Monday, March 22, 2010

On "Holding Pattern"

Holding Pattern was published in the July 2006 issue of F&SF. I wrote it sometime in 2004, the year Kerry lost to Bush. Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003. He was executed in December of 2006.

Holding Pattern goes up on Book View Cafe today. Go read it here.

I've written two stories that derive from Iraq. The first one, Whistle in the Dark, was published in the June 1994 Asimov's. Clearly, it was inspired by Iraq 1. It will appear over at BVC one day.

The world of Iraq 2 was very different from Iraq 1. Even so, the seeds for Holding Pattern were laid down in the first war. I was spending a lot of time in Cambridge at the time and I remember walking down the street and seeing pictures of Hussein in the window of a discount store, each with a target painted over it. I remember thinking that if we saw a picture of George H. W. Bush with a target painted over it in a store in Baghdad we'd be irate. But it was okay to put a head of state as a target in a Cambridge discount store. Still, it's a step up from the images of World War II.

When we went to war in Iraq for the second time, and won, and took the country (sort of) and lost Hussein for two years, the inspiration behind the story was quite different. Iraq 1 filled me with despair that we couldn't manage to make a world that seemed to work. Iraq 2 filled me with a bitterness that we had chosen not to make it work.

As is typical of my stories, neither Saddam Hussein nor Iraq appear in either story.

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