Books acquired in February

Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia by David Day (2003)
Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds (2007)
Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (2007)
Presentations by Daria Price Bowman (1998)
Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time by Stephen Baxter (2006)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (2003)
Last Call by Tim Powers (1993)
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (2006)
Understanding the Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism edited by Neil D. Isaacs (2004)
Profiles of the future by Arthur C. Clarke (1999)
Tintin and the Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy (2007)
A Guide to Tolkien by David Day (2001) 
Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1998)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (2005)
The Onion’s Our Dumb World: 73rd Edition: Atlas of the Planet Earth by The Onion (2007)
Search for a New Somali Identity by Hussein Ali Dualeh (2002) 
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2003)
The Wild Reel by Paul Brandon (2004)
My Sister’s Keeperby Jodi Picoult (2005)
Imperial Moon by Christopher Bulis (2000) 
City at the End of Time by Greg Bear (2008)
Expanding Eurasia: Russia’s European Ambitions by Janusz Bugajski (2008) 
Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-The-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford by Thomas M. Defrank (2008)
Kosovo What Everyone Needs to Know by Tim Judah (2008)
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (2001)
Power & Light (The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Volume Two) by Roger Zelazny (2009) 
Threshold (The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Volume One) by Roger Zelazny (2009) 
Half a Crown by Jo Walton (2008)
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow 
Transit of Earth (Playboy Science Fiction) (1971)
Prelude to Chaos by Edward Llewellyn (1983)
Up the Walls of the World by James Tiptree (1979)
Ha’penny by Jo Walton (2008)
Ten Thousand Light Years From Home by James Jr Tiptree (1978)
Starry messenger: The best of Galileo (1979)
The Presidential Book of Lists: From Most to Least, Elected to Rejected, Worst to Cursed-Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives by Ian Randal Strock (2008)
The Lyncher in Me: A Search for Redemption in the Face of History by Warren Read (2008)
Sex Tips for Girls by Cynthia Heimel (1983)
Doctor Who: Short Trips – Repercussions edited by Gary Russell (2004) 
Coming of the Queen by Iain Mclaughlin (?) 
Doctor Who: Blood and Hope by Iain McLaughlin (2004) 
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1968)
A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane (2001)
Imagining the Modern: The Cultures of Nationalism in Cyprus by Rebecca Bryant (2004)
The Doctor Who Annual 1967 by BBC (1966) 
Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand (1998)
The Comprehensive UN Sanctions against the Federal republic of Yugoslavia – Aims, Impact and Legacy by Rita Augestad Knudsen (2008) 
Divided Cyprus: Modernity, History, and an Island in Conflict by Yiannis Papadakis (2006) 
Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress by Robert T Douglass (2005)
Childhood’s end by Arthur C. Clarke (1995)
The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (1995)
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February’s books

Non-fiction: 12 (YTD 16)

Shakespeare: 3 (YTD 7)

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 6)

SF (non-Who, but including Homer): 6 (YTD 12)

Who: 7 (YTD 8)

Comics: 1 (YTD 2)

7/31 by women (Ker Conway, Bryant, Augestad Knudsen, Austen, Rowling, Llewellyn, Bartlett) (YTD 10/51)
0/31 by PoC (YTD 1/51)
Total page count ~9,200 (YTD ~14,900)
Owned for more than one year: 7 (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [reread], A Canticle for Leibowitz [reread], Rasselas, Red Branch, The Road from Coorain, Rocks of Ages, Sarajevo Rose) (YTD 12)
Also reread: Doctor Who Annual 1967 (for a total of 3, YTD 8)

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February Books 31) Only Human, by Gareth Roberts

This is surely one of the best New Series Adventures, and one of the better Who novels in general. It is largely set in Bromley, which may not sound like a promising start, but this becomes the jumping off point for the Doctor (Nine, in this case) and Rose to get involved with Bromley’s prehistory, where Neanderthals, local homo sapiens, and humans who have travelled there from the far future are all under threat from ambitious monsters and montrous ambition. Meanwhile, in the early 21st century, Jack Harkness is helping a displaced Neanderthal settle into contemporary Bromley. There is a certain amount of playing the situation for laughs, but also a bit of exploration of what it is that makes us human. The question of whether or not this applies to the Doctor lurks in the background, of course, but it’s more about Rose and the people she meets, with the Jack story line operating as a contrast. Very interesting, and recommended.

