January 12th, 2008

Truly a prince amongst men

I give you a quote from Mat Coward from the New Statesman:

"Just imagine how awful such a Labour government would be. Completely devoid of ideology - well, that's nothing new, true, but a Cabinet made up of the present leadership would also lack any trace of common sense, or even of crude class orientation. It would have achieved its only goal, getting elected, and so would be left with no purpose, no definite intentions." (10 December 1993)

This comes from his home page http://homepages.phonecoop.coop/matcoward/

How could he have been so far off the mark? :-)

I bought a copy of his book of SF short stories, So Far, So Near, when in the bookshop in San Francisco with the bald cat, to which we were taken by Mr applez (also, of course, a prince amongst men).

Although I have come across his humours columns over the years in many places, because of the incident with the curate, the sheep and the copy of Omni magazine, which, of course, I am forbidden from discussing by the terms of the out of court settlement I have a mental block against reading fiction on pages larger than hardback novel size, so I was unaware of Mr Coward's writing of SF in Interzone, but this surprised me as much as discovering that the next novel by the author of Zodiac was S.F. i.e. not at all. Some people just have 'the mark'.

What to say about the book? I liked all the stories. Very British. I was reminded in some obscure way I can't put my finger on of Keith Roberts. Not Pavane, which I think is atypical and, let's be honest, atypically good of his work. A certain British melancholy, the sort of thing you might have found in the just pre-New Wave British short story magazines.

This in turn induces a certain melancholy, because for whatever reason - circumstance, talent, prevailing market conditions - I can't see Coward producing his Pavane.

Telepathic blue squid, a historical perspective

Was Vonnegut the first person to try the 'I may write about time-travelling aliens, but they are books of ideas so don't call me an SF writer' tactic?

It is hard to see who could or would have tried it before. Certainly hard to see Orwell or Huxley saying 'no, nothing like the stuff produced by those Yankee jonnies in those terrible magazines'.

(notice that The Arch Community Songster of Canterbury here currently points to the Archbish of C. article).