5) Fringe: Letters of Transit
As with last year, I had actually seen four of the five nominees on (or very shortly after) first broadcast, which left me with only Fringe to catch up with. It's not my show, and there were obviously lots of payoffs for narrative lines of which I was utterly unaware, but there was plenty of interesting stuff going on and one or two good lines, certainly enough to justify putting it above "No Award".
4) Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks
It gets really difficult after that. I loved all four of the other nominees and one gets into really spurious grounds for ranking one below another. My spurious reason for putting Asylum of the Daleks below the other three is that I didn't think it handled the Rory/Amy relationship well.
3) Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan
Now it gets even more difficult. I loved The Angels Take Manhattan too, but my spurious reason for putting it below the other two is that the payoff for Amy and Rory's departure was a bit disappointing; they could easily enough travel away from New York to see the Doctor again.
2) Game of Thrones: Blackwater
Only one episode from the second series of GoT got nominated this year, but this was clearly the best set piece: an excellent chapter from the book, steered to the screen by GRRM himself. I felt the ending was fumbled, but otherwise really enjoyed it. I would not be at all surprised to see this win in San Antonio.
1) Doctor Who: The Snowmen
But my vote will go to The Snowmen, which ticked many of my fannish boxes, and has set up the mystery of Clara which we are still waiting to see resolved. I don't think one should be rude even to Sontarans, but otherwise I fully approved. In any case, I will cheer if any of my top four wins, and shrug in bemusement if the voters opt for Fringe.
See also: Best Novella
Does anyone have recommendations on how (or indeed whether) one should start reading Perry Rhodan? Is it a continuous narrative where you need to know what happened from the beginning, or are there particular arcs you can jump into (and if so, which)? Or should one just start with the latest and keep going from there?
"You said you were my personal physician."The last of the trilogy about political bloggers after the zombie apocalypse, Blackout resurrects Georgia Mason, killed at the end of the first book, and reunites her with her brother Shaun to sort the world out (where "the world" should be understood as largely coextensive with the forty-eight contiguous states). There are some nice vignettes of the post-disaster society, but an awful lot of pointless running around to get our characters in place for the two denouements mid-book and at the end. I'm feeling a bit uninspired by the Best Novel nominations this year.
"So tell me: How long have I been a clone?"
Dr. Thomas dropped his pen.
Oh God, midnight’s not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two’s not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there’s hope, for dawn’s just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, three A.M.!A quote which is not so representative of the book, but will strike a chord with anyone who has ever grappled with insomnia.
This is of course a classic, but was also one of the books listed in the Locus Poll of Best 20th Century Fantasy which spurred me to get it. I was familiar with Bradbury's style, both lyrical and stark at the same time, from The Martian Chronicles and other short stories; I am not actually sure that I had read one of his novels before. It is an effective tale of a creepy carnival coming to a small Mid-Western town, the central characters being two teenage boys and the older father of one of them; apart from the spooky adventure there are musings on adulthood and aging. I see that Bradbury was in his early 40s when he wrote this; that's the point when the limits of your lifespan really start to hit most people. I enjoyed it a lot.
(Allied bombing in 1944, followed by a 1976 fire in what was left.)
The only thing that saved Wallenstein's life was the extreme range.This is the story of a coal-mining West Virginia community which finds itself transported back in time to 1632 (actually 1631 but it's the following year before the action starts) in the middle of Germany during the Thirty Years War. Using good old 'Murrican know-how, the townsfolk develop representative democracy, religious freedom and cheap banking, and use their locally available arsenal to ally with Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to help him win the war (and avoid death) fifteen years early. There is much loving description of a cute girl who blows people's heads off (finishing with Wallenstein), and similar battle scenes; the transported Americans make it through almost 600 pages of fighting without suffering a major casualty. As with another time-travel war book co-authored by Flint, his protagonists never lose an argument or a battle. There is only one black guy in town and he happens to be the doctor, so that means that any discussion of racism is largely confined to the Americans bringing enlightenment to the anti-Semites of central Europe. People who like that sort of thing will like this, but I am not really sure that I am one of them.
(Interesting note: Mannington WV, the place on which the town of Grantville is explicitly based, had an African American population of 2.54% in the 2000 census and 0.2% in 2010; a drop from roughly 50 people to roughly 4. I wonder what happened?)
So, to recap, we have a pioneering female producer being replaced with a male producer whose first decision is to sack the female lead for being too uppity. Knowing that, it's really hard to watch this story, in which the matriarchal society of the Drahvin is painted as uncritically and completely evil, without wanting to drink heavily and read feminist literary theory. (To be fair, though, I want to do those things most of the time.)
Back in January, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the second volume of this series of books based on Sandifer's excellent blog; even though a new edition of this first volume is being planned, bigger and better, I really wanted to get my hands on it anyway. As with the Troughton volume, it combines an iteration through the televised stories (and some untelevised ones, starting with Kim Newman's Time and Relative) with reflections on the general cultural ambience of the time, though there are fewer of these than there were in the second volume.
