September 2nd, 2020


Whoniversaries 2 September: Eileen Way, Roy Castle, Tomb of the Cybermen #1, The Ribos Operation #1

i) births and deaths

2nd September 1911: birth of Eileen Way who played the Old Mother in An Unearthly Child (1963), the old woman in the woods in Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966) and Karela in The Creature from the Pit (1979).

2nd September 1994: death, two days after his 60th birthday, of Roy Castle, who played Ian in Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965), the first of the Peter Cushing films.

ii) broadcast anniversaries

2nd September 1967: broadcast of the first episode of Tomb of the Cybermen, starting Season 5. The Doctor, Jamie, and new companion Victoria land on a deserted planet and encounter an archaeological expedition exploring the eponymous tombs. But they may not be as dead as all that...

2nd September 1978: broadcast of the first episode of The Ribos Operation, starting Season 16 (the Quest for the Key to Time). The White Guardiuan visits the Doctor and gives him both a quest - the Key to Time - and a new companion, Romana. Landing on Ribos, the two Time Lords are trapped with the savage shrivenzale....

(Incidentally, I love that the four episodes of these two stories, iconic in very different ways, were broadcast on exactly the same calendar dates eleven years apart.)

2nd September 1995: release of Downtime - I wouldn't normally note the release of spinoff video like this, but the reunion of Victoria, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith and the Yeti is quite remarkable. Usually in a good way.

2 September 2011: first broadcast of The Gathering (Torchwood). Two months on, the world has become chaos and there's something about Shanghai and Buenos Aires being antipodes? Gwen and Jack get close.

iii) date specified in canon

2nd September 1666: The Fifth Doctor starts the Great Fire of London, as shown in The Visitation (1982); I guess we assume that most of the 17th-century scenes in the story are set on that day.

My tweets


Gorgeous Goodreads graphs of award-winning sf

I am sitting back and marvelling at the work of ErsatzCulture, who has compiled beautiful Goodreads graphs for all of the major sf awards.

You should really go and explore them for yourself. I’ve been having fun identifying highs and lows for the major awards as follows:

Highest-ranked Hugo Best Novel finalist: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling (2000) - winner that year was A Deepness in the Sky
Highest-ranked Hugo Best Novel winner: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling (2001)

Highest-ranked Hugo Best Novel finalist of the twentieth century (which ended in 1999): Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (1970), beaten by The Left Hand of Darkness
Highest-ranked Hugo Best Novel winner of the twentieth century: Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (1986) - just a smidgeon behind Slaughterhouse-Five.

Lowest-ranked Hugo Best Novel winner: not surprisingly, They’d Rather be Right, by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley (1955)
Lowest-ranked Hugo Best Novel finalist: Second Ending, by James White (1962), beaten by Stranger in a Strange Land

Lowest-ranked Hugo Best Novel winner this century: A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (2020) - just behind Hominids by Robert Sawyer (2003); but I think this year’s winner will rise.
Lowest-ranked Hugo Best Novel finalist this century: The Sky Road, by Ken MacLeod (2001), which coincidentally I have just started rereading.

If you want to count the Retros, the lowest-ranked Best Novel finalist ever is this year’s winner, Shadow over Mars, by Leigh Brackett (1945), though a 1946 finalist, Red Sun of Danger/Danger Planet, by Edmond Hamilton aka Brett Sterling, didn’t even make the chart; the highest-ranked Best Novel winner is Fahrenheit 451 (1954); and the highest-ranked Best Novel finalist is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1951), beaten by Farmer in the Sky.

For the Nebulas:

Highest-ranked Best Novel finalist is A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (1995), beaten by The Moon and the Sun
Highest-ranked Best Novel winner is Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (1986)

Highest-ranked Best Novel finalist this century is A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin (2000), beaten by Parable of the Talents
Highest-ranked Best Novel winner this century is American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (2002)

Lowest-ranked Best Novel finalist is Rogue Dragon, by Avram Davidson (1966 - a very long shortlist for the first Nebula award won by Dune)
Lowest-ranked Best Novel winner is No Enemy but Time, by Michael Bishop (1983)

Lowest-ranked Best Novel finalist this century is From the Files of the Time Rangers, by Richard Bowes (2007), beaten by Seeker
Lowest-ranked Best Novel winner this century is A Song for a New Day, by Sarah Pinsker (2020 again, therefore likely to rise)

For the BSFA Award:

Highest-ranked Best Novel finalist is American Gods (2001), beaten by Chasm City
Highest-ranked Best Novel winner is Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (1973)

Highest-ranked Best Novel finalist last century is Neuromancer, by William Gibson (1984), beaten by Mythago Wood
Highest-ranked Best Novel winner this century is Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (2013)

Lowest-ranked Best Novel finalist on record (some years seem to be missing) is The Memory Palace, by Gill Alderman (1996), beaten by Excession
Lowest-ranked Best Novel winner is Grainne, by Keith Roberts (1987)

Lowest-ranked Best Novel finalist this century is Cyber-Circus, by Kim Lakin-Smith (2011), beaten by The Islanders
Lowest-ranked Best Novel winner this century is End of the World Blues, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood (2006)

For the Arthur C. Clarke Award:

Highest-ranked finalist is The Time-Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (2005), beaten by Iron Council
Highest-ranked winner is the very first, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Attwood (1987), also the highest-ranked finalist last century
Highest-ranked winner this century is Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel (2015 - the year I was one of the judges)

Lowest-ranked finalist is Streaking, by Brian Stableford (2007) which is almost off the scale, beaten by Nova Swing
Lowest-ranked winner is Dreaming in Smoke, by Tricia Sullivan (1999)
Lowest-ranked finalist last century is again Grainne, by Keith Roberts (1988), which for the record I rather liked, beaten by The Sea and the Summer
Lowest-ranked winner this century is Bold As Love, by Gwyneth Jones (2002)

But really, as I said, go explore the tables for yourself - great fun. If I had time I'd do the same calculation for LibraryThing, which would produce similar results with quirky differences.