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That Tuition Fee Scam, Links roundup

Friday 26th November, a cold dry day, frost on the roofs, ice on the pools. Frosty nights, Orion clear and bright framed in the long window on the landing, the stars of the sword sadly faint, betelgeuse an orange spark; and in the dark before dawn, Venus a dab of brilliant green glitter in the south east. Maybe it'll snow down here tomorrow...

That tuition fees scam. Correction, the students aren't protesting and their teachers aren't supporting them because the students are resentful of a price hike that's part of the country's much needed austerity drive. Many of those out on the streets are out there in despair, having good reason to fear they never mind those who come after them will never be paying the massively increased fees: since their earnings will never reach the £21,000 p.a. threshold. They will be in debt for life, effectively indentured to the State. The protest is against the Government's cunning plan (following in New Labour's footsteps, let it be said) to use Higher Education as a source of direct revenue. The increased fees are meant to finance more university places, the irrational goal is to have, at the least, around 50% of all eighteen year olds absorbed by perfectly useless "degree courses" in what will still be called "Higher Education"; while at the same time funding and staffing cuts make it completely impossible for the universities to provide goods fit for purpose, in teaching and knowledge resources.

It doesn't make sense. Seed corn must not be ground. But it's Capitalism's most evil dream come true. More and more customers, higher and higher prices, less and less value. That Nice Mr Cameron should be happy, and why not? The window-breaking will pass, the poor children will have to stop crying and eat their cold porridge, which is as it should be. But That Nice Mr Clegg is a marvel, isn't he. He ought to be in pictures. Something by Hogarth, I think. The Liberal's Progress, what d'you think?

Oh, excuse me, of course the elite will be fine (students and institutions both) because they are rich to start with. I shouldn't forget to mention that.

The photo is one I took in Paris, November 2003, the now-legendary Anti-Pub action. It seemed to fit the bill better than a police kettle and window-breakers montage.

Links round up:
Al Robertson ("Golden") reprises Wm Gibson's Gernsback Continuum, with the wry 21st century twist that visions of a shiny perfect future that never happened bring hope and longing rather than disquiet. Somebody's messing around wickedly with a rockstar's most personal intellectual property, in the P K Dick continuum revisited by Chris Butler ("Have Guitar, Will Travel"). A feisty and well-connected heroine, in a far future space opera setting not a billion light years from Mr Ian M. Banks's Culture, has adventures on the edge of time and space (Lavie Tidhar, "Lode Stars"). . . The one I liked best (it's still lingering in my mind right now) was the more contemporary-feeling "Dolls", (Colin P.Davis),somewhere in Fred Pohl territory, and as a bonus there's a whimsical miniature from Tanith Lee. Respect for the traditions of genre, uniformly solid writing and a refreshingly international feel, what more could you ask? Cunningly placed for Christmas shoppers, The Immersion Book of SF bodes well for Carmelo Rafala's Brighton based Immersion Press.

I hadn't heard from Mute Magazine for quite a while (original home of a very dirty, Swiftian story of mine, I Am An Anarchist, warning this is not pleasant material). Have they just found me again, or are the art and culture radical zineists having a growth spurt? Anyway, check them out. There seems to be a lot going on & I wish I could make it to the launch of No Room To Move. I'm very interested in public art at the moment.

Last but not least, don't forget From-Bar-to-Bar. Still running the most innovative and daring sf/related interviews on the planet. Charles Stross and Jeff Vandermeer are two of the victims to look out for.

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