June 11th, 2011


Professor Nebulous

I was dismayed on my way home yesterday to realise that I had now listened to the last episode of Nebulous, a hilarious spoof sf show starring Mark Gatiss as Professor Nebulous, the leader of K.E.N.T. (the Key Environmental Non-Judgemental Taskforce) whose two secret shames are that his parents wanted him to be a clown and he accidentally destroyed the Isle of Wight. It's not deep stuff, but it's funny and affectionate towards its target (classic British sf, especially but not only Doctor Who).

It is surprising how much of the humour is based on that old stand-by, catch-phrases. I remember many years ago reading that Spike Milligan asserted that if you did it often enough, you could eventually get laughs from a character repeatedly opening a door and yelling "More Coal!" or something similar. Though I think the lines in Nebulous are genuinely funny. Whenever anyone says something to me in future that references a body part, I shall think of Harry complaining "Unlike you, professor, I no longer have the luxury of a nostril/nose/leg/arm!"

I heartily recommend it, and hope that there will be more (I see rumours of a TV series).

Gibbon Chapter LIV: The Paulicians and the Reformation

At 18 pages this is one of the shortest chapters in the entire Decline and Fall - possibly even the shortest; I haven't gone back and counted. Gibbon outlines the early history of the Paulician heresy in Anatolia in the ninth century, links them to the Albigensians (who we now tend to call the Cathars) in the thirteenth century, and then explores the benefits of the Reformation.

Hugo Voter package scores again

I hadn't realised until just now that the Hugo Voter Package also contains electronic copies of four more novels:

Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia,
I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells,
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, and
The Magicians by Lev Grossman

as well as a short story by Grossman and four more short stories by Saladin Ahmed; all five authors have been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not to be confused with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award).

I must admit that I generally haven't voted in this contest in the past, but since the organisers have given me the opportunity to get educated I will probably take it. I think the only one of these books I would otherwise have been looking out for is Moxyland.