This volume has more decription of the scope of the entire project from Sandifer. He firmly locates it as an act of "psychochronography", and devotes some time to unpacking that concept in the opening essay. He also writes in passing about gender and race - particularly race, tackling the question of Hartnell's own racism and the racist interpretations of The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker. It's all rather fascinating.
As before I found areas of agreement and disagreement, and some points of irritation. I found his description of the end of Susan's and Dodo's character arcs, as if they had just run out of things to do and therefore had to be written out, rather too deterministic; the show was always perfectly capable of keeping characters around well after their sell-by date. I'm also not aware of any other evidence that Vicki was originally intended to be killed off in The Daleks' Master Plan. But I cheered for his positive interpretation of The Gunfighters. I think it's also a very strong point that the changeover of producers - twice - in Season Three is one of the biggest changes of production style in the history of the programme, though spread out to happen gradually over several stories.
In any case, these books will be as vital a part of the thinking Who fan's library as Wood and Miles' About Time series, to which Sandifer repeatedly pays due homage.
Rather than wait for the Hugo voters' pack this year, I have acquired the written fiction nominees as far as possible, and this has meant getting to the novellas first. Unusually, four of the five works shortlisted in this category were published as standalone volumes, which will boost my book count for this month.
( 5) San Diego 2014 by Mira Grant; 4) After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress; 3) The Stars Do Not Lie by Jay Lake; 2) On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard; 1) The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon SandersonCollapse )
I don't feel terribly strongly about this ranking, except that the zombie story is definitely in last place for me and I shall grumble if it wins.
Never let it be said that I ask questions and don’t give the answers. Here are the results, from most-seen to least-seen, of my poll a month ago of Oscar winners for Best Picture.
( tableCollapse )
The 1990s are the best-performing decade, with four films in the top ten (Shakespeare in Love, The Silence of the Lambs, Titanic and Schindler’s List) and another three in the top twenty (Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Dances With Wolves). This possibly says more about the ages of those answering rather than the timeless qualities of movies from the nineties.
The decade that seems to have real staying power (or possibly the power of being shown a lot on TV when the controllers were the age that most of my readers are now) is the 1960s, with three in the top ten (The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and West Side Story) and another at 11th place (Oliver!). The noughties contribute the poll-topping Return of the King and fourth-placed Gladiator. And rounding out the top ten is the 1940s with Casablanca, though the only other film from that decade in the top half of the table is Rebecca, at #36.
I am interested to learn if Wings (the first ever winner of the Oscar for Best Picture) and The Life of Emile Zola from ten years later deserve their comparative obscurity!
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Broadcast of The Sontaran Stratagem, bringing back Martha Jones, UNIT and the Sontarans to meet the Tenth Doctor and Donna.
Webcast of part 2 of "Death Comes To Time", confusingly the twelfth of thirteen episodes, in which a peculiarly depicted Seventh Doctor and Ace prepare for their final confrontation...
Broadcast of episode 2 of Revenge of the Cybermen, in which Harry takes the poisoned Sarah to Voga and the Fourth Doctor tries to sort things out on Nerva.
Broadcast of episode 2 of The War Games, in which the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe begin to realise that this may not be the real First World War after all...
I was born!
‘Aggie?’ said the Doctor thoughtfully. ‘I wonder what that’s short for?’The Penguin series of short Who books for younger readers keeps getting better. This month (published two days ago) we have the Fourth Doctor and Leela in an adventure on a giant spaceborne tree. The plot combines quite a lot of elements of Leela's first televised adventure with nods to New Who, and also a decent moral twist to the tale in the end. If this is typical of Reeve's writing, I may well seek out more.
The girl’s nostrils flared proudly. ‘My full name is Agony-Without-End-Shall-Be-The-Doctor’s-P
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... to rhyme with "glass", "ti" being pronounced /s/ in Gilbertese. It is said that the Rev Hiram Bingham jr, when he brought "civilisation" to the islands in the 1860s, neglected to ensure that he had enough "s" blocks in his printing set; but this seems to me too good to be true.
As arwel_p pointed out, one of the islands of Kiribati is Kiritimati Island, also known, with nearly the same pronunciation, as Christmas Island.
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Pronounced correctly, "Kiribati" rhymes with:
|something else, which I will explain in comments|
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This was death? Then why did it hurt so much?It's not Joe Abercrombie's fault, but epic fantasy rarely ticks my boxes - I thoroughly bounced off Brust's Vlad Taltos books as well. I didn't find characters or setting attractive or interesting, and struggled through to the end to confirm my feelings. I have Best Served Cold waiting on the shelves as well but I may not give it the same amount of time.
