Mister Maestro

“…I’m someone stupid just like you”  (MM)

Last week in Waterstones, I asked for a bit of paper to write down book titles and they gave me a blank till print out, probably thinking I was going to go off and buy the books on Kindle or Amazon or something.  Actually, it was a wish list so imagine my delight when, on Saturday, I found Alastair Reynolds’ new book, Blue Remembered Earth, in my local library.  The library is, I hasten to add, utterly awful.  The sci fi section is tired and old and gets smaller every week.  It never has part one of any trilogy.  Or it’ll have part one and three but never two.  I can never find anything to read and when I get there, I usually want to leave at once because the heat bakes inside unopened windows and the tramps fill up the place with stink and drool and snores.  Who the fuck wants to browse in those conditions!  So I was practically beside myself when I actually found a book to read.

I first read Alastair Reynolds as a proof when I was working for Books Etc.  It was his very first book, Revelation Space, and it almost didn’t matter what it was about because it’s probably the best sci fi title ever and I never thought of it!  His career is a source of great envy to me – he’s done everything I wish I had done.  Got his astronomy PhD, worked for ESA, writes shit-hot sci fi and is called “maestro.”  And he lives in bloody Wales, probably the only place in the UK where it actually rains anymore.  I mean, what more could you want in life.  I should add here that my own astronomy degree was abandoned due to lack of brains, support, finances and the advent of a baby.  So there isn’t a single drop of science in my science fiction, which makes it something else probably.  (Metaphysical crap?)  I only know about immortality and it isn’t the sort that interests anyone else, but since it’s the only card I’ve got, I play it and play it and play it and perhaps someday I’ll change the world….but I digress.

Mr Reynolds writes the sort of sci fi that the boys like – lots of machines, ships, space stuff, phenomenal futures, genetic engineering, machine-in-head stuff….absolutely everything that I don’t actually like, don’t agree with and makes me want to tear my hair out with despair at the limited banality of it all.  But he saves the day by actually writing well, by producing characters that are interesting and believable and by, frankly, really knowing his stuff – or at least, he seems to.  He’s convincing and can spin a good tale.  He writes about a million times better than I do and is in my mind practically the god of sci fi in the UK.

Can’t tell you much about the book yet – I’ve barely begun and it’s moving quite slowly but I can tell you so far that it’s not a future-Earth that I’ve come across before.  In other words, on top of being brilliant in everything else, he’s also original.  I should hate this guy but, golly, sometimes you just have to enjoy what you read and forget about yourself and your hang-ups and self-annihilating life.


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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