April 20th, 2007


April Books 13) Eifelheim

13) Eifelheim, by Michael Flynn

Flynn's The Wreck of the River of Stars was one of the best sf books I read last year, and I had high expectations of this Hugo nominee: a story of aliens landing in 14th century Germany, and the contemporary historian (and his physicist girlfriend) who works out what happened way back then. Flynn puts a lot of effort into creating a believable 14th-century world, with a relatively harmonious relationship between religion and science depicted; some of the best passages are where the central character (the village priest) and the aliens try to make sense of each others' world-views in terms of their own. He has tried hard also (not always successfully) to catch the linguistic flavour of the period. I didn't enjoy Eifelheim quite as much as River of Stars, though; I felt that Flynn's occasional expositions of his characters' motivations didn't work so well here, and I found the shift from omniscient narrator to tight first-person at the end a bit jarring.

April Books 14) [Doctor Who:] Made of Steel

14) [Doctor Who:] Made of Steel, by Terrance Dicks

Yes, Terrance Dicks is still out there, still writing Doctor Who novels; this is in the BBC's £1.99 "quick reads" series, picked up in Forbidden Planet last week. The Doctor and Martha get mixed up with a remnant cell of Cybermen (incidentally answering the question my wife asked me after we watched "Doomsday") and also deal with thick and uncomprehending military types. Dicks makes a valiant effort to catch the Tenth Doctor's character, and on the whole succeeds, with only a few passages which I thought too reminiscent of the Third Doctor of Dicks' novelisations. A decent quick read.

Jobs in my line of work

While none of you (as far as I know) has actually applied for the internship in my office, a number of you expressed interest in this general line of work. You might like to know that there is a site called eurobrussels.com which is the key place for advertising jobs in European affairs generally. I've also advertised this particular position on w4mp.org which seems to be a similar clearing house for Westminster. I've also been contacted by a site called Electus Start which seems to be in the same game.

I do recommend that anyone who wants to dip their toe in this particular water consider signing up as an election observer, which basically requires proven interest in politics and international affairs and willingness to do it. (Just to review how you actually apply to be an election observer, US citizens go here, UK citizens here, Canadians here, Dutch citizens here, Belgians hier and ici. Irish opportunities are listed here.)