Letters to Craig Murray #7

Letter #7 Delivered 28 Sep 21

Hi Craig,

It’s a shame that books sent from Amazon aren’t making it through. I was wondering what I’d write about this week, as I wanted to steer clear of politics, and somehow the week concluded with a few bookish things.

Your letter reminded me of how I came to read Accelerando in the first place. Tim Bray, a prolific software engineer with lots of interesting things to say on his blog, had enjoyed Stross’s ‘Iron Sunrise’, so I grabbed a copy for myself, and also loved it. It’s one of those books that should be part of a series, but sadly Charlie made some rookie mistakes that painted him into a corner that prevented much continuation. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I started eagerly diving into his other work, which brought me to Accelerando. A few years later I got to meet Tim for a pint in London, and asked him what he thought of it. ‘I gave up after about 150 pages’, he said, ‘too slow’. He stopped just before it got good. That book is a rollercoaster. Yes, there’s the boring bit at the start where it’s just clicking up the ramp to gain potential energy. But after that… wheee… So if the copy I sent does arrive, and you do choose to read it, I hope you can persevere through the intro sections.

I also got a pre-review copy of my friend Anne Currie’s ‘Heliotrope’, which it the sixth in her ‘Panopticon’ series set in a post climate breakdown world where ubiquitous surveillance is used for communal good. Since I’m only half way through the fourth book this is just the prod that I need to spend less time on Twitter and more time reading proper stuff. So I think I’m about to have something of a social media holiday. Also Charlie’s ‘Invisible Sun’ is out next week, which closes his ‘Empire Games’ series, which has been a lot of fun.

The topic of communal good also came up in the context of energy supply problems and panic buying fuel shortages. My friends with electric cars, solar panels, and battery storage systems are all being rather smug at the moment for getting ahead of the problems. I recall people telling me ‘I don’t care about the economy, we just need to take back control’ on the eve of the 2016 referendum. It’s why I think we should say ‘our collective welfare’ rather than ‘economy’. It’s much harder to say ‘I don’t care about our collective welfare..’ and not sound like a selfish fool. For most people ‘the economy’ is a ‘them’ problem, whilst ‘our collective welfare’ is more clearly an ‘us’ problem.

Stay well,

Your aye,

Highlights of Craig’s reply

I would like to be one of the smug ones, with 14 commercial size solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall, but in practice in Scotland production is negligible for 4 months November through February.

You seem a very dedicated Sci-Fi reader. Somebody has sent me Azimov’s Foundation Trilogy, which I read almost 50 years ago. It got through to me somehow.

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