A Cruel Man Delighting in Flowers

...the mildness to which men ... had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half ... was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty—the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower—that beauty ... failed quickly of its effect... 

Hermann BrochThe Death of Virgil


Jeremy Davies is made of ink, but don’t dip a feather in him. It tickles. He once painted a fingernail black and no one really noticed. He was disappointed. He’s also an editor, a religious atheist, a liker of strong coffees, a Shakespeare-lover, a political anarchist and someone who rarely has a pen when he needs one. He has been a PhD candidate, a personal trainer, a life model, a bouncer, an infantry soldier and someone who rarely had a pen when he needed one. He has had words published in a variety of places, in a variety of publications, in a variety of forms, in a variety of moments: Canada, Wet Ink, SMS and twelve minutes past three in the afternoon being some of these. His first novel, 'Missing Presumed Undead', will be re-published by Satalyte Publishing in February 2014. A second is on its way.

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin, Natasha Randall, Will Self This book goes to the top of my how-the-hell-did-it-take-me-so-long-to-find-out-about-it list, being, as it is, a fore-runner to some of my most cherished speculative dystopic novels of all time: 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse-Five... Yevgeny Zamyatin pre-dates them all: an original early 20th century Bolshevik.

It has a rawness about it, but an undeniably original style which stays perfectly in tune with the narrative focus of the story as it rolls along. It alternates between a mathematical rhythmic and a lyric melodic, sometimes mixing the two into orchestral... It can be both distancing and intimate, and targets these moods in a well-arranged plot-sensitive manner.

I'm not deliberately coming up with musical allusions here: it's how it sounds, and D-503 - the mathematician, One-State-champion protagonist - is very aware of sound and colour in the text.

Far from being trapped purely in the ideological realm of Stalinism, you could easily apply, for example, the terms and effects of 'The Operation' to a modern western liberal corpo-democracy: the manufacture of the perfect consumer-citizen. The technologies are differing (and often charming), as happens with speculative science fiction as it ages, but the effects remain the same.

Currently reading

Lyrical and Critical Essays
Albert Camus
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
Harold Bloom
The Rebel (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Albert Camus