The State of the Project

I’ve failed in two ways, and then again, not at all. I have not read or watched as much as I had hoped – after a fertile January of reading marking ground me to a crawl – and I have written nothing of what I have done here. In part that is because of the Bastid Modem, which refuses to communicate with certain URLs, WordPress being several of them. As I am likely to be doing more work in libraries and a big evil multinational coffee shop that has free wifi, this may well change.

At the end of April, I have a study leave which I am going to dovetail into the Summer, and I will be reading and watching as if it has gone out of fashion. Dave’s bed in the middle room is acting as a library, with piles of 1970s papebracks in alphabetical order, and I’ve compiled a list of shortlisted novels based or the Hugos and Nebulas (BSFA Awards may yet be added). This is a long list – and what is shocking but not surprising is how much by women is not on this list. I am torn between the important (the short listed) and the significant (that by women), or possibly the other way round.

In part the head ache is caused by the notions of cultural history, which in new historicist terms would be based on accounts from the margins – which is arguably all of sf – or in terms of history from below is the marginalised voices of women, non-whites, gays, the working class etc. Obviously any account of 1970s sf that doesn’t include Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind is going to a be a little askew, and indeed not very useful. I can’t tell the story by simply looking at (what I consider to be) the subversive. The trick is working out where all the pieces fit.

Meanwhile, happenstance and luck plays its part along with skill. I remembered a story featuring Paddington Bear in one of the Blue Peter annuals, and this will be central to one of chapters I’ve plotted, for reasons which do not need exploring at this juncture. Of course, I had the first twenty of the Blue Peter annuals until it was patiently explained to me that I no longer needed these. A visit to a local secondhand book shop yielded a Paddington Bear Blue Peter Story Book, including said story, but the completist in me led me to seek out a copy of the actual annual. Successful at this hunt, I now need to look for several more to deal with Bleep and Booster, which I don’t actually recall seeing or reading, although I knew of their existence.

Today I’ve seen the last of the Planet of the Apes movies, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (J. Lee Thompson, 1974), a couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica and read Tau Zero. More Anderson on the pile for tomorrow. I will write about some of the foregoing.

My current word count is 26,000 words, good news if my total is 100,000, even better if it's 80,000 (I must check).


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