On Robert Harris (Imperium, The Ghost)

I just read a good novel by Robert Harris “Imperium” about Cicero so I was curious when I saw him on Andrew Marr’s show this Sunday. As usual, the artist did not live up to the expectations as a human.
1) He thinks that democracy was “an interlude” and not a natural/aspiring state of humanity. First “they”* said that democracy wasn’t right for the Middle East and Russia, now they are waiting for the dictatorship to be rolled out everywhere.
2) Robert Harris wrote a thriller “The Ghost” that was adapted for a film, The Ghost Writer, a passable thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan and directed by Roman Polanski. When asked about his thoughts about Polansky’s conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old (after 4’5” in the clip). Harris said: “I don’t see why I should change MY position [regarding Polanski] because the fashion’s changed”.
I could have understood any excuse, for example, “these were different times” (they were). But to think that just as Harris is calmly predicting the death of democracy, he is also waiting for the return of society’s acceptance of grown men having sex with underage girls with impunity along with a return of the flared trousers.
The rule of   “What is permissible for Jove is not permissible for a bull” where Jove is a talented individual as accepted by his peers was written by the same grey-haired white men who keep their ranks closed against “the others” and then use the resulting Pantheon as a proof that the others cannot do anything of value.
I don’t think I’ll be reading his other books.
*The Establishment that contains 95% of grey-haired white men

Book review: “Family Trade” by Charles Stross

A readable parallel worlds fantasy/SF, despite an obvious plothole of a journalist turning into a competent assassin overnight.  A plausible description of industry journalism, a female protagonist, a romance with a tall blonde Roland.

Капиталистическое решение “проблемы Трудно быть богом“: не вывозить художников и учёных, погрязших в Средних Веках, а разработать экономическую программу замены оных веков на промышленную революцию через отдельно взятую компанию на основе изученного в Гарварде.

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson

The eminent contemporary SF writer K.S. Robinson books are more miss (The Years of Rice and Salt2312) than hit (Mars trilogy, Science in the Capital trilogy) for me. But the hits are so good, that I’m willing to try anything by him. His latest book about a  generation ship, “Aurora” is a sort of hit, just like Galileo’s dream.

“Aurora” falls in a SF  Goldilocks zone. It has just enough action, just enough details, just enough of plot twists,  just enough of diverse real world science to be educating as well as entertaining. The unusual narrator is a plus, as wells as a female protagonist, Freya, and her mother, Devi, who is “the closest the ship had to a captain.” The protagonist doesn’t have a classical love interest, which is also a plus in my opinion. If a cannot warm up to a sketchy, pessimistic Devi that never develops any deep relationships, it probably reflects my indoctrinated mind.

(contains spoilers)

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SCI PHI Journal

Sci Phi N6 cover

Via FreelanceWriting.com’s eNewsletter I found out about  SciPhi Journal, which combines two of my hobbies, science fiction and philosophy.

Just as I was despairing that the modern SF lost the philosophical depth of Bradbury’s, Le Guin’s and Strugatskys’ works. I also despaired that “the Kindle revolution”  is selecting for fast writing authors who churn out multiple sequels of mediocre quality.

In theory, magazines like this (selective acceptance, reader revenue based, paying the authors) can start a new Golden Era of SF just as the 1930s pulp fiction American magazines gave us SF classics.

P.S. I must declare a conflict of interests: I am submitting my short story to the magazine. However, I bought N3 and overall quality is good. I liked a story by Mark Andrew Edward so much that I started looking for his other work.