Sep 30, 2009

Well, that was an interesting couple of months. Sophie is now finally back at school after a ten week summer holiday, which means I can actually get some work done again. That’s not quite fair on the by-now very frazzled Mrs H who has done a sterling job as taxi driver, painting and crafts supervisor, games inventor, reading coach, cake baker, etc, as well as organizing the innumerable Fun Club and Play Park extravaganzas my dear daughter has attended over said ten weeks, thus allowing me to sit in my garden writing shed listening to my i-pod and assuring anyone who comes near that I’ve nearly finished ‘this section’. And my goodness what a lot of sections there seem to be. I finally worked out why Evolutionary Void is taking so long to write when I finished yet another section and started on chapter seventeen. Doh! It’s longer than Dreaming Void. That explains a lot. Now come on, be honest, who out there was expecting part three to be the small book of the trilogy?

Interesting in that my fellow writer Al Reynolds was all over the UK press for his million pound book deal. SF makes the mainstream media! What is this, an alternative universe? Shame they didn’t look past the money part and focus on the writing and ideas of our genre, but this isn’t a perfect world. Al is also building a hugely impressive model of the Saturn V rocket as a tribute to the Moon landings, see http://www.alastairreynolds.com/teahouse/. The moon landings were forty years ago? That can’t be right, how can the most significant human event ever now be history? The BBC has been showing some great commemorative programs with lots of enhanced footage, which is great for people like me. I watched them all wallowing in nostalgia, deeply impressed by the engineers and astronauts who achieved so much, and came away saddened that there simply is nothing so inspirational happening today. I remain convinced that one day we’ll be back up there and with a solid self-sustaining presence, but I’m not holding my breath. The new rocket systems NASA is developing seem like a backwards step to me. Sadly the same applies to the alt.space crowd. I’m reminded of a Ballard quote which went something like: We’re trying to achieve twenty first century goals with nineteenth century technology. He’s right, chemical rockets are abysmally primitive and inefficient (don’t get me started on environmental aspects of solid fuel boosters). If we’re ever going to get off this planet cheaply and easily and more important than all these days, cleanly, it’s going to take a fundamental shift in technology to do so. Roll on high-temperature superconductors, 3D printing, and rejuvenation genetics. Perhaps this is why I write SF, a subconscious wish to goad people into making my preferred future come true by making it exciting and plausible-sounding. Go on, just another day in the research lab and look what’ll happen.

Interesting seaside holiday in Lyme Regis, where in a quintessential English town which houses seemingly hundreds of perfectly ordinary art galleries I managed to find the one that does space art and fantasy. Better yet, it sold superb little Japanese models of space hardware both real and imagined. I saw a model of an O’Neill island three habitat in the window and just stopped dead in the street before rushing in and buying one to the amazement of the ever-tolerant Mrs H. I don’t know who was more surprised, me for finding such a thing or the gallery owner that anyone knew what the hell an island three was. It now sits on my desk, reminding me how inspired I was when I first started reading O’Neill’s High Frontier all those years ago, keeping the torch alight I guess.

All right, not quite as big and impressive as the Al Reynolds rocket (this only has three parts and they clip together), but I don’t want to be seen to have a size issue here.

All the hard work on the fruit cage paid off. We had a bumper crop of strawberries and raspberries this year. In fact we had so much fruit I wound up making about twenty jars of jam (USA: jello –so I’m told). Distressingly I must confess my finest jar of strawberry jam went unplaced in the village produce show, however my potatoes did win first prize. (Insert own joke here.) Life in Rutland: it’s all about cutting edge excitement.

My favourite funny line in ages comes from the brilliant Frankie Boyle in Mock The Week (UK satire show) : Lord Mandleson? Who made him a Lord, the Sith?

And so to interesting publishing news. I can confirm that my new UK cover artist is Steve Stone, who has done a truly impressive job in producing an image of Makkathran which will be on the Macmillan cover of Evolutionary Void.

By way of shameless namedropping... I bumped into Rob Scotton the other day. Well, I say ‘bumped’ more like accosted the poor chap in an Oakham cafe with my accomplices Felix and Sophie. Rob, for those of you who don’t know, is the Rutland-based creator/writer of Russell the Sheep and Splat the Cat. He’s also a very nice man, and deserves to be left in peace and quiet while drinking his coffee and doodling on his laptop. Unfortunately for him, as nowhere is free of mad fans these days that simply wasn’t going to happen. Felix promptly crawled over the seat and table to get a look at Rob’s laptop, to be rewarded by a sneak peak of Splat’s next outing; which will no doubt make him coolest boy in the pre-school nursery room for weeks to come. Cheers, Rob.

West Wing season six now in the DVD player. I needed it to recover from Knowing, the Nick Cage film. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Waiting for the new Muse album to download –only days to go now. Sad to report my stolen copy of Fearless has still not yet been returned.

Peter F. Hamilton
Rutland
September 2009

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