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Second paragraph of third story ("The Copsy Door", by Terry Dowling):
Not for the first time that morning, Amberlin wondered if the strange lanky creature had found a new way to slip his holding spell.
This is a collection of short stories set in the world of Jack Vance's Dying Earth, which I read and enjoyed back in 2004. It bubbled to the top of my to-read list a few months after it became the subject of polemic between one of the contributors, John C. Wright, and one of the editors, George R.R. Martin. Martin was quoted in a Guardian piece about this year's Hugos as saying about last year's:
“When the Hugo ballot came out last year it was not just a rightwing ballot, it was a bad ballot”
Wright objected:
Evidence enough that Mr. Martin had not read the works on the ballot. I say no more, lest I be accused of self-aggrandizement, for the works he thus criticizes are mine. He did not have so poor an opinion of my work when he bought it for his SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH anthology, however: a fact he conveniently forgot when he began leveling absurd and absurdly false accusations against me.
Martin riposted, devastatingly:
I do not know why Wright seems to believe that by purchasing and publishing one of his stories seven years ago, I am therefore somehow required to like everything that he writes subsequently, to the extent that I would feel it Hugo worthy.

It should be pointed out that "Guyal the Curator" was not itself nominated for a Hugo (there being no Puppies around in 2009 to push it). None of the stories from SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH were Hugo finalists, truth be told. Do I think some were worthy of that honor? Sure I do. I cannot pretend to be objective, I'm proud of the anthologies I edit and the stories I publish. Do I think that all the stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH (or ROGUES, or OLD MARS, or OLD VENUS, or LOWBALL, or any of my anthologies) are Hugo-worthy? Of course not. In a normal year, the Hugo finalists are supposed to represent the five best stories of the year in that word length. Was "Guyal the Curator" one of the five best short stories (actually, it might have been a novelette, after so long I do not recall the word length) of 2009? No. It was a good story, not a great story. The Hugo Awards demand greatness. It was an entertaining Vance tribute, but it was not a patch on real Vance, on "The Last Castle" or "The Dragon Masters" or "Guyal of Sfere." And truth be told, it was not even one of the five best stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH. A good story, yes, I'll say that again. But there were better in the book. (And how not? We had an amazing lineup of contributors).
As Martin says, the lineup of contributors was indeed amazing: Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Bear, Neil Gaiman. (One sad reflection is that several of them - Kage Baker, Lucius Shepard, Tanith Lee - are no longer with us.) The quality of the stories, as Ian Whates reflected at the time, is a bit variable. This is pastiche rather than originality, and Vance's style in the Dying Earth stories is easy to pastiche. But they are almost all enjoyable enough (as it happens, I didn't particularly care for the John C. Wright one). Several others grabbed me, though: "The Copsy Door", by Terry Dowling, quoted above; "The Green Bird", by Kage Baker; "The Traditions of Karzh", by Paula Volsky; "Evillo the Uncunning", by Tanith Lee.

Basically, if you liked the original Vance stories, most of these will appeal. But if you don't know them, I think it would be a bit confusing.

This was the most popular unread book on my shelves acquired in 2011. Next on that list is Warriors, another anthology edited by George R.R. Martin.

The Joy Device, by Justin Richards

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Not that in the event this mattered. The incoming ship he was meeting was itself three hours late. And that was on top of the four hours late he already knew about from the spaceport arrivals bulletin site. So he had a bit of a wait.
Again, a book by an author I generally like but this Bernice Summerfield story with a very thin plot about a heist and involving lots of favourite characters from past stories in the sequence didn't really do it for me. Oh well. More hope for the next int eh series, Twilight of the Gods by Mark Clapham and Jon de Burgh Miller, the last of this particular sequence.
I am way way behind on book-blogging, but one has to re-start somewhere.

Second paragraph of third chapter:
The clink of armour rang out through the crisp, sharp air as a squad of guards, splendid and sinister in coal-black breastplates quartered by a bold white cross, spread out amongst the townspeople.The unkempt mass of traders and townsfolk allowed themselves to be shepherded into a large and ragged group. Del Toro picked his way through the mud, staring into the eyes of the crowd before him, nodding with satisfaction at the fear visible there.
I really enjoyed Perry and Tucker's novels featuring the Seventh Doctor. This Telos novella, unfortunately but not atypically for that publisher, is way below par. The Doctor and new companion Catherine Broome land on a planet where a rather stereotypical Catholic church has declared all Time Lords to be witches. Various tediously predictable things happen, until the point where the plot ends on a twist shared with Death Comes To Time which independently came out the same year. Rather skippable, and that's the first time I've said that about these authors.

Nest in this sequence (and last of the Seventh Doctor novels that I haven't read): Bullet Time, by David McIntee.

Numbers with nothing in the middle

There is an infinite set of numbers with nothing in the middle.

By that I mean a positive whole number whose first digit and last digit are not zero, but any and all digits in between are zero.

The 81 numbers between 11 and 99 that are not multiples of ten are numbers with nothing in the middle. So are the 81 numbers of form x0y between 101 and 909. So are the 81 numbers of form x00y between 1001 and 9009. And so on.

I started wondering, which of these numbers is divisible by each prime number? What is the lowest prime number whose multiples include a complete set of numbers with nothing in the middle?

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There, I thought you needed to know that.

Saturday reading (a day late)

I've really slacked off in my reading in the last couple of weeks - lots of travel, and also reaction to the US election and other intense things going on behind the scenes. Next couple of weeks seem likly to be less hectic, but then again one never knows!

Current
Kings of the North, by Cecelia Holland
AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers, ed. Nnedi Okorafor
Tolstoy, by Henri Troyat
Short Trips: The History of Christmas, ed. Simon Guerrier

Last books finished
Prime Minister Corbyn: and other things that never happened, eds. Duncan Brack and Iain Dale

Next books
Angels & Visitations: A Miscellany, by Neil Gaiman
Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, by Paul Cartledge
Bullet Time, by David McIntee

Interesting Links for 19-11-2016

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Saturday books

Current
Kings of the North, by Cecelia Holland
AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers, ed. Nnedi Okorafor
Tolstoy, by Henri Troyat
Short Trips: The History of Christmas, ed. Simon Guerrier

Last books finished
Antarès, Épisode 1, by Leo

Next books
Angels & Visitations: A Miscellany, by Neil Gaiman
Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, by Paul Cartledge

Books acquired in last two weeks
Europe in the Sixteenth Century, ed. H.G. Koenigsberger & George L. Mosse
Prime Minister Corbyn: and other things that never happened, eds. Duncan Brack and Iain Dale

October Books

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Fewer than usual. Lots of travel that did not facilitate reading.

Saturday reading

Current
Kings of the North, by Cecelia Holland
AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers, ed. Nnedi Okorafor
Tolstoy, by Henri Troyat

Next books
Angels & Visitations: A Miscellany, by Neil Gaiman
Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, by Paul Cartledge
Short Trips: The History of Christmas, ed. Simon Guerrier

Books acquired in last week
The Past Through Tomorrow, by Robert A. Heinlein
The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
Who Killed Kennedy: The Shocking Secret Linking a Time Lord and a President, by James Stevens
Aurora: Beyond Equality, eds. Vonda N. McIntyre and Susan Janice Anderson
Fools, by Pat Cadigan
The Harem Of Aman Akbar, by Elizabeth Scarborough
Hex, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Doctor Who: 365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things, by Justin Richards
Doctor Who: the Time Lord Letters, by Justin Richards
P.I.G.S., by Cecilia Valagussa

Interesting Links for 29-10-2016

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