“A writer writes for writers, a non-writer writes for his next-door neighbor or for the manager of the local bank branch, and he fears (often mistakenly) that they would not understand or, in any case, would not forgive his boldness. He uses the dots as a visa: he wants to make a revolution, but with police permission.
“I’ve created a world where green unicorns fly through the sky and Potato Waffles can speak! Also women are raped and oppressed—I’M SORRY, THAT’S JUST THE WAY THINGS WERE, BACK THEN.
“The characters in my novels are my own unrealized possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them. Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented. It is that crossed border (the border beyond which my own ‘I’ ends) which attracts me most. For beyond that border begins the secret the novel asks about. This novel is not the author’s confession; it is an investigation of human life in the trap the world has become.
I was combing the cometary halo for clues when Lisa came back with a number on a piece of paper.
“So that’s a big number,” she said. “Do you know how big?”
“I know that numbers with an ‘e’ in them are big, but that meters are not big.”
She said, “It’s just short of a yottameter.”
“You’re saying nothing. These are just sounds.”
“A septillion meters. Yottameters are the largest unit in the metric system. It wouldn’t be inside the solar system. It wouldn’t be inside the galaxy. You’ll have to get farther.”
“Why don’t they need anything bigger than a yottameter?”
“Because the universe is only nine hundred and thirty yottameters wide, of course.”
“You’re making this up.”
“Why would I make it up?”
“Why would you know it in the first place?”