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Genre Greats:
A Report On Probability AI:
The Brian Aldiss Connection
by Andrew Darlington
Brian Aldiss
Too smart, too quick, and too many

"I was hardly fit for human society. Thus destiny shaped me to be a science fiction writer"
- Brian Aldiss, in THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE: MY LIFE AS AN ENGLISHMAN (1998)

"This must all be written down quickly while I have the chance. Let me see how it began..."
Yes, we're sitting in the beer-garden of the Hobgoblin, off St Aldate's, Oxford. Brian Aldiss insists on buying the drinks. He wears a Bar Harbour pale check shirt, and he drinks red wine. We've been talking about the International Space Station, now in orbiting construction somewhere 1,000 miles above our heads, and he has just called it a "waste of resources." Surely - as a science fiction writer, he must approve of the project, at least in principle? He looks into his glass. Then up again. "Why don't they take all that money, and..." we wait, 'and what? And what?' surely not 'build a hospital' or 'feed the developing world?' This, after all - is Brian Aldiss, the human phenomenon responsible for the most visionary future-fiction of the last half-century. He resumes after only the slightest of tensioning pauses, "why don't they take all that money, and build a bloody great Buck Rogers spaceship and just - go to Mars?" Phew. Right. That's Aldiss, ahead of the game. Still. But there are some who say, not outer space, but a 'Silicon Valley' artificial intelligence is the next great frontier. Some argue it's here already. With microelectronic quantum-evolution and nano-systems advancing in giga-jolts, cybernetic self-awareness is already a nightmare coming to your neighbourhood soon! But of course - fiction and movies have already been there, seen it, and done it.
   Self-awareness is the ghost in the machine haunting a host of science fictional demonic computers, animating mutant mechanoids with brains the size of planets, and truculent rebellious robots with ambitions above their Isaac Asimovian stations. There were smart-arse ultimate computers as early as F.G. Rayer's 1950s' prototype Mens Magna run on punch-cards, through to Douglas Adams' Deep Thought, which famously defines the meaning of life as '42' ... and 2001: A Space Odyssey's H.A.L (one alphabetised letter beyond IBM), who gets lobotomised circuit-by-circuit halfway to Jupiter when its programmed survival imperative turns murderous. Then there are the mobile intelligent units, Barrington J. Bayley's Jasperodus who ponders on the 'Soul Of The Robot', or the movie Short Circuit in which - a Frankensteinian electrical charge later, robot "Number Five - is alive!" Or at least as alive as Blade Runner's limited shelf-life replicants, Arnie's killer-droid Terminator, or D.A.R.Y.L (the 'Data Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform' from the 1985 film). All have, to one degree or another, achieved cybernetic self-awareness... Artificial intelligence. Star Trek: The Next Generation's Riker first nails the syndrome when he christens Data, the Enterprise's aspirational android, 'Pinnochio.' Because the little wooden guy on the 'real-boy' quest is surely where it all begins.
   And that's where Brian W-for-Wilson Aldiss comes in. For him, such concepts form part of the initial gravitational attraction to reading - then writing, science fiction. Before his first experience of SF "I had never heard anyone discussing such a fascinating subject as the nature of life - if taxed I might have claimed, off-hand, that life had no nature." But directly - or indirectly, that discovery would lead to the publication of a teasingly short story. "Our friend Dr Chris Evans edited a special number of the Harper's Bazaar magazine [the issue dated December 1969] , and for him I wrote a short story entitled Supertoys Last All Summer Long." It is not Aldiss' best story ever. Slight, and sparse, no longer than 2,000 words, it concerns David (Haley Joel Osment, ex-Sixth Sense, in the movie), a cybernetic love-substitute child, and Teddy, his own cybernetic love-substitute companion. There is also Monica Swinton (played by Frances O'Connor), the 'Mommy' who is unable to love him. And the absentee 'Father', who designs synthetic life-forms. But five-year-old David does not realise that he's an electro-descendent of Pinocchio, a 'Supertoy', an artificially-created intelligence. And so he talks to Teddy about the nature of life and how real is real, as they play in the unreal eternal summer of their holographic garden. Teddy is programmed for comfort, so he seldom contradicts. Stanley Kubrick alights upon Supertoys... a little later, coming across the story only when it is collected into an anthology. He likes it. More than that, he sees it as the basis for his next movie.

