By Luther Blissett
January 7th, 2017
Reading The Human Front made me want to read more MacLeod. I went and picked up MacLeod’s The Execution Channel; read it in two days, but that’s another review. So glad I discovered MacLeod. Thanks Terry Bisson and PM Press! Incredible writing, and he has a vision that is delightful. Accessible tone.
“The Human Front” is a young revolutionary’s tale and description of waging a left-driven guerrilla war in Scotland. Battling dystopian governance—honestly, though, what kind of governance is not dystopian?—MacLeod explores potential impacts on family, life choices, and friends. Not really a short story—more a novella at right around seventy pages—this is a pleasurable and engaging read.
After you complete that tale comes “Other Deviations: The Human Front Exposed” which provides background on the writing of “The Human Front.” Incredibly useful, especially if you just finished the longer story.
Perhaps the best part of the entire book is where MacLeod writes, when explaining the text:
“By following the track of my own life—born on the Isle of Lewis, moving to Greenock at the age of ten—and reversing and distorting various circumstances within and beyond it, I could depict the background and backstory without having to explain it in tedious alt-historical detail” (81).
As a reader, this helps me understand how he did his job so well. As someone who dabbles in writing and struggles to figure out proper balance of personal versus created settings, this opened incredible potentials. Also, this seems pretty akin to what Rudy Rucker describes as Transreal in his essay, “Surfing the Gnarl,” [put out by PM Press, too, in a book titled Surfing the Gnarl]. Whether or not you write, this provides plenty of fertile ground for play, exploration, and thinking.
This idea is explored, in part, through the next piece: “The Future Will Happen Here, Too.” Probably the most important part of the book — at least for people who write, create, and want to work and think locally about their material.
Interview is interesting: lablit, Trotskyists, and observations about SF.
Easily worth the money.