Saturday, May 20, 2006

Time Capsule

Saturday 20 May 2006

My next project is going to be a new edition of THE SHIFT, the short science fiction novel (about 60,000 words, making a book of 215 pages, as embodied by the first edition), and, since I have no computer files for this, I am inputting the text by hand.

Word by word.

The book was first published in 1986 so I figure I probably wrote it in 1984 or 1985.

The blurb says, in part:

"As events go from bizarre to weird, a galaxy of marvellous characters is propelled toward a cataclysmic finale in this gloriously zany romp."

For my part, I believe that the book deserved a better reception than it got, which was, for the most part, a stony silence, and I am keen for the book to get a second shot at literary life.

Opening the book is like opening a time capsule into which various artefacts from the 1980s were deposited.

I was a little surprised by an early passage which says:

"As their snark flew north, some desert dissidents based near I-n-Tilelt fired on them fired on them with an antiquated surface-to-air missile, but missed. They made the airfield at Gao, transferred to the transit and blasted off, on their way to Capri."

We are located in Africa, in a world in which the terrorists have weapons and are happy to use them.

Reading this early section, I recalled that, later in the book, one of the characters stirs up the wrath of the Islamic world, and I wondered where that came from.

1986 was then, and this is now, two decades later, and the world changed in the interim -- didn't it?

Where did that "Islamic wrath" idea come from? From the Rushdie affair?

I checked.

Salman Rushdie hit big time trouble after publishing a book called THE SATANIC VERSES in 1988. In the following year, an ayatollah in Iran ruled that Rushdie should be put to death.

As far as my memory of my life goes, the Rushdie affair was the first time that Islam came leaping into the headlines. But there must have been inputs into this situation before then.


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