There is hope in honest error; none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.
- J. D. Sedding
The spaceship Nomad drifted halfway between Mars & Jupiter. Whatever war catastrophe had wrecked it had taken a sleek steel rocket, one hundred yards long and one hundred feet broad, and mangled it into a skeleton on which was mounted the remains of cabins, holds, decks and bulkheads. Great rents in the hull were blazes of light on the sunside and frosty blotches of stars on the dark side. The SS Nomad was a weightless emptiness of blinding sun and jet shadow, frozen & silent.
Tiger! Tiger! Alfred Bester
March 1999. That was when I fell in love with prose.
I found a book on the study floor, opened it & read this passage.
The imagery of the listing spaceship Nomad is beautifully intense. The contrasts of sleek & mangled, blazing light & frosty shadow were formative in my final design project at architecture school, & have subliminally influenced my aesthetic ever since.
In the following years, of course, there’s been China Mieville’s New Crobuzon, & Armada - a city made of boats; Iain Banks’ The Bridge; Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City; & Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s Barcelona shrouded in mist & lit with brilliant sunlight with the Cemetery of Forgotten Books at the Centre. There have been breathe taking moments in books set in the past, present, & future; in imaginary worlds; in the aftermath of war & terrorism; & in the ordinary everyday of rural Britain.
To practice architecture you must understand life, know people, & both fear for & hope for the future. How better to encompass all of this within the confines of daily life, then to pick up a good book?