The reading I’m doing for my writing.

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We are all cautiously optimistic that the weather will improve: the forecast is calling for temperatures above freezing. The sun came out yesterday afternoon after several days of cloud, and I swear, we all wanted to rip off our cardigans and go outside and expose our bare arms to the sky.

I’ve put the fantasy story to one side (it was not accepted for Women Destroy Fantasy, alas, so it’ll get another round of revising before I submit it anywhere else) and I’m poking around with the continuation of my cyborg story. I think it’s developing into a book…I have a plan, an idea, and I’m working on it.

And I’m reading David Harvey’s The New Imperialism on the bus in the morning as part of that poking around (no bus stop reading yet, as it’s still too dark). It’s a book I picked up a while ago, and I’ve finally plucked it off the shelf and settled myself down to read through it – looks like it’ll be an interesting one. His ideas about the molecular processes of capital accumulation have caught my eye. He says:

The geographical processes of capital accumulation, on the other hand, are much more diffuse and less amenable to explicit political decision-making.. Individual (usually business, financial, and corporate) agency is everywhere at work and the molecular form makes for multiple forces that bump into each other, sometimes counteracting and at other times reinforcing certain aggregate trends. It is hard to manage these processes except indirectly, and then often only after the fact of these established trends…

But even in authoritarian states or those states dubbed ‘developmental’ by virtue of their strong inner connections between state policies, finance, and industrial development, we find the molecular processes often escape control. If I decide to buy a Toyota rather than a Ford, or see a Hollywood as opposed to a Bollywood movie, what does this do the US balance of payments? If I transfer money from New York to needy relatives in Lebanon or Mexico what does this do to the financial balance between nations. It seems impossible to anticipate, and difficult even to keep track of the flows of capital and of money through the vagaries of the credit system. All sorts of psychological intangibles, such as investor or consumer confidence, enter in to the picture as determinant forces… The best we can do is to anxiously monitor the data after the event, in the hope we can spot trends, second-guess what the market will do next, and apply some corrective to keep the system in a reasonably stable condition.

In an interview about the book, he says:

One of the things I would point out here is that for a long time I’ve been talking about the special or geographical dynamics of capital accumulation, and what I call uneven geographical development, how these molecular processes of capital flow, moving from one part of the country to another, build new spaces and geographical concentrations even within countries.

The crux of the story has to do with technology that tries to see the trends in molecular accumulation of capital before and as they are happening – it does not always go well. But the more I’m reading about things like imperialism, the more the story is growing to be about corporate imperialism – governance by economics, rather than states. It’s an undercurrent, I think, but it’s pulling itself together as something that will be tied up with the science fiction in the story. I’m beginning to see that you can’t write SF that’s just about future tech and whatnot…you’ve got to expand out, to see the systems of people and culture that are part of it, too.

And so, as is often the case, reading one book means that I’ve suddenly realized that I have quite a few more to read as background for the story.

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