July 12th, 2009


July Books 15) So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy

This anthology, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, pulls together 20 short stories by writers of colour, all exploring different aspects of the colonisation experience through an sfnal lens. They are all very good. I found I had to read most of them very slowly to let the language settle into my brain; I think for that reason my attention lingered a bit more on the stories by Vandana Singh, Maya Khankoje and Tobias Buckell which made slightly fewer demands on me. This is a great anthology.

It was published in 2004. The Hugo Short Story shortlist for 2005, for which most of these would have been eligible, was of particularly poor quality (as I said at the time), and even the least impressive from the Hopkinson/Mehan anthology (I'll identify it as devorah major's "Trade Winds") is a far better story than the Hugo winner (Resnick's "Travels With My Cats"). None of the stories from So Long Been Dreaming got the 11 votes necessary to be recorded on the long list, let alone the 18 needed for the short list. It surely cannot be true that only ten (or fewer) Worldcon members had read So Long Been Dreaming before the nominations deadline? Something is wrong, or at least was wrong in 2005; this year things seem to have improved.

July Books 16) Downtime, by Marc Platt

Some time ago I watched the Doctor Who spinoff video Downtime, written by Marc Platt and directed by Christopher Barry, which unites the Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith, Victoria Waterfield and the Yeti. Platt's extended novelisation, published as one of the Virgin Missing Adventures, is much better, with lots more background of Victoria's life after leaving the Tardis and of the Brigadier's later experiences; it also includes K9 and a young Captain Bambera. It even has some photos taken from the video, so you can pretend it was better than it was. And of course, being on paper rather than on screen, the effects can be as good as Marc Platt's words make them, and Peter Silverleaf's dismally poor acting is no longer a problem.

It's still a somewhat confusing story, but it is well enough told, and apart from the many moments of continuity joy it also has interesting seeds of the later Sarah Jane audio and TV stories. So I think I can generally recommend it to Who fans. I was able to get it for £2.70 on eBay, so it's not as difficult to find as some Who books are.


My office stationery suppliers often throw in free gifts with the latest order, often tacky kitchenware that falls apart after a few uses; this time it's something a bit more sophisticated, a little GPS device for navigation while you are driving (specifically, a Connex GPC35Js running a system called PolNav Car Navigator).

My problem: turning the bugger on. The instruction booklet is fairly useless: it says that to get the initial GPS fix you have to have it outside in an area fairly clear of buildings for some time. But what it doesn't give you is the crucial information of what state the unit should be in when you are getting that initial fix. Do I need to have the navigation software turned on, or does the unit magically know how to find the satellites anyway? And what of the mysterious "GPS test" hidden in the settings, where it seems to look for and find the satellite positions, but then not do anything with the information?

Suggestions gratefully accepted.

Here's another question

Is the new DVD of the 1969 Doctor Who story, The War Games, eligible for next year's Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form?

Or can the extras be considered eligible for Best Related Work?