For a time Ted and I worked on a short story version of the original manuscript, and Ted produced several more short passages that would most naturally go to other stories. The main artistic question about Rhesus A. Macaque was not simple. How is it that Macaque is a human? Or is he a monkey? As you can see, the main artistic question promptly split in half on us, but both halves pointed in the same direction: is there just one Macaque or are they a kind of thing?
That was how I found myself writing a science fiction detective novel, The Adventures of Reese Macaque, P.I. Detective novels are generally novels of manners. A science fiction detective novel of manners is (I suppose) about social interactions in a future world—and an obvious way to dissect social behaviors in our world. In the case of this book, the society in question is ours, in the year 2296. In this world Yeats was obviously quite correct: “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.”
That being said, iit was years before I realized that Macaque was science fiction. For a good while I assumed it was a fantasy, specifically a nonsense fantasy in the same genre as Edward Lear’s The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World or John Collier’s His Monkey Wife, first published in 1930 and still very much in print. Of course nonsense is a very serious business.
(Photo by Gary Mawyer)