where have you been?

I’ve been to London, to visit the Queen!

Well, the British Library, anyway (so far). How tickled was I to find an exhibit on Science Fiction there to distract me from my research! “Out Of This World” includes a video loop of Margaret Atwood discussing eco-catastrophe in Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, but she’s not the only Canadian: Candas Jane Dorsey’s Machine Sex is part of the display too.

from the exhibit webpage, April 1928 cover for Amazing Stories (note lightning-bolt lashes!)

It’s an excellent exhibit, cleverly organized not by history or region but theme: aliens, time travel, futurity, disaster/survivalism, alternate history (a disturbing number of books imagine if Hitler had won!), cyberpunk.

I spent my time not at the draw-your-own-alien station (where a screen projected yours and others’ creations onto the wall), or on the interactive sci-fi predictions true-or-false quiz, but standing in front of draft manuscript pages by two of my faves, J. G. Ballard and Angela Carter. Ballard hand-corrected the you-know-what out of his typed ms, whereas Carter’s handwritten first draft could have been a transcribed copy of the published novel. Only little asterisks here and there, and an occasional margin note, suggested anything other than a perfectly linear thought-into-print process.

Back at my flat, up to my eyeteeth in my own revisions, I prefer to keep Ballard’s page in mind for inspiration, thankyouverymuch. Mind you, while I’m imagining dead authors’ lives, I imagine Ballard probably handed the mussed-up pages to his secretary or his girlfriend for typing, while Carter probably had to type up every flawless page for herself. And I imagine both of them fantasized about word processors at some point or another.

How’s that for futurism?

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