"Stanley was slightly jealous of the success of Star Wars, because he regarded it - slightly, as a 'boy's movie'" Aldiss explains (in the movie TV spin-offery The Android Prophecy). "And he wanted to know how he could make a science fiction film that would be as popular as Star Wars, and yet allow him to retain his reputation for social conscience. It's a very difficult question to ask." But after all - in 1969, the virgin year of the story's publication, hadn't Kubrick taken Arthur C. Clarke's equally slight 2,000 word short story The Sentinel, and expanded it into a blockbusting movie called 2001: A Space Odyssey? Sure he had. So couldn't he do the same for Supertoys? Aldiss himself is less than convinced. "Only later did I see the flaw in this line of reasoning. While Arthur's story looks outwards to the Solar system, my story looked inwards..." Nevertheless the contract for the 'Supertoys' movie is wrangled over, and eventually inked in November 1982, although - perhaps with some degree of mystical numerological significance, it will not be until 2001 that it finally sees its multiplex screen consummation. For on the 14th September of that year this existential metaphor, this futuristic fantasy with a double-pedigree riff, what Philip French calls this "beautiful sonorous movie," opens and immediately takes �8.3 million at the UK box-office alone... "People often ask what I think of the film made from my book" writes Aldiss (about another project). "Authors should keep mum on that score, and be grateful when anything is made from their work..." But elsewhere, to The Guardian, he rationalises its flaws - A.I. was "too intelligent for (American) adolescents," it had "no love-affair, no archetypal boy meeting archetypal girl... the very missing items that excludes science fiction from wider popularity..."

After the impossible happened

" Digging deep in a Martian desert
men discovered an enormous brain.
It suddenly started to think at them -
So they covered it up again..."

- The Deceptive Truth, poem in THE DARK SUN RISES, Avernus Media (2002)

