buzz
As some of you know, I was Director of Promotions for Loncon 3, the recently concluded World Science Fiction Convention. If I have the energy, I will write up longer thoughts about the entire event, but just here and now I want to record the three coolest things that happened to me - all on the same day, Sunday 17th.

The Third Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday: As I emerged somewhat bleary-eyed from a panel in the morning, someone who I had never physically met before (and you know who you are) came up to me and said that they liked this blog. My dear Livejournal, I have been neglecting you of late; Worldcon and real life have both been deflecting me from writing here as much as I used to. It was reaching the stage where I seriously was wondering if I could come back and pay you a sensible amount of attention again. So this encouragement was timely, and also immensely cheering, because the person it came from was the person I had nominated and voted for for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Having my modest and frankly faltering efforts praised by someone who I think is at the top of their game meant a lot to me. (You know who you are, but I won't embarrass you by outing you!)

The Second Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday: I met two Doctor Whos. Obviously, we all knew that one of the Hugo nominees was The Five(ish) Doctors Rebooted, written and directed by Peter Davison and produced by his daughter Georgia Moffett. I spotted Davison and his wife Eizabeth in the pre-Hugo reception, and was chatting to her when her phone rang - it was Georgia, who had been dropped at the wrong end of the building along with her husband. I heroically offered to meet them and make sure they came to the right place, and so it fell to me to escort David Tennant onto the premises. Both Doctors were very good-humoured about posing with members of the team - I was unfortunately too busy to get in on the act myself. I had more of a chance to talk to Davison, who confessed that the only drama he had previously written were a couple of skits to introduce himself to the Gallifrey conventions in California.

The Coolest thing That Happened To Me On Sunday:  Had you asked before Sunday morning, it would have been very difficult to imagine that anything cooler than meeting two Doctor Whos might happen that day. But Worldcon is a place where the unimaginable happens. In the morning, as I walked along the boulevard post-panel, I spotted an unassuming elderly man sitting on one of the uncomfortable benches by the side.

It was Brian Aldiss.

Brian Aldiss

I don't think that there is a living author whose work has meant so much to me for so long, since I discovered him in my teens, more than thirty years ago. (Ursula le Guin comes pretty close, I'll admit, but she wasn't there.) He was more than happy to discuss and explain the thinking behind many of his early and his more recent books - we talked about Greybeard, we talked about Non-Stop, we talked about Hothouse, we talked about Helliconia, we talked about The Finches of Mars, we talked about Cities and Stones. We talked about politics and we talked about families. The day before his 89th birthday, 49 years after he was Guest of honour at the last London Worldcon, he was still sharp as a knife. I didn't want to stretch his tolerance, so we spoke for only 20 minutes or so. But it was the high point of the convention - possibly of the year - for me personally.

A peculiar postscript happened at lunchtime today. As I wandered out of the office to buy my sandwich, I happened to encounter a Balkan friend - one of the best known journalists in his country, who has a personal history of exposing state atrocities and state-linked crimes, has been prosecuted for "spreading disinformation" and has had his house bombed by disgruntled underworld figures. He had spotted my post of the picture above on Facebook, and told me that his first professional job had been translating Helliconia into his native language, adding that he is "green with envy" that I met Brian Aldiss and he didn't. I recommended Cities and Stones (which he hadn't read) to him, very warmly. I must replace my own copy (given as a permanent loan to another Balkan journalist friend, many years ago).

