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Ben Jeapes is always entertaining

milfordsfwriters

Originally posted on Ben Jeapes’ blog

HM StarshipGo to the book’s home page

Slowly but surely His Majesty’s Starship approached completion … and approached it … and approached it. For a very long time indeed I was almost there, with just a couple of thousand words to go, and I simply wasn’t writing them. I self-diagnosed the problem, which was that I had a life and I was unwilling to lose it. The solution was to start getting up earlier, writing before going to work. It’s a habit I’ve kept.

Placing it with a publisher was quite atypically easy. Two friends from my writers group already shared an agent, Robert Kirby. Robert had been sufficiently tickled by their descriptions of the group to ask if he could have first refusal if any of the rest of us ever wrote a novel. I sent His Majesty’s Starship to him in August 1995…

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I enjoyed this, you might too

milfordsfwriters

Originally posted on Ben Jeapes’ blog on 10th December 2018

Like me, Babylon 5 was also on a mission to do right what Star Trek got wrong. Its key innovation was the story arc – the idea of an overall plot across the entire series that would take many episodes to unfold. Nowadays it’s almost unknown for a series not to have an arc. Babylon 5 gave us a universe of consequences – if a character broke a leg in one episode, they were on crutches in the next. In one episode a fighter pilot was killed and the closing shot was of Commander Sinclair composing a letter of condolence to the next of kin. Humans in Babylon 5 were a minority species, one among many, as opposed to the apartheid-like setup of Trek in which humans are clearly the minority yet equally clearly in charge of almost everything…

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via How (Not) to Write a Steampunk Novel by Gaie Sebold

I’ve never really got the hang of romantic love. Even in my teens and twenties, I wasn’t looking for someone to bring me flowers and gaze into my eyes, or someone to settle down with in a semi and have two point three children. I wanted someone to have my back in a fight, and stand beside me on the barricades. Not really surprising I never married, I guess.

Then again, some ideas of romance are just downright reprehensible. They were talking on the radio about the film Elvira Madigan, and since I’ve never seen it and knew nothing about it, I looked it up. In case you don’t know either, it’s about a young girl who works in a circus and an aristocratic older man who falls for her; they run away together, and finding no means of earning a living they agree to commit suicide. This is considered by many to be romantic.

Then I looked up the historical incidents on which it was based. The man apparently pursued the girl, writing her endless letters, threatening to kill himself if she didn’t go with him. He omitted to mention that he was married, or that he had frittered away all his money. In the end he persuaded her to go with him, and in the end he shot her and then himself. This is apparently also considered by some to be romantic.

The other day I had occasion similarly to look up a very well-regarded 19th century novel, Effi Briest. Young woman marries older man, has affair, husband and lover fight duel, lover dies, and young woman goes to pieces and dies young. Again, I looked up the “true story”. Not too far off – except the woman didn’t go to pieces and die young, she devoted herself to good works and died at an advanced age, full of honours. But that, of course, is not romantic, nor a fitting end for a faithless woman.

And I thought, there are far too many people who find women acceptable only when they are dead, and this is very distressing.

A poem I wrote many years ago:

Dantean Eyes

This is the splendour of Christ

To see each other as I see him –

angel in canvas shoes

Apollo with a fag in his mouth

a god walking

a fool and a violent man

a god walking

another woman’s lover

a god walking

a man at a factory bench

a god in a public bar:

to know his dull humanity, and still

to see in every turn of his head

every muscle in his arm

every line of his back

my lovely lad

a god walking

 

Marion Pitman  1985

 

I have a problem with politics. Well, lots of problems, obviously, but the one I’m thinking of is this – both sides, as it were, start from the premise of Big Business (not the Cold Comfort Farm bull, no). If you don’t work for the government, you are either a Boss, rolling in dosh, and employing many Workers; or you are a Worker, obliged to obey the Boss in order to eat. (Actually if you do work for the government it’s much the same, except the Boss is the government.) So self-employed small business people, sole traders, freelancers, hiring out their wares or skills, answerable to no Boss, but employing few or no Workers, simply don’t appear on the graph. We make the place look untidy, and should be done away with.

Since I cannot imagine myself at all comfortable as either Boss or Worker, I find it hard to support either side. I would like to think the Green Party would not regard me as merely a piece of annoying grit, but I’m not entirely confident. However, a party for People Who Don’t Want to be Told what To Do or Tell Anyone Else What to Do doesn’t sound very likely to hold together…

Source: Why everyone should be a science fiction fan, by Ben Jeapes