December 20th, 2009


Gibbon, Chapter XIII

  • Another very long chapter, but an excellent read, full of incident and character. Diocletian comes over as one of the best emperors so far - a slave from Illyria who rose to the top, managed it well, and retired in time to enjoy his later years plating cabbages by the Adriatic. In the meantime he puts down Carausius' rebellion in Britain, wins a war with Persia and sorts out the empire by dividing it into four. Of course, that simply meant new structures that could go wrong; but it was a good solution to the problem of unmanageability.
    (tags: gibbon)
doctor who

December Books 7) Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space [by J.L. Morrissey]

I thought I was reasonably well-informed about the history of Doctor Who spinoff fiction, but was rather amazed to discover this 1966 46-page story, in the same format (and by the same publisher) as the Doctor Who annuals, in which the First Doctor prevents an invasion from the Andromeda galaxy with the help of a family who he has rescued (just before the story starts) from the Great Fire of London. Apparently the text is by J.L. Morrissey, who published half a dozen detective novels in the 1930s and 1940s; the artwork is by Walter Howarth, the World Distributors stalwart illustrator. The story itself is standard Who, let down by rather dodgy astrophysics and some awkward phrasing (note extract from first para here). But the characterisation of Hartnell's Doctor is bang-on.
Lib Dem, libdem

I don't have a vote in this one...

...but like a lot of people I'll be watching with interest for the outcome of the selection process for the next Lib Dem candidate in Cambridge, now that David Howarth has announced his intention to return to his academic career (he is a specialist in tort, if that is the right way to put it). Of the six shortlistees (listed here and also here) the only one I know at all is Julie Smith. I know David Howarth rather better since we were actually next door neighbours during my second year, as well as being Lib Dem activists at the same college. David won in 2005 on his third attempt with a majority of 10%, having eaten substantially into both the incumbent Labour MP's vote and into that of the Conservatives who held the seat from 1967 to 1992. Assuming (as seems likely) that the Labour vote tanks, the Lib Dems hold steady and the Tories rise but not dramatically, the seat should be holdable in next year's election