A writer for the Guardian spent some time analysing pictures of Tory leader David Cameron's bookshelves and provided a list of the titles there, along with appropriately snide comments. Charlie Stross's 'Saturn's Children' was amongst them*, which got a comment that managed to be both snide and dismissive: 'An "erotic futuristic thriller" according to Amazon. I've never heard of it. And Cameron's never read it.' But how does he know?
Otherwise, there's been a bit of a mini-storm over a book, Knife Music, by David Carnoy, which Apple chose to ban from being sold to users of the iphone for 'objectionable content'. I rather suspect the hand of a wildly overzealous non-reading Apple employeee in this. Carnoy was required to take the word 'fuck' out of the book - and he did, since it was used only a couple of times.
Just to be clear why I think this kind of censorship - and it is censorship - is a bad idea: without sweary words, we might end up reading passages like this -
Parker shot the thug once in the knee and twice in the chest.
"Darn it!" cried the thug as he collapsed to the ground, staring up at Parker. "You beastly swine!"
Or perhaps we could substitute a comedy WW2 German soldier for the thug:
"Aiee!" cried the German guard as he collapsed to the ground, staring up at Parker. "Englischer schweinhund!"
My point: censorship is carried out by authoritarian moral cowards who think we're far too simple-minded to handle the big nasty sweary words. Once one moves past the appalling hypocrisy inherent in a company who have no issue in selling an Itunes track called 'Jizz in my Pants' but don't want us to see the word 'fuck', one is left wondering what they're going to do when it comes to selling books like 'Wetlands' by Charlotte Roche, which is apparently almost entirely set in a proctology ward and features a hygiene-free and deeply promiscuous heroine. Perhaps they could next work their way through Henry Miller's back catalogue and replace every naughty word with 'zoinks!', lest our poor hearts be stilled by the shock of encountering lewdness.
*Or apparently it is, since the picture the Guardian posted is at a sufficently low resolution for me not to be able to make out any titles at all.