From: I Told You Not To Do That
Cc: This Will Wendell, Needs More Gravitas
Subject: Did you just do what I think you just did?
For here, at the very centre of this watery globe, there seemed to be no gravity. There was colossal pressure, certainly, pressing in from every side, but one was in effect weightless (on the outside of a planet, moon or other body, watery or not, one is always being pulled towards its centre; once at its centre one is being pulled equally in all directions), and indeed the pressure around one was, for the same reason, not quite as great as one might have expected it to be, given the mass of water that the moon was made up from.
This was, of course,—
(A true story: In 1987 I was at a small party at the Brighton WorldCon in the wee hours, at which it was discovered that some jewellery belonging to the sleeping owner of the suite had been stolen. The police were called. A few minutes after the police arrived, so did Iain, on the balcony of the Metropole hotel: he'd been climbing the building from the outside. The police had to be persuaded that this was a respectable author who liked climbing things from the outside and not an inept cat burglar returning to the scene of his crime.)
I can't really claim to be a friend; my relationship with Iain was somewhere between one of the faceless hordes seen at SF conventions, and "guy I run into at the pub occasionally". However, I've known Iain and chatted with him at times since, I think, 1989 or 1990 or thereabouts. And, after getting over my initial awe of the giant of letters, subsequently discovered that he was a giant in other ways: big-hearted, kind, affable, humorous, angry at injustice.
It's not a Culture book, FYI. Personally I did find it to be my least favourite of his SF books though.
They came for him; they came down with a big beautiful ship, and they took him up and away and they made him all better again …
“They never learn,” the sky sighed, quite distinctly.
“Fuck you,” he said.
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