December 15th, 2010

buzz

December Books 6) Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Mirror Dance won the Hugo award for 1995; the other nominees were John Barnes' Mother of Storms, Nancy Kress' Beggars and Choosers, Michael Bishop's Brittle Innings and James Morrow's Towing Jehovah. The only other one I've read is the Kress, which I really didn't think was very good. This was the year that the inexplicably award-winning Robert Sawyer got a Nebula for The Terminal Experiment, but the BSFA shortlist included three excellent books - Baxter's The Time Ships, McDonald's Chaga and Priest's The Prestige. (Baxter won.)

I'm a huge Bujold fan, and Mirror Dance is the start of the superb four-book sequence of the Vorkosigan series that continues with Memory, Komarr and A Civil Campaign. I had forgotten just how much I liked it. It's a tale of redemption, of Mark, the lost clone twin, discovering his own place in the universe rather than being defined as Miles' double; it's a tale of resurrection, Miles himself dying and being brought back to life; and it's a tale of unorthodox families, Mark's relationship with the Vorkosigans of Barrayar contrasting with the corrupt and brutal dynasties of Jackson's Whole, with the Durona clones caught in the middle. It's the first book apart from Ethan of Athos in the series which is not largely told from the viewpoint of Miles or his mother, but from the point of view of a character who has previously been defined by their relationship with Miles. But also Bujold uses Mark to show us Miles's flaws in a way she had not previously done: her unlikely hero has a dark side as well, and Mark both resembles him and differs from him. It's an excellent book and I think might even be a good one to recommend to newcomers to the Vorkosigan universe.

(Only two more Hugo winners to go.)
doctor who

Doctor Who Rewatch: 15

It's Season 14, and my 15th write-up of my rewatching of Who. I usually try and note my thoughts on these as I am watching them, but the system doesn't always work, so I'm afraid these are a bit late (I'm already on episode three of Horror of Fang Rock) and a bit more disjointed than usual.

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One thing that really strikes me over this season is the extent to which Robert Holmes had become the equivalent of the New Who 'Chief Writer', be that RTD or Moffatt; and how successsful the show turned out to be. Hinchcliffe was obviously exerting a fair bit of creative influence from behind the scenes too, but unlike some of his predecessors he doesn't seem to have done much scripting himself (Barry Letts and Derrick Sherwin wrote stories, Peter Bryant was script editor as well as producer). Between them they had got rid of UNIT, said farewell to Sarah Jane Smith, and returned the Doctor to where he had first started, as an alien cosmic vagabond and hero travelling with a mysterious young woman. (After Sarah, the next contemporary earth human to travel in the Tardis is Tegan, four years later.) But really this is the time of Robert Holmes, with the last four stories here being a superb run of quality barely matched in any other era. Sadly, it ends halfway through the next season (and Hinchcliffe left with Talons).

< An Unearthly Child - The Aztecs | The Sensorites - The Romans | The Web Planet - Galaxy 4 | Mission To The Unknown - The Gunfighters | The Savages - The Highlanders | The Underwater Menace - Tomb of the Cybermen | The Abominable Snowmen - The Wheel In Space | The Dominators - The Space Pirates | The War Games - Terror of the Autons | The Mind of Evil - The Curse of Peladon | The Sea Devils - Frontier in Space | Planet of the Daleks - The Monster of Peladon | Planet of the Spiders - Revenge of the Cybermen | Terror of the Zygons - The Seeds of Doom | The Masque of Mandragora - The Talons of Weng-Chiang | Horror of Fang Rock - The Invasion of Time | The Ribos Operation - The Armageddon Factor | Destiny of the Daleks - Shada | The Leisure Hive - The Keeper of Traken | Logopolis - The Visitation | Black Orchid - Mawdryn Undead | Terminus - The Awakening | Frontios - Attack of the Cybermen | Vengeance on Varos - In A Fix With Sontarans | The Mysterious Planet - Paradise Towers | Delta and the Bannermen - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy | Battlefield - The TV Movie >