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Strongly recommend, if you have the time and patience, the Boekenfestijn currently in the Brabanthal near Leuven. Young F and I spent the morning there, and came away laden with cut-price goodies – not just books, but games and craft kits as well. The downside is that the Brabanthal is not that easy to get to without a car (though there are fairly regular buses from Leuven station) and that the internal sorting of the goods is not very thorough (hence my comment about the patience). But a good bit of bookshop therapy to start the weekend.

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February Books 30) Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow

Morrow had a launch party for this book at Boskone, complete with giveaway toy fire-breathing lizards, so I acquired a copy; and great fun it is, too. I’m not a big expert on either 1940s Hollywood (as recently demonstrated) or on later Godzilla, but I still very much enjoyed this whimsical story with a hard edge to it, about the role of B-movie star Syms Thorley in the secret US project to end the war by unleashing giant fire-breathing lizards on the Japanese mainland. Recommended. (See also Strange Horizons review.)

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February Books 29) H.P. Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark, by John Coulthart

In H.P. Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark, and other Grotesque Visions, John Coulthart provides us with lavishly and horribly illustrated retellings of both “The Haunter of the Dark” and “The Call of Cthulhu”, along with pictorial meditations on the Kabbalah envisioned as aspects of the Great Old Ones, with invocations by Alan Moore, who also provides a quite bizarre introduction. Tremendous stuff, and would be a good if not very gentle introduction to Lovecraft for those who don’t know his writing.

Purists may complain that Coulthart’s depiction of Providence does not look like the real thing at all. This is true, but misses the point: Lovecraft’s stories are only weakly rooted in the real details of geography, mainly for local colour, and Coulthart was probably right to create a Providence of his own mind rather than worry too much about what buildings Lovecraft might have known.

Coulthart asks, “Sixty years from now, when Stephen King and James Herbert have gone the way of Dennis Wheatley and Seabury Quinn, will their books still be read as Lovecraft’s are today?” He thinks not, and I agree with him.

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Oscars meme

I have seen very few films.

Thanks to ‘s research, these are all the films ever nominated for Oscars. I have seen 65 of them. I bet you have seen more.


1927-1928: Wings; The Racket; Seventh Heaven

1928-1929: The Broadway Melody; Alibi; The Hollywood Revue of 1929; In Old Arizona; The Patriot

1929-1930: All Quiet on the Western FrontNinotchkaThe Wizard of OzThe Great DictatorCasablancaAn American in ParisThe King and IThe Bridge on the River Kwai12 Angry MenTo Kill a Mockingbird

1963: Tom Jones; America, America; Cleopatra; How the West Was Won; Lilies of the Field

1964: My Fair LadyMary PoppinsThe Sound of MusicDoctor DolittleThe GraduateOliver!Romeo and Juliet

1969: Midnight Cowboy; Anne of the Thousand Days; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Hello, Dolly!; Z


1970: Patton; Airport; Five Easy Pieces; Love Story; MASH

1971: The French Connection; A Clockwork Orange; Fiddler on the Roof; The Last Picture Show; Nicholas and Alexandra

1972: The GodfatherThe StingThe Godfather Part IIThe Towering Inferno

1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Barry Lyndon; Dog Day Afternoon; JawsAll the President’s MenAnnie HallStar WarsThe Deer HunterBreaking AwayThe Elephant ManChariots of FireRaiders of the Lost Ark

1982: GandhiE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTootsieAmadeusA Passage to IndiaWitness

1986: Platoon; Children of a Lesser God; Hannah and Her SistersThe MissionA Room with a View

1987: The Last Emperor; Broadcast News; Fatal AttractionRain ManDangerous LiaisonsMississippi BurningWorking Girl

