It’s that time of year again. Everyone is going back to school and so is Ian McDonald’s Everett Singh from Be My Enemy.
Everett Singh has escaped with the Infundibulum from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order, but at a terrible price. His father is missing, banished to one of the billions of parallel universes of the Panoply of All Worlds, and Everett and the crew of the airship Everness have taken a wild Heisenberg jump to a random parallel plane. Everett is smart and resourceful, and from the refuge of a desolate frozen Earth far beyond the Plenitude, where he and his friends have gone into hiding, he makes plans to rescue his family. But the villainous Charlotte Villiers is one step ahead of him. The action traverses three different parallel Earths: one is a frozen wasteland; one is just like ours, except that the alien Thryn Sentiency has occupied the Moon since 1964, sharing its technology with humankind; and one is the embargoed home of dead London, where the remnants of humanity battle a terrifying nanotechnology run wild. Across these parallel planes of existence, Everett faces terrible choices of morality and power. But he has the love and support of Sen, Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, and the rest of the crew of Everness as he learns that the deadliest enemy isn’t the Order or the world-devouring nanotech Nahn—it’s himself.
Everett Singh: planesrunner, master of the Infundibulum.
The thing I like most about school. When I get back to my world –Earth 10, apparently –if I ever get back, I still have a lot of school to go. Big exams and all that. I’m a good goalkeeper –a very good goalkeeper, and I like what you call soccer, but that’s not the best bit. I’m good at math and physics and stuff like that –okay, I’m very good, I know more than my teachers do. That’s not being big headed (well, not much), it’s the truth. I’m a mathematical genius. It’s saved my life and lives of everyone on Everness, so it’s more useful than you’d think. But the thing I like most: domestic science. That’s cooking.
My dad’s side of the family is Punjabi. We do cooking. Any excuse at all, there’s food, and lots of it. All the best recipes come from my bebe –my grandmother. She’s kind of traditional in that she doesn’t think cooking is really a men’s thing but my Dad knew how to cook and so do I. Every guy should know how to cook. It’s a survival skill. You’re going to die of some weird vitamin deficiency because all you eat is baked beans from the can with a spoon?
Plus: you can really impress people.
So, yeah, I like domestic science. (It’s not really science: trust me. My Dad’s a quantum physicist. That’s science. They could make it more like science if they let us make ice-cream with liquid nitrogen or make edible foams with hydrogen so they float in the air. That would be bona). But you can look cool. First way for a guy to look cool. Sharpen your knife. Get the steel and the knife, hold the blade at an angle to 22 degrees. And go. Gives you wrists of steel and you look like a hitman. Second secret: halva. No Singh family event is complete without halva. I made it for the end of Christmas term class and gave everyone a piece. The girls all loved me. They all wanted to kiss me. The guys all envied me. They want to kill me. Halva. Flawless.
But cooking –cookery class. Everyone needs to know it. My dad has a theory: every human being who claims to be educated should be able to do all these: speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument, cook. I got some French, I can noodle something up on electronic music software on the ipad, but I can cook. I cook bona.
Sen Sixsmyth: age 13 ¾, pilot of the Earth 3 cargo airship Everness.
This blog thing is weird but Everett says it’s big in his world so I’ll give it a go. Then, his world is pretty weird. School, for us Airish, ain’t what most people think of when they thinks about school. You ain’t there most of the time –you away with the airship—and it used to be like when Annie (I call her ma but she’s really not my Ma, she adopted me) was a bijou chavvie, you just picked stuff up from your parents and the rest of the crew. Now they’s got regulations, so they have like this ‘School of the Air’, where they give you books and courses and things they call modules you have to hand in when you get back to Hackney again. That’s all good but you need to find someone has the time to teach you it. Annie is good on languages –she speaks five and can get by in Ruskiye, but she’s too busy commanding the ship most of the time. Mcyhynlyth –he’s the Chief Engineer, he keeps Everness airship-shape and Hackney-fashion – teaches me most of the math and number stuff, and the practical things like electrics and welding and engine repair that girls aren’t supposed to learn. Well, I says to you, they do on airships. But if you want to fly an airship, then there’s things you can only learn bona: piloting and navigation and all that. Meese! Navigation melts my head –I mean, you’re flying on a round world! Things that work on straight maps don’t work on planet Earth. Head-melt! But if you want to get certs for piloting and navigation, you have to do it.
The school I really like is the scholl fo real world –when we take a cargo in somewhere like High Deutschland, or the Empire of All the Russias, or down across the Atlantic to Gran Brasil. I love Amerika the best –Atlanta, the golden capital of the Confederation is fantabulosa, but I love best Amexica and the city of Todos Angeles. Sun! I loves sun, and sea, and surf. Good for my Spanish too. Travel’s education.
And when I’ve been all round this world, there’s the ten worlds of the Plenitude of Known Worlds. I’d love to see Earth 2’s London, all the pleasure gardens and palaces and mosques, and Earth 5, where everything is still horse and carriage and sedan chairs and wigs and big dresses and Milord this and Milady that. And Earth 4 has real aliens living on the back of the moon! And then there’s Everett’s world… I don’t know. It’s like you never stop learning. Some day I need to go back and get those exams and then I’ll be a pukkah pilot. But until then, I’ll keep my eyes and ears and brain open.
Meet Ian McDonald!
Ian McDonald (born 1960) is a British science fiction novelist, living in Belfast. His themes include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies. He therefore lived through the whole of the ‘Troubles’ (1968–99), and his sensibility has been permanently shaped by coming to understand Northern Ireland as a post-colonial (and so, in his view, de facto ‘Third World’) society imposed on an older culture. He sold his first story to a local Belfast magazine when he was 22, and in 1987 became a full-time writer.
McDonald is known for his work set in developing nations. His 1990s ‘Chaga Saga’ is particularly notable for its analysis of the AIDS crisis in Africa. His 2004 River of Gods is set in mid-21st-century India, and his 2007 Brasyl (2007), set in the 18th and 21st centuries in Lusophone South America
Want to purchase Ian’s novels?
Please help spread the word: Tweet: Go back to school with 30 authors while #giveaways ensue during #SchoolsIn (Sept 1-30) http://tinyurl.com/LESchoolsIn – #paranormal #contests #UF