Keepers of the Flame

In his acknowledgment for Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds wrote: “For Stephen Baxter and Paul McAuley: friends, colleagues and keepers of the flame.” Of course, they are the giant Keepers, innovators of new Fire and trailblazers to new worlds. We, readers of Science Fiction, might we not think of ourselves, in our own small way, Keepers as well? By the simple notion that by tenaciously reading SF we are spreading its memes. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was Science Fiction and with this mighty Word worlds of all kinds and shapes were, and are still being, forged.

Reading into the Treasure Trove of SF – Tim Powers

The first book I read by Tim Powers was ANUBIS GATES and I was hooked by his writing ever since. At his panel at LACon in 2006 he told us he’d never been to London, England before and that struck us all with amazement because his description of London in one of his books was so vivid that he must have had at least set foot in that city and seen this particular building and that particular street with his own eyes. To which he declared, yes, he saw the city, but saw the city only through photographs which he lined up on the carpet in his living room and strung his tale around them. Which leads me to mention his book DECLARE which is a gripping alternate history of the British Secret Service, not only battling Nazis and Communists but also evil djinns. And from the foundation of DECLARE Charles Stross spun his tale of the Atrocity Archives.

Reading into the Treasure Trove of SF – China Mieville

I have read some posts on Facebook calling the stories that come out of SF–be they Science Fiction, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction–rubbish. So, then I read “rubbish” all the time and I write “rubbish” all the time. To each their own. I won’t be trying to convert those people; I won’t even make justifications about my reading choices. I will merely be posting my comments about the stories that I admire and will continue to read. Today it’s SCAR by China Mieville. It’s breathtaking although not a happy story, full of brutal and ghastly episodes which are starkly Mieville. It is worldbuilding to the extreme, a city of ships that sails the ocean bound for an unspeakable destination, visiting places on the way like the island of the Mosquito Women, the always hungry she-anophelius. These creatures, these citizens of Mieville’s world are but a few that I mention here. His stories, his worlds may not suit everyone’s palate and I won’t read books of his consecutively as I have to wander to other destinations less baleful. But dare read his books and be amazed by the depth of his imagination.

First Contact

I’ve finished reading Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt. It deals with the question: are we alone in the universe? Without spoiling things too much for those who haven’t read the book, yet, it also extrapolates that first contact is fraught with misunderstandings, accidents and disasters. In short, don’t go into First Contact with Celestials (aliens in more picturesque terms) unprepared. Good PR, a linguist and “we should have brought a writer”, is what one player in the story quipped. A science fiction writer of course, fluent in speculative metaphors. We, writers, will have a job waiting to do at the first glimpse of a Celestial on the scanners.

Man of Distinction

I’ve finished reading The Complete Short SF of Fedric Brown FROM THESE ASHES. His insightful stories and stories of dire warning are still timely and still relevant, even today, and too numerous to mention and some of them too satirically funny. One comes to mind–Man of Distinction–a hopeless drunk. Alcoholics of the Earth, at last you have a worthwhile vocation. On Earth you are a drunkard, but on the planet Dar you are a fascinating zoological specimen in a glass cage, Alcoholicus Anonymous, keeping Earthlings from being abducted en masse, since the Darians are of the opinion (and hopefully still are) that Earthlings are too addicted to C2H5OH, alcohol, to be useful slave labourers!