Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 3 May 2018.
Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.
With so many apologies received, there was some question as to whether we ought to have a meeting at all, or just sit and chat for a while. In the end a busy and satisfying formal meeting did take place.
Ian opened by describing the mechanics of WordPress blogging and what was required of you to be permitted to “like” a page. Adele felt that the system was demanding she should sign up to yet another new email account before accepting her “likes”.
The meeting agreed there was scope for a session devoted to blogging and/or self-publication in its various forms.
We discussed the genre of Science Fiction and its associated genre, Fantasy.
Ian recalled Fr JFR Tolkien, the Catholic chaplain at Keele University and eldest son of JRR Tolkien, telling him of a silver-plated space rocket that graced the family mantlepiece for a year: apparently a prize awarded by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
But the inappropriateness of the trophy was illusory. In twentieth century USA, Fantasy was a popular genre, although virtually unknown for adult audiences in England prior to Tolkien and CS Lewis.
Ian argued for a close but wry connection between the two genres: if you don’t know hard science from twaddle, then how can you tell Science Fiction from Twaddle Fiction?
At the last meeting, Pip had challenged Ian to work out how long a spaceplane with sufficient thrust to simulate lunar gravity throughout the voyage would take to reach the Moon. Ian confessed he’d not done the calculation (it had been on his to-do list for years), but had blithely assumed it would be as long as the Apollo missions of the 1960s took, i.e. 2 to 3 days.
Having now done rough calculation, he was shocked to get a figure of only 4 hours. This would scarcely give time for the leisurely conversations reported in his novel, which prompted a serious rethink.
Pip (who’d been a merchant navy officer) must have known something. It was a case of simple physics yielding consequences more bizarre than a recklessly conceived fantasy, which would be hard for a present-day audience to swallow.
Ian — handed out copies of the story so far, and read another section from his SF novel-in-progress Anitra’s Petition.
Anitra and Dolpou Zvezda leave the spaceplane at Lipsky Spaceport, astonished that Commissioner Nilsson of Moonforce has allowed them to remain at liberty. They are greeted in the arrivals hall by a second groubian, whom Dolpou introduces as General Nanoud Tolchok, commander of the Groubian Echelon of the Martian defence force.
Meanwhile Peter Zwillinge, arrested by Moonforce after his rescue from unspecified assailants, is convalescing under guard in the Galen Clinic somewhere on the Moon. He tells his surgeon, Mr Sullivan, to look for plutonium pellets in the nasal passages of two suspects, presumed by Nilsson to have been the culprits.
Adele — produced a new version of her ten-minute play written as coursework and first presented to the Group at the meeting of 5 April.
She wanted to time it, which Ian offered to do there and then, with Jonathan and Adele taking the opposing parts.
The play overran by 7 minutes after subtracting the time taken to read out the stage directions, but Ian praised the delivery by both players and said he was enthralled throughout.
The meeting concluded that the backstory, revealed in the form of a dictated letter, offered sufficient fat to trim without cutting out any of the precious repartee.
Jonathan has since suggested, with Ian‘s agreement, that the piece as it stood ought to be offered as entertainment at some suitable event in Whitby. In any case it will get professional treatment as part of Adele‘s MA course.
Jonathan — read a poem entitled The South Yorkshireman.
In a metre reminiscent of a steam train he described a journey along the old Great Central Line (the former LNER) which was closed by the Beeching Axe in the 1960s. Much nostalgia was evoked.
The meeting closed at 12:55 PM, only 5 minutes before the scheduled time.