Following the Thursday rerun of the Serenade Radio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week, here we go with Episode Nineteen of our current Tale for Our Time - Anthony Trollope's sole venture into dystopic fiction The Fixed Period.
In tonight's episode, President Neverbend, his plans thwarted by the arrival of the Royal Navy, finds himself pondering the various disruptions to his scheme - starting with the pulchritude of the deposited's daughter:
Had Eva Crasweller not been good-looking, had Jack been still at college, had Sir Kennington Oval remained in England, had Mr Bunnit and the bar-keeper not succeeded in stopping my carriage on the hill,—should I have succeeded in arranging for the final departure of my old friend? That was the question which I ought to ask myself. And even had I succeeded in carrying my success so far as that, should I not have appeared a murderer to my fellow-citizens had not his departure been followed in regular sequence by that of all others till it had come to my turn? Had Crasweller departed, and had the system then been stopped, should I not have appeared a murderer even to myself? And what hope had there been, what reasonable expectation, that the system should have been allowed fair-play?
This is the classic totalitarian dilemma: the great "benevolence" of the general theory vs the terrible ruination piled up on actual people.
We're now deep into our fifth season of Tales for Our Time and have built up quite an archive. So, if you've a chum who's a fan of classic fiction in audio form, don't forget our Mark Steyn Club gift membership. Oh, and please join me tomorrow, after Friday's Clubland Q&A, for Part Twenty of The Fixed Period.