After doing a little research on opal (prompted by that last little single-cell), I came across something interesting:
The Halley’s Comet Opal is “an example of a nobby, which is a natural lump-shaped opal found only at Lightning Ridge [Australia].”
If you’ll recall, the Martians in Martian Time-Slip worship a rock formation called “Dirty Knobby.” The parallels between the Bleekmen and the Australian Aborigines have never been hard to see, but this seems to be a potential bit of insight into Dick’s research. Mars in MTS could very well serve as a representation of Australia in many ways, with the working poor taking the place of the “criminals” who populated Australia in the early days of colonization. More likely, Dick simply saw the colonization of Australia as one example of a much larger trend in human history, one he assumed would likely follow us to other worlds.
I have also wondered if perhaps Dirty Knobby is related in some way to Knob Hill, where Tesla did some of his major experiments and had some of his more out-there ideas about the earth as a resonant body and FTL travel. I could see Manfred Steiner as the brilliant but much-abused Tesla, a man “not of his time,” Arnie Kott as the government that used him, ruined him and left him penniless, and Dirty Knobby as the source of the strange earth-borne power that, when harnessed, can be quite powerful, but is seldom believed to be real. Not that I’m siding with the free-energy theorists on this whole thing; I don’t know enough to make a statement, and I am fairly skeptical to say the least.
I must say, I’m getting a little weirded out by all the Australia references that seem to keep popping up lately. I’ve been re-reading Sam Kieth’s wonderful series The Maxx , and it is still just as wonderful as it used to be. After following The Maxx and Julie through their literalized subconscious plain, “the Outback,” I am starting to wonder if Valis is trying to tell me something…
In other news, I didn’t end up making it to the Sci-Fi Saturday event I mentioned last week. Alas, I missed all the fun. Again. But I want to take a moment again to recognize the people who made it happen. Real community is hard to come by these days.
Tomorrow I send off my first story for consideration at Clarkesworld. Wish me luck.
Lastly, I just thought you might want to know that this exists.
*Update: So I wondered if anyone else had made the Tesla connection. It turns out someone has, though I’m not sure what it says about me that I share ideas with this guy. I’m not even really sure what this page is all about (the internet is so diffused in purpose and affiliation these days – something I plan to talk about sometime), but close to the bottom is a comment by “DracOverLordHaton” that demands…well, I don’t know what. But I’m fairly certain it’s demanding something.
What I really like about it is how, after stating the connection between Knob Hill and Dirty Knobby as fact, with no further information, it immediately transforms into a tirade about how the Total Recall movie doesn’t credit the other PKD works it takes ideas from (he’s right, by the way, especially about Dr. Bloodmoney), but he never mentions Dick by name. Not even those ubiquitous initials.
Also, apparently Oliver Sacks has theorized that Tesla had Asperger’s Syndrome. For what it’s worth.