April 12th, 2021


Whoniversaries 12 April

i) births and deaths

12 April 1989: death of Gerald Flood, who played Kamelion in 1983 and 1984, and also King John in The King's Demons (1983)

ii) broadcast anniversaries

12 April 1969: broadcast of sixth episode of The Space Pirates. Caven is defeated and captured; the Space Pirates are neutralised.

12 April 1975: broadcast of sixth episode of Genesis of the Daleks. The Daleks take over the bunker, killing everyone including (apparently) Davros; but the Thals bury them for centuries.

(Intersting that the six episodes of The Space Pirates and Genesis of the Daleks were broadcast on exatly the same dates, six years apart. It is safe to say that most people have a rather different judgement of the two.)

12 April 2003: webcast of "No Child of Earth, part 3", tenth episode of Death Comes to Time.

12 April 2008: broadcast of The Fires of Pompeii, first apearance of future regulars Karen Gillan and Peter Capaldi. The Doctor adn Donna are in Pompeii; and it's Volcano Day.

12 April 2010: broadcast of The Last Oak Tree, fourteenth episode of the Australian K9 series. Panic ensues when a museum exhibit is stolen. K9, Starkey, Darius and Jorjie are on the trail of the culprit. They find a giant menace hiding in London's abandoned sewers. Is the alien the threat or is Drake the real evil? Starkey and K9 face annihilation as they try to rescue the alien's hatchlings before a bomb destroys them all.

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December 2010 books, and 2010 books roundup

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every six-ish days (though this one is very soon after the previous one, which was late) I've been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I've found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

No travel, and a significant non-development in my professional life in December 2010: I applied for a job leading one of the Brussels political thinktanks, and did not get it. I must say I think they chose the right person; in due course he left, and both of his successors were and are friends of mine. I realised that thinktankery was not going to be a big part of my future.

I am still cursing the crappy HTC Desire phone that I was then using. I was lucky enough to attend a Northern Ireland event with Peter Robinson and Martin mcGuinness, then First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, but my photos were all pretty crappy. (Peter Robinson astonished me by saying that fans of Tottenham Hotspurs like himself could well adopt Martin's slogan, "Tiocfaidh ár lá!")

There was a massive snowfall just before Christmas. Our visitors included my sister and little S, our old friend H, and little U's favourite uncle and aunt R and V.

I am particularly pleased with the piece I wrote for Tor on the Fourth Doctor. “I think there are worse places to rest your moral compass than the TARDIS console.”

I read 23 books that month.

Non-fiction: 8 (total 74)
Tintin and the Secret of Literature, by Thomas McCarthy
The I.R.A., by Tim Pat Coogan
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science, by Mary Roach
I, Who: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who Novels, by Lars Pearson
I, Who 2: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who Novels and Audios, by Lars Pearson
I, Who 3: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who Novels and Audios, by Lars Pearson

The Space Race, by Deborah Cadbury
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English, by John McWhorter

Fiction (non-sf) 2 (total 47)
The Falls, by Ian Rankin
Fair Play, by Tove Jansson

SF (non-Who) 5 (total 73)
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper
The Space Opera Renaissance, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Doctor Who 5 (total 69, 79 counting comics and non-fiction)
The Hollow Men, by Keith Topping and Martin Day
Revenge of the Judoon, by Terrance Dicks
Short Trips: Destination Prague, ed. Stephen Savile
Vanderdeken's Children, by Christopher Bulis
Doctor Who Annual 1978

Comics 3 (total 20)
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers vol. 1, by Fumi Yoshinaga
Scott Pigrim vs. The Universe (volume 5) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
With the Light... / 光とともに..., vol 3, by Keiko Tobe

7,600 pages (total 91,000)
8/23 by women: Roach, Bujoldx2, Cooper, Yoshinaga, Jansson, Cramer, Tobe (total 65/287)
4/23 by PoC: Yoshinaga, O'Malley, McWhorter, Tobe (total 24/287)

The best of these were Tove Jansson's Fair Play, which you can get here, and Bujold's Cryoburn, which you can get here. None of them was too awful, but Coogan's The I.R.A. is overrated; you can get it here.

