The Early Days of a Better Nation

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Skiffy updates

The Execution Channel came third in the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, after In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan and The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon.

John C. Snider has an interview with me up at The SciFiDimensions Podcast, at which you can also find interviews with James Morrow, Cory Doctorow, John C. Wright, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lisa Yaszek, and lots more.

A couple of weeks ago I had to proof-read The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal for the omnibus edition Fractions, forthcoming from Tor (who've just brought out a trade paperback of The Execution Channel, and very good it looks too). Re-reading The Star Fraction in particular was an odd experience: I still like the book, and it stands up well (though not, obviously, as prediction - that world ain't gonna happen), but it takes so much for granted and it still has a little infodump to explain what memes are.


There are parts of the Star Fraction (not essential parts, mind you) that are nigh-incomprehensible if you don't know
anything about the politics of the UK or
the, uh, fractions of Communism.

This didn't stop me from reading it in one sitting (sort of collapsed next to the bookshelf in the library), saying "Wow" and then going and googling a bunch
of terms....

It must be pretty weird rereading your own novels, especially from so long ago (was that your first?). I suppose the closest most of us would get is reading our old school or university essays (aaargh!).
I remember Robert Silverberg saying in the preface to a reprint of one of his early novels that he couldn't even remember writing it. He did churn them out back then but that's still quite astonishing.

Karl, that's the kind of reader response that makes it all worthwhile!

Gordon, yes it was my first but I have re-read it a few times over the years, just not recently and not so closely. I think my style has got more succinct since I wrote The Star Fraction. And the plot is a bit more complex than it should be - but a lot clearer than it was in the first draft.

"more succinct" Indeed it has. I grew up those Ace novels in the 60s. Anything over 150-250 pages strikes me as overthought and overloaded. Too much dump obscuring the story. So much as I liked those tales of Communist organizations, strategies and societies, I like the more recent shorter novels that much more. As far as the volume of infodump goes, incomprehensible appeals to me.

Ken, I'm reading Star Fraction for the first time right now, so it's fun to think I may have been reading parts of it at the same time as the author... though being an easily distractible reader (Unlike Karl, I have not been able to wait till I finish the book to start googling all the obscure references), I'm sure our possible synchrony was only fleeting at best. I'm new to world of recent science fiction (grew up on Wells, Verne, and Lovecraft, then failed to follow the path), but I'm thrilled with what I've encountered thus far. Now it's time to go finish Star Fraction and buy the rest of the series. Thank you.

Obscure references? What obscure references?

All you need is to have been more or less brought up in the Labour Party, a set of Presbyterian grandparents who had been trade unionists on Clydeside, Catholic ones who had been trade unionists on Tyneside, a job doing IT for an American multinational oil company in Canary Wharf, and to have been twenty years an SF fan, as well as having completed the marine microbiology course at Millport, and I promise you you will get pretty much all of the references :-)

Thanks Miciah - another of those comments that make it all worthwhile.

Ken Brown, you may be right but (a) almost none of that is true of me and (b) you left out 'having read a yard-high stack of Libertarian Alliance publications'. I go for equal opportunity obscurity.

great Podcast Ken ,thx. Getting a little more insight into the writing of Execution Channel was insightful.THX

David Page

Snider has an interview with me up at The SciFiDimensions Podcast, at which you can also find interviews with James Morrow, Cory Doctorow, John C

Love the "Fall Revolution."

BTW, has anyone here checked-out SciFi writer John C. Wright's blog? That guy drives me nuts!

I see what you mean anonymous; he certainly has plenty to say for himself. I've never heard of the guy but if the purpose of his blog is to encourage people to buy his books it certainly didn't work on me.

(Read more...)? no thanks.

When I first read the Star Fraction it was an electrifying experience. I found it all a bit dizzying and many of the terms quite confusing, but I was amazed at the fusion of radical politics and science fiction. I didn't know many people interested in either of those things and it astounded me that there were people writing about both of them at the same time!

Oh and US launching invasions using remote controlled soldiers, fundies carving out their own microstates, the privatisation of security and the confinement of free speech to designated areas still sound perfectly possible to me...

First of your books I ever read. Back when I knew you to chat to but didn't realise you were you (you know what I mean).

Pace Ken Brown, all that's missing is the Woodcraft Folk.

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