1989: Driving Miss Daisy; Born on the Fourth of July; Dead Poets SocietyDances with WolvesThe Godfather Part IIIThe Silence of the LambsThe Crying GameHowards EndIn the Name of the FatherThe PianoFour Weddings and a FuneralPulp FictionQuiz ShowThe Shawshank Redemption

1995: Braveheart; Apollo 13Shakespeare in LoveAmerican BeautyChocolatThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThe Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingThe Queen

2007: No Country for Old Men; Atonement; Juno; Michael Clayton; There Will Be Blood

2008: Slumdog Millionaire; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; Milk; The Reader

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Shakespeare: Third Quarter

This was a very good run of plays. Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Othello and most of all Hamlet are all brilliant plays. There is a certain cruelty to the comedy in both The Merry Wives of Windsor and Twelfth Night, but both are still very enjoyable. I was a bit less sure about Troilus and Cressida (because of Cressida’s abrupt switch of loyalties), and by the odd sexual politics of All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure, though both could be very impressive in the right hands.

I veered a bit from my loyalty to the Arkangel series here – watching the Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing and the BBC version of Troilus and Cressida. Good to have a bit of variety.

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Ulster etymology

An interesting question raised in my mind by Morgan Llewellyn’s Red Branch: what is the origin of the name Ulster?

She has a throwaway reference to the Ulaid being named for the wool they produced – this would link the word to modern Irish olann, which is a cousin of Welsh gwlan and goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European *wlna and thus English woollen, and (dropping the initial w) Latin lana and French laine.

But not everyone believes this; the shift from the initial o of olann to u of Ulaid seems unpopular among linguists. Instead the received wisdom, including that of the great Pokorny, is that the ul of Ulaid is from Irish ulcha meaning “beard”. This root supposedly comes from Proto-Indo-European *pul- which otherwise has only an obscure Greek cognate transcribed as pylinx and meaning hair on the posterior, and an Old Indian root pula meaning when your hairs standing on end.

Ptolemy calls the people of the northern part of Ireland the “Uoluntii”, which doesn’t help as it is evidence in both directions.

I was a bit dubious about the idea that Celtic words drop an original Indo-European “p”, but this turns out to be reasonably well attested – the root *palam turns into Latin palma and thus English “palm”, but Irish lamhpater/athair and first/primus/roimh. So I am convinced by that bit.

But for some reason I prefer the idea that the Ulaid were so-called because they were wool producers rather than because they had beards (which would I suppose make them equivalent to the Lombards). It seems more convincing to derive the toponym from economic activity than shaving fashions. (However, if there is no other case of an initial o shifting to u in Irish names, I shall have to concede to the beard theory.)

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February Books 27) The Stand, by Stephen King

Stephen King may not be the best remedy for insomnia… I think the only one of his novels I had previously read was Hearts in Atlantis, which I very much enjoyed. The Stand drew me in but I am not sure if I really enjoyed it. The story starts off as a gripping disaster narrative, as most of humanity gets wiped out by a flu virus (developed, of course, by the US military) and the few survivors begin to cluster together. Then we take a turn to the fantastic, as everyone begins to dream about an old black woman in Nebraska and a sinister white man in Las Vegas, who represent the forces of good and evil. I must say I found this set-up rather unsatisfactory in terms of world-building; the means and motivation of both sides remained rather unclear, with both the evil white dude and the nice black lady (who is incidentally almost the only person of colour in a very large cast of characters, apart from some stereotyped tribesmen at the very end) able to call on supernatural powers, which in turn fail them inexplicably at moments convenient to the forward movement of the plot. The struggle of the good guys against the bad guys made for thrilling reading, but the payoff is that the bad guys lose due to their own internal division, and the efforts of the good guys actually had nothing to do with the outcome, so all that struggle as pretty pointless in anything other than character-building terms. The version I got is the expanded 1100-page edition, but I suspect I would have been just as happy with the 900-page original. Good for long plane flights and the subsequent jetlag.

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Writers retort

George R.R. Martin, with support from John Scalzi and Charles Stross, on the reasons why the next Song of Ice and Fire volume is late and how the fans are Not Being Helpful. I’ve been rather appalled by some of the arrogant and rude comments Martin has been getting from drive-by visitors to his livejournal, and am if anything impressed that his response is relatively civil. I’m sure that behaviour like that makes it more difficult for Martin to get motivated.

