Oskar Submerges, by Zachary Tanner
10€, 527 page pocketbook
From the cover letter that failed to find a North American publisher:
Oskar Submerges is the first true sea novel ever set on a Jovian satellite. The interplanetary year is 2193. With the help of a massive inheritance, Cletus II of Luna, aspiring kapellmeister, has taken a job as a janitor in an infamous brain health clinic on Europa, ice world of entheogens and polysexual cyborgs, seeking inspiration and artistic actualization in the abjection to be gained from proximity to end-of-life patients. Cletus soon befriends Oskar, an aged paper architect who suffers from an endemic neurological disease, aka “french maids,” which is contracted by those exposed to the bioluminescent blue-green algae native to the subsurface ocean. In a series of increasingly-disorienting psychotic episodes, Cletus attempts to ethically navigate the Zoroastrian sex politics of this kinky new world and learn to love more perfectly before going insane, not understanding that love is the madness madder than the rest.
INTRODUCTION by Phillip Freedenberg, author of America and the Cult of the Cactus Boots: a Diagnostic
Zachary Tanner has authored a synesthesia-induced, musically kaleidoscopic, artfully imagined, cosmological novel packed full of transcendent exotic nebulae, cyborgs, interplanetary cognitive hysteria, aspiring composers, non-binary high-camp intergalactic erotica, madness-inducing bio-luminescent holotropic algae blooms, as well as an entire new possible world of ideas populated by artists and dreamers, all nested within the pure vibration of the unified field that will not only ask you, the reader, to re-imagine your own perception of the world, but it will also have you asking… What does it mean to be a human being located deep within the cold, existential, dark center of a vast and mysterious universe?
Tanner’s euphoric, kink-boiled, radically speculative, cosmogenic aesthetic is composed with a brilliantly sprawling, hyper-articulate, literary-minded erudition which, as it unravels the preconditioned expectations of the reader’s traditional imaginative potential of the operational mechanics of our cultural designs on the world, Tanner also—in a rich deconstructive process—prepares the reader for launch into a newly mapped distant world far beyond our own, where the antiquated norms of civilization begin to loosen in the potential of their omnipotence in which only then are we capable of immersing ourselves fully into the much freer, less limiting world of Oskar Submerges.
In the existentially fractured ideological political constellations of a deeply divided America, which in this novel we quickly leave light-years behind us in the frenetic, dizzying, axial precession of the equinoxes on a strange planet called Earth, where it seems that an anthropologically grand devolution of the innate forms of prosocial behavioral altruism has begun to occur, which once, in theory, not only hoped to unify individuals, but also sought to bind communities together in a utopian expression of categorically transcendent plurality, if such an ideal were possible, inclusively illuminated by the imagination inspired by diversity as well as a fascination for, rather than a fear of, “otherness” has now mutated into a cultural dystopia fueled by bigotry and tribal ostracism, which has obscured our social imagination from empathizing with the many possible intersectional formations existing beyond the ever present primary sense of self.
In Oskar Submerges, Tanner euphorically erects a literary, utopian, space-opera superstructure, where we, as human beings, may once again experiment with imagining a world in which “otherness,” in this case, is possibly experienced as an extra-terrestrial, transhumanist, science fiction game theory, where the long unknown, culturally distanced “other,” once again through the experimental vision of this novel, instead becomes a sphere of pure love and beauty, where individual readers or we, as a species, bear the responsibility to learn how to transcend the oftentimes fearful isolation of our own primitive singularity to discover that truth and real human connections often arise in complex forms other than our own.
Tanner’s novel explores the oppression of the potential of our collective imagination that may be the result of a vast, culturally hegemonic, immersive, all-occupying cultural rapture, which may be what constricts and conforms our general human perceptions from daring to imagine the potential of human expression, transcendent of the traditional historical patterns of our antiquated, dominant power structures. In some regards, our failures of imagination on behalf of the human species to collectively dare to constructively dismantle the various, seemingly omnipotent tyrannical power structures that occlude the conventional pathways of upward mobility relative to the evolution of the human imagination must not obstruct the foundation for the human species to experiment with new models of creative thinking and combinatory play, which may help us imagine new possible worlds for our species to euphorically inhabit not only ten years from now, but one hundred years from now. These dangerous ideals, if left unchallenged, may be just the type of limitation that constrict our human flirtation with some day possibly inhabiting a far more vast, hierarchically elevated level of collective consciousness.
In Oskar Submerges, Zachary Tanner achieves, in many ways, what only great speculative literature allows us to explore, and that is a panoptic view of the world that resonates with a scope of a novel that includes the reach of the entire species as well as the birth and death of the universe, which is interested in entropy and collapse by placing the urgency of these themes in the context of not only the sustainability of the species, but also the grand prospects of the durability of a grander evolution, which may include progress and transcendence at the level of pure consciousness beyond the limitations of both our biology and technology.
Psychologist, author, and psychonaut Timothy Leary has stated in Musings on Human Metamor-phoses: “Science fictions are suppressed only when likely to contribute more knowledge and freedom than the defensive orthodoxies they challenge.” At the center of Oskar Submerges, we, the readers, find an author daring to argue for a new metaphysical ontology which not only strives to dismantle the traditional “defensive orthodoxies,” but the book also asks us to reinvent the alignment of our individual perceptual orientation to the world, and it asks us to explore the intellectually creative abundance of ideas packed into this novel, so that one day, we may create a future possible world that, in many ways, improves the antiquated traditions that we have for too long relied upon to inhabit the world of today.
In Oskar Submerges, Zachary Tanner asks, “What is life without love like dancing in dreams?” The beauty of Oskar Submerges—as I experienced it and as I hope that you will also experience it—is to blissfully move forward into your reading of the novel, knowing that you will unquestionably leave behind the rigors and limitations of the world around you, to submerge your imagination in a book that strives to achieve what all great books strive to achieve, and that is to offer the reader entry into a new possible world that maintains a love that feels so much like dancing that the energy of such joyful literary arabesques will leap from every page of this book in such a way that you won’t ever want to put it down, for by the time you finish this book, a small part of both your heart and mind may forever drift curiously within the unique, phantasmagorical orbit of a place we collectively once dreamed, known only as Europa.
August 1, 2021
Review by Josh Doughty
I’ve always had apprehension starting a novel in the “sci-fi” realm. However, do not let Zachary Tanner’s debut novel keep you from reading it.
You experience a futuristic yet somewhat antiquated universe through the eyes of Cletus 2, a janitor who attempts to find love on a new planet “Europa” where things are vastly different from what the character has known. The main character meets Oskar and a few others (Jose and the cyborg Ophelia) which often yields to a plethora of laced drinks and libertine activities that Cletus is completely unprepared for.
Cletus 2 is also heavily musically inclined. Throughout the novel, you will experience many passages of synthesizers and electronic terminology and the struggles of finding the perfect timber. The perfect patch. I enjoyed that as an electronic musician myself. The struggle is definitely shown throughout.
I was worried of how big this pocket book was, but after about 30 pages, you get pretty use to the feel. And this is definitely a page turner. There is juicy drama and soul crushing existential dread throughout this narrative.
So does Oskar Submerge? Yes, but in multiple ways. It is up to you to find out what the title means to you.
Based on my somewhat arbitrary knowledge of reading, this is for fans of let’s say Marquis De Sade, William S Burroughs, and Donna J Haraway (which I will be reading later in this year!
There are also at least two Melville references for all you Moby Dick fans out there.
I am looking forward to more works from Z.