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Which of these books first published in 1963 have you read?
|Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak|
|The Bell Jar by "Victoria Lucas" (Sylvia Plath)|
|Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut|
|Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish|
|The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing by Edward Gorey|
|Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss|
|The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré|
|The Collector by John Fowles|
|V. by Thomas Pynchon|
|The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan|
|Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol|
|Hopscotch (Rayuela) by Julio Cortázar|
|Planet of the Apes (La Planète des Singes) by Pierre Boulle|
|Stormy, Misty's Foal by Marguerite Henry|
|Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat|
|Quatrains / Ruba'iyat (رباعيات صلاح جاهين) by Salah Jahin|
|The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin|
|The Clocks by Agatha Christie|
|Around the World in 200 Days ( حول العالم في 200 يوم) by Anis Mansour|
|The Clown ( Ansichten eines Clowns) by Heinrich Theodor Böll|
|On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming|
|Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein|
|The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea ( 午後の曳航) by Yukio Mishima|
|Way Station by Clifford D. Simak|
|Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era by Sterling North|
|The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris|
|Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt|
|I Am David by Anne Holm|
|The Grifters by Jim Thompson|
|Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein|
|Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein|
|The Graduate by Charles Webb|
|Men in the Sun (رجال في الشمس by Ghassan Kanafani|
|Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse|
|Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof|
|Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith|
|The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé|
|Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean|
|Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander|
|A Mind To Murder by P.D. James|
|The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle|
|Five Are Together Again by Enid Blyton|
|Marcovaldo (Marcovaldo ovvero Le stagioni in città) by Italo Calvino|
|The Words (Les Mots) by Jean-Paul Sartre|
|Caravans by James A. Michener|
|Asterix and the Goths (Astérix et les Goths) by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo|
|Marat/Sade (Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade) by Peter Weiss|
|The Concubine by Norah Lofts|
|False Colours by Georgette Heyer|
|It's Like This, Cat by Emily Cheney Neville|
|Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter|
|Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever|
|Stig of the Dump by Clive King|
|The Yage Letters by William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg|
|The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark|
|The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick|
|Bride of Pendorric by "Victoria Holt" (Eleanor Hibbert)|
|The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen|
|The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian by Shelby Foote|
|The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson|
|The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis|
|The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West|
|Puckoon by Spike Milligan|
|Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff|
And which of these books first published in 1913 have you read?
|Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter|
|Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence|
|Swann's Way (Du côté de chez Swann) by Marcel Proust|
|O Pioneers! by Willa Cather|
|The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton|
|The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum|
|Le Grand Meaulnes (The Lost Estate) by Alain-Fournier|
|Totem and Taboo by Sigmund Freud|
|The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|Petersburg ( Петербург) by Andrei Bely|
|The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery|
|The Book of Lies by Aleister Crowley|
|Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter|
|Alcools by Guillaume Apollinaire|
|The Star Rover by Jack London|
|When William Came by "Saki" (H.H. Monro)|
Have you read any of these books first published in 1863?
|Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne|
|The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley|
|The Cossacks (Казаки) by Leo Tolstoy|
|Romola by George Eliot|
|Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell|
And the same for 1813?
|Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen|
|Peter Schlemihl (Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte) by Adalbert von Chamisso|
|On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason by Arthur Schopenhauer|
I'd be very interested to hear recommendations in comments. (I'll start with my own.)
Next in the sequence of Tenth Doctor comics that started with Fugitive. As with the previous volume, I wasn't wild about the first two issues collected here, where I felt that Al Davison's art didn't quite match Lee's script of aliens invading the Tardis. But then things really take a turn for the better, with a four-issue story gorgeously illustrated by Blair D. Shedd, which has Martha Jones, walking trees, Greenwich Observatory and John Dee, and another joke about Belgium.
There's a reference to Martha having married Mickey, and I thought at first that this might have been anticipating The End of Time as they go off to chase Sontarans at the end. But in fact the comic was published in mid-2010, after The End of Time was broadcast, so no surprise for the reader who had been paying attention.
I hope Shedd does more Who work; I was really impressed.
The Doctor loaded his plate with thick slices of meat stuffed with a rich green dressing. “Pale wine and pistachio lamb! Thanks to All-Providing God that not everything He sends my way is a maddening trial!”The least-owned on Librarything of this year's Hugo nominees, Throne of the Crescent Moon is a sword-and-sorcery adventure set in an Arabian Nights-style environment, with an undercurrent of social revolution. It's not really my subgenre to be honest, and I felt that in the early chapters before the author found his pace it was occasionally reminiscent of reading someone's account of their D&D campaign , but I enjoyed it a lot more than The Blade Itself which I was reading at about the same time.
As with A Tale of Two Cities, I did consider mischievously posting judiciously chosen extracts to Doctor Who forums and asking people what novel they thought they might be from. (The central character is often referred to as "the Doctor".)
There are 22 panellists and moderators for today's conference, and we are all men. I see only one woman in this room out of more than thirty people. This isn't good enough; in fact it is unacceptable. We are all here because we are experts on today's topic; we all know women who are engaged as deeply as we are with this particular issue; as it is, we are now supposed to have an in-depth discussion in which half of the population will not be represented adequately. I hope that the organisers and the funders will ensure that this never happens again. I will not participate in any future event where this is allowed to happen, and I hope that the rest of you here will commit to do the same.The only detail I want to give about the event is that, ironically, one of the funders was the government of an EU member country which has a female head of state. (There are four of them - can you name them all?)
The organisers did say that they had originally had two women panellists scheduled (and I think that they must have been on the draft programme for the event that I was originally sent) but that they both pulled out for family reasons. They also said that they accepted my point (which is why my remarks were directed at least as much to the other men in the room).