Sci-fi sounds inspire music blogger’s flight of fiction

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Reading – Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors

If it wasn’t for a Russian scientist and spy, we might not have “Good Vibrations”.

But, thanks to Lev Sergeyvich Termen, we have the theremin. An instrument that makes eerie, high-pitched electrical sounds, the theremin was used in the Beach Boys hit as well as on numerous sci-fi soundtracks.

And, thanks to Termen, we have Us Conductors (Random House). The fiction debut of Montreal writer Sean Michaels the book is a fictionalized account of Termen’s life. Michaels says it’s “about love, lies, longing, and kung-fu – with this strange, one-of-a-kind musical instrument at its heart.”

Us Conductors author Sean Michaels.

Us Conductors author Sean Michaels.

Michaels, who is the founder of the 11-year-old music blog Said the Gramophone, is in B.C. this week for a trio of readings. The one in Vancouver is Wednesday May 7 at 7:30 at the Alice McKay Room at the Central Library. He’ll be joined by authors Ondjaki and Claire Battershill.

Broken Social Scene‘s Brendan Canning, in a review for the Globe & Mail, writes, “Us Conductors is a novel of epic proportions and as we jump back and forth through time, Michaels engrosses the reader with well-thought-out imagery that paints pictures of vastly different scenes. Lev the scientist and inventor. Lev the spy. Lev the kung-fu master, Lev the obsessed, Lev the murderer. Lev the excommunicate. Lev the stowaway, Lev the traitor. Lev the prisoner. One should feel great sympathy for the character Michaels has created, a proud Russian scientist who is swept away by American decadence and beauty and is made to repay his debt in the severest of fashions.”

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