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No Country for Old Men

Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature


Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger

Once a country of emigration and diaspora, in the 1990s Ireland began to attract immigration from other parts of the world: a new citizenry. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, the ratio between GDP and population placed Ireland among the wealthiest nations in the world. The Peace Agreements of the mid-1990s and the advent of power-sharing in Northern Ireland have enabled Ireland’s story to change still further. No longer locked into troubles from the past, the Celtic Tiger can now leap in new directions.
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.


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Patrick Maume Futures Past: The Science Fiction of Bob Shaw and James White as a Product of Late-Industrial Belfast 193


Futures Past: The Science Fiction of Bob Shaw and James White as a Product of Late-Industrial Belfast Patrick Maume James White (1928–99) and Bob Shaw (1931–96) were the most promi- nent Northern Irish science fiction writers of their generation; they are pretty well unknown outside genre circles and less remembered even there as the genre becomes increasingly cinematic and visually-oriented.1 I came across them in research for the Dictionary of Irish Biography and decided that they give an interesting perspective on the post-war Irish relationship with international popular culture – all the more so as their close friendship crossed the division between the two communities in the North. This paper is an attempt to discuss them and their work on a larger scale than possible in their DIB entries, through a brief account of their lives and milieu and a discussion of their attitudes to religion and political power. I try to explore how far they can be seen as representative figures – from a generation which grew up just too early to benefit from the post-war expansion of education, seeing the creation of the NHS in quasi-religious terms, working in technical employment while looking to science-fiction as an outlet for social and intellectual expression. Their cultural terms of reference derived as much from the journalistic markets of North America (both men lived for some time in Canada) and from 1 White’s tribute site which contains much useful bio-bibliographical information, does not appear to have been updated since...

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