1984It just occurred to me that when I first read George Orwell’s 1984, it all seemed so far in the future. From memory, I think it was in 1969 that I first read the book, and those fifteen years made all the difference to the sense of believability. At the time, Big Brother was certainly a concept that was a possibility due to the threat that we all in the West were told came from the evils of communism. The Iron Curtain stood fast and still held its fear.

As I now look at my calendar now, I can’t help but notice that 2011 is almost upon us. Am I becoming dyslexic? In the same year as I read 1984 I saw 2001. Surely it must be 2001 A Space Odyssey next year. After all, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke wrote science fiction. Like, you know, future stuff. Am I in the future already? Zipped past all these guys at the speed of light?

What is the past tense of science fiction?

To make sure I don’t fall into the trap that Orwell, Kubrick and Clarke fell into, I have made firm rules about my own science fiction writing. These technical rules will hopefully save me from becoming outdated so quickly as happened to these three unfortunates. Firstly I set my time scale a little further forward than these guys. About two million years in fact. In this way at the very least, the copyright will still be valid before the book is dated.

Secondly, I don’t use a musical score with my books. This is a sure fire way to date a sci-fi story. Once the song gets into a ‘Top Hits of the 90s’ album, you’re dead and buried. And lastly I would never allow David Bowie to use any of my material. ‘A Space Oddity’ and silly little Major Tom just ruined the whole 2001 mystique.

That does remind me of a song though. In The Year 2525………

3 thoughts on “1984”

  1. Eric Satchwill

    What's interesting is that it was not even a year ago that I finally -did- read 1984. Being able to divorce the theme from the artificial time line made it still terribly relevant I think. I suppose it depends on what we're trying to get out of a particular science fiction/speculative fiction piece.

  2. The best thing about 1984? It's one book which has the ability to divide literature professors from the rest of the world, and I don't even have to try to get them annoyed – their claims that it is most emphatically not SF is one of the funniest examples of the book snobbery inherent in "serious" literary studies.

    And it is SF. Gloriously, wonderfully, terrifying SF at its' best.

  3. Akhen1khan2 aka Jack Eason

    I absolutely loved "1984" when I first read it Derek. Its funny how we now have a version of "Big Brother" here in the UK – "Surveillance Cameras", they're everywhere these days! :)

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