Ken MacLeod’s Blog and Iraq
As many of you know, I’m an old time science fiction fan, having grown up on Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Delaney, Moorcock and the other greats. (I don’t care about divisions between the old Campbell stable and the New Wave of the late 1960s; I read it all). I subscribe to Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle and continue to read in the field, though I can’t read as much for pleasure as I would like, and I do also try to read other sorts of novels. One of the great delights for me is when a new author comes along who does innovative things with the genre. It is rarer than one might hope. A lot of science fiction writers just use the scientific element as a McGuffin, to make the plot go forward. I call this the “Michael Crichton syndrome.” I can no longer make it all the way through most such books. But then there are imaginative writers like William Gibson, who have brought so much new energy and ideas to the field.
Another writer whom I’ve been reading is Ken MacLeod of Scotland, who injects debates and ideas rooted in the European Left into his work. It is sort of like Eric Hobsbawm meets Arthur C. Clarke, with the best of both. It is not a completely novel phenomenon. After all, H.G. Wells was a socialist. But MacLeod’s galaxy of social ideas plays out in fascinating ways as space opera. The Stone Canal, e.g., pits leftist ideas against Libertarian ones, with characters finding themselves imprisoned in robot bodies as a new sort of slave.
As one might expect, MacLeod is very interested in current affairs and the Iraq situation, and has started blogging on British politics in this regard. Imagine my surprise to find his site driving traffic to mine! He has kindly put a link in to Informed Comment. That was my second best Christmas present this year!
For US readers, MacLeod’s books can be ordered from Amazon.com. I recommend them warmly.