Having said which, I too can’t wait for the appearance of A Dance With Dragons

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BF update

The Haunting of Thomas Brewster introduces the eponymous Brewster, played by John Pickard who I understand is a soap star, as a new companion to the Fifth Doctor. The story ambitiously portrays a mid-Victorian milieu, and the script conveys the setting very well. Unfortunately there are several killer flaws in the play. The first is the incidental music, which starts out really good but becomes tired through over-use. The second is guest star Pickard as Brewster, who seems unable to tell the difference between commas and full stops in his lines. The third is the rather gratuitous way the Doctor allows other characters to be killed off. So plenty of marks for trying, but it didn’t work for me.

The Death Collectors failed totally to engage my interest, yet more monsters with silly voices and Sylvester McCoy shouting a lot.

By contrast the one-ep story Spider’s Shadow, on the same BF release, seemed to me a really neat time/space paradox with Seven trying desperately to avoid being caught by the bubble as it collapses.

Peter Davison is cruel in the extra tracks of The Boy That Time Forgot: “So imagine my surprise when I saw that they had brought Adric back, only this time he is being played by … an actor!!!” Indeed, Adric survived the crash of Earthshock, and is now in charge of a prehistoric kingdom of intelligent scorpions. But don’t worry, Nyssa, he has decided that you shall be his queen. The Doctor, however, is to be eaten. The story treads on uncertain ground but does it pretty confidently, helped immensely by Andrew “Manuel/prank phone calls” Sachs as the aged and crazed Adric. Unfortunately John Pickard returns as Brewster at the end, but you can’t have everything.

The Doomwood Curse was my favourite of this run. Charley and Six, having visited a far-future library, find themselves caught in the fictional world of Dick Turpin. This is territory Who has occasionally dipped into, most memorably in The Mind Robber, but done with great conviction here, especially by India Fisher who plays Charley Pollard as a gangster’s moll. Excellent fun.

Both Kingdom of Silver and Keepsake seemed to me unusually dull even for Seven/Cyberman stories. Apparently they fit into the continuity of BF’s sequence of Cyberman plays; I might give them another try in that context.

In summary: The Doomwood Curse and The Boy That Time Forgot are good, the others not so much.

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February Books 26) Othello, by William Shakespeare

Othello popped up on my friends list twice today, just saw the RSC production and someone else in a locked post saw the Northern Broadsides version with Lenny Henry. I have just finished the Arkangel version (travelling last week in noisy aeroplanes didn’t help me speed through it).

I knew next to nothing about Othello before this, and the single point that jumped out at me, given my peculiar interests, is that apart from the first act the whole thing is set on Cyprus, a place where interethnic fault lines remain sufficiently sharply drawn to keep me in business. Of course, this is a fairly fantastical Cyprus, whose geography consists of a single port town with a castle, and which is close enough to Venice that the Venetians hear of a planned Turkish invasion in time to stop it. It is also a Cyprus with almost no indigenous population, the Venetian garrison supplying the bulk of the dramatis personæ. But I was struck by the coincidence.

‘s take is that she doesn’t think this is a play about racism, and while I think it’s fair to say that the main theme of the play is psychological – Iago’s jealousy of Othello’s status, Othello’s manufactured jealousy of the fictional affair between Cassio and Desdemona – Iago is clearly a racist, and that is clearly part of what makes him evil. Shakespeare’s depiction in Othello of racism as fundamentally wrong is a far cry from his treatment of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, let alone Aaron in Titus Andronicus.

Apart from the dubious Cypriot geography, the basic plot of Othello is almost the most believable so far. Iago has to be pretty smart to avoid detection, but even so his wife spots what he is up to in the end. Desdemona’s remarkable, if temporary, recovery from asphyxiation is the most counterfactual thing in the play. In good hands this should be an excellent character study of people behaving, and misbehaving, under stress.

