A habit I thought I’d lost

There has been a little niggle at the back of my head for some considerable time.

Time was, I’d spend all of my spare time reading. I’d get through books at a rate that almost scared me. But, for the last year or more, I haven’t. Yes, I’ve been steadily moving books from my to-read to my read pile, but I’ve not been gripped by anything. Nothing has replaced it either – my games console may have been upgraded, but it’s not taking up any more of my time. And TLG doesn’t take up time; I’d make up time to keep in touch with her.

I thought, perhaps, that I’d lost the reading bug. It apparently happens.

Luckily enough, a couple of things have rectified the reading deficit. One was the new Pratchett, which was all very good; another was the new Turtledove series, which I finally got round to purchasing and finishing.

And the same nasty thoughts from two years ago apply: all those fully developed, believable and almost likeable characters did the most unacceptable things. From running death camps to massacring towns, characters that I’d known and understood were moved – believably – from the ‘acceptable’ column to the ‘so far beyond the Pale it’s sickening’ column.

There were a few things that didn’t sit right (like independent RADAR development – my read of history is that the US and the UK both developed passable systems, but that it took both to develop anything really useful), but they’re all incidental to the bigger question that is only really answerable in retrospect.

I asked a while ago Are we all monsters?, and I don’t yet know the answer. But In at the Death gives a clue: we’ve got the precedent before us to guide us away from the worst of the nastyness, and that precedent has kept the world from running concentration camps and dropping nuclear weapons for seventy years. Which is something hopeful, at any rate.

But is it enough?

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