The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, April 14, 2023

Moniack in a Month – Writing Science Fiction

Moniack Mhor is Scotland’s creative writing centre, located in a spectacular landscape in Inverness-shire. I’ve taught there before, with Mike Cobley, and it was great. But a residential week or long weekend isn’t for everyone, which is why Moniack Mhor offers ‘Moniack in a Month’: courses held over Zoom, with one evening workshop a week for four weeks, plus one-to-one tutorial sessions and guest events.

I’m delighted to say that bookings are now available for an online course on writing science fiction which I’ll be teaching this September. Details are here. The wonderful Justina Robson has kindly agreed to be our Guest Reader.


Hmm... Background is that we're about the same age, but I was mostly on the editorial side, though my last job was teaching a technical writing course to computer scientists. Too much video in that course and even I cannot look back on it as a big success--but in my defense I had more than 40 students, and I don't think any of them had English as a first language. Aye, those were the days. Blog looks like it's still slightly active, so...

Question is really about Nova by Samuel Delaney. You wrote an intro for a Masterworks edition that turned up in a library in Tokyo. In your introduction you mentioned five sockets, but the first description in the book, on page 39 only has four, while on page 144 it suddenly splits the tailbone socket into two ankle sockets to make five... I'm tempted to bother Mr Delaney himself, but he's "your daddy" (or mine), so I've decided to ask you if you know what happened there? (Lots of mentions of the wrist sockets scattered in the book.)

I don't know if Samuel R. Delany or I made a mistake, but does it matter?

Not really, but it was confusing. I was still pretty sure you read and probably enjoyed the book before you wrote the introduction, but maybe there was a long gap? The five-socket description was the later one.

As far as I can recall now (and I only read the book recently), there were only those two places where the sockets were described at that level of detail. The wrist sockets got referenced at a number of places, and there was a bit of weird (and not very persuasive) philosophy about them. Now that you make me think about them that way, the entire socket technology seems rather unimportant... (I'm reminded of a wise friend who said the best SF focuses on one major disruptive technology at a time. (But the same fellow introduced me to Iain M Banks, who had lots of them in each of his Culture series books.))

But thanks for the reply.

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