"A deeply provocative alternate look at the 1960s."
-- Michael Gosney (Digital Be-In, Green Century Institute, and Synergetic Press)
Includes links to over 300 songs you can play as you read.
Cornell Woodrow, keeper of the secrets of the blues, taught many of the prominent Sixties rock musicians that our most spiritual impulses are guided by music. "We aspire toward something unreachable, out at the limits of matter and energy. We play music in order to tap into the vibrations of the planet and the vibrancy of our lives. We work together in a grand experiment."
Part allegory, part satire, part fantasy, part history, and all fiction, The Experiment sheds new light on the rock music revolution of the Sixties and many of its heroes and villains. The novel traces the evolution of rock, and unveils the voodoo that gives this music a special power. It began as a seed planted by High John the Conqueror, the rolling stone who carried the traditions and ancestor spirits to the New World. Against all odds, High John tricked his enslavers and the Corporation's ministers to grow a new, powerful music that would inspire a cultural revolution.
The murder of a popular radio personality, and the appearance of the mysterious Cornell, galvanizes three teenagers into a rebellion that pits father against son and unites them in a quest for answers. Together they form the Archetypes, with Reggie as the leftist radical, Johnny B as the influential guru of the bass guitar, and Gilbert as Gilgamesh the Digger and lifestyle artist. They help the Beatles and the Rolling Stones find their musical voices, show Bob Dylan the way into electric folk, and lend a hand to Cornell's wide-ranging experiments with Robert Johnson proteges in the Sixties rock scene. Along the way they meet Timothy Leary, set up an LSD factory, march on the Pentagon, and rescue a special stash from dagger-wielding Manson girls in Death Valley, just in time to save the Woodstock Festival from drowning in bad acid.
All the while they are dogged by agents of the Corporation, who are conducting a counter-experiment against Cornell to stop the spread of music and enlightenment, or somehow control it, through espionage, subterfuge, and murder. One of them has followed Reggie and Gilbert since childhood and tries to recruit them to infiltrate radical groups. At the end of the Sixties the musicians have become distracted, the radicals have turned violent, and the Corporation is poised to corrupt Cornell's noble experiment...
The Experiment is a fabulously innovative work, both in substance and style.
Tony Bove is clearly immersed in music of every variety, especially rock & roll, and the depth of his knowledge, insight and research is revealed on every page. Historical characters and Bove’s own creations drive the novel forward with the gonzo bravado of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer.
The Experiment ranges across time and geography but pays special homage to the 1960’s and its culture-changing mix of the serious and the lunatic, the joyful and the heartrending, the naïve and the cunning. Bove is presumably too young to have ridden Further with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters (we’re celebrating the Summer of Love’s Golden Anniversary right now!), but he uses the novelist’s eye to bring the wild feelings of this miraculous era to life.
The theme underlying The Experiment is nothing less than the power of music to shape and alter lives, generations, and societies. It is a power that can’t be stopped – ultimately – no matter what forces are arrayed against it (and Bove invents formidable forces on both sides).
The Experiment is learned but still playful, and Bove’s enthusiasm for the music and his characters is infectious.
The iBooks edition embeds links to the music that is so important to the story and it’s hard to imagine a better use of e-book technology.