Ian Stewart on Twenty-Two Eighty-Four

Fellow writer, Canadian Ian Stewart (Vancouver) has just finished reading Twenty-Two Eighty-FourThroughout his read he’s been sending me notes and observations about his experience.  It’s interesting to look at his intellectual and literary reaction to the story and its societal setting in the future, to compare it with where we are now in the world and what needs to be done.

From Ian:-

I’m really liking the role of the ‘womyn’ (sic) I’m also gladded with the normalisation of sexualities … I think we’re at a window of opportunity to voicing these views, hitherto so fiendishly suppressed, and I feel that strong work of this nature — beyond being timely and highly current — might even see-away the artificiality of imposed homophobia in a more lasting fashion than we’d hope.


Cover of 2284
Cover of 2284

Back to your Twenty-Two Eighty-Four, which — yay! — is to my mind continuing excellently as before. I liked very much the characterful and evocative transit to Istanbul, where I found the societal fronting of men within this further ‘Eastern’ matriarchal world intriguing and thought-provoking. I liked the subsequent chapter in Norfolk and the party scene was interesting in bringing the various character streams together.  I also like the government interventions on Pitto’s work-life, as well as the descriptions of his earning tasks. Reaf, also, is developing nicely, with a concomitant leitmotif I find highly worthy to be got into print, around the father-son advice and mentoring — which is novel in queer literature, to me, anyways, in the explicit flagging of such support, especially within this underlying or hovering context of homosexuality (so well done there!).

The Norfolk women’s welcoming-in Hebe and Pitto is well handled, and Quercus’ saying “Kara?” on seeing her clone Hebe is nicely effective. I’m liking the — again, unexpected — father and son webbed feet at the end (is there more to that than just a shared quirk of genetic expression? I like that we’ve only heard of their hot bodily perfection thereunto): I took all the genetics stuff at face value, accepting your authorial guidance, knowing too little on the subject.

When the — interesting and cool — Nolly character says about the planet being saved by the HFV I spontaneously clicked my palate with my tongue and softly said “Wow” aloud. Moved to thus physically, bodily reacting, with surprise; understanding; my interest honed; absolute delight with your authorial accomplishment; and a penny-dropping ‘aha!’ at this key new take on the information we’d had hitherto presented to us otherwise; unexpectedly, alternatively, delivered from a reliable and clued-in source, and immediately, effectively contrasted by Kara’s ‘eco-nut’ thoughts.

Indeed, through this whole closing situational Kara’s outlook is a powerful contributor,   I very much liked the comic scramble to find a means to print the documents she subsequently showed to Nolly.  I also like the clarification that comes-about via Kara in these concluding scenes, as to the construction of this matriarchal societal structure having been a concerted move to reorganise people from the faulty destructiveness they’ve associated with the male outlook – nice to have that re-adjustment of view coming from Establishment Kara at the end of the novel.

So, overall, delighted, glad to have read it, and — the human mind virus — I’m certain that imagery and ideas from this highly informed and well thought-out, entertaining and sexy exposition around the societal and structural planetary challenges facing us will stick with me, and no doubt shape my views and thinking on these matters. So, well done, Chris, at your fine novel’s timely contribution.  You’ve particularly got a solid grip on the manners and issues of interest to both men and women — (I was at a Vancouver reading by Tennessee Williams in my teens, where he said in answer to a comment on that, that he had, himself, “a certain duality of gender”) — which unusual comprehension should decidedly stand you in good stead with readers of either sex.

I’m thrilled that it keeps-on excellently through to its conclusion. What a tremendous accomplishment!

Twenty-Two Eighty-Four can be purchased from Paradise Press in paperback or electronic formats.  You can also read part of chapter 1 on this site.


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