"I have no great fondness for nostalgia," Brian Aldiss e-mails me. "And it's curious how much science fiction talk and criticism is devoted to looking back." It's easy to empathise with suspicions concerning the distorting effects of nostalgia. It does have the awkward tendency of interfering with the critical faculty. But at the same time it's unreasonable to expect any genre to always evolve relentlessly upwards, so it's surely valid to utilise elements from the past as litmus for creative comparisons, and to better understand how we collectively arrived at now? Even his own not-inconsiderable editing role in projects such as the sense-of-wonder way-back-when-futures retro-anthologies (Space Opera, Evil Earths, Galactic Empires) perform a major part in preserving and renewing that history, and ensuring that the process will continue. And if absolute impartiality is flawed by a slight edge of tactile affection - as I'm sure is the case with his beautifully tactile S.F. Art collection - a large-format book reproducing absurdly inventive magazine covers and illustrations from pioneering pulps, then so much the healthier. "Of course, one has to look back now and again," he admits. "For instance, I have just written an introduction for a forthcoming Penguin Modern Classic translation of Jules Verne's Around The World In Eighty Days..." One hundred and thirty years after the first publication of that Verne novel - in the 140-minute A.I. Warner double-DVD (March 2002), David's father, Henry Swinton (Sam Robards), is Managing Director of Synthank, a company that markets safe genetically modified parasitic tapeworms. They sit in the digestive tract of your intestines consuming up to 50 percent of your food, so obesity is no longer a problem. And in this near future, everyone has supermodel waif-thin figures. It's a concept that neatly fuses satire to invention, humour to tabloidism.
   If only for ideas like that, if I could be a science fiction writer, I'd be Brian Aldiss. Even though there's no adjective derived from his name. 'Ballardian' describes the cold techno-eroticism of later Crash-era J.G. Ballard, as 'Moorcockian' does to Michael Moorcock's elaborate multiverse fantasies. But Brian Aldiss has never stood still long enough to allow that to happen. He's lived through - and been a prime mover of imagination's most exciting evolutions. So let's look back. His first published short SF story, Criminal Record appears in Science Fantasy #9, dated July 1954. In a Cambridge junk shop spelt 'A-n-t-i-q-u-e-s' the narrator buys what he assumes to be a record-album of Borodin's 'Second Symphony', but turns out to be a kind of Police Videofile DVD from the future portraying a nightmare world of time-sliding Venusian genetic mutants called Smoofs. When I produce a copy of the issue for Aldiss to autograph, and ask him what reactions its appearance provokes now, he smiles brightly - stopping well-short of conceding nostalgia, and admits only "it's fun to see it again." He no longer has his own copy. Back-tax problems forced him to sell his entire collection to the Dallas Public Library, where it now resides. But he can't resist flicking the pages, the story opens "This must all be written down quickly while I have the chance..."
   From this tail-spin of the dour 1950s when UK SF consists of such strange little pulp magazines full of now-forgotten names - where his startling originality first incandesces, through the 1960s New Wave meltdown where he seizes the script and rewrites its DNA-code, into the sky-shooting freedoms that come later, by which time his fictional dues have been paid in full and elements of playful absurdism and experimental self-indulgences are not only accepted, but expected. While, through an outrageously inventive sequence of diverse fictions his novels provide a wild ride of restless innovation. His creativity goes from the furiously white-knuckle generation-ship action of Non-Stop (1958) into the lush end-of-time Hothouse (1962) where the bloating sun always shines on monkey-human creatures inhabiting a single hemisphere-wide banyan tree. The banyan was an idea inflated from a giant tree he'd seen in Calcutta during army service, whereas the story itself is basically one "of flight by a fugitive, set at the end of the world." He explains how it was re-titled The Long Afternoon Of Earth by his American publisher, otherwise - they said, "named Hothouse it would have wound up in the gardening section!" The wistfully evocative Greybeard (1964) grew out of the painful separation from his children following the end of his first marriage. A metaphor of loss portraying a world where the "old have inherited an Earth without children" but old bones are brittle and old folk are homicidally selfish. Then there's the rampaging irreverent time-travel romp Cryptozoic (1967) where Edward Bush escapes from the Jurassic only to disappear up Queen Victoria's skirts. And the experimental novel-within-a-novel Report On Probability A (1967), followed by the LSD-inundated James Joycean (although he denies it's James Joycean) acid-apocalypse stream-of-conscious Barefoot In The Head (1969) mosaiced together from New Worlds fragments, envisaging the doomed crusade of reluctant messiah Colin Charteris across a hallucinogenically-distorted Europe. The perfect counterculture future. Back into the hard-science Helliconia trilogy (1983). And more. Which is all before you get to the Billion Year Spree definitive genre-history - later expanded into a Trillion Year Spree, the semi-autobiographical Horatio Stubbs trilogy, the Squire Quartet, or the wealth of stunning short stories from idiosyncratic straight-SF through to his more recent playfully strange magical realism. Of which Supertoys Last All Summer Long is a representative, if minor, example. So if I could be a science fiction writer, I'd be Brian Aldiss. Because of all the perfectly-crafted reasons you find between the covers of all those books and magazines. But also because, when he wants to be a celebrity, he can turn up at a sci-fi con, a literary poetry weekend, or a book-signing, and be a celebrity. But when he prefers anonymity, he can choose to push his trolley around Sainsbury's unencumbered by the recognition of the public. He's that kind of writer.

His love is real. But he isn't - A.I.

"Perhaps some of our economic happiness was illusory, but without comforting illusions people find it hard to live..."
- Brian Aldiss, writing about the 1960s in, THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE

