Thursday, 30 May 2013

Countdown to research trip

In two weeks time I'll have landed in the UK for my research trip. I'll be spending most of the time in Liverpool, specifically at the University of Liverpool's Science Fiction Hub where I'll be searching my way through the Olaf Stapledon archive. I'll only have 3 and a half days at the library so I can't afford to muck around. I plan on being there when they open the doors and they'll have to find me at the end of each day to throw me out!

Luckily, the library has an online Finding Aid to the archive, which has been invaluable in helping me sort out what items I'd like to look at.  I've worked out a priority list of items I want to see but it's been hard culling down what I'd like to see (almost everything!) to what I really need to help me with my research. Maybe it's just the book nerd in me, but how can I not get just a little over-excited at the opportunity to see original letters to Stapledon from H.G. Wells and Virginia Woolf, among others? Hopefully I will have enough time to get to those but the main items of interest for me will be his lecture notes, where I'll be looking to glean insights into his philosophies on the future of the human race.

This morning I listened to a brief interview with author Mohsin Hamid, who spoke on BBC's Cultural Exchange program about Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker (which is next on my reading list) and also to a snippet from a 1979 interview with author Arthur C. Clarke on why Olaf Stapledon was his biggest literary influence. Stapeldon has been a major influence on science fiction in the twentieth century, and his influence continues today (whether writers are aware of it or not). I can see how ideas such as telepathy and genetic selection, in particular, play out in the novels I'm looking at for my case studies.

The aim is that once I get back from my research trip I'll be head down and bum up working on the first complete draft of my exegesis, which will be around 30,000 words. The plan is to have that first draft finished by the end of September. I figure that's around 2,500 words a week. I can manage that, no problems!