Saturday, May 23, 2009
This past week I have been mostly commuting to Kingston University, to give a four-day intensive workshop on writing science fiction and fantasy (kudos to Adam, Chloe, Gary, Ian, Loraine, Luke, Melanie and Ruth for their patience and enthusiasm; tip of the hat to Steve Jones for his motivational talk), and reading the proofs of the paperback reissue of Red Dust, due out in September. I wrote it in 1992. I'd been in St Andrews for almost three years. I'd moved out of the bleak university flat to a cottage on a hilltop overlooking the Eden Estuary, and I was insanely busy with research and teaching. As I remember it, the bulk of the writing was done over one summer, working for an hour or two every evening at a big desk in a big study with the windows boarded up; the builders who'd been putting in replacement windows had made a mistake measuring up the ones for the study, and it took a while to get new ones made. It's a fast-paced manga-style story of a revolution on a terraformed Mars that's slowly dying, and dominated by a capitalist version of mainland Chinese culture. All kinds of stuff went into its making: Elvis and his movies, westerns, yak lore, weird ecologies, totipotent viruses that unpacked memories and posthuman abilities into those they infected. Those viruses would reappear in Fairyland, but first I had to write Pasquale's Angel, which I'm just about to start proofing.