Brian Aldiss has had previous encounters with the screen. Including being signed as a "down-market Arthur Clarke" by Cy Enfield ("who had then only recently directed Zulu") for a project tentatively titled 'Only Tomorrow'. That was 1969 when, after sporadic re-writes on Cy's often-idiosyncratic whims, it finally stalled. Next there was a projected BBC2 TV-quartet - 'The Aldiss Connection', conceived in partnership with Frank Hatherley, to televise Wilson Tucker's Year Of The Quiet Sun, John Wyndham's The Chrysalids, Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip, and his own Non-Stop. It, too, was prematurely axed due to funding complications.
   But - successfully brought to the screen, the medium-profile Frankenstein Unbound followed, a wildly inventive 1973 time-slip novel filmed in 1990 by no less a cult-icon than Roger Corman (becoming his first film-project for 20 years), with John Hurt and Bridget Fonda plus a 'special appearance' by doomed INXS-star Michael Hutchence as the poet Shelley. Here Aldiss part-playfully takes the genre literally back to the origins he defines for it in Billion Year Spree. Tributing Mary Shelley as science, and science fiction's first attempt to create artificial life, with what he calls "the first novel of the scientific revolution and, incidentally, the first novel of science fiction." his protagonist, Joseph Bodenland, and his hi-tech car, fall through a space/time rupture back to the shores of Lake Geneva where a real Victor Frankenstein interacts with Lord Byron, and in a rare act of literary procreation - or perhaps incest? Joe gets into an erotic entanglement with Mary Shelley herself. Supertoy David can be seen as only the latest in a long line of Mary Shelley's direct fictional descendents.
   Meanwhile, Aldiss spends two years trying - and failing to get his screenplay to Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip into production. But around the same period - it seems, the A.I. project is also gestating in what he terms "the mists of receding time, or the receding mists of time." A time when - coincidentally, Bronx-born Stanley Kubrick has already forever changed the generic 'space movie' into respectability, shifting its emphasis from trash-BEMs to a philosophical concern with humanity's humble place and ongoing spiritual quest in a vast and incomprehensible cosmos. A footnote to chapter ten of Billion Year Spree even goes as far as recognising this contribution made to SF by Kubrick's movie-trilogy Dr Strangelove - his Cold War nuclear-nightmare black comedy adapted from Peter George's Red Alert, the Anthony Burgess-derived ultra-violent A Clockwork Orange - "one of the masterpieces of the cinema," and - of course, 2001. And now that same Stanley Kubrick has identified David, the Supertoys Electro-Boy, as a likely follow-up, and calls to say "we could do the same with my story." They meet. They talk. Kubrick is "genial but exacting," visually resembling Che Guevara, "complete with boots, jungle greens, beret crammed over curly hair, and beard." He's misanthropic, intellectual. Aldiss writes 'bridging episodes'. Fellow SF-writer Ian Watson develops a novel-length script developing the story. None of them work out. Arthur C. Clarke warns Brian that Kubrick "hasn't got that much money" to pay him to work with him again. Kubrick makes other films. But negotiations continue. Then, on 7th March 1999, waiting for CGI technology to catch up with his vision... Kubrick dies, leaving - instead, the flawed Eyes Wide Shut for the critics to argue over. Steven Spielberg inherits the 750-pages of pre-production notes, sketches and storyboards - including the fantastical Rouge City pretty much as it will appear in the movie. And, as an act of filial piety, he determines that this unfinished work is to be added to the Spielbergian oevre. "I felt like an Egyptologist, digging up the past and trying to tell Stanley's story" he confided to SFX magazine (September 2001). Spielberg himself writes a script incorporating the ideas they've discussed phoned and faxed each other about since 1985. Meanwhile - 30 years after their first instalment, Aldiss writes a second story. And then another, continuing the adventures of David and Teddy. All three parts are included in the subsequent movie tie-in paperback. The two sequels are Supertoys When Winter Comes, and Supertoys In Other Seasons. David has now deconstructed Teddy to see how he works. Mummy is dead. And eventually Father returns, to rescue him from Throwaway Town where robots go to die - only to take him to the assembly plant where he sees row upon row of identical 'Davids' awaiting despatch. Now he realises the truth. It is much the same revelation that Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear experiences when he sees his mass-duplicates on Toys-R-Us TV-ad shelves, and realises he is that he's nothing more than a plastic toy.
