October 25th, 2011

tardis

Companion banter

Sarah Sutton: I didn't ever actually do a Dalek story...
Janet Fielding: I think that that means you weren't a proper companion.
Sarah Sutton: You think?
Janet Fielding: Yeah, I do!
Sarah Sutton: I can't call myself a companion?
Janet Fielding: No. No.
Sarah Sutton: Oh, poo. That's not good, is it?
Janet Fielding: That just puts a lie to the last, you know, couple of decades.
tardis

October Books 18) Legacy, by Gary Russell

Peladon is one of a surprisingly small number of planets to figure in more than one televised Who story, and though Big Finish have visited it twice I think this is the only spinoff novel set there. Gary Russell starts with the story of how the planet lifted itself from barbarism, and the stranded human astronaut who married the king; we then get folded into a fairly complex tale of an ancient off-world relic with Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri, Peladonian factions and the rodent-like Pakhar aliens, with lots for Benny and the Seventh Doctor to do (but rather less for Ace who gets politely shuffled off-scene at a fairly early stage). It's also rather gory with many characters meeting untimely ends. Generally good stuff though I felt the climax was not quite under control (but I did like the political twist at the end).
buzz

October Books 19) Falling Free, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Reading through the Nebula winners which I have not already reviewed online brings me to this old friend, the first novel of Bujold's Vorkosigan series (albeit one with no mention of the Vorkosigans or their planet at all). It's a feel-good, future engineering novel with a social twist: our hero has to defeat the evil man from management and rescue hundreds of genetically modified children and teenagers from certain doom. A pleasure to reread it and refresh my memory of the origin of parts of Bujold's future universe.

The other novels shortlisted for the 1988 Nebula were Deserted Cities of the Heart by Lewis Shiner, Drowning Towers by George Turner, Great Sky River by Gregory Benford, The Urth of the New Sunby Gene Wolfe, Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson and Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card. I have read only the Gibson and the Card; as usual with Gibson, I can't remember anything about Mona Lisa Overdrive, and while I enjoyed Red Prophet, Falling Free is better in almost every way. Bujold, Card and Gibson got Hugo nominations for those books, as did Bruce Sterling for Islands in the Net, but the Hugo itself was won by Cyteen (which I bounced off).
tardis

Serpent Crest 2: The Broken Crown

The third series of BBC Doctor Who audios by Paul Magrs, starring Tom Baker, have drastically improved on the first two by shifting to full cast plays and not having Richard Franklin as Mike Yates. The first episode here had us in a cyborg version of the later Russian Empire; here we have something narrsty in a Victorian vicarage, the vicar being ably played by Terence Hardiman. The young boy at the centre of the story is played by Guy Harvey, who struggles a little with the long passages of exposition inflicted on him by Magrs, but otherwise this is a rather good episode, Susan Jameson as the Doctor's companion Mrs Wibbsey being on top form, and Baker himself being unusually disciplined.
ireland

Presidential election 2011

For those of you who haven't been following it, the Irish Presidential election (voting on Thursday) grumbled into life over the last few weeks with the emergence of a dark horse front-runner, Seán Gallagher, who had a bit of a history as an activist with the utterly discredited former government party Fianna Fáil but was better known as one of the judges on the Irish version of the reality programme Dragon's Den. Gallagher came from nowhere to lead the field of veteran candidates, with opinion polls over the last couple of days giving him an unassailable lead over the former favourite, Michael D. Higgins of the Labour Party.

And then last night it all fell apart. This is an amazing piece of political video, folks: watch as, under questioning from Sinn Féin's candidate Martin McGuinness and moderator Pat Kenny, Gallagher's political credibility disintegrates (and the person who speaks at the end is the likely winner Michael D. Higgins). One doesn't need to know any of the material details (concerning the circumstances in which Gallagher accepted a donation on behalf of Fianna Fáil several years ago); the body language and tone of voice are enough to tell the story of a thousand votes being lost every second. Enjoy.