Wednesday reading

books
Current
Battle for Bittora, by Anuja Chauhan
Engines of War, by George Mann
The Life of John Buncle, Esq: Containing Various Observations and Reflections, Made in Several Parts of the World, and Many Extraordinary Relations, v. 2 by Thomas Amory

Last books finished
A Winter Book, by Tove Jansson
Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis
The Crooked World, by Steve Lyons
ν1

Next books
Starry messenger: The best of Galileo, ed. Charles Ryan
Diplomatic Baggage, by Brigid Keenan
The Making of Doctor Who, by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke

Books acquired in last week
Riding the Unicorn by Paul Kearney
Worlds Apart, by Richard Cowper
Cloud on Silver, by John Christopher
Le Mariage de Figaro, by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Tangle Of Fates, by Leslie Ann Moore
HWJN, by Ibraheem Abbas
Somewhere! (Hunaak!), by Ibraheem Abbas
Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta
Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards
Battle for Bittora, by Anuja Chauhan
The Painted Man, by Peter V. Brett

#HugoAwards 2014: A bit more detail

buzz
Details here.

Headlines:
  • Sarah Webb crushes all opposition for Best Fan Artist.
  • Closest result among winners is 16-vote margin putting Apex Magazine ahead of Strange Horizons for Best Semiprozine.
  • Other close results:
    • John Picacio and John Harris tie for 3rd place in Best Professional Artist;
    • Coode Street Podcast takes 2nd place for Best Fancast by 1 vote
  • Vox Day defeated by No Award for fifth place in Best Novelette.
  • No Award also does well, topping the poll at almost every stage, but ultimately fails to place, in Best Fancast.
  • Also in Best Fancast, Tea and Jeopardy is runner-up for the first, second and third spots, eventually coming fourth.
  • Toni Weisskopf gets most first prefs in counts for first, second and third place in Best Editor Long Form, but overtaken by transfers each time and wins only fourth place.
  • Doctor Who episodes are 2nd and 6th in Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), with the two Who-related plays coming 4th and 5th.
  • Neil Gaiman declined nomination for The Ocean At The End Of The Lane for Best Novel.
  • missed getting on the ballot by one vote:
    • The Night of the Doctor (BDP SF);
    • Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Best Editor LF);
    • Joey Hi-Fi (Best Professional Artist);
    • Maurine Starkey (Best Fan Artist).
  • missed by two votes:
    • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (Best Novel);
    • The Time of the Doctor (BDP SF);
    • Chris Hadfield's perfomance of Space Oddity (also BDP SF).
Note to self: remember to nominate in all categories - it does make a difference!

detailsCollapse )

See you next year!

Tags:

1939 Retro Hugo results in detail

buzz
Summary of results here, PDF of full results here.

lots of numbersCollapse )

Tags:

Wednesday reading

summer

Current
The Life of John Buncle, Esq: Containing Various Observations and Reflections, Made in Several Parts of the World, and Many Extraordinary Relations, v. 2 by Thomas Amory
ν1
A Winter Book, by Tove Jansson
Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis

Last books finished
Tomb of Valdemar, by Simon Messingham
Brontomek!, by Michael Coney
A Guide to Tolkien, by David Day
The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Bad Therapy, by Matthew Jones

Next books
Starry Messenger: The Best of Galileo, ed. Charles Ryan
[Doctor Who] The Crooked World, by Steve Lyons
Diplomatic Baggage, by Brigid Keenan
The Making of Doctor Who, by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke

Books acquired in last week
The Accident, by Ismail Kadarë

Happy 100th birthday, Tove Jansson!

earthsea

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great Tove Jansson.

You may well be aware of the Moomins; but she also illustrated Swedish translations of both The Hobbit and Alice in Wonderland.

We'll be showing this documentary about her at Loncon 3 this coming Thursday afternoon.

See you there?