Arkangel largely rise to the occasion, with Don Warrington excelling in the title role, and David Threlfall also excellent as Iago. (Tracy-Anne Obermann, who like Don Warrington has been killed by Cybermen in Doctor Who, plays Bianca.) The music is particularly well chosen – a rather fifteenth-century feel to it, with Desdemona’s song especially memorable. One of the good ones.

Henry VI, Part I | Henry VI, Part II | Henry VI, Part III | Richard III | Comedy of Errors | Titus Andronicus | Taming of the Shrew | Two Gentlemen of Verona | Love’s Labour’s Lost | Romeo and Juliet | Richard II | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | King John | The Merchant of Venice | Henry IV, Part I | Henry IV, Part II | Henry V | Julius Caesar | Much Ado About Nothing | As You Like It | Merry Wives of Windsor | Hamlet | Twelfth Night | Troilus and Cressida | All’s Well That Ends Well | Measure for Measure | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | Timon of Athens | Pericles | Cymbeline | The Winter’s Tale | The Tempest | Henry VIII | The Two Noble Kinsmen | Edward III | Sir Thomas More (fragment)

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The Winter’s Tale

After Boskone last weekend I spent Monday and Tuesday in DC, and Wednesday and Thursday in NY (and took Friday off for a personal project which I shall describe in due course). I was too occupied with work and sleep to socialise much – will try and give friends in the relevant cities a shout next time – but my one excursion was a pretty good one, to see The Winter’s Tale in Brooklyn on Thursday night.

It’s not a play I know at all – literally my only previous encounter with it was as background to Franz Fühmann’s short story “Böhmen am Meer” which I did for German A-level, and I haven’t reached it yet in my Arkangel Shakespearethon. The running time of the Brooklyn version was two and a half hours counting the interval, so I guess it may have been cut a bit. The key dramatic point is the jealousy of King Leontes of Sicilia over his wife Hermione’s friendship with King Polixenes of Bohemia; their baby daughter is abandoned and the end of the play has her reuniting with the family and all end happily paired off. There’s quite a strong contrast between the tragic drama of the first half and the slightly magical comedy of the resolution, and I was surprised at the number of snickers from the audience at some of the earlier lines which seemed to me dramatic rather than humorous.

This production is ever so slightly star-studded: directed by Sam Mendes, cast including Simon Russell Beale (Leontes), Ethan Hawke (Autolycus), Sinead Cusack (Paulina) and Rebecca Hall (Hermione). All of them really impressed me, as did Richard Easton in the smaller parts of the Old Shepherd and Time. The Sicilians are by and large played by Brits, and the Bohemians mostly by Americans; I particularly liked the bucolic bluegrass setting of the scenes with the Bohemian shepherds, though felt the Sicilian court was a bit less adventurously staged. But generally, I had a great time.

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February Books 25) Kosovo: What Everyone Needs To Know, by Tim Judah

In this short book, Economist correspondent Tim Judah has simply put down on paper the basics about Kosovo, up to the declaration of independence about a year ago. I know the author well and I know the subject well, so I may be biased, but it seemed to me a good and pretty neutral guide to the facts about Kosovo’s history, and the problematic future of its relations with the EU and its neighbourhood. (Though I still don’t believe Carla del Ponte’s organ-legging story deserves any airtime – Doug Muir fisked it ages ago.) Recommended for anyone wanting a quick decent guide: I wish there were similar books for Bosnia and Macedonia.

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February Books 24) Rocks of Ages, by Stephen Jay Gould

In Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life, Gould makes a strong and eloquent case that science and religion can and do normally get on just fine; that despite the extremes of creationists on the one side and (though Gould does not name him) Richard Dawkins on the other, in fact most practitioners of both science and religion recognise that they are answering different questions, and are sensible enough to stay out of areas in which they are not experts. I agreed with almost everything in it, and recommend the book to anyone interested in a saner take on the issue than we sometimes get.

