Monday, February 26, 2024

Brian Stableford: The Formidable Man And His Remarkable Future History


Brian Stableford died two days ago. He was a fine science fiction and horror writer and a most erudite critic and literary historian. I knew him a little but couldn't claim to be his friend. And I have only one story to tell about him. It's a small one but since it might turn you on to a very interesting book, I'll share it.

The book is The Third Millennium: A History of the World AD 2000–3000 by Stableford and David Langford. The spine of it was a future history he had mapped out and embodied in many stories and novels in which science, particularly biotech, makes the human race ever more happy until everyone is immortal and has anything they could wish for. Any writer could tell that's an impossible future to find stories in, but he had no problem there. Fiction just flowed out of him. 

Oh, and the book was full of pictures cleverly repurposed for the future history. One, for example, showing an electrician almost buried in cables, purported to show a biotechnician among the roots of an ailing organic house.

So, anyway... I ran into Stableford at a Worldcon and told him I was reading the book and enjoying it enormously. I said that I especially liked the end of the chapter on the death of capitalism when the Last Capitalist, just before leaving  for exile on Mars, snarls, "The meek have inherited the earth."

"That was Langford's," he said gloomily. Then, still gloomily, "When we sent in the manuscript, the editor sent it back with a note requesting 'more jokes.'"

Wikipedia informs me that Stableford wrote over seventy novels and translated over a hundred books. You have no idea how intimidating I found that--and still do. The man was astonishing.

But if The Third Millennium sounds interesting to you, check it out. There's nothing quite like it.

Above: Photograph by Lionel Allorge. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (File:Brian Stableford à la remise du prix Actu SF aux 13emes Rencontres de l’Imaginaire de Sèvres le 26 novembre 2016 - 07.jpg - Wikimedia Commons). Merci beaucoup, M. Allorge.


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