Wednesday reading

books
Current
Tomb of Valdemar, by Simon Messingham
The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The Life of John Buncle, Esq: Containing Various Observations and Reflections, Made in Several Parts of the World, and Many Extraordinary Relations, v. 2 by Thomas Amory

Last books finished
μ1
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
With The Light... vol 7, by Keiko Tobe
Vernon God Little, by DBC Pierre
The Life of John Buncle, Esq: Containing Various Observations and Reflections, Made in Several Parts of the World, and Many Extraordinary Relations, v. 1, by Thomas Amory

Last week's audios
[Bernice Summerfield] The Lights of Skaro, by James Goss

Next books
Brontomek!, by Michael Coney
A Guide to Tolkien, by David Day
Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis
[Doctor Who] Bad Therapy, by Matthew Jones

Books acquired in last week
[Doctor Who] Engines of War, by George Mann
Tomb Travel, by Harry Welsh
Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court, by Anna Whitelock
The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon
Saga Volume 3, by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H.P. Lovecraft and Ian Culbard
Tweaking The Tail: The Autobiography of John Leeson
How To Train Your Dragon: A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons, by Cressida Cowell
How To Train Your Dragon: How to Betray a Dragon's Hero, by Cressida Cowell
How To Train Your Dragon: How to Ride a Dragon's Storm, by Cressida Cowell
How To Train Your Dragon: How to Steal a Dragon's Sword, by Cressida Cowell

Links I found interesting for 06-08-2014

summer

Links I found interesting for 04-08-2014

summer
asquith
Things are pretty black. Germany is now in active war with both Russia and France and the Germans have violated the neutrality of Luxembourg. We are waiting to know whether they are going to do the same with Belgium. I had a visit at breakfast from Lichnowsky, who was very émotionné and implored me not to side with France. He said that Germany, with her army cut in two between France and Russia, was far more likely to be crushed than France. He was very agitated, poor man, and wept. I told him that we had no desire to intervene, and that it rested largely with Germany to make intervention impossible if she would (1) not invade Belgium and (2) not send her fleet into the Channel to attack the unprotected north coast of France. He was bitter about the policy of his Government in not restraining Austria and seemed quite heart-broken.
        
Then we had a long Cabinet from 11 till nearly 2, which very soon revealed that we are on the brink of a split. We agreed at last with some difficulty that Grey should be authorized to tell Cambon that our fleet would not allow the German fleet to make the Channel a base of hostile operations. John Burns at once resigned, but was persuaded to hold on at any rate till the evening when we meet again. There is a strong party against any kind of intervention in any event. Grey, of course, will never consent to this and I shall not separate myself from him. Crewe, McKenna and Samuel are a modifying intermediate body. Bonar Law writes that the Opposition will back us up in any measure we may take for the support of France and Russia. I suppose a good number of our own party in the House of Commons are for absolute non-interference. It will be a shocking thing if at such a moment we break up.
        
Happily I am quite clear in my own mind as to what is right and what is wrong. (1) We have no obligation of any kind either to France or Russia to give them military or naval help. (2) The dispatch of the Expeditionary Force to help France at this moment is out of the question and would serve no object. (3) We must not forget the ties created by our long-standing and intimate friendship with France. (4) It is against British interests that France should be wiped out as a Great Power. (5) We cannot allow Germany to use the Channel as a hostile base. (6) We have obligations to Belgium to prevent it being utilized and absorbed by Germany.

[These posts were a series of extracts from the first chapter of the second volume of Extracts from Memories and Reflections, 1852-1927, by the Earl of Oxford and Asquith, K.G. (1928), and we have now reached the end of it. Asquith describes the material as follows: "I have not myself, except for a brief period, kept what is technically called a "Diary", but I have been in the habit of jotting down irregularly my impressions of noteworthy persons and incidents while they were still fresh in my memory. I believe this to be an innocent and even a useful practice, for though I have on the whole a serviceable working memory; experience has shown me that no faculty is more subject to lapses, particularly when it is a question of preserving the ipsissima verba of a conversation. For the period I now approach I have drawn freely upon such of these contemporary notes as were accessible, and also upon letters to a few intimate friends, which they have been good enough to place at my disposal." Most of the material is apparently from his correspondence with Venetia Stanley.]

