To my brother, Bob,

whose courage and humor are a constant inspiration,

even if he catches fish like he catches cards.


Title Page



One: AIR


Three: WATER

Four: FIRE

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About the Author




If we accept the notion that using power against the powerless is wrong, a clear enough set of corollaries begins to emerge. We become able to distinguish, as populations (though not always their rulers) have usually been able to do, between outlaws and evil-doers, between outlawry and sin. Not much analysis is needed, because it is something we can sense in all its dead-serious immediacy. ‘But all they are are bandits’, the rulers whine indignantly, ‘motivated only by greed.’ Sure. Except that, having long known the difference between theft and restoration, we understand the terms of the deal whereby outlaws, as agents of the poor, being more skilled and knowledgeable in the arts of karmic readjustment, may charge no worse than an agent’s fee, small enough to be acceptable to their clients, ample enough to cover the risks they have to take, and we always end up loving these folks, we cheer for John Dillinger, Rob Roy, Jesse James, at a level of passion usually reserved for sports affiliation.

Stone Junction is an outlaw epic for our own late era of corrupted romance and defective honour, with its own set of sleazy usurpers and Jacobitoid persistences – though the reader who’s expecting eighties nostalgia or, have mercy, some even earlier-type romp through the pleasures of drugs, sex, and rock and roll, should be warned that lurking herein, representing the bleaker interests of that consensus ever throbbing along despite and apart from all the fun and pleased to call itself ‘Reality’, are to be found some mighty evil contract personnel, who produce some disagreeably mortal plot developments. One of the book’s manifold graces is its author’s choice never to dance away into wistful gobbledygook, remaining, rather, conscientiously grounded in our world as given, where, as Pam Tillis, in a slightly different context, reminds us, Destiny turns on a dime.

The other day in the street I heard a city policeman in a police car, requesting over his loudspeaker that a civilian car blocking his way move aside and let him past, all the while addressing the driver of the car personally, by name. I was amazed at this, though people I tried to share it with only shrugged, assuming that of course the driver’s name (along with height, weight and date of birth) had been obtained from the Motor Vehicle Department via satellite, as soon as the offending car’s license number had been tapped into the terminal – so what?

Stone Junction was first published in 1989, toward the end of an era still innocent, in its way, of the cyberworld just ahead about to exponentially explode upon it. To be sure, there were already plenty of computers around then, but they were not quite so connected together as they were shortly to become. Data available these days to anybody were accessible then only to the Authorized, who didn’t always know what they had or what to do with it. There was still room to wiggle – the Web was primitive country, inhabited only by a few rugged pioneers, half loco and wise to the smallest details of their terrain. Honor prevailed, laws were unwritten, outlaws, as yet undefinable, were few. The question had only begun to arise of how to avoid, or, preferably, escape altogether, the threat, indeed promise, of control without mercy that lay in wait down the comely vistas of freedom that computer-folk were imagining then – a question we are still asking. Where can you jump in the rig and head for any more – who’s out there to grant us asylum? If we stay put, what is left to us that is not in some way tainted, coopted, and colonized, by the forces of Control, usually digital in nature? Does anybody know the way to William Gibson’s ‘Republic of Desire’? Would they tell if they knew? So forth.

You will notice in Stone Junction, along with its gifts of prophecy, a consistent celebration of those areas of life that tend to remain cash-propelled and thus mostly beyond the reach of the digital. It may be nearly the only example of a consciously analog Novel. Writers since have been obliged to acknowledge and deal with the ubiquitous cyber-realities that come more and more to set, and at quite a finely chopped-up scale too, the terms of our lives, not to mention calling into question the very traditions of a single author and a story that proceeds one piece after another – a situation Jim Dodge back then must have seen coming down the freeway, because the novel, ever contrarian, keeps its faith in the persistence of at least a niche market – who knows, maybe even a deep human need – for modalities of life whose value lies in their having resisted and gone the other way, against the digital storm – that are likely, therefore, to include pursuits more honorable than otherwise.

One popular method of resistance was always just to keep moving – seeking, not a place to hide out, secure and fixed, but a state of dynamic ambiguity about where one might be at any given moment, along the lines of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Modern digital machines, however, managed quickly enough to focus the blurred hyperellipsoid of human freedom down to well within Planck’s Constant.

Equally difficult for those who might wish to proceed through life anonymously and without trace has been the continuing assault against the once-reliable refuge of the cash or non-plastic economy. There was a time not so long ago you could stroll down any major American avenue, collecting anonymous bank checks, get on some post office line, and send amounts in the range ‘hefty to whopping’ anywhere, even overseas, no problem. Now it’s down

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