« I Never Liked Tintin | Main | Pirate Freedom »

February 29, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I've been thinking about the history-diversion thing since I read the book. One point that's occurred to me is that the plot relies on the US administration being competent - they sorted out Iraq, they sorted out Iran, they sorted out the rogue nuke problem (without which the plot would have been much messier)... Maybe MacLeod didn't think his readers would buy, even in a sci-fi novel, the idea that the Shrub Administration was capable of all that.

Come to think of it, MacLeod's guest of honour at a con I'm going to next week. Maybe I'll just ask him what the point was.

If you do, please let me know what he says! I didn't dislike the diversion per se (I was even sort of pleased at having my assumptions body-checked mid-book), but I didn't find it really necessary either, and as I said above, the Naderesque idea that any government would have ended up using exactly the same tactics bugged me. Maybe I'm just naive!

The idea of competence necessitating the diversion made me laugh aloud. Good point!

Well, I asked him.

If I understand his answer correctly, the idea of setting it in an alternate future was a kind of distancing mechanism, to get around some of the problems of writing near-future SF. (For instance: how much real-world detail do you put in? If you don't put any, the fictional world doesn't come alive; if you do, you risk being overtaken by events - but an alternate future can't be overtaken by real events, because it's travelling a different road.)

He wasn't trying to make any kind of point about Gore; it was just that, once he started looking for a point of historical divergence, the 2000 election presented itself as an obvious candidate, and then the already-settled plot required American history to proceed in a familiar fashion from that point. In real life, he says, he's certain things would have been very different if Gore had won, but he figured it was a reasonable thing to ask people to accept for the sake of the story.

Two other things he points about the book that might interest you:

1. The bit about the Korean leadership was indeed intentionally funny, and that chapter was one of his favorite parts of the book to write.

2. He said in the career-summary part of his Guest of Honour speech that the book was carefully seeded with subtle hints about the origin and destiny of the Execution Channel that were supposed to come together in a satisfying way in the mind of the reader, but apparently he was too subtle because as far as he knows nobody has ever got it. (I should clarify that he said this in a "well, I goofed" way, not a "you're all stupid" way.) He didn't tell us what the hints would have added up to, and it didn't seem right to ask.

Very interesting, and thanks for reporting back!

I'm glad he didn't explain the Execution Channel elements in his speech - I will probably reread the book and will have a fun time looking for the clues and trying to figure it out.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)