2010 books roundup

I did this at the time, but am now reformatting to my current system. 287 books for the year was a lot lower than the two previous years, but ahead of most years since. 91,000 pages is my third highest ever. 23% by women was my highest percentage to date, though I have exceeded it every year but one since. 9% by PoC was also my highest percentage to date, and I have exceeded it only in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

1) Science Fiction and Fantasy (excluding Doctor Who)

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
114 77 108 68 80 130 124 65 62 78 73 78 54 75 68 79 76
43% 33% 41% 29% 38% 45% 43% 27% 24% 26% 26% 23% 15% 32% 33% 55% 51%

Well below average - fifth lowest for both numbers and percentages.

Top sf book of the year:
Ian McDonald's The Dervish House. My review; get it here.

Also excellent and read for the first time:
Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men. My review; get it here.
Ursula K. Le Guin's Lavinia. My review; get it here.
Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn. My review; get it here.

The one you have't head of: Chris Beckett, The Turing Test (short story collection). My review; get it here.

The one I bounced off: Colin Greenland's Mother of Plenty. My review; get it here.

2) Non-fiction

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
50 49 50 57 37 47 48 46 53 69 66 94 70 78 70 42 42
19% 21% 19% 24% 17% 16% 16% 19% 20% 23% 24% 27% 19% 33% 34% 29% 28%

Above average in both absolute numbers and percentages.

Top non-fiction book of the year:
Bloody Sunday Report, whose 5000 pages I read over the course of late June, July and early August. A tremendous and necessary enterprise. More below.

Also excellent in category:
Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. My review; get it here.
Ursula K. Le Guin's The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. My review; get it here.
Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (vols 1 and 2 of the original, vol 1 of the Penguin edition). My review; get it here.
Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter. My review; get it here.
Thomas More, Utopia. My review; get it here.

The one you haven't heard of:
Too Many Agreements Dishonoured, by Abel Alier. My review; get it here.

The one to avoid:
Timeless Adventures: How Doctor Who Conquered TV, by Brian J. Robb; a total ripoff. My review; get it here.

3) Doctor Who
Novels, collections of shorter fiction, etc excluding comics
\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
18 32 32 51 39 43 59 72 75 80 71 71 179 27 28 5 1
7% 14% 12% 21% 18% 15% 20% 30% 29% 27% 26% 21% 48% 11% 14% 3% 1%

All Who books including comics and non-fiction
\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
25 43 42 55 42 54 68 81 75 87 79 81 180 49 32 5 1
9% 18% 16% 23% 20% 19% 23% 34% 29% 29% 28% 23% 49% 21% 15% 3% 1%

One of the stronger years, though not as strong as 2008.

Top Doctor Who (audio)book of the year:
James Goss, Dead Air (audiobook); the very last Tenth Doctor story to be released. My review; get it here.

Other decent efforts in the Whoniverse:
Best 11th Doctor story (other than the ones on TV): Stephen Cole, Ring of Steel. My review; get it here.
Best New Series Adventure: Dale Smith, The Many Hands. My review; get it here.
Best EDA: John Peel, Legacy of the Daleks. My review; get it here.
Best Virgin New Adventure: Mark Gatiss, Nightshade. My review; get it here.
Best Missing/Past Doctor Adventure: Jonathan Morris, Festival of Death. My review; get it here.
Best Doctor Who annual (probably also the one you haven't heard of): 1971. My review; get it here.
Best other Whoniverse story: Joseph Lidster, In the Shadows (Torchwood audiobook). My review; get it here.
Best non-fiction: as above, Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter. My review; get it here.
Best comics: see below.

The one to avoid:
Again, Timeless Adventures: How Doctor Who Conquered TV, by Brian J. Robb. My review; get it here.

4) Non-genre fiction

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
40 45 36 26 28 42 41 44 48 48 50 59 24 33 35 9 19
15% 19% 14% 11% 13% 14% 14% 19% 19% 16% 18% 17% 6% 14% 17% 6% 13%

Top non-genre book of the year:
Tove Jansson's Fair Play. My review; get it here.

