June 16th, 2012


The border vote: A trend stretching back 44 years

From http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/the-border-vote-a-trend-stretching-back-44-years-16172970.html :

The poll's results on voting and the border are convincing.

This trend they illustrate goes at least as far back as Richard Rose’s surveys of political opinion in Northern Ireland in 1968. Since then it has been clear that a substantial chunk of the Catholic population do not actually want a united Ireland.

It has been of the order of 20% to 40% in the past and it has varied with circumstances.

People wonder why, if this is true, 80%-90% of Catholics who vote are voting for parties who favour a united Ireland.

I believe that it is about the politics of communal representation rather than Irish unity.

People want to vote for politicians who share their background and instincts and the party's position on the border is less of an issue.

Historically, pro-Union Catholics have been repelled by the trappings of political unionism like the Orange Order and do not feel inclined to vote for parties that are obsessed with them.

This poll does show that there is, as there has always been, cross-community voting.

Dr Nicholas Whyte runs the NI Election website

[A bit shorter than I would have liked, but 250 words is a pretty tough limit.]

Links I found interesting for 16-06-2012

doctor who

The Master's Timeline

I have just been listening to the new Big Finish Fourth Doctor play, The Trail of the White Worm, which reunites Tom Baker and Geoffrey Beevers as the Doctor and the Master, clearly and explicitly set between The Deadly Assassin and The Keeper of Traken. I was then moved by an irrational impulse to try and establish a clear timeline for the Master, as seen from his own point of view. Most of this I think is reasonably well-supported, though some of the Third Doctor short stories and the various Masters who confronted the Eighth Doctor in different media are a bit disputable in terms of canonicty and sequencing. Anyway, here goes - the Master on TV, and in novels, short stories, audios, comics and computer games:

The Delgado Master
Time and Relative
(Telos novella, 1st Doctor - appears obliquely in Susan's memories)
The Dark Path (MA novel, 2nd Doctor)
"Reconnaisance" (short story in 1994 Doctor Who Yearbook, 3rd Doctor)
Terror of the Autons (TV, 3rd Doctor)
The Mind of Evil (TV, 3rd Doctor)
[in an alternate timeline, the Doctor was not exiled to Earth and the Master, played by Mark Gatiss, brought the secrets of the Mind Parasite to the Chinese; see BF Doctor Who Unbound audio Sympathy for the Devil]
Deadly Reunion (PDA novel, 3rd Doctor
The Claws of Axos (TV, 3rd Doctor)
Colony in Space (TV, 3rd Doctor)
The Dæmons (TV, 3rd Doctor)
"Doctor Who Fights Masterplan Q" (published on the backs of chocolate bar wrappers in 1971, 3rd Doctor)
The Face of the Enemy (PDA novel, 3rd Doctor)
"The Man in the Ion Mask" (comic strip in DWM 1991 winter special, 3rd Doctor)
"The Switching" (short story from Short Trips: Zodiac, 3rd Doctor)
The Sea Devils (TV, 3rd Doctor)
Who Killed Kennedy? (MA Novel, 3rd Doctor, narrative covers all of previous 3rd Doctor stories but denouement is set at this point)
The Time Monster (TV, 3rd Doctor)
"Doorway into Nowhere" (short story in 1973 Doctor Who Annual, 3rd Doctorl)
Verdigris (PDA novel, 3rd Doctor)
Frontier in Space (TV, 3rd Doctor)
"Hidden Talent" (short story in Short Trips: Companions, 3rd Doctor)
"Smash Hit" (short story in 1973 Holiday Special, 3rd Doctor)
"The One Second Hour", "Fogbound" (stories in TV Comic holiday issue 1973, 3rd Doctor)
Last of the Gadarene (PDA novel, 3rd Doctor)
"The Seismologist's Story" (short story in Short Trips: Repercussions, 3rd Doctor)
"Listen - The Stars", "DWAN: Out of the Green Mist" (short stories in 1974 Doctor Who Annual, 3rd Doctor)
"The Glen of Sleeping" (TV Action comic, 3rd Doctor)
"The Duke of Dominoes" (short story in Decalog, 3rd Doctor)
Legacy of the Daleks (EDA novel, 8th Doctor - the Delgado Master degenerates into the Pratt form)

The Pratt Master
The Deadly Assassin (TV, 4th Doctor)

The Beevers Master
Trail of the White Worm (BF Fourth Doctor audio - the Master has gained energy from the Eye of Harmony to take on the Beevers form)
The Oseidon Adventure (BF Fourth Doctor audio, out next month)
The Keeper of Traken (TV, 4th Doctor - the Master takes over the body of Tremas of Traken )

The Ainley Master
The Keeper of Traken 
(TV, 4th Doctor)
Logopolis (TV, 4th Doctor)
Castrovalva (TV, 5th Doctor)
Time-Flight (TV, 5th Doctor)
"Night Flight to Nowhere" (short story in 1983 Doctor Who Annual, 5th Doctor)
The King's Demons (TV, 5th Doctor)
The Five Doctors (TV, 5th Doctor plus 1st, 2nd and 3rd Doctors)
"Birth of a Renegade" (short story in Radio Times 20th anniversary special, 5th Doctor)
"The Creation of Camelot" (short story in 1984 Doctor Who Annual, 5th Doctor)
Planet of Fire (TV, 5th Doctor)
The Mark of the Rani (TV, 6th Doctor)
"The Time Savers" (short story in 1985 Doctor Who Annual, 6th Doctor)
"The Fellowship of Quan", "The Radio Waves" (short stories in 1986 Doctor Who Annual, 6th Doctor)
The Ultimate Foe (TV, 6th Doctor)
Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror (video game, 6th Doctor)
The Quantum Archangel (PDA novel, 6th Doctor)
Survival (TV, 7th Doctor)
"Stop the Pigeon" (short story in Short Trips, 7th Doctor)
Prime Time (PDA novel, 7th Doctor)
Destiny of the Doctors (video game, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Doctors)

