Show me the way

Outside my window, it’s science fiction. Network Rail are repairing the railway. Spotlights blast white light, and hard silhouette people move through the night. Sparks shower against the darkness where the welders work. It’s a view of industrial alienation.

Every day I travel to work, changing at Willesden Junction. Over from the platform, metal claws throw dead fridges from one great white goods pile to another. It’s like being trapped in a China Mieville out-take. Steps over the railway, leading down to nothing; an entry point to the un-written suburbs of Narnia, where the goat-hooved queue at the dole office and centaurs worry about next month’s mortgage.

So much of genre writing is atmosphere; a deliberate estrangement from what’s around us. But once you’ve stepped through the door there are still the broken fag packets and decayed Coke cans of the self. I can see the future from the window; but I’m in it, and so it’s no sort of escape or consolation.

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