Fiction & Socialism – Interviews with Kens Loach and MacLeod (and China Mieville)
By way of introduction, here are a few audio interviews I stumbled across featuring two of my favourite Kens (Loach and MacLeod), and China Mieville.
The first is an October 2007 interview with famed socialist film director Ken Loach. In the interview he talks both about his latest film It’s A Free World… and more generally about his past work. He’s promoting his two new DVD box sets which feature many of his films such as Land & Freedom (1995), Hidden Agenda (1990), Carla’s Song (1996), The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006), Kes (1969), Cathy Come Home (1966), My Name Is Joe (1998), Bread & Roses (2000) and many more – including lots of commentaries. I just bought both so that’s my Xmas viewing sorted. We can only hope that one day his and the late Jim Allen‘s epic mini-series Days of Hope (1975) along with their various Play For Today collaborations will one day surface from the BBC archives and get proper DVD releases – they would make fine companions to this collection.
The second interview is actually a lecture given by socialist sci-fi author Ken MacLeod at the British SWP’s annual ‘Marxism’ event in 2006. The topic of the lecture is ‘Science Fiction and Historical Materialism’. Despite the perhaps dry title, it’s a very informative and often witty talk. I’ve only recently discovered MacLeod – by accidentally reading his latest novel The Execution Channel (2007) – but am now moving on to my fourth book of his, Learning the World (2005). As someone who rarely reads fiction – let alone science fiction – these days, this must be an indication of… something. I’ve also included a link to a more recent interview (February 2007) featuring MacLeod – along with Charlie Stross and Farah Mendlesohn – talking about his short story contribution to the Glorifying Terrorism (2007) anthology. The authors talk about their fears for free speech under New Labour’s draconian Terrorism Act of 2006. As the blurb says: “[This book] is, technically, illegal – because every SF/F story in this anthology breaks the current UK law that bans the glorification of terrorism. Whatever that is, of course.” Indeed.
Finally, here are a couple of lectures given by the SWP’s resident ‘fantastic fiction’ author/International Law expert China Mieville – again at the SWP’s ‘Marxism’ event. The first from 2003 is entitled ‘Blockbusters and Boy Wizards’, and the second from 2005 is called ‘Marxism and Monsters’. I’ve yet to read any of Mieville’s works, but the talks are pretty interesting and tread some of the same ground as MacLeod’s speech above. Mieville has also produced a list (I love lists!) of ‘Fifty fantasy and science fiction works that socialists should read‘ – one day I’ll finally complete the list. I’ve also included a couple of other interviews where Mieville discusses his own work, socialism, ‘world building’, terrorism, his criticism of other genre authors, and many other subjects.
The lectures can be downloaded here [Blockbusters] and here [Monsters] [part 2] [part 3] (via Resistance MP3). Further interviews can be listened to here (via SciFi Audio, from 2002), and here (via The Bat Segundo Show, from 2007). There’s also a couple of interviews linked to on his Wikipedia page.