An open letter to Brian Aldiss, by David Wingrove (containing a mention of a new novel!). More from David to come tomorrow…
It’s been a strange couple of weeks, keeping our back door to the garden closed, in fear of an
escaped murderer who broke out of Pentonville. There’s been a lot of helicopter activity and they
haven’t yet found the escapee… mind, on one occasion he got out, he stayed out for four years!
Sue’s been busy putting the finishing touches to the first draft of her latest Coronation Street script
– perhaps the best she’s done yet of the six. The first one she did is airing Sunday week – the ninth
of July – the same day as my sister Rose will be having her 60th birthday party up in Leicester. And
I should imagine we’ll be there. We’ve already seen a DVD of the first, which Sue, I and the girls
watched with the aid of a bottle of celebratory bubbly.
Oh, and I disgraced myself somewhat last night – after an evening out with my good friend Ritchie
– when I drunkenly fell asleep on the tube and woke up at Blackhorse Road, too late to get a tube
back further than Seven Sisters – meaning I had to get a bus to the Angel and then another to here. I
finally got home at one in the morning, feeling totally exhausted.
I’ve also started on a new novel – science fiction but with an erotic twist. I’m over 8000 words in
and aim to get 3 to 4 thousand words done a day over the next few weeks. It’s half sketched out in
synopsis, but no one’s going to see it until it’s written – and then rewritten. But I’m having a lot of
fun working on it. Much as, I believe, you enjoyed working on the wonderful Horatio Stubbs books.
My youngest, Francesca, was up your way on Wednesday, looking at the Oxford colleges to see
which of them she wants to apply to. She’s come back dead set on becoming an anthropologist
– with a minor in archaeology. She’s bright enough to get in, and it’d be great if she did. It’d be
another excuse to come up to Oxford. I was telling her last night about house-sitting for you and
Margaret back in 1980 or was it 81? It was the house in Morton Road, anyway, with Will and Sue
Boyd a few doors up. What a wonderful summer that was, the longest – six weeks – I’ve spent in
Oxford. And I recall reading all your old Thomas Hardy editions, including several I didn’t know –
until then – existed, like THE WELL-BELOVED. What a strange and marvellous book that is.
Right now I am finally reading LAST AND FIRST MEN, and smiling ruefully at how wrong Stapledon
got the hundred years or so after the date he wrote it in (1930) and yet how prescient it was of him
to have America and China as the two conflicting empires in his work of fiction. You know what I
think of that scenario. Of how I think the sun is setting on the American empire even as it’s rising in
And talking of China, how apt it now seems for the first woman to step on the moon to be, in all
likelihood, Chinese. And, I’m sure, on Mars too. As I’ve said in other blogs, it feels like we in the West
are losing our inheritance, and once lost – especially to the authoritarian Chinese – it’s going to be
very hard to get back.
Enclosed, with thanks for your kind thought in sending me a copy, is an un-creased edition of the
Chinese-language TRILLION YEAR SPREE. I got five copies in all – three from the publisher, one from
you and one from Curtis Brown, so… And I am so proud of this edition. A new generation of Chinese
SF fans will be able to read it now, and hopefully that’ll open a lot of doors. That is, they’ll want to
read all of that marvellous stuff we mention and critique.
In view of the fact that I’ve let this slide for a couple of weeks, I should perhaps add that we
eventually decided on throwing a party for Sue’s first episode – on the Saturday before it was
transmitted. A lot of people made it, even though we were very late in the day in telling them about
the celebration. Fifty or sixty turned up and we had a wonderful time until the early hours of the
morning – we were still ejecting people at half four!
The next day, totally hung over, I went up to Leicester (with Sue) to celebrate my sister’s 60 th, which
was really pleasant. What was so lovely was that her kids (four of whom were adopted) organised
and threw the party for her – a party which was her first in her whole life. It was a shame her
husband Bob couldn’t have been there. He died a few years ago now, but he would have loved the
I’m still plugging away on my erotic SF novel, and hope to have something ready for my agents by
next weekend. Sue, meanwhile, is keeping busy. She’s been giving her first hour long episode – in
effect two back-to-back episodes – and starts on that today. She’s got four days to write it, but then
that’s what she’s good at.
Since I began this letter, Georgia (22) and Francesca (17) have flown out to California, to stay with
Georgia’s girlfriend, Georgette and her family, on Mulholland Drive in LA. I miss them both, but it’s
great that they’re getting this experience. Francesca is back after 10 days, Georgia is staying on for a
further two months before she resumes University in September.
Okay. More news in a week or two. Write and let me know how you are. And I’m delighted that
walking cane is now coming in handy. Did you know, I spent almost two hours choosing that one.
Working my way through their back-room stock until I found it – “There, that one…”
Take care, keep writing and, as ever