Asquith's notes, 1 August 1914

asquith
When most of them had left, Sir W. Tyrrell arrived with a long message from Berlin to the effect that the German Ambassador's efforts for peace had been suddenly arrested and frustrated by the Tsar's decree for a complete Russian mobilisation. We all set to work, Tyrrell, Bongie [Sir Maurice Bonham Carter, the author's private secretary - HHA], [Eric] Drummond and myself, to draft a direct personal appeal from the King to the Tsar. When we had settled it I called a taxi, and, in company with Tyrell, drove to Buckingham Palace at about 1.30 a.m. The King was hauled out of his bed, and one of my strangest experiences was sitting with him, clad in a dressing gown, while I read the message and the proposed answer.

There was really no fresh news this morning. Lloyd George, all for peace, is more sensible and statesmanlike for keeping the position still open. Grey declares that if an out-and-out and uncompromising policy of non-intervention at all costs is adopted he will go. Winston [Churchill] very bellicose and demanding immediate mobilization. The main controversy pivots upon Belgium and its neutrality. We parted in fairly amicable mood and are to sit again at 11 o'clock tomorrow, Sunday. I am still not quite hopeless about peace, though far from hopeful, but if it comes to war I feel sure that we shall have a split in the Cabinet. Of course if Grey went I should go and the whole thing would break up. On the other hand, we may have to contemplate, with such equanimity as we can command, the loss of [Viscount (John)] Morley and possibly, though I do not think it, of [Sir John]Simon.

[See also Economist article of this date: http://www.economist.com/node/21608276]

Asquith's notes, 31 July 1914

asquith
We had a Cabinet at 11 and a very interesting discussion, especially about the neutrality of Belgium and the point upon which everything will ultimately turn - are we to go in or stand aside? Of course everybody longs to stand aside, but I need not say that France, through Cambon, is pressing strongly for a reassuring declaration. Edward Grey had an interview with him this afternoon which he told me was rather painful. He had, of course, to tell Cambon, for we are under no obligation that we could give no pledges and that our actions must depend upon the course of events, including the Belgian question and the direction of public opinion here.

[NB that the French ambassadors in London and Berlin were brothers.]
buzz
Both last year and in 2011 I did a survey of how bloggers had declared that they would vote for the four written fiction categories of the Hugo awards. I have done a similar survey for this year, presented below. I make the following excuses and caveats:
  1. I'm sorry if I omitted your blog post. I did my best to be comprehensive using Google, but it doesn't get everywhere and it will miss things. (I note that it failed to pick up my own posts on this Livejournal!) But I also deliberately skipped over posts where no clear order of preference was expressed.
  2. I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your first preference, or more importantly if I used the wrong handle for you. Please let me know and I will correct it.
  3. Both in 2011 and in 2013, not a single blogger in my initial survey admitted to voting for the actual winner of the Best Novel category. There were loads of Willis and Scalzi voters who simply weren't recording their preferences anywhere I could see them. The same may be happening this year (though not for WIllis or Scalzi, neither of whom is a finalist).
Having said that, there are two very clear front-runners in two of the fiction categories, so that can be taken as a fairly strong indication.

Best Novel

16 votes for Ancillary Justice (Elliotte Rusty Harold, D.L. of GoodReads, Kat of GoodReads, mgbino of Mobilereads, Pete731 of Mobilereads, Kate Nepveu, Rebecca Demarest, Martin Wisse, Joe Sherry, ReadingSFF, Richard Kettlewell, Rachel Coleman, Steven Halter, Stormsewer, Chris Gerrib and Nicholas Whyte)

4 votes for Neptune's Brood (Andrew Hickey, Timo Pietilä, Kaedrin and Ron Corral)
2 votes for The Wheel of Time (Diabolical Plots and Jack Vickeredge)
1 vote for Parasite (Jeff of GoodReads)
1 vote for No Award (Martin Petto)
1 vote for Warbound (Vox Day)

Comment: Not at all surprising that there is a front-runner here, considering how awards have gone so far this year. On transfers, Parasite rather easily overtakes The Wheel of Time for third place, and No Award passes both The Wheel of Time and Warbound for fourth place. I imagine that The Wheel Of Time will do a bit better than fifth in reality.

