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Pale Shadow of Science

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Pale Shadow of Science
Brian Aldiss

Two of Aldiss’ essay collections from the mid-1980s in one volume.In this warm, chatty, opinionated collection of essays, Brian Aldiss tells the reader a bit about his youth, holds forth on the position of science fiction within the literary and scientific worlds and reveals some of the processes at work in his own writing.This volume also includes the companion collection …And the Lurid Glare of the Comet.

The Pale Shadow of Science

BY BRIAN ALDISS

Contents

Title Page (#u22aeb97b-2FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

Introductory Note

Introductory Note to The Lurid Glare of the Comet

Preparation for What?

Long Cut to Burma

Old Bessie

Science Fiction’s Mother Figure

The Immanent Will Returns

The Downward Journey: Orwell’s 1984

A Whole New Can of Worms

Peep

A Transatlantic Harrison, Yippee!

The Atheist’s Tragedy Revisited

The Pale Shadow of Science

A Monster for All Seasons

Helliconia: How and Why

Bold Towers, Shadowed Streets …

… And the Lurid Glare of the Comet

When the Future Had to Stop

What Happens Next?

Grounded in Stellar Art

It Takes Two to Tango

Robert Sheckley’s World: Australia

Sturgeon: Mercury Plus X

The Glass Forest

About the Author

Also available by the author

Also part of The Brian Aldiss Collection

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher

Introductory Note (#u22aeb97b-3FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

This book preserves a few of the many articles and reviews I have written over the last few years. My passport describes me as ‘Writer and Critic,’ because a fair proportion of my writing has always been non-fiction. Non-fiction has a role to play in an author’s life. It is to fiction what target practice is to a soldier: it keeps his eye in in preparation for the real thing.

For the record, these are the various places where the pieces originally appeared.

‘Preparation for What?’ in TheFictionMagazine, 1983; ‘Long Cut to Burma’ (as ‘Drawn Towards Burma’) in TheFictionMagazine, 1982, here revised; ‘Old Bessie’ first told at a Halloween party in Chris Priest’s house in Harrow, October 1984.

‘Science Fiction’s Mother Figure’ (as ‘Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’) in ScienceFictionWriters, edited by E.F. Bleiler, Simon & Schuster, 1981; ‘The Immanent Will Returns’ (as ‘Olaf Stapledon’) in the TimesLiterarySupplement, 1983; ‘The Downward Journey’ in Extrapolation, 1984; ‘A Whole New Can of Worms’ originated in a speech delivered at the City Lit on 9 January 1982, later published in Foundation, 1982; ‘Peep’ formed the Introduction to James Blish’s QuincunxofTime, published by Avon Books, 1983; ‘A Transatlantic Harrison, Yippee!’ was printed in the programme book for Novacon 12, held in Birmingham, England in 1982.

‘The Atheist’s Tragedy Revisited’ is a new piece. ‘The Pale Shadow of Science’ was delivered as a talk to the British Association for the Advancement of Science during their annual meeting at Norwich, 11 September 1984, and an abridged edition was published in TheGuardian newspaper, 13 September 1984; ‘A Monster for All Seasons’ in ScienceFictionDialogues, edited by Gary Wolfe, Academy Press, 1982; ‘Helliconia: How and Why’ has not yet been published anywhere.

My thanks go to the committee of Norwescon 8, to all my friends attending that illustrious event, and in particular to Jerry Kaufman, Donald G. Keller, and Serconia Press.

Thisvolumeisdividedintothreesections, autobiographical, followedbyarticlesonindividualwriters, andarticlesonmoregeneralaspectsofsciencefiction.

Thissectionisthemostfun. Hereareafewoftheexperienceswhichwenttoshapemeasawriter. AnAmericanaudiencewillsurelyfindthemverystrange, especiallywhentheycometothepieceaboutthehauntedhouseinwhichmyfamilyoncelived.

ThesepieceshavebeenpublishedhereandthereinEngland. TheyareanapproachtowardsanautobiographywhichIintendonedaytowrite …onceIhavesetafewmorepressingnovelsdownonpaper.

Introductory Note to The Lurid Glare of the Comet (#u22aeb97b-3FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

The idea of this book is to preserve some of the articles I have written over recent years which may be of more than ephemeral interest. It follows on from my earlier Serconia Press book, ThePaleShadowofScience, and is the mixture as before. Except.

Except that here I include a brief autobiography, presenting it to my readers with some trepidation. Gale Research Books in Detroit have begun a rather astonishing series of volumes, entitled ContemporaryAuthors–AutobiographySeries. Gale sent me a copy of Volume I, asking me if I would write for Volume 2. Writers are allowed to have photographs of their choice to accompany the text. It all looks amateur and artless, but from it a reader can learn a great deal about that ever-mysterious subject, other people’s lives. I decided to have a go at Volume 2.

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to be truthful about oneself. I did my best. The exercise opened up a new area of writing. Gale limits its writers to a certain number of words. In the greatly revised sketch, here presented as ‘The Glass Forest,’ the thing has grown almost half as long again. My trepidation is, in consequence, almost half as great again.

Incidentally, it is worth anyone’s while looking up the Gale books in their library. The first volume contains autobiographical sketches by Marge Piercy, Richard Condon, Stanislaw Lem, and Frederik Pohl, among other familiar names, the second Poul Anderson, James Gunn, and Alan Sillitoe.

‘The Glass Forest’ is the piècederesistance on this menu; but I hope that the other courses will also please. As before, science fiction and writing rub shoulders with travel, history, and other arts.

My thanks go as ever to the stalwarts of Serconia Press and to Marshall B. Tymn, President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, in connection with that august event, the Seventh Conference of the IAFA in Houston, Texas on 12-16 March 1986, which I was privileged to attend as Guest of Honour.

B.W.A.

Preparation for What? (#u22aeb97b-3FFF-11e9-9e03-0cc47a520474)

There should have been a law against the preparatory school I went to. Later, there was a law, and places like St Paul’s Court no longer exist. In the thirties, there must have been many of them dotting the country, little plague spots of pretention and ignorance.

I was sent there at the age of eight.

‘Be brave,’ my mother said. It was easier to be brave the first term than succeeding terms, when one knew what one was in for.

At the best of times, St Paul’s managed twenty pupils, twelve of whom were boarders. It was the headmaster’s resolve to turn us into gentlemen: that much was clearly stated in the brochure. Of course we all turned into scoundrels. The parents were mainly tradesmen in a modest way of business who wanted their sons to grow up to despise them.

My father was irked to discover, after a year or two, that he was the only parent who was paying the full fees demanded in the brochure. I kept this revelation secret, knowing that the boys – whose sense could not be entirely beaten out of them – would despise him if they found out.

St Paul’s was a large brick building which stood out starkly against the flat Norfolk coastline. Beach and sea lay just outside the back gate. The house was surrounded with sharp shingle, as if it had been caught by a high tide. To one side lay a large games field. In one corner of this field, behind a line of old apple trees, boarders were allowed to keep little gardens. One thing at least I learned to love at St Paul’s: gardening. It was almost a necessity.
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