My SciFi glut being temporarily over, I have had three books, in three different genres, on the go in parallel over the past few weeks, and I intend to devote a separate post to each of them. The first was Philip Pullman’s novella, Clockwork. This is an excellently told story, full of suspense, but it is also a strongly moralistic parable, a critique of modern Western society. I found the concept of Sir Ironsoul, a mechanical knight who comes to murderous life whenever the word ‘devil’ is voiced, wonderfully sinister and I am sure I would have been afraid of this character as a child. But here, too, there is a parallel in human dynamics. How often do we inadvertently upset or anger somebody in a gathering or a meeting by talking about something or by talking in a way that, unbeknown to us, they find objectionable? I have certainly seen my fair share of meetings where colleagues became the targets of aggression for reasons that they did not know and therefore couldn’t explain. Truth be told, there is a bit of the Sir Ironsoul in all of us.