Best Novella

6 votes for "Equoid" (Jon Grantham, Steven Halter, Ron Corral, Diabolical Plots, Pete731 of Mobilereads and Timo Pietilä)
6 votes for Six-Gun Snow White (Nicholas Whyte, Stormsewer, Andrew Hickey, Richard Kettlewell, ReadingSFF and Kat of GoodReads)
5 votes for "The Chaplain's Legacy" (Chris Gerrib, Vox Day, Kaedrin, Jeff of GoodReads and Pancakeloach)

3 votes for The Butcher of Khardov (Justin Alexander, Alan Heuer and Rebecca Demarest)
2 votes for "Wakulla Springs" (secritcrush and Tompe of Mobilereads)
1 vote for No Award (Martin Petto)

Comment: Essentially a dead heat with six votes each for the top two stories, and five for the one in third place. When I looked at transfers they didn't resolve the tie between the top two, though they also didn't lift the third-placed story any. Assuming that "Equoid" and Six-Gun Snow White take the top two places, third place goes to "Wakulla Springs" on transfers; fourth to "The Chaplain's Legacy"; and fifth to The Butcher of Khardov, with No Award putting in a strong showing in the final stages.

Best Novelette

9 votes for "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" (Jeff of GoodReads, Nicholas Whyte, Alan Heuer, Richard Kettlewell, Kaedrin, Rebecca Demarest, Justin Alexander, Jon Grantham and Stormsewer)
7 votes for "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" (Andrew Hickey, Steven Halter, Ron Corral, Timo Pietilä, ReadingSFF, Pete731 of Mobilereads and Chris Gerrib)

5 votes for "The Waiting Stars" (Liv Diabolical Plots, Martin Wisse, Kate Nepveu and Kat of GoodReads)

1 vote for "The Exchange Officers" (Pancakeloach)
1 vote for "Opera Vita Aeterna" (Vox Day)
1 vote for No Award (Martin Petto)

Comment: Another close race here, though with a clearer ranking among the top three stories. If Chiang takes the top spot, I make it still very close for the second place between de Bodard and Kowal, with Kowal perhaps in the lead. After that we get into interesting territory, with many putting No Award head of "The Exchange Officers", and most putting it ahead of "Opera Vita Aeterna".

Best Short Story

12 votes for "The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" (Kaedrin, Timo Pietilä, Rebecca Demarest, DrNefario of Mobilereads, Chris Gerrib, Nicholas Whyte, Andrew Hickey, Steven Halter, Rachel Coleman, Diabolical Plots, Joe Sherry and Liv)

7 votes for "Selkie Stories are for Losers" (ReadingSFF, Martin Wisse, Kat of GoodReads, Justin Alexander, Jon Grantham, Martin Petto and Richard Kettlewell)

4 votes for "If You Were a Dinosaur My Love" (Kate Nepveu, Stormsewer, Jeff of GoodReads and Ron Corral)
2 votes for No Award (Pancakeloach and Vox Day)
1 vote for "The Ink Readers of Doi Saket" (Pete731 of Mobilereads)

A clear front-runner here, if not as overwhelmingly as in the Best Novel category. Second place goes just as clearly to "Selkie Stories Are For Losers", and third to "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love"; and there are enough transfers to pull "The Ink Readers of Doi Saket" decently ahead of No award for fourth place despite its poor performance on first preferences.

I should add that I have no privileged information about how voting is actually going. The above numbers represent only those votes I was able to tabulate fairly quickly from a quick google search, and past experience shows that this is only the roughest of guides to who will actually win the awards.

If you are a member of Loncon 3, you can vote for the 2014 Hugos here and for the 1939 Retro Hugos here.

