Jing tong iddle-aj-po!


Can today possible get any better? The sun shines, the roofers only arrived an hour late, I have a ticket to see William Gibson at the Watershed in October, and then this arrived:

This here is the Serbian edition of Back in the USSA, a related collection of long short stories by myself, Judzin Bern, and my old pal Kim Njumen. It’s an alternate world saga in which the United States underwent a Communist revolution while Russia remained Tsarist/capitalist, and in which we had a lot of fun with both real and fictional characters.

It’s OK; we were pretty cynical about both systems. Some Americans tend to think the idea that their country could ever have had a leftist revolution is absurd. Well, yeah, ya have to jump through a few fictional hoops to make it happen, but the late 19th and early 20th century saw a large and growing leftist and trade union movement in the States which has been almost completely eradicated from American memory, the odd John Sayles movie notwithstanding.

We started the first story one November weekend in 1989 as Eastern European communism was collapsing, and the rest followed over several years. They were originally published in Interzone, and then collected in a beautiful edition by Mark Ziesing in the States in 1997.

The hardest story to write was ‘Abdication Street’ in which Prince Charles goes to St Petersburg to be married to a Russian princess, only to fall in love with a TV makeup girl instead. Have you any idea how hard it is to turn Crown Prince Chuck into a romantic hero?

To find out whether we succeeded, you’ll just have to try and get a Ziesing edition, or learn Serbian. Personally I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s had another outing, and in Eastern Europe at that. And also childishly amused by the Serbian phonetic translations of various people’s names and certain English idioms.

“Jing tong iddle-aj-po!” as The Goons didn’t sing.

(Heh! Just did a web search for it looking for secondhand prices for the Ziesing edition and found it has a whole Wikipedia entry! It’s pretty fair, though some of the “real world comparisons” are a bit odd.)


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