June 3rd, 2007


107 books read so far this year

My unread books list is down to 124 (from 143 at the start of the year). I have been a good deal more resolute about this than last year, and have actually cleared 27 of the 143 I had on my unread list on 31 December (as well as reading another 79 books that I picked up during the course of the year, and one re-read). Meanwhile there are a mere nine books acquired so far this year which I haven't read (Alias Vol. 3: The Underneath, by Brian Michael Bendis; So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Visions of the Future, ed. Nalo Hopkinson; The "Star Trek": The Next Generation Companion, by Larry Nemecek; Rethinking Europe's Future, by David P. Calleo; The provinces of the Roman Empire, from Caesar to Diocletian, by Theodor Mommsen; Fatal Attraction, by Paticia Fara; Pussey! by Dan Clowes; Tales of Human Waste, by Warren Ellis; and Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation, by Patrick Carroll.) I have been successful in imposing a bit more discipline on my reading habits.

This is mainly by using LibraryThing as a guide. I always keep in mind - in fact you'll find it on my Livejournal profile - a) the book added to my LibraryThing catalogue longest ago (currently Alexander McCall Smith's In the Company of Cheerful Ladies); b) the book on my unread list owned by most LibraryThing users (currently Quidditch Through the Ages, by J.K. Rowling); c) the longest-ago-added of the books on my LibraryThing catalogue which only I own (currently Science Fiction and Postmodern Fiction: A Genre Study by Barbara Puschmann-Nalenz, which I fear may be a bit of a struggle); and d) if I can be bothered to work it out, the book on my unread list most often tagged as unread by other people (currently The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas). In a house where I have read 96% of the books on the shelves, it makes it easier for my eye to fall on one that I haven't read rather than one that I have, minimises my feeling that I somehow haven't got any books to read, and means that I am actually utilising the literary resources I have invested in (ie reading the books I have bought).

I came close to reading as many books in May as there are days in the month - had read 28 by the end of the day on the 28th - and contemplated reading a few very short ones just to make up the numbers. But that would be silly. (I managed 27 last November, which included the ten Ian Marter novels, none of which is over 150 pages.) I've generally been reading more this year because of my new habit of commuting by train, and last month featured some particularly long waits in airports and also several days of feeling ill in bed. I will probably read fewer books in June.
family, child

At the schoolfeest

Young F's school had the annual schoolfeest yesterday, with his class portraying incidents from the travels of Pippi Longstocking. In the video below you will see F (in the light green poncho) and three of his classmates being members of a South American tribe who Pippi encounters. Note the large artificial treetrunk, which is there not as a representation of the rain forest but as a pun (the word stam meaning both tribe and trunk). Note also that toward the end you will see two girls playing different aspects of Pippi, one with her own hair and the other with a wig.

(Delighted to find that my new camera does sound as well as movies.)

Afterwards there was face-painting.

June Books 1) Doctor Who - The Aztecs and 2) Doctor Who - Galaxy Four

1) Doctor Who - The Aztecs, by John Lucarotti
2) Doctor Who - Galaxy Four, by William Emms

Starting my month's reading with two of the old Doctor Who novelisations, both First Doctor stories, both written up by the author of the original TV script, in both cases over twenty years after the story was first shown.

I was disappointed by Lucarotti's novelisation of The Massacre, which stuck much more closely to his original script than the show as broadcast. Here again he has added bits and pieces which presumably were in his original concept, and I was again disappointed, but for a different reason: the narration is strangely flat, and you really miss the performances of the actors breathing life into Lucarotti's lines back in 1964. One cannot help but feel that the production team on the whole did Lucarotti a favour by editing his material. Also he has a really annoying habit of mixing indirect speech with direct speech, which reads like a desperate attempt to make a novel out of a TV script.

Galaxy Four was the first story from the third season, shown in 1966 (odd to think of it as the Classic Who equivalent of Smith and Jones). It's the only one from that year I haven't yet seen/heard, but I got the novel for free yesterday with the SFX Doctor Who special and read it pretty quickly. It's actually rather good, up there with the average Missing Adventure of the Virgin series. with Emms (who wrote nothing else for Doctor Who) letting us inside the mind of the Doctor very convincingly, and also attempting to flesh out his rather one-dimensional villain, Maaga, leader of the female Drahvin warriors. Must try and catch up with the actual series now, though I have a suspicion this may be one of the cases where the novel is better than the story.

Free stuff

Sorting through the bookshelves, I've found a small number of books and videos that I am prepared to relinquish to the first person who asks for them.

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Post a comment below or email me if you are interested, otherwise I shall try eBay.
doctor who

My mistake

In my pieces on Dodo Chaplet posted in April I followed WikiPedia (which I have now changed) and general fannish lore in stating that Jackie Lane was only 18 when she played the part in early 1966, having been born in 1947. In fact, the Reeltime interview with her taped in 1993 states that her date of birth was 10 July 1941, which makes her 24 at the time of filming, a year younger than Carole Ann Ford and two years older than Maureen O'Brien. This fits much better with other evidence, such as her having been offered the original part of Susan in 1963 and having started acting with Manchester Library Theater in 1960, after failing to get the role played by Rita Tushingham (born 1940) in A Taste of Honey.

I wonder how the later date crept into the received wisdom of fandom? Given that she already had five years of acting behind her, it is unlikely to have been Lane's fault; she would have no reason to pretend that she had started acting professionally at the age of thirteen. Presumably someone early on in fannish history simply mis-copied the date from some publicity material.