Tag Archive for fiction

Scorpion and the Peace Man: Interview at Mother/Gamer/Writer

Today I’m being interviewed at the popular reviews site Mother/Gamer/Writer. As well as explaining exactly what Peter Manner (aka the Peace Man) from Systems has in common with Scorpion from the video game series Mortal Kombat, I have also mentioned my search for any metal music bands to help me with recording a song that appears in the novel …

Do head on over there and say hello (you’ll have to scroll down their page!) – if you do, you’ll be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback copy of Systems or an ebook in any format you like.

The place of visionary fiction in today’s world – introduction

Last week I introduced the Visionary Fiction web-ring. This week, our three founding members – Jodine Turner, Shannan Sinclair and myself – are guest posting at each other’s blogs about the place of Visionary Fiction in Today’s World.

You can find my entry at Jodine’s blog here, and Jodine’s entry at Shannan’s blog here. Shannan’s entry will appear at this blog soon.

How Secular Jinnah inspired Systems Part 4: Reversal

Chief Justice AR Cornelius

Chief Justice Cornelius. Public domain image.

[I] am slowly beginning to understand what is built into the Constitution of Pakistan, in the way of political obligation … I have learnt that a non-Muslim can only be a full citizen of Pakistan if, on the secular side, he conforms to the requirements of the Objectives Resolution, read with the first 8 Articles, that is Parts I (the Republic of Pakistan) and II (Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy). So far as I can see, at present, this is entirely possible, and would be easy, if there were some formulation of the basic principles contained in the Scriptures of Islam, in regard to equality, tolerance, social justice etc.

These are the words of Alvin Robert Cornelius (1903-1991), one-time Chief Justice of Pakistan, in a personal letter dated July 1965. A practising Christian, he was one of the many people who supported the Pakistan idea. He was also amongst the few who understood the content of the Objectives Resolution as a statement of universal human ideals and one that made great promises to all its citizens regardless of caste and creed. But, he said, these ideals hadn’t been spelled out.


And Cornelius wasn’t the only person to say this. Two other Pakistanis (Mian Iftikharuddin and PD Bhandara, father of MP Bhandara) also made similar remarks in criticism of Pakistan’s constitution-making body during Pakistan’s fledgling years. All three of these individuals stated in no uncertain terms that some fundamental principles had not been accounted for. Iftikharuddin complained in 1949 that the Objectives Resolution didn’t …

incorporate those principles which will make real democracy possible …

– and PD Bhandara said in 1954:

The very essence of an Islamic Constitution which is brevity and simplicity is conspicuous by its absence. … In the process of evolution gained by experience, I trust our Constitution will be remodelled to conform more to the tenets of Islam

But their words went unheeded, and with time the Objectives Resolution became an issue of enormous contention.

MA Jinnah on 14 August 1947

MA Jinnah on 14 August 1947, and not 11 August as shown on Wikipedia. Image from my personal collection.

Critics of the Objectives Resolution see it as some sort of backdoor to theocracy, even though a religious state was the last thing on the minds of those who penned it. MP Bhandara’s 11 August 1947 bill (introduced in 2006) was an attempt to insert one of Jinnah’s most famous speeches on civil equality alongside the Objectives Resolution in the constitution. Bhandara said the speech would act as an ‘ideological balance’. Ironically, unlike his father, MP Bhandara had actually misinterpreted the Objectives Resolution and his bill (his version of it, anyway) was only going to make things worse by causing a conflict. I tried to tell him this, but I don’t think he heard me.


All this made me think of the theorem. By now I saw the connection to the three words in Iqbal’s Reconstruction – the three basic ideals of equality (justice), solidarity (unity), and freedom (liberty). That passage of Iqbal became my muse. Even Jinnah had been subconsciously drawn to these three ideals, which was why he quoted the French equivalent liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) several times during those last few months of his life as Pakistan’s first Governor General.

By 2009, a publisher in the UK and another in Pakistan had both already offered me a contract for SJ1’s revised edition. They expected me to get it to them in a few weeks. It took me 14 months, and thankfully both publishers were very patient with me. By the time it was finished, SJ2 was a brand new book containing new and original research, and only parts of it coincided with SJ1.


Snapshot from trailerIn SJ2, I briefly mentioned this ‘missing’ element of Pakistan’s constitution, and even said that my old appendix (imported from SJ1 and improved in SJ2) contained the very same ‘core principles’ of the Quran that could help complete the constitutional work begun back in 1949. What I didn’t mention – though I discussed it with one or two people including a prominent Pakistani retired senior judge – was that I also had an idea for a bill that could introduce the same ideals as those listed in my old appendix, the source of the theorem. To my mind the introduction of binding, interconnected values would not only strengthen and clarify the promises made in the Objectives Resolution, but would also put an end to the misinterpretation of what it contains.

And what happened after that? Well, the idea remains an idea. In the end, I made it – the theorem, that is – ‘real’ only in my fictional universe. But there it makes for useful commentary on the human condition … and it’s my way of paying homage to the Pakistan idea.

This is the final part. Earlier posts in this mini-series:

Introduction … Pt 1: The first book 

Pt 2: Libredux … Pt 3: The missing principle

(Some images in this post are copyrighted)

How Secular Jinnah inspired Systems: Introduction

Systems coverSince starting this blog, I’ve been posting a little bit about writing Systems, and only a tiny bit (one post thus far) about its core. I’ve been reluctant to write extensively on the core because I didn’t want the formal stuff to clutter this blog and give people the wrong idea about the story – which is a lot more entertaining, I assure you. Yet something hasn’t felt quite right.

Secular Jinnah & Pakistan coverEveryone who knows me as a writer identifies me with Secular Jinnah. My mailing list is made up almost entirely of folk who are interested in Pakistan’s founding history. To them, Systems has no connection to my other titles.


But there is a connection, even if it’s not immediately obvious to my readers (and wouldn’t be noticed at all by most non-Pakistani readers). And I know I haven’t exactly been helping either. In my original announcement email for Systems to my list in early December 2011, I said that ‘any resemblance to the Pakistan idea’ was ‘entirely coincidental’. Now that was a tongue-in-cheek joke coming from a conversation I was having with a friend at the time, but I think they took it seriously. Even later on, after I clarified that actually there is a connection, they didn’t buy it. Perhaps they thought I was just trying to sell the novel. I wasn’t.

Recently at another writer’s blog I told a fellow writer that my non-fiction and fiction were virtually unconnected. I was telling the truth, insofar as there’s not an obvious connection on a surface level. But it’s not true at the core. Not even remotely. Systems is social commentary in the broadest sense, and its core is very much inspired by the discoveries I made when I was writing about the Pakistan idea. In short, Systems simply wouldn’t exist without Secular Jinnah. Funnily enough, I even mentioned this on the description page for Systems on Amazon.com a few weeks ago but didn’t carry that point over to here. So it’s about time I did. Of course, I do love writing about storytelling and pencraft, and I will continue to do so. But I must follow my own advice and try to reveal the core of this novel.


So starting this Sunday I’m starting a mini-series about the story behind Systems. Doing so will help me achieve two things at once. One, I’ll finally help my readers understand what I meant about the connection to the Pakistan idea. Two, it’ll be easier for me to introduce the ‘theorem’ of the novel (among other things) by explaining exactly where it came from.

So you won’t miss it, subscribe (see form on the right side of this page) if you haven’t already done so.

Next: Pt 1: The first book … Pt 2: Libredux 

Pt 3: The missing principle  Pt 4 (final): Reversal