Magnus, a friend of mine from back in the day, runs a weekly audiobook podcast called Telling of Tales. This week he’s recorded a version of one of my stories, Leicester Forest East. It was written at the start of this year after reflecting on Paul Kincaid’s review “The Widening Gyre: 2012 Best of the Year Anthologies” for several months. Leicester Forest East , then, is one of my attempts to write a science fiction that’s more quotidian than what’s generally out there and explores our shared common failures.
Please do tell us what you think of the story and podcast by leaving us a comment. I have also been told to share the fact that Telling of Tales is starting a short break so do send your stories to him if you enjoyed his efforts here.
1 – My copy of Busy About the Tree of Life arrived yesterday and I took
the time to read “The Heat Death of the Universe.” It is a commendable
and memorable story. It is also a glimpse at a parallel track that
science fiction can also investigate, but rarely does. My main concern
when reading Heath Death was a feeling that stories as formally
inventive and/or quotidian are still incredibly hard to place in a short
story market. Would today’s editors take the time to read Heat Death
through to its conclusion? I have serious doubts that unless the author
was already very well established — unlike Pamela Zoline was when this
story first appeared in New Worlds — they would.
2 – Today at work I mostly listened to Basic Channel’s Quadrant Dub I &
II and Ash Ra Tempel’s self titled album. It may have had adverse
3 – Tonight, in my ongoing quest to find the perfect text editor, I
experimented with Emacs. Still happier using nano.
* As I write this Jenny is on a train heading north to Edinburgh. She’s
editing a report and it is more efficient for her to be up there. I
can’t go. Which is in some ways a shame because I enjoy visiting
Edinburgh and could do with some time alone holed up in a hotel room to
write. But I’ve a day job and right now I’d rather use my holiday
allowance to spend time with Jen.
* Of course that means until Thursday I’m pretty much free to spend my
evenings writing as much or as little as I’d like. So I expect to spend
a lot more time than is usual at her computer in our bedroom staring at
a terminal window.
* The first week of any month for me is usually spent planning &
outlining a new short story to write. I’ve planned one already and I’m
rapidly outlining it in my preferred notation (I write comic scripts
first, prose second). An observation that I made about the material I’m
happiest writing occurred last week. I’ve tried and failed to write
generic adventure stories. It just isn’t for me. Plot bores the hit out
of me. Trying to write that way makes me unhappy because it isn’t what I
normally read, but for the occasions when I do then there are writers
who find it altogether more enjoyable to produce, so I may as well leave
them to it. Reflecting on this, I made a decision to look back a few
years to the material and concerns found some of the stories that I
wrote for Weaponizer and to mine that seam again. The science fiction
and fantasy I want needs to be imbued with the spirit of Katherine
Mansfield’s short story collection The Garden Party. If it isn’t about
people and their failures then I’m not interested.
* Two things that seem to keep appearing in my fiction: work &
* Tonight I am going to eat pizza, drink God Beer, and watch Simon
Schama’s The History of the Jews.
A small observation.
Two days ago Paul Kincaid republished a review of “The Cold Equations“, a canonical hard science fiction story from 1954, to his website. Yesterday, in response to the fresh discussions that review generated, he republished an article where he characterizes Hard Science Fiction as being fundamentally right wing. This generated even more discussion and apparently also drove three times more traffic to Paul’s site than his previous best day. At the time of writing the tweet with the link to that article was retweeted 6 times and favourited 1 time. Apparently people like to grouse about politics and science fiction.
Today Paul republished a review of Pamela Zoline’s first short story from 1967, “The Heat Death of the Universe.” Paul wrote positively about the story and highlighted its importance in the New Wave canon. He wrote so movingly about the story and Pamela Zoline, who I’d not heard of before, that it encouraged me to purchase a second hand copy of her short story collection “Busy About the Tree of Life”. All before I’d had my morning coffee. Again, at the time of writing, the tweet Paul linked to this review with was retweeted 2 times and favourited 1 time. And from what I can tell there’s been hardly any discussion about either the review itself or the actual story on twitter.
This bugs the shit out of me. When a review of a short story nearly sixty years old with lamentable politics and a commentary on the nature of hard science fiction suggesting that the sub-genre reflects a right wing ideology earns more attention than a review of a story that pre-empts many of the progressive trends lauded today there is a fucking problem. Why? Because the people who want attention to be paid to those progressive elements within science fiction and fantasy are still expending more visible effort concentrating their discussion on the shit they very often want to move away from. I’ve seen this happen before. The material that might actually help improve diversity in science fiction / fantasy / literature either formally or representatively gets ignored in favour of bickering over material about on the more backwards or nostalgic elements of genre. Reviews of “The Cold Equations” & articles on Hard SF have their place. Really, they do. However, too often more time is spent talking about those things and less is spent looking at reviews of stories like “The Heat Death of the Universe.”
* Was at work this morning reading my archives of Warren Ellis’ Bad
Signal in between processing orders and decided that I needed to do
something similar but hidden. The archives and the rss feeds for this are
public, but the material doesn’t appear on the front page of my website.
* The category I’m using internally on WordPress is called Daybook. It
is sort of one of those. The other technical task I wanted to achieve
tonight was setting up a command line blogging system for us on Jen’s PC
The Brain and my netbook Rashomon. Haven’t done that yet. It’s harder
and my not be as feasible as I hoped. Will look into it at the weekend.
* It is five past eight on the second of the September. Dusk.
Street lights outside my house are turning themselves on. From YouTube I
am playing Ashra Temple. Spooky.
* On Saturday I managed to recover long enough from the shitting horrors
to see Elysium at the local art house cinema. I think it is a
significant improvement over Neil Blomkamp’s first film, District 9.
Sadly the political allegory has been softened, but the cinematography &
editing are now mostly consistent. It doesn’t seem like I’m watching two
different films spliced awkwardly together.
* 20:09. I have twenty minutes left of scheduled alone time. Just
enough time to spell check this and start mind-mapping ideas for the
short story I’m working on this month.