Tags:

Wednesday reading

books
Current
With The Light... vol 7, by Keiko Tobe
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
μ1
Vernon God Little, by DBC Pierre
The Life of John Buncle, Esq: Containing Various Observations and Reflections, Made in Several Parts of the World, and Many Extraordinary Relations, by Thomas Amory

Last books finished
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell
Rogue Queen, by L. Sprague de Camp
κ1
Billionaire Boy, by David Walliams
334, by Thomas M Disch
The Essence of Christianity, by Ludwig Feuerbach (not fnished)
The Journals of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806 (not finished)
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
λ1

Last week's audios
[Bernice Summerfield] The Revolution, by Nev Fountain
[Bernice Summerfield] Good Night, Sweet Ladies, by Una McCormack
[Bernice Summerfield] Random Ghosts, by Guy Adams
current: [Bernice Summerfield] The Lights of Skaro, by James Goss

Next books
The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Brontomek!, by Michael Coney
A Guide to Tolkien, by David Day
Tomb of Valdemar, by Simon Messingham

Two books I won't finish

not happy
I tried both of these on the ferry on Sunday, and bounced off both less than 20 pages in.

July Books 18) The Essence of Christianity, by Ludwig Feuerbach

Writing about a subject I am only vaguely interested in terms which I cannot be bothered to try and understand.

July Books 19) The Journals of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806

Detailed, repetitive, poorly spelt even allowing for the standards of the day, unselfconscious, depressing, even if there had been maps showing where they were going I don't think I could have stuck it out.
pointless, repression
A book for kids about a boy whose father is a billionaire due to inventing a new type of toilet paper, and how difficult it is to find normality. Shockingly misogynistic - there isn't a single sympathetic female character - and all the kids appear to be white. Lots of poo jokes as well, for those who like poo jokes.

Asquith's notes, 30 July 1914

asquith
We had another turn of the kaleidoscope today. I was sitting in the Cabinet room with a map of Ulster and a lot of statistics about populations and religions, endeavouring to get into something like shape my speech on the Amending Bill, when a telephone message came from Bonar Law to ask me to go and see him and Carson at his Kensington abode. He had sent his motor, which I boarded, and in due time arrived at my destination. I found the two gentlemen there, and Bonar Law proceeded to propose in the interests of the international situation that we should postpone for the time being the second reading of the Amending Bill. He thought that to advertise our domestic dissensions at this moment would weaken our influence in the world for peace. Carson said that at first he had thought it impossible to agree, as it would strain still further the well-known and much tried patience of his Ulstermen, but he had come to see that it was now a patriotic duty. I, of course, welcomed their attitude, but said I would consult my colleagues before giving a definite answer. When I got back I saw Lloyd George and Grey and we agreed that it was right to close with the offer. Redmond, whom I saw afterwards, thought it an excellent chance of putting off the Amending Bill. The City, which is in a terrible state of depression and paralysis, is for the time being all against English intervention. The prospect is very black.
buzz
A planet where human beings, for some reason, have started to behave like bees (as far as this is convenient for what the author wants to do with the plot): rival queens duel to the death in naked single combat, non-working males are brutally killed off, and the female workers who really keep things going are kept on a low-protein diet to prevent them from becoming fertile. Our subversive and intelligent heroine meets an expedition from Earth, eats meat for the first time and thus becomes a Real Woman; and society collapses into monogamy and nuclear families. I think there is some great analysis waiting to be done here.

I got this ages back from Arc Manor, who send a free ebook monthly to subscribers. I realised pretty early on that I would never have time to read them so I think this is the only one I have downloaded.
earthsea
A short but intense book about family histories echoing and suddenly climaxing across the decades, with Esme and her great-niece Iris suddenly discovering each other's existence and forced to navigate two different generations' poisoned sibling relationships. Esme is a particularly fascinating creation, institutionalised for no good reason for sixty years, then forced to come to terms with a new world - and finding this a reason to explore her own past in more detail. A very short book that packs a heck of a punch.

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