   Inevitably the movie - with some screenplay additions by Ian Watson, sees things slightly differently. David - the 'mecha' adopted by miserable squabbling parents whose own sick son languishes cryogenically comatose awaiting a cure, is abandoned in the woods when the real son wakes, to wander - desperate to become human, lost in a flooded world where unwanted robots are torn apart at 'flesh fairs'. Spielberg's visualisation becomes a darkly disturbing gothic fairy tale, loaded with bleak references to movie and mythic sources. Teddy is redrawn as a George Lucas mutant Ewok. And the threatening Hunter's Moon replaces Spielberg's own iconic image of E.T.'s benevolently escapist bike-ride through the sky. The first Flesh Fair robot to be cannoned through the whirling propeller blades to auto-destruction is a black racial stereotype. A blunt metaphor: robot slaves - to robot victims of mindless lynchings. While, from being lost in the haunted forest with strange companions on a journey to discover the location of Pinocchio's 'Blue Fairy', David encounters 'Dr Know' - a cartoony Wizard Of Oz figure hiding behind the curtains, not in the Emerald City, but the debauched Rouge City. This takes him to Radio City in the flooded ruins of Manhattan, the 'Lost City In The Sea At The End Of The World' for the pure Walt Disney touch where David falls into the sea - only to be borne away by a school of silvery fish. In a way, the movie has now worked itself into a conundrum of its own devising. David is a character aimed at your affections. Your sympathies are intended to be with him. Yet he is a robot: a robot that wants to become a 'real boy' so that his mother will love him and he can return home. The audience need him to succeed. But logically, rationally - it is impossible for this to happen: for he is a machine. The problem at the core of the movie is how to reconcile these opposites, how can he escape this impasse? Perhaps this is the point at which Kubrick's darker vision fails. As Aldiss has pointed out, " the flaw in this line of reasoning," is that "my story looks inwards." It needs Spielberg's intervention to allow it to look outwards. Now, David reaches a submarine Coney Island where he stares into the face of a theme park Blue Angel for 2,000 years as the global warming responsible for flooding New York becomes the next Ice Age. Until visitors closely resembling Spielberg's Close Encounters aliens arrive - but who, in an SF-cinema concept as big and bold as 2001's final revelation, represent evolved terrestrial AI organisms. They unfreeze the remains of an extinct humanity, downloading its history from David's memory, and so provide the catalyst for him to fulfil his dreams. If only for the Cinderella time-coded 24 hours. With a sleight of hand, science first refutes magic blue fairies, and then legitimises them. Critics dismissing such "emotional pornography" point out that there are at least four indecisive would-be endings, which deceive filmgoers into getting halfway out of their plush reclining seats - only to sit back again as it resumes.
   But even before that final audience-satisfying metaphor has happened, it is David - the mecha whose belief in dreams transcends his programmed limitations, who has already provided the real transfiguration - for he has achieved AI, a self-motivating 'artificial intelligence'. In the original Aldiss short story David's Father tells him "his obsession with being human would count as a neurosis if he were human." And that "there were humans who had illnesses where they imagined they were machines." But then - are machines, non-thinking mechanisms, capable of neurosis? Isn't neurosis itself proof of sentience? And at what point exactly does a machine that thinks it is human coincide with a human that thinks it is a machine? David has already crossed this barrier.