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February Books 23) The Odyssey, by Homer

This is the translation of The Odyssey by T.E. Lawrence. The narrative is, of course, very dense, as you would expect from transposing epic poetry into prose, and I rather felt that I should read it again some time over a period of weeks, taking one of the 24 chapters each day in several translations. The central narrative has more of Odysseus’ son Telemachus than I had realised – he goes off on an initial quest for his father and then is instrumental in engineering his return to Ithaca. I was also startled by the brutal violence with which Odysseus and Telemachus dispose of Penelope’s suitors and the maidservants. Most of the stories I already knew from other reading, but it was interesting to get a sense of the original.

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February Books 22) Short Trips [8]: Repercussions, edited by Gary Russell

I got this collection mainly because it had the only Erimem story I had not otherwise read or listened to – “The Gangster’s Story”, by Jon de Burgh Miller. I was not bowled over by it, or indeed by many of the other stories in the collection, which is built around a theme of people whose survival affects the Web of Time and who are therefore removed from history by the Doctor – completely un-Doctorish behaviour, it seemed to me. I did rather like Kathryn Sullivan’s “The Diplomat’s Story”, but otherwise you can give this one a miss.

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February Books 21) Write It When I’m Gone, by Thomas M. DeFrank

In Write It When I’m Gone, DeFrank chronicles three decades of interviews with Gerald Ford, from his appointment as Vice-President in late 1973 to a final conversation in late 2006. For most of that time, Ford was old news; he ruled himself (with some bitterness) out of the presidential running fairly early in 1980 and settled down to being an elder statesman. There’s nothing terribly startling in any of DeFrank’s revelations: Ford didn’t like Reagan, but liked Carter even less until they unexpectedly bonded on the way back from Sadat’s funeral; Ford was never really on speaking terms with his predecessor as Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, although they lived very close to each other in retirement; Ford generally backed Cheney and Rumsfeld, his own chiefs of staff, but thought Cheney should have been dropped from the Bush 2004 ticket; Ford and Clinton negotiated about his possibly having a role in the Lewinsky impeachment crisis, but it came to nothing. But in general it’s the account of a journalist’s admiration for a decent chap who didn’t want to be President but accepted the office when it was thrust upon him, and who had few bad words for anyone (except Carter and Reagan, and even then he ultimately relented on them both).

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Doctor Who – The Stage Plays

I am on the road this week, and have been listening inter alia to Big Finish’s recent production of three Doctor Who plays originally written for the stage.

Seven Keys to Doomsday, by Terrance Dicks, has the Doctor acquiring two new companions, regenerating into Trevor Martin, and then going on a rather pointless quest to find seven bits of crystal which fit together to form a mystical key. It obviously inspired the Key to Time season a few years later, but I think it looked better than it sounds.

The Ultimate Adventure, also by Terrance Dicks, has Colin Baker, a French companion, and several songs, as at the request of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher they try and rescue the American delegate to the world peace conference who has been captured by Daleks and Cybermen. Unlike Seven Keys to Doomsday, it is not actually bad, but it is on the whimsical side.

The best of the three plays is the earliest, Curse of the Daleks, written in 1965 by Terry Nation. I was amused to note that we begin with convicts on a spaceship which they manage to take control of and bring to another planet where they have to do a deal with the local baddies – the second episode of Blake’s Seven reworks this with surprisingly few changes. Later parts of the plot, with the Daleks’ human stooge reviving them, were recycled by David Whitaker in the first Troughton story, Power of the Daleks. On top of providing the source material for those two excellent later pieces, Curse of the Daleks has a rather good “who’s the traitor” plot, and Nick Briggs does the best linking narration for any of the three plays. Recommended.

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February Books 20) Doctor Who: The Ghosts of N-Space, by Barry Letts

I was moderately impressed by the audio original version of this story, but I really liked the book. It is a real shame that Barry Letts has written so few Who novels; his Doctor Who and the Dæmons is one of the best Third Doctor novelisations. It’s an enjoyable romp round the Brigadier’s elderly relative’s Italian castle, largely but not entirely told from Sarah Jane Smith’s pov, with a little bit of coloration from Letts’ own theological speculations. Definitely one of the Missing Adventures to look out for (and thanks, , for sending it to me).

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Small world

It’s rather weird to hear from one of my former interns that her husband has just been made Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Defense at the Pentagon.

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