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Reflections on a New World Order

I've been thinking about what to do about the new world we're facing. No, not which petitions should I sign, where should I donate; I mean internally. There's a lifestyle piece on this very topic on the BBC News site today. Cheer up, dears is the message. Shocked by the EU referendum vote? Disoriented by Donald Trump's victory? Daunted by the UK racist surge? Terrified a the way the world's powers ignore climate change? Concerned about the loss of 40% of the world's wildlife, upset about the ever spreading, ever more horrible fall-out from the rich world's Oil Wars? Distressed by all those bodies in the Med? Here's how to deal: just don't be silly! Your convictions, that you think are so important, are the whole problem! Accept that you don't know what's best, and everything will be fine.

For God's sake.

Never mind to all that? Let's get back to the rich are supposed to be rich, the poor are supposed to be betrayed, our rulers are supposed to be corrupt, and either insane or criminally stupid or both; and the earth is supposed to be despoiled: don't fret, "It's God's will!"? Nope, doesn't work for me. Sounds like the worst kind of mind-numbing anti-depressant. I plan to continue accepting responsibility, and believing in better, and what the hell, why not . . . There was nothing I could do but vote Remain in the referendum, even though I knew we'd lost (and had to endure the irritation of my friends and family, solid "Remainers", not so much activist, telling me to shut up with the doom and gloom). What would I have done in the USA? Tough call. I'd have voted for Clinton, I suppose, but without any conviction (as the editorial in last week's New Scientist suggested "Vote for Clinton, even if you have to hold your nose"). But voting for any "political party candidate" in our present circs is voting for the cherry, does nothing to change the cake. All I know for sure is that any social justice society, any Good State, cannot be the shape of a pyramid. It has to be a Bell Curve: the poor and the rich both have to be outliers or else . . .

The image that keeps coming to me is of a storm at sea: what's best to do, if you're caught out there, facing a scale of challenge you never expected? You batten down the hatches. Take off all the sail you can, while still retaining some control of the boat, and head for the open sea. Stay away from the shore. Don't try to seek shelter, you'll get bashed to bits. You have a better chance of surviving on the deep waters, far from land.

So weather it, as they say, and accept no false comfort. Face the thing out.

But enough of this frivolity. That's the cover of my Tor novella again, to celebrate the fact that I just turned in the copyediting, and and here is a link to the cover memo I sent them. The less an author has to do with the cover the better, in my humble experience, but one shows willing. Warning: this memo may contain spoilers.

& I think I'm overdue for a fiction round-up.
I will be brief (mostly)

Movies first.

Under the Shadow. What I tweeted. Wonderfully acted and directed. It's about Iran, it's about women and war; and djinn, the people of the wind. Why, why, why didn't she cut and run? Because you don't. Because it was her daughter's childhood culture and how could she abandon that? Because that's what low intensity war does to you, and anyway, a great horror movie is entitled to press a few buttons? It's deep, rich, it's a brilliant scary movie. You must see it. Babak Anvari, Narges Rashidi, and one amazing little girl, Avin Manshadi.

Lo and Behold Werner Herzog, and various IT people (also some anti-IT people, but they were deluded and didn't really count except as a romantic backwoodsy touch); and featuring Elon Musk in a special guest appearence, explaining why we have to get a colony started on Mars "in case anything happens to planet Earth". A quirky, patchy treatment of the history of the Internet. I enjoyed this when I saw it, later decided I was underwhelmed. Very strange moment when a still of Tim Berners-Lee suddenly turned up, and then nothing more . . . Wow, I thought. Has he died?. No, the creator of the World Wide Web just, sort of, apparently, got left out. The internet scientists were exclusively male, giggly and cheeky as toddlers, and never displayed a single solitary sign of being grown up; or in touch with reality. The only non-civilian woman among the interviewees did not turn up until chapter 7, I think it was: to explain how the internet could be killed. It was nice to see her; it was Lucianne Walkowicz (later returning in another cameo, to demolish Elon Musk's big idea), but a pattern emerged!

Nocturnal Animals High production values, very watchable and entertaining trashploitation. This is Pop Art. No, I'm serious. There was this one shot, outside the abortion clinic, when she's being cuddled by her lover, and there, right outside the car window, is her husband (who happened to be passing. . .) The father of the child she destroyed: rain and tears pouring down his face . . . that screamed for Lichtenstein. Where did the other daughter, I mean the real one come from? How did the corpses manage to be so delectably clean and tidy? Do all men who go far in the fashion industry really, really hate women? Is it an occupational hazard? Not a big advert for gun control nb. Nocturnal Animals has everything, ghastly poor people, the whimpering cissy who finds manhood, the tough guy with lung cancer, and bitches, bitches, bitches. If you were moved and impressed by this movie you're going to love the Trump presidency.

Books . . . Tourism

Books and Tourism round up will wait for another day or two, because I have to get back to the maze of twisty passages all different, and all equally enticing, that is the Joanna Russ project.

Written listening to Ashkenazy playing the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues. I fell in love with this recording, and with the composer a few years ago, when Dimitri Shostakovich was on Gabriel's syllabus at Trinity. It was 1950, he was a desperate man, living under one of the darkest shadows in modern history; and he wrote this.