The day of the android has dawned
- Brian Aldiss, in, 'Are You An Android?' from SCIENCE FANTASY #34 (April 1959)

This weekend, we meet up as part of a genre-group participating in the Oxford Poetry Weekend. In the plush surroundings of the Town Hall Council Chamber, our every syllable suspiciously observed by antique paintings of deceased dignitaries, we read our future-dreams. Aldiss bridges what he once defined as "the difference between magic and bare boards" by reading Flight 063, about Icarus defying "such silly limitations as the melting point of wax" to achieve his brief but ecstatic flight. Then goes on to read his SF-poem The Deceptive Truth, a mildly ribald "Rondeau (after Leigh Hunt)", and one called Rapide Des Morts written for Hiroshima Day...

     the dead, we're told, all travel fast.
     They speed in underground trains.
     Their faces, pressed against the windows,
     show hollow-eyed anger at the stations
     at which they never stopped...


He is garrulous in an instantly disarming fashion. When he first lived in Oxford, he tells us, you could get a "three course meal here for one-and-thruppence." Adjourning to the Hobgoblin across the way, fighting our way through coach-loads of effortlessly cool teenage Italian tourists in shades and bare midriffs, we colonise a beer-garden table. I know Brian Aldiss from book-jackets, TV slots, and magazine interviews. He looks the same. Hair scraped back. Bristling small white moustache. Lively with energies both physical and intellectual. He immediately attacks a neighbouring table in an attempt to 'buy' a cigarette. He doesn't normally smoke. But after the reading he feels he deserves it. He explains this to them, threatening "maybe we'll read a poem at you!" Settling back he's amused by the legend-panel on the pack 'Smoking Can Damage Your Sperm'. That's the way to attack addiction. Through dark sexual uncertainties...
   Soon, for no particular reason, we find ourselves talking about Philip Jose Farmer's concise 1952 gem Sail On! Sail On! in which Columbus literally finds himself sailing over the edge of the world. Then of his enthusiasm for the school-stories of Frank Richards. The dark poetry of Percy Bysse Shelley. And how Stratus - a 'print on demand' publisher in Wetherby, Yorkshire - intent on re-issuing his entire back-catalogue, is now deceased, its ambition perhaps "ahead of its time." And of Roger Corman. About how he suggested Corman should film a sequel to Frankenstein Unbound. "You write it, I'll film it," said Corman. So Aldiss concocted an extravagant fantasy continuing Joe Bodenland's time-travelling exploits into Dracula Unbound. He talks us through the story now, with affectionate amusement - pretty much the way he writes it in The Twinkling Of An Eye, his achingly painful autobiography. About how he greatly appreciated Corman's 'pleasant way' of rejecting the script. "All he said of it was - I can't afford to make it, Brian. I'm a cheap-o outfit."
   Poet Pete 'Cardinal' Cox further lightens the tale by asking "after Frankenstein Unbound and Dracula Unbound - in Universal Horror tradition, why not 'The Mummy Unbound'?" No immediate answer is forthcoming. Robots, androids, cybernetic life-forms have a long tradition in fantasy - all the way back to Mary Shelley. The fiction of the 1950s, in particular, is prominently populated by them. Robert Presslie, a much-published-then but now-largely-forgotten British writer makes his debut sale to Authentic SF magazine (#58 - July 1955) with Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted, a short story sympathetically portraying a direct predecessor of Aldiss' 'David'. And in a magazine through which Aldiss himself will find one of his earliest markets, 'Andy' - Android Mark VII, is dissected on his 12-month birthday, killed three times and re-started, his legs removed, "the surgeon ran a knife round the android's head, peeled back the scalp, cut the lid off the skull with a sonic saw and laid bare the pulsing brain" - as he remains conscious. But once Andy is 'un-made' the jubilant scientist eagerly declares, "let's make the next a Man!" And soon after, in a 1959 short story, Brian Aldiss is soliloquising that his wife is an automaton. "Already it is possible to make a robot, a horrible thing of steel and plastic, which will outwardly resemble a human being. Inside, its purpose will be alien..."
    "The mere showing of A.I. - I believe, makes it more likely that artificial intelligence will come about," explains Aldiss now. " It directs people's thoughts towards the idea... so that scientists have a clear target to work for. But is this going to be for good - or evil? This is not a question you can ask scientists. The first man to invent the sail never asked himself if it was going to result in the Spanish Armada. He just wanted to get across the lake!" A mechanoid is by definition, a machine without sentience. But AI is an equation that runs both ways, and one that goes further yet. It is one that also acts as a distorting mirror to its human creators. David's programmed love is pure and uncomplicated. Unlike human love it is incapable of duplicity, it can never alter or fade. But is homo sapiens any more than a complex self-replicating biological machine, with its much-vaunted thoughts, philosophies, poetry, religion - and love, just sparking arcs across cerebral synapses and electrical pulses glittering along neurons fired by a DNA program encrypted in human gene-code?
   The nature of life is a fascinating subject for discussion. Perhaps artificial life is equally so. For Steven Spielberg A.I. was a step towards its paired multiplex-magnet Minority Report with Tom Cruise, falling back on one of Philip K. Dick's later LSD-psychotic inspired templates. For Aldiss - a step towards here and now. But "& an interview? At present it would consist of too many complaints about publishers - not really a subject of universal interest.quot; So instead we talk - for no particular reason I can think of, about his affection for rude Bamforth Seaside Postcards. A world of "little men with red noses" and doctors who exclaim "Nurse, I said prick his boil!" About SF writer John Brunner being accosted in the gents 'cock in hand' by an over-eager fan anxious to discover which among his own works is his favourite novel. About Robert Calvert's performance at Tynecon very many years ago when we shared a table, but I was then too over-awed to introduce myself... "I take in what you say about nostalgia and, I suppose, agree with it in part," he concedes eventually. " But when you talk about my own work in anthologising and in producing S.F. Art, I can only say that of recent years my thinking has changed. It is possible that the mere term 'science fiction' has now reached a sell-by date. I have certainly found it an impediment with regard to my fictions that are not science fiction." (But didn't you once write - in Living In The West that "the novel no longer has novelty, but SF has"?). " For instance, most of my poetry lies beyond the SF field, yet here I am corralled into 'SF poetry' as part of this poetry weekend. Of course, some might say, 'you've made your own bed - now you must lie in it!' But, while fully accepting that dictum, I'm not yet quite prepared to lie down..."
   Then he's gone. He has a reservation to see Measure For Measure, a play he strongly recommends. Brian Aldiss. A human phenomenon. Still.

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