Tag Archives: Psychohistory

Cornell, Paul: London Falling (James Quill I) (2012)

London Falling

I think the novel actually has a few things in common with Mary’s Glamour books, that, while not realising it at the time, I’d been influenced by her in the writing of it. The force our heroes encounter is ‘the paramilitary wing of feng shui’, something similar to the Psychogeography of the Situationist movement, the power of buildings and landscape (in this case, London) to ‘remember’ beings and events. In other words, it looks and feels like magic, but my inclination (and the police instinct of my leads) is to pick that concept apart, to ask what that means. So, actually, rather as becomes clear of Mary’s series in Glamour in Glass, London Falling is an SF novel wearing another genre’s clothes. It’s actually a ‘clever people solve a problem’ book, in the tradition established by SF editor John W. Campbell. (Paul Cornell)

There is a section in London Falling where Sefton explains the whole concept of “remembering”. You should read it. The concept is rather thought-provoking and essential to the character of Mara Losley and her cat.

Mara Losley is a person whose road was paved with the best of intentions. Then the rule of unintended consequences stepped in, and Mara was drawn onto a much darker path than she had started out on. We meet her at her darkest. As with all good gruesome characters, Mara lets nothing stand in the way of her goals and her beloved team West Ham United F.C.

I feel the need to get this off my chest right away, however small that chest might be. Football fans are insane. Each and every one of them. Completely and utterly bonkers. Seriously. Insane. It doesn’t matter if we are talking US sissy football or European proper football. ALL football fans are deranged. Mara Losley just takes her fandom to another level. She shines in her madness. There is no doubt in her mind that WHUFC is the bestest team in the universe and any player daring enough to challenge that belief is in for a rough time. The player and the sacrifices needed for his punishment.

Paul Cornell has written a wonderfully gruesome antagonist. Mara Losley has spent years upon years honing her creepiness and people’s forgetting and remembering when it comes to who she is. Now all of that work is in danger. And all because of the Smiling Man and his shenanigans.

I loved DS Quill. He heads his team of four and the four of them have to solve the riddle of what happened to Rob Toshack, the crime lord supreme of London. All of a sudden the guy exploded in a shower of blood. Blood everywhere in the interrogation room. On the officers, Mr. Toshack’s brief and the furniture. Four liters can cover a lot of space. Mr. Cornell’s goriness is perfect in its gooey, disgusting and awful description. I’m guessing some of the readers out there will find it too much.

Back to DS Quill. Why him and not one of the others? At the beginning Quill seems like an utter piss-pot. Then Cornell begins opening the cover of Quill’s head. Suddenly I find myself slowly but surely driven to accepting that my suspicions about him are about to come true. Shudder. What a fate! He isn’t the only one to have a terrible shadow hanging over him but he is the one whose remembering/forgetting I understand best. And poor Harry. What a father to have.

Second Sight is something a lot of people think they want to have. As London Falling demonstrates, the reality of Sight is not the blessing some might believe it to be. When the foursome of Quill, Ross, Costain and Sefton receive their curse all at the same time, they will have to dig deep into themselves to manage the trauma that follows. That trauma is intense and it takes a while for each of the four to realize that they are not going mad.

A thanks to Paul Cornell for writing London Falling and another thanks to Suzanne McLeod for recommending this series.


London Falling

  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230763219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230763210
  • ASIN: B00AER81ZU

Asimov, Isaac: Foundation series

The Foundation series continues on from the Elijah Bailey series. The reason I call it a continuation of the series becomes apparent as one reads the books (too much of a spoiler to tell). If you go to Wikipedia, they will tell all. Having said that, their page carries quite an excellent description of the books along with analysis and links. For another in-depth analysis of Asimov’s work go to Wimmer & Wilkins’ blog. Asimov’s home page contains more general information about his life’s work.

Isaac Asimov brought fresh air into science fiction when he arrived on the scene in the 40’s. He wasn’t afraid of taking a hard look at the possible future of mankind based on what he knew of the day’s theories on sociology and psychology. The Foundation series is considered one of the most important contributions to the field of science fiction, a well-deserved opinion.


SciFi and Fantasy Art PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION by Slawek Wojtowicz
Cover for Polish Prelude to Foundation
by Slawek Wojtowicz

The Foundation series was started in the 1940’s, but for easier reading you should start with Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. In Prelude we meet Hari Sheldon, the inventor of psychohistory. Hari’s goal was to be able to predict the general future of humanity, and during a conference he presents his fledgling theory to fellow scientists on the planet Trantor. Unfortunately the Empiror finds Hari’s theories a threat and begin to persecute him. This makes it necessary for Hari to flee, and his flight takes him around Trantor. In Forward the story of how Hari develops his theory continues. Sadly for Hari, the people he loves die off (naturally and unnaturally). Hari refuses to give up and finally develops what ends up being called the Seldon Plan, a way to save the future of humankind.


Cover for Polish Prelude to Foundation
by Slawek Wojtowicz

After this introduction to the future Galactic Empire, The Foundation Trilogy with the books Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation, follow. These are Asimov’s first installments in the Foundation history. When you read these books, please keep in mind that the series was written well before Wikipedia or the internet came into existence. As such, they seem a bit dated. Some of the theory can be tedious, but the adventures and people we meet are quite fun. The titles are a dead give-away, so we know well ahead of time that the Foundation is bound to survive. But we know nothing about the road taken.

In Foundation and Empire the leaders of the Foundation has become corrupt. The internal strife that arises from that makes the organisation susceptible to “The Mule”. The Mule advances, conquering planet after planet, making the Empire deviate from Seldon’s plan. The Foundation does not have it in them to win over the Mule, and desperately some of the members begin seeking a rumoured Second Foundation.

The title Second Foundation kind of gives it away. In this novel we are going to discover the rumoured savior of the Empire while enjoying adventure, science and social interaction. The only way to kill the Mule is by allowing members of the Foundation to find members of the Second Foundation. But this also reveals the fact that there is a Second Foundation and that its nature is somewhat different to the First one’s. Herein lies the conflict.

Foundation’s Edge
by Michael Whelan


And so we come to the two final books in the Foundation series: Foundation’s Edge and Foundation and Earth. We meet Golan Trevize as main protagonist in both books. He is convinced the Second Foundation has survived the attempt to exterminate its members, and goes looking for them. His search brings him to many planets and finally to the ancient planets (no longer on any star-chart) of Solaria, Aurora and Melpomenia. Each journey brings Trevize closer to a conclusion that may or may not satisfy the reader. I felt ambiguous, and that seems to be the intent of the author.

  • 1966 –  Best All-time Novel Series Hugo Award for the Foundation series
  • 1983 –  Hugo Award for Best Novel for Foundation’s Edge
  • 1983 –  Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Foundation’s Edge
  • 1996 –  A 1946 Retro-Hugo for Best Novel of 1945 was given at the 1996 WorldCon to “The Mule“, the 7th Foundation story, published in Astounding Science Fiction