘Ats a scraper, skyscraper kid, an ats a fuckin city out there! I’ll say bet on beds, or bet on whores! We’ll sheath ye yet!” 

“Fuck that. I’ll say bet on dyin. Fuck cities. Go back old man!” Barber shouts. “We been with city survivors before, heard what happens there, you’re scaring the shit outta me.” 

“Cemetery,” I say. “Where the children play.” Old words.

An ornery scowl from the blind old man, he signals forward to the nervous helmsman. 

Horizon cuts sun as we totter now, day down as we hit the scrapers’ shadow. Squared stars light up their stony surfaces. White windows. Beige shapes move in pale light, figures behind glass, figures like baked cream move in elegance, their forms smooth and features indistinct. This dead Earth has precious barnacles. We’re quiet, cold and bony. As always we wonder, is this a home? As always we wonder, is this our grave?