The Master has regenerated:
First Frontier
(NA novel, 7th Doctor)
"Housewarming" (short story in Decalog 2, Lost Properties, set in 3rd Doctor era)
Happy Endings (NA novel, 7th Doctor)

The Master degenerates back into the Beevers form:
Dust Breeding (BF main sequence audio, 7th Doctor)
Master (BF main sequence audio, 7th Doctor)

The Roberts Master:
Doctor Who, the TV Movie
(TV, 8th Doctor - the Master is executed by the Daleks but takes possession of Bruce the driver )

The Master escapes the Eye of Harmony and takes possession of Sir George Steer:
"Forgotten" and "Prologue" (short stories in Short Trips: The Centenarian, 8th Doctor)

The Master is given a new body by Esterath:
"The Fallen", "The Glorious Dead" (comic strips in DWM, 8th Doctor)

[non-canonical yet somehow true: the Pryce Master who appears with the Atkinson and other Doctors in The Curse of Fatal Death, and ends up in love with the Lumley Doctor]

The Jacobi Master
The Eight Doctors (it is totally speculative as to which of the various Masters is in the main narrative here; of course the Delgado Master also appears in the 3rd Doctor sequence, which is set during The Dæmons)
The Adventuress of Henrietta Street (EDA novel, 8th Doctor, the Master is "The Man with the Rosette")
Brief and contradictory appearances in EDA novels Sometime Never..., The Deadstone Memorial, and The Gallifrey Chronicles, all with the 8th Doctor
[with the Richard E.Grant Ninth Doctor: Scream of the Shalka, "The Feast of the Stone" webcasts - canonical or not, this Master is definitely played by Derek Jacobi]
[during the Time War the Jacobi Master takes on human form as Professor Yana]
Utopia (TV, 10th Doctor)

The Simm Master
(TV, 10th Doctor)
"Speech Day" (short story published in The Doctor Who Stories, 10th Doctor era)
The Sound of Drums (TV, 10th Doctor)
The Story of Martha (NSA story collection, 10th Doctor era, cameo appearance in framing narrative)
Last of the Time Lords (TV, 10th Doctor)
The End of Time (TV, 10th Doctor)

</tr>And that's it so far. Corrections and queries gratefully received.

June Books 14) The Steampunk Bible, by Jeff VanderMeer with S.J. Chambers et al.

This is perhaps the single most beautiful book in the Hugo Voter Packet, with lavish illustrations of the very visual subculture which it describes. I must admit it also turned around my own opinion on steampunk - I had a lot of sympathy with Marigold's father on Questionable Content, but VanderMeer and his fellow contributors have convinced me that there is an interesting, potentially subversive and liberating aesthetic and literary movement out there, whose roots are broader than I had appreciated and whose aspects extend further than I had realised. I will give it a good place on my Hugo ballot.

Unfortunately the experience of reading the PDF on a computer screen is rather trying. The lovely illustrations break up the text in a way which might be rather pleasant in a dead tree edition but makes the electronic version difficult to follow. To give two examples: a double-page picture spread about balloons on pages 22-23 interrupts - in mid-word - a two-page feature on Edgar Allan Poe on pages 21 and 24, which itself interrupts in mid-sentence the second chapter, the reader being expected to follow the chain of thought directly from page 20 to page 25. Later on, a sentence started on page 134 finishes on page 143, interrupted by five pages of (admittedly gorgeous) photographs and a three-page feature on steampunk fashion. This really isn't an e-reader friendly text, and I fear that it will not do as well as perhaps it deserves if voters are deterred from ploughing through it.

2012 Hugos: Best Related Work

I confess that I haven't completely read two of the five nominees, but I am sufficiently confident in what I have sampled of them to vote as follows:

1) The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition. The first two editions were essential enough; the third edition may not yet be Wikipedia but it is already more authoritative and in admirably ambitious. It's not a completed work; voting for it in this state it feels a little like giving Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize (I hope with a better outcome); but it gets my top vote anyway.

2) The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature. A beautiful book from which I learned more than I had expected.

3) Writing Excuses Season 6. I didn't vote for this last year because I could not bear to download and listen to three hours of advice on writing sf from enthusiastic authors whose works I haven't really warmed to. This year I found the transcripts which made it easier to form a judgement. I've read the first quarter of the season and feel it's a decent effort, but I'm just not in the target audience.

4) Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel. It's decent commentary on sf cinema, which pointed me in some interesting new directions. But a book of essays written at different times over a decade inevitably loses some focus.

5) No Award.

6) Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire. I'm sorry, I enjoyed this very much but I just don't think it is eligible. The rubric for this category is: "Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category." This is an album of songs which all describe more or less fictional situations, of which a bit more than half have more or less clear fantasy elements in the narrative. In so far as the songs themselves relate to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, it is precisely in their fictional content. Agreed, the lead singer / writer is an author and fan who has three other Hugo nominations in different categories this year; but that seems to me far too slender a thread to justify nomination in this category, let alone voting for it. I liked it a lot but it drops off my ballot.

See also: Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Professional Artist | Best Fan Writer | Best Fan Artist | Best Fancast | The John W. Campbell Award (Not A Hugo)