Friday, March 09, 2007

As I was saying . . .

If only I was one of those writers who produce a book every two years - or even less frequently. Right now, I’d be celebrating the publication of Players by taking an extended holiday after having been wafted round an extensive signing tour. Or something. Instead, I’m caught up in a first draft hurtling towards its conclusion, and I’ve just received the copy-edited manuscript of Cowboy Angels, which I have to get back to the publishers so they can get bound proofs ready for the London Book Fair, in the middle of the next month. Busy, busy, busy . . .

On Tuesday, I went up to Leicester to debate with the inestimable Ian Watson whether or not we’re headed for a utopian or dystopian future, in front of a ferociously intelligent and well-informed audience. I travelled by train out of St Pancras, the first time I’ve been there in a few years. In November, it will open fully as the new Eurostar terminal, and from the Midland Mainline platforms you can get a wonderful view of William Henry Barlow’s trainshed roof, the ironwork painted sky blue and the glass sparklingly clean. This, and the huge engineering works to create a new line to the Channel Tunnel, has been progressing more or less invisibly under Londoner’s feet, and is right on schedule. I’m looking forward to being able to take a fifteen minute stroll from my home down to St Pancras where I can catch a train and be whisked to Paris is less than two hours. Now that’s progress.

Just out this week is Future Weapons of War, an anthology edited by Joe Haldeman and Martin Greenburg which features a story of mine. It’s published by Baen Books, famous for their military SF; I haven’t yet seen a copy, but I would guess that the likes of Greg Benford and Kristine Kathryn Rusch may have come up with some neat twists on the eponymous theme.
My story, ‘Rocket Boy’, starts like this:

Rocket Boy lived under the knot of ferroconcrete ribbons where the road from the spaceport joined the beltway that girdled the city. He’d made a kind of nest in a high ledge beneath the slope of an on-ramp, and although traffic rumbled overhead day and night, it was as cozy and safe as anywhere on the street because it could be reached only by squeezing through a kind of picket fence of squat, close-set columns. Even so, Rocket Boy clutched a knife improvised from the neck of a broken bottle while he slept in his nest of packing excelsior, charity blankets and cardboard. The first lesson he’d learned on the street was that you needed to carry a weapon with you at all times.
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