Book Review

Fireship/Mother and Child by Joan D. Vinge

a novella as boring as my life rn then a novella that's good

cw: suicide ideation, mental illness

This little book contains two novellas, which I read four or five weeks apart.

It’s basically the smallest, easiest, paperback book I currently have in my possession (by which I mean it’s not a brief social political essay or poetry), so when I’ve been travelling around a city I don’t want to be in and I wanted to avoid weighing myself down literally and intellectually, this has been the book I’ve stuffed into my whatever-we’re-meant-to-call-bum-bags-now-that-they’re-back-in-fashion-again-but-you-have-to-wear-them-over-the-shoulder.

The first novella – Fireship – was absolutely awful.

Honestly, one of the worst things I’ve ever read, and if the paperback that contained it hadn’t been so enticingly small, there was a very high likelihood that I would never have picked it up again to read Mother and Child.

I’ve been reading loads of poetry the last couple of weeks – I’m doing a full month of poetry content here on TriumphoftheNow.com in October, lots of which I’ve already written and scheduled, so I picked this back up again to have a very very light read.

If I’m not reading, listening to podcasts, watching films or editing things, if I’m not fully engaged in some form of media, that’s when I start thinking and that’s always a dangerous thing for me to do.

Now that I’ve taken to using voice-to-text for composition rather than typing, I’m able to produce a lot more words again, because I find it a lot easier to edit than to splurge on a page these days, which isn’t a problem I’ve had before, but the thing is as soon as I sit down, I find myself contemplating the situation in which I find myself and think that if I’m in front of a laptop I should be doing something more constructive than this blog, I should be trying to figure out something more remunerative so that I’m able to get out of here at some point, though that’s not really going to happen, y’know. I moved back across the ocean for my lover’s work, it wasn’t due to some renewed enthusiasm for the project of the United Kingdom. It’s like I’ve spent the Summer having everything I hate about this country rubbed in my face: the entire summer has been nationally dedicated towards threats of mass poverty sandwiched between naive pre-medieval expressions of joy and hagiographic conversations around the monarchy, with the “platinum jubilee” starting the summer and then this fucking funeral ending it.

England has been a caricature of itself since I’ve been back: almost as if in response to the increasing visibility of the inequitable socio-political situation we have here, the country’s government and media have doubled down into entrenched denialism, historical revisionism and dull, old-fashioned elitism.

It’s just not a place I want to be, and everyday when I go further from my little desk than the park I take my dog to twice a day, I just can’t really get away from the fact that I’ve ended up absolutely in the same location and financial situation that I was in during the days before I committed to a massive loan to buy a boat that turned out to be structurally unsound. Yes, time has passed and I’ve got rid of that debt but I’ve gained nothing in its place!

Anyway, no one fucking cares about this.

I don’t care about this, y’know, that’s why I can’t type this stuff, that’s why I have to speak it because I find myself and my own ideas pretty boring at the moment. Having come back here, I feel like I’ve just fucking let myself down, y’know, and that’s a boring way to feel.

What’s the point in, y’know, being an accelerationist anarchist poet when I don’t really want to speak to people, especially the kind of people who share my ideologies.

To be honest, the only reason why I’m finally looking for work now is so I can drink wine every day again.

The only reason why I’m looking for work is so I can try and apply for a fucking mortgage and then try to use any property bought here to buy property somewhere I actually want to be in a decade’s time.

God, y’know, I don’t want to just write off another fucking decade of my life which is exactly what I’m doing, which is exactly what I’ve done, which is exactly what I did for all the previous decades of my life…

Like I said in another post – maybe it’s been posted already, maybe it’s one for POETRY MONTH, I don’t fucking know-

Like I’ve said before, it was easier being bored and alone and not really caring about anyone or anything in my life when there was nothing and no one in my life (except my lover and my dog) in Toronto, and being back here just emphasises how little I fucking care about… err… everything, I think? Maybe I should drop my meds. Maybe I should get back into raving. Who knows? Nothing is going to happen because I just can’t be arsed. What I like doing is reading and writing, but that’s not really a career path, is it?

///

I’ve got absolutely no idea who Joan D. Vigne is, I picked this book up because it was like a pound in a second hand bookstore and it had an entertaining cover that looks like a VHS player in space.

The first of the two novellas in here, honestly, is total shit. It’s about a man who has an AI super brain attached to him by a wire and he, the AI and the version of his body that is controlled by the AI are three separate characters who work together to try and, like, make their shared lives enjoyable and they try and investigate some fucking corrupt mining thing on a desert planet or something. I think it’s Mars, though I can’t remember as I read this over a month ago. It’s definitely not Arrakis.

The second novella though, which I read yesterday, is fucking excellent.

Mother and Child reminded me quite a bit of the second book in Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos: Archives, in that it begins with high fantasy tropes and medievalised, pre-modern, societies warring with each other, and as the story goes on it is revealed that this is in fact a post-apocalyptic rebuilding of human society where broadly benevolent aliens have been keeping humanity from evolving to a point where we (humanity) can get back into space again because we’re bad news for other living creatures. Sounds about right lol.

///

There’s no good news for me rn, and there’s no prospect of any fundamental change to my life happening anytime soon, not for a while.

I’m just gonna be a spectator. It’s far from fucking ideal, but I can be patient. Which is lucky, as right now I don’t really have a choice.

September 21st.

I feel like that date’s important for a reason I can’t remember. Maybe I’m thinking of the 11th?

Oh, it’s the fucking song, isn’t it?

silly me silly silly me

silly silly silly silly silly silly me

Silly silly silly fucking ignorant stupid fucking moron cunt piece of shit fuck

Silly fucking idiot to be back here.

I don’t have a plan anymore and I don’t know if I want to make one. For life, I mean: I’ve got a thousand plans for suicide hahaha lol

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