The Early Days of a Better Nation

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Recent events

What I've been doing recently has been (a) a bit of rework on the draft of Newton's Wake and (b) other stuff. This is about the other stuff.

I've walked through a museum containing, among many other things, Edinburgh's beheading machine, document boxes carved from whale bones in the Western Isles, a notebook written in Gaelic in a fine italic script by a sixteenth century bard, and a glass case containing the stuffed body of the first cloned sheep. I've climbed around a ruined palace through which teenage girls in medieval gowns flit like friendly ghosts, guiding visitors. I've split a bottle of spirits three nights in a row with a man who has searched for fossil spiders in Siberia, who once shared a lift with Lysenko, who went to the barricades for Yeltsin, and who remembers Brezhnev as an enlightened despot who threw money at science and about whom everybody had a new joke every day. I've rode on a canal boat a hundred feet into the air on the Falkirk Wheel.

I've read a few books (which I may write about later) and come up with an idea for my next one, which (just for a change) won't be about the final war between European and American imperialism but about a very different war on a planet just like Earth, but different, and many powers of tens of metres away. Somewhere, unfortunately more than 10 times 10 to the 28 metres away, there is a planet where I've already written it.


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