On Tuesday evening I got to attend a reading by Cory Doctorow and China Miéville. It was organized by the Clerkenwell Tales bookstore in London and took place in the nearby Church of the Holy Redeemer. The moderator was Robert Sharp. I videoed both readings. The audio quality is a bit dodgy due to the poor tech and the bad acoustics in the church. Here they are:
After the readings there was a Q&A session, featuring questions from the floor and ones tweeted in beforehand. There was no live interaction with Twitter, but not every moderator is as mad as I am.
During the discussion Cory made a very interesting point about the current attacks on the BBC. He noted that the big media organizations are lobbying hard for laws that will effectively prevent any news organization that isn’t big, rich, and stuffed with lawyers, from operating, things like the Digital Economy Act being only the start. The BBC, a large, publicly-owned news organization, would be able to continue operating under such conditions, making it a threat to any cartel of privately-owned media organizations. It all sounds a bit paranoid, but I have a fair amount of experience of how regulatory politics works in other industries and that makes it a lot more plausible.
China got thrown some real curve balls. The best one was (from memory), “Do you agree that writing novels is a bourgeois activity, and if so should Marxists write them?” China was in the process of a long and sensible answer in which he admitted that novels were pretty bourgeois but refused to abandon any potentially useful weapon, when the event came to an abrupt stop.
An older lady, who it turned out was on holiday from Vancouver, was taken ill (I believe it was a blood pressure problem) and an ambulance had to be called. Robert’s wife, who is a doctor, provided immediate assistance, and a paramedic on a bicycle arrived a few minutes later. By the time an actual ambulance arrived the patient was fit enough to stand, but she was taken off to hospital for checks just in case.
Meanwhile the boys headed back to the bookstore, put a table and chairs out in the street (Exmouth Market is a pedestrian precinct) and did their signing there to keep the crowd clear and allow the medics to work. Here they are in action.