The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, July 17, 2006

Where I've been

'There is that in youth that will not fly,' said Bernadette McAliskey. It took me a moment to click to the usage. She said other memorable simple things. 'We thought we would change the world and then get back to our lives. Years later we found that this was our lives.'

'You have fewer rights than we had when we began the struggle. If I was young and lived here, my ass would be on the street.'

Over the past couple of months I haven't been blogging, because almost all my writing energy was going into finishing The Execution Channel. 'Easy writing makes damned hard reading,' said Dr Johnson. I like to hope that hard writing makes easy reading. Writing near-future is hard when the future changes by the day. A nuclear war can ruin your whole outline. Speaking of which, it may be a little early to be painting your nails for Armageddon, but as Billmon puts it, I could be wrong about that, in which case it's been nice knowing you.

A week last Thursday I delivered the book, which was just as well because I had a long-standing engagement to give a talk on science fiction at Marxism, the Socialist Workers Party's annual big public event. I attended a lot of programme items, such as the above one with Bernadette McAliskey, talked to people, and I have to say I left with a very favourable impression of the event and of the party that organised it. I've sneered at the SWP in the past, and jeered at its political project, RESPECT, so let me take this opportunity to eat crow. The SWP has many good people in it, some of whom I've known and respected for years - decades, in some cases - what finally dawned on me that weekend was that this is not inexplicable.

I came back with a few books, which I may review, but just as I was getting into them, the latest issue of Foundation hit the doormat. Half the articles in it are about Heinlein, and one of them makes the challenging point that Heinlein's late long books give no trouble to readers outside the traditional SF readership, and are worth taking seriously.

Maybe my next project should be a big bad book.


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