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What Gillian Polack wants for the New Year - News from Nowhere [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
shewhomust

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What Gillian Polack wants for the New Year [Jan. 3rd, 2015|11:05 pm]
shewhomust
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What gillpolack wants - but she wants it in a locked post, so I won't link, and hope she will forgive this degree of paraphrase (I don't think this bit is why it was locked) - is for people to talk about her fiction. I had been been intending at some point to write about Langue [dot] doc 1305, and what I want - one of the things I want - for the New Year is for more of the things I'm intending to do at some point actually to get done. So this post is for both of us.

That's the statutory disclaimer, by the way: Gillian and I are friends, on LJ and in real life, to the extent that you can be when you live a world apart. We have actually met, and more than once, which is an achievement in itself. For the purposes of talking about Langue [dot] doc 1305 the LJ friendship may be more relevant, though, because there is a pleasure in seeing how the preoccupations of the blog find their place in the novel: when Artemisia withdraws to her room to work on zombies I grinned, because her colleagues don't know what she is talking about, but I have heard Gillian on this subject, and I do.

Langue [dot] doc 1305 is several different kinds of books, cunningly twisted into one. The framework is pure science fiction: a time machine allows a group of people to travel into the past. But the novel is a very sideways kind of science fiction, and the Timebot a very special kind of time machine, one which transports its passengers to a specific location at a specific time, chosen to suit the interests of the author, not the priorities of the machine's inventor. How does it work? Oh, by mathematics. And I have no problem with any of this, because by sending her scientists (and her lone medievalist) to the Languedoc in 1305, Gillian Polack gets to talk about how we think about history, what we know and what we don't know (and of course, most dangerously, what we don't know we don't know). I may be misreading this, but I think there is a sly hint that without realising it, the time travellers do change history, that as a result of their presence and what they do, one of the characters decides to act in a way that he otherwise might not have done - and the result is not that history as we know it is changed, but that history as we know it is brought about. But if this is one of the paradoxes traditional in time travel SF, it is a very subtly one.

The narrative that is hung on this SF scaffolding is half historical novel, half - well, if I use the term 'soap opera', don't take it as pejorative, it's the best description I can think of for a story whose interest lies in the interactions of a group of people going about their daily lives, brought together by where they live or work. Only in this case there are two groups, the time travellers and the inhabitants of St Guilhem le Desert. The life of the village is beautifully described, full of real things and believable people with all their connections and conflicts and interdependencies: I could happily have read a whole novel of this. The scientific community are less sympathetically treated, and are sometimes required to act with wilful obtuseness, to illustrate a point. (This can be very funny).

This complex mix of elements may not be to everyone's taste, but it is very much to mine. For once, it isn't a case of 'if this is the sort of thing you like, you will like...' because how are you to know whether it's the sort of thing you like? It is it's own 'sort of thing' and no other. But if it sounds appealing, it's probably worth a try.

ETA publication details: Langue [dot] doc 1305 by Gillian Polack, ISBN: 978-0-9925580-0-0 (Paperback) / 978-0-9925580-1-7 (eBook), published 5th October 2014 by Satalyte Publishing.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: athenais
2015-01-04 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh, this sounds very appealing.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-04 10:45 am (UTC)
Then my work here is done!
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2015-01-04 01:16 am (UTC)
I get it. I've only had four stories published (one with Chaz), and I'd love it if someone would mention one of them in a review. Sadly, the anthologies are old enough now that I think the only way they'd get reviewed is if someone paid James Nicoll to do it.
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[User Picture]From: gillpolack
2015-01-04 02:38 am (UTC)
What I meant by my comment was about all of us - that so many people are talking only about the big few writers and the major books and that readers aren't getting to hear about writers they want to read because of this. So my NY wish was readers talking about what they're reading and spreading the word that there are more writers out there than appear in the pages of Locus and on the award lists. I plan to mention what I rad (talking about it in detail gets complicated timewise this year) too. It's the closest I've got to a NY resolution.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-04 10:44 am (UTC)
I try to write about books when I have something to say about them, but it's doubly difficult with short stories.
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[User Picture]From: gillpolack
2015-01-04 02:35 am (UTC)
You're entirely right, that bit of the post was perfectly public-viewing. And thank you, for talking about my book. I admit, when someone sees it as complex rather than slow I get a quiet little bubble of joy (for that's what I wrote it as).

What's funny is that four scientists have now told me that my depiction of scientist is accurate ("I work with these people!" one said) so I wasn't quite as twisty as it looks. Basically, I had the wrong scientists chosen for the job and then let things fall as they would.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-04 10:48 am (UTC)
Basically, I had the wrong scientists chosen for the job...

And, indeed, the wrong job chosen for your scientists! But if your scientist friends don't feel you've been unfair, I shan't complain - especially as I enjoyed reading the result!
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-04 11:07 am (UTC)
You know more about audio editions in general than I do, I suspect. How likely is it for a small press to do that?

It'd be interesting, because one of the things I might have said more about is that this is an Australian time machine, and most of the time travellers are Australian. Every now and then something in the narrative reminded me of this, but an audio edition, done right, would never allow me to forget it.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-01-04 11:13 am (UTC)
Good questions, and I have edited the post to give the answers.

She is Gillian Polack (apparently this name is too long for LiveJournal, hence Gill in the username).

FNAC offer the ebook, but I don't know how easily you could buy the dead tree version.
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