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Immortalising the NeoCons

Dendrochronologists can tell you quite a lot about history. They chop up a helpless tree, look at the rings and use them to work out if it rained a lot in a given year, or if some volcano blew its top.

Exciting indeed! But, kids, don't even think of doing that kind of thing as a career. You can find out far more interesting stuff just from reading. Every major historical trauma reappears a few years down the line in a slew of books and movies as writers who had absolutely no influence on the events as they took place, work out their frustrations. They like to get in their pathetic  "i-told-you-sos", or to fight desperate, rearguard actions to shore up collapsing ideologies.

It's almost like you're watching the whole thing happen again, only in slow-motion.

Thus, I got to read about "stolen elections" in ancient Rome.
Then, there were a million revisits to 9/11 as terrorists flew spaceships into planets and the entire cast of The West Wing tried to drown themselves in cheese.
And now, as more and more conclusive proof rubs our noses in the true facts of the Iraq war, we get novels and stories competing to out-irony each other.

To my mind, the best of the bunch so far* has been Robert Reed's brilliant novella Truth, which plays an extraordinary game with its readers: what if the Neo-Cons did what they did because they knew something? I mean, really, really knew something frightening about the future that we don't... The answers RR comes up with, are super-cool IMO and if you haven't read that story yet, I urge you to check it out before you completely forget what it was like to lift a placard against Dick Cheney, or, on the other side, to believe in him.

A little more recently, there's been Paul McAuley's novel, The Quiet War. It's a good book, with great World-Building, decent characters and a fine dollop of ye olde sensawunda. But the author's handling of the Neo-Cons is a little more straight-forward and, in these latter days of absolute proof, his references to "weapons of mass-destruction in the Outer System" and so on, are starting to feel a little clumsy. Methinks, it's time we authors moved on to working on books about "new hopes" or skipping ahead altogether to "the age of disappointment".

What do you think?

*I probably haven't read more than 1% of what's out there, so be generous when applying the salt.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
I think that, a lot of times, I wonder why science fiction bothers with contemporary politics at all. I know it's a time-honored tradition (See Time Machine, The and Handmaid's Tale, The, and 984,1) and that it is a true reflection of the human condition at the time of writing, but...

We have all of creation to play with. Why don't we let go of our sordid little present?

I have always been much more inclined to enjoy a nice space opera taking place in the year 3100 than any expression of more mundane SF.
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, but to be fair, The Quiet War *is* a space opera set a few hundred years into the future. It just happens to reflect veeeery closely a few events that just happened... And the habitat-building is pretty cool.
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
I'd probably enjoy it immensely and miss the point completely (i'm the world's least critical reader when reading for pleasure...).
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Nothing wrong with losing yourself in a story! So, don't waste your money on treating the condition.
Jun. 25th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
What do you think?

You taught me a new word. I will dedicate an altar to you.
Jun. 25th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
I did? What word was that? Disjoy?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )