On Easter morning I walked to Seaton and sat on the beach reading Why I Write by George Orwell. This is actually a collection of essays including Why I write and the utterly brilliant Lion and the Unicorn: British Socialism (links are to online texts of the essays).
I need to write a post just about 'Lion and the Unicorn' which belongs with 'The Rights of Man' by Tom Paine and 'The Soul of Man under Socialism' by Oscar Wilde as the great Socialist writings from this country. I can't begin to do it justice here. As I was reading it I was thinking 'I must quote this bit in my blog', 'No, this bit'. It was written in 1940, just after Dunkirk, when it looked like Britain might lose the war: I find it uplifting and inspiring. On this alone, Orwell's entire reputation is justified.
Alas, since returning from my hols I have lost this book. Probably it will turn up.
I also read two SF stories: Tau Zero by Poul Anderson and Recursion by Tony Ballantyne.
Tau Zero was written in 1970. It is set in our current universe with more or less our current physics. A space ship is damaged so it can't stop accelerating. As it approaches light speed time on board slows to a billionth of the speed of time in the rest of the universe, and the people speed on and on helplessly into the far future. I think this would make an excellent film. Although it was written in a previous age with an earlier sensibility it differs from classic SF in giving reasonably well developed roles to women, and it's quite romantic in a non-standard way.
I took Recursion on holiday two years ago and for some reason I disliked it. This time I liked it. It's a clever lightly-done story about AI and personality-simulation and nanotech and the like. The writer seems both clever and young, and I think it's quite sweet. I enjoyed it. Not sure what was wrong with me last time - some stupid grumpiness. I think I'd just tried and failed to read 'The Da Vinci Code' and I was in a bad mood.