Also excellent in category:
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. My review; get it here.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. My review; get it here.
James Joyce, The Dubliners. My review; get it here.
Nevil Shute, A Town Like Alice. My review; get it here.
Leifur Eiricksson, Njal's Saga. My review; get it here.

The one you haven't heard of: Unauthorised Departure, by Maureen O'Brien. My review; get it here.

Worst, but so bad it's good:
Rookwood, by William Harrison Ainsworth. My review; get it here.

5) Comics

\2020/ \2019/ \2018/ \2017/ \2016/ \2015/ \2014/ \2013/ \2012/ \2011/ \2010/ \2009/ \2008/ \2007/ \2006/ \2005/ \2004/
45 31 28 29 27 18 19 30 21 27 18 28 6 20 6 8 8
17% 13% 11% 12% 13% 6% 7% 13% 8% 9% 6% 8% 2% 8% 3% 6% 5%

Lowest of any year since 2008.

Top comic / graphic novel of the year
I voted without hesitation for Neil Gaiman's Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? for the Hugo. It didn't win. My review; get it here.

Other comics / graphic novels particularly enjoyed:
Charles Burns, Black Hole. My review; get it here.
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vols 1 (review), 2 (review) and especially 4 (review); less so 3 (review) and 5 (review; get) though still good. (Get the whole lot here.)
Fumi Yoshinaga, Ooku: The Inner Chamber, Volume 1. My review; get it here.
Keiko Tobe, With the Light... Vol. 3. My review; get it here.
Gareth Roberts, The Betrothal of Sontar (Tenth Doctor) (also probably the one you haven't heard of). My review; get it here.
Justin Richards, The Only Good Dalek (Eleventh Doctor). My review; get it here.

The one to avoid:
As before with this series, I thoroughly bounced off Schlock Mercenary: Longshoreman of the Apocalypse, by Howard Tayler. My review; you can get it here.

6) Poetry, plays and religious literature

Only four of these, all read in April; recommend The Emperor's Babe by Bernardine Evaristo (review; get) and The Crucible by Arthur Miller (review; get).

Most read author of the year: Ian Rankin (7 books) unless you count the ten volumes by Lord Savile of Newdigate and his colleagues. Also-rans in this category: Lois McMaster Bujold, Justin Richards and Brian Lee O'Malley with 5 each.

My Book of the Year for 2010

Certainly the one I spent longest reading, and wrote and thought most about: The Bloody Sunday Report. My write ups of each part: Volume I | Volume II | Volume III | Volume IV | Volume V | Volume VI | Volume VII | Volume VIII | Volume IX | Volume X and conclusions. The best place to get it is off the UK government archive website, but you can also get individual volumes here.

Kaleidoscope: diverse YA science fiction and fantasy stories, eds. Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios

Second paragraph of third story (“The Legend Trap”, by Sean Williams):
It’s the oldest story in the world. Some dumb kid always wants to put it to the test. “It” could be any number of things. Jumping when the d-mat process starts to see if it makes you taller. Spinning in a circle anticlockwise in the hope of being switched from left to right. Squeezing thirteen people in at once just in case the one with the guiltiest secret disappears.
Often when I am auditing my library against the list of books I know I have acquired in a previous year, I find some of them have gone missing. This is a different case - I realised that I had contributed to the Kickstarter for the book's publication in 2014, and never got around to downloading it! Anyway, that was easy enough to remedy once I realised my mistake.

I thought this was a tremendously strong anthology, and my money was well spent. One of the stories, Amal El-Mohtar's “The Truth About Owls”, went on to win the Locus Award, and several others were shortlisted elsewhere or included in various Year's Best volumes. All of them were good and some of them were really stick-in-the-mind good; to pick just two, Jim Hines' tale of the Chupacabra, and John Chu's about the time-travelling skater. The stories are all written with diversity as an axiom, ie none of them is about cishet white men (like me); but the point is the story in each case, and the strength of the narrative, which is considerable. Strongly recommended for those of you with YA readers, or indeed who just like stories. You can get it here.

This was the most popular unread book acquired in 2014 (for certain values of "acquire") on my shelves. Next on that pile is The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, ed. Alex Dally MacFarlane.