Ken MacLeod's comments.
The title comes from two quotes:
“Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”—Alasdair Gray.
“If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.”—Graydon Saunders
Organisers Laurie Mann and Erin Underwood kindly included my wife Carol in the con's hospitality, and did a great job of organising our travel. Laurie Mann and Geri Sullivan gave us a warm welcome on arrival, and sent us up 15 storeys to a splendid room in the fine Westin Waterfront hotel. The view of Boston's skyscraper skyline was like a double-page spread in National Geographic, which my own photography quite failed to capture.
We had a great time at Boskone, and in Boston, one of our favourite cities. The experience rekindled my affection for SF fandom, and for America. I can't do justice to it all. I met lots of old friends, made some new ones, and enjoyed my own events and those I went to. The program was packed, and the social life of the con buzzed.
Special thanks to Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who took us out to dinner at Legal Seafoods with Jo Walton and Ada Palmer. Charles Stross interviewed me with great aplomb. The Hal Clement Science Speaker, Milton J. Davis, was remarkably gracious about a kaffeeklatch cataclysm that was entirely my fault, and favoured me with a wide-ranging conversation into the bargain.
I prepared for my final panel, on Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, with a hasty e-book purchase and a re-read that continued on the plane to Boston. This gave rise to the accidentally lyrical question that popped up in my inbox from Amazon's algorithm, and hence my title. The eponymous oviparous princess herself, and a striking John Carter, featured in the work of the con's Official Artist, Dave Seeley, as a kick-ass heroine. I'd give her a lot of stars.
The second novel, and/or the first two, of my space opera trilogy have had some good reviews by well-respected reviewers: from Stuart Kelly in the Scotsman; from Joe Gordon at Forbidden Planet; and from Paul Di Filippo in Locus.
Yesterday morning I finished a long short story for an interesting project I've been collaborating in: imagining and designing Heijplaat, a small community in Rotterdam, seventy years from now. I started work on this more or less as I finished writing Emergence, so this is the first time in a couple of years in which I haven't a deadline to meet.
What I've not been doing lately is blogging. The last time I put any effort into blogging and tweeting was in 2014, around the Scottish independence referendum. The time and effort would have been better spent on researching, outlining, planning and above all writing The Corporation Wars, for which I already had a contract. The two years since the end of 2014 have been a bit of a slog.
In the wider world it's been a rocky couple of years, 2016 in particular. I've refrained from commenting on events because I didn't want to get into arguments that would take up too much of my time.
But of course, getting into arguments is a choice. I could just write opinionated screeds and not bother to defend them. This works for actual columnists, after all.
The second book of my robot-revolt-in-space trilogy, The Corporation Wars: Insurgence is now available from Orbit, Amazon UK / US, and all good booksellers including Transreal Fiction, from which you can order signed and (if you like) personalised copies. Thanks to all who've already ordered -- I had an encouragingly high stack to deal with this afternoon.
Edinburgh SF axis. Charlie Stross somewhere in town, Iain Banks in North Queensferry, Ken MacLeod in South Queensferry. All very interested in culture and politics to differing degrees. Ken McLeod is the most outwardly political of the three, as a writer, being an old Trot. He's been playing with different genre models of late, and, in this first book of a trilogy, I wonder if he hasn't decided to try and play a more commercial game.
No more old political forms in this one. Brilliantly, he sets up a world war between Accelerationism and Neoreaction. He starts it in the near future and projects it into the far future and tangles it up with artificial conscious intelligence and a kind of Permanent Late Capitalism and it feels right up to the minute. He's hit the main vein of conversation about locks on artificial intelligence and living in simulations and exoplanetary exploitation and drone warfare and wraps it all into a remarkably human, funny and smartly-designed yarn.
It is, in fact, a king-hell commercial entertainment. It's not a small book, but it rips along on rockets - and makes you feel bad for a guy called Carlos The Terrorist into the bargain. And, yes, it is about politics, framed in a way that is science fictional in that it also speaks to the science-fictional condition we currently live in where such things actually exist as part of the fabric of our slightly insane world. If that makes any sense. Anyway. It's smart and very Edinburgh SF Axis and you will probably like it if you're in the mood for science fiction.
What more can I say? Be there or be square, that's what.