For those of my fans who don’t recognize the name of the coauthor on this story (and I doubt there are very many who don’t), Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist for the rock group Rush, writer of some of the most innovative and thought-provoking songs I have ever heard.
The music of Rush has inspired my writing since the late 1970s, when I picked copies of 2112 and A Farewell to Kings among my “Ten Albums for a Dollar” signup bonus for joining a record club. (At the time, I had never heard of Rush, never heard any of the songs, but I thought the cover art looked cool on the tiny stickers.)
After hearing the epic science fiction music of “2112,” “Xanadu,” and “Cygnus X-1,” I was hooked. I haunted record stores, picking up any Rush album I could find. A Farewell to Kings was followed by Hemispheres, then Permanent Waves.
I went to my first Rush concert for the Moving Pictures tour in 1981, and I haven’t missed one since, in thirty years. The next album was Signals. And then Grace Under Pressure.
Grace Under Pressure hit me at exactly the right time as I was plotting my novel Resurrection, Inc. The music seemed to tie in exactly with the story taking shape in my mind. “We need someone to talk to, and someone to sweep the floors.” “Are we the last ones left alive?” “Suspicious-looking stranger flashes you a dangerous grin.” “Steely-eyed outside—to hide the enemy within.” “One humanoid escapee, one android on the run.” “Cruising in prime time, soaking up the cathode rays.”
As I wrote the novel, I had specific scenes in mind tied directly to the lyrics; Rush provided the soundtrack in my imagination. When Signet Books published the novel in 1988, I autographed copies to Neil and to his bandmates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, then mailed them off to the black hole (Cygnus X-1?) of Mercury Records.
A year later, Neil wrote back. We struck up a correspondence, and then during their Presto tour he bicycled down to my townhouse in the San Francisco area where we met for the first time. I’ve known Neil longer than I’ve known my wife Rebecca (and we’ve been married twenty years); in fact, Roll the Bones was the first rock concert Rebecca had ever attended (and not a bad way to start, with front-and-center seats and backstage passes).