Monthly Archives: March 2009

Books acquired in March

Dubliners by James Joyce (1992) Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology by Rowan Williams (2007) Wild Sweet Love by Beverly Jenkins (2007) Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (2002) The Story of Anne Frank by Brenda Lewis (2001) The Blind Assassinby Margaret … Continue reading

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March Books

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 21)       Shakespeare: 3 (YTD 10)    Fiction (non-sf): 5 (YTD 11)      SF (non-Who, but including Homer): 8 (YTD 20)          Who: 2 (YTD 10)   Comics: 1 (YTD 3) 4/24 (YTD 14/75) by women (Picard, Rowling, … Continue reading

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March Books 24) The Dead Man’s Brother, by Roger Zelazny

I’m a die-hard Zelazny fan, and when I heard that this book – written in the early 1970s, at about the same time as Today We Choose Faces and My Name Is Legion – had finally been published, I was … Continue reading

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The Coudenberg

Long, long ago, I remember reading a mocking article in The Bulletin (the English-language weekly for expats in Belgium, which I haven’t myself picked up for years) about the Belvue Museum in Brussels: who, it asked, really wants to pay … Continue reading

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March Books 23) A Million Open Doors, by John Barnes

This was a long-ago recommendation from , and a great read: perhaps reflecting a bit the fall of the Wall and globalisation more generally, it’s about an encounter between cultures, the dour market-driven frozen colony of Caledony being forced to … Continue reading

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The Turks and Caicos Islands

Here’s an international story that caught my eye this week, concerning a place I know very little about: Britain is about to revoke the democratically elected institutions of the Turks and Caicos Islands and give the London-appointed Governor power to … Continue reading

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March Books 22) The Resurrection Casket, by Justin Richards

An unexceptional sf adventure involving space pirates and anthropomorphic robots. This must have been one of the first Tenth Doctor books – his character seems very Nine-ish in places. Also he is rather too eager to kill off the baddies.

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March Books 21) Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

The Hugo shortlist is off to a good start for me: Doctorow’s teen hero is unfairly arrested by the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack on San Francisco. He then devotes his energies to fighting the system, and … Continue reading

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March Books 20) Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

I came to this with somewhat low expectations, but actually found it a pretty gripping, if sombre, tale of near-future apocaplyse. The viewpoint character, Johnny / Snowman, reminisces about how his friend Crake destroyed humanity in order to replace us … Continue reading

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March Books 19) The New Penguin Russian Course, by Nicholas J. Brown

I admit it: I’m not going to finish this one. Self-study is difficult when learning languages, and for me it has to fit decently into my commuting or other spare time. I have not found it possible to sit down … Continue reading

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March Books 18) Antony and Cleopatra, by William Shakespeare

This is a grim tale: a neatly observed set of dysfunctional relationships, primarily that between the title characters, full of both passion and insecurity, but also [Octavian] Cæsar’s with them both – Cleopatra is in a sense his stepmother, thanks … Continue reading

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Consumer whinge

Mr Didier Bellens, Chief Executive Officer and President Belgacom Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 27 B-1030 Brussels 26 March 2009 Dear Mr Bellens, I am writing because I am very disappointed with Belgacom’s communication with its customers. I have two … Continue reading

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March Books 17) The Iliad, by Homer

I preferred The Iliad somehow to The Odyssey. There is a wider range of characters, a broader range of settings, a continuing tension between the battlefields of Troy and the realm of the gods. Indeed, I found the continuing interference … Continue reading

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Ada Lovelace Day

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, when we salute women in technology and science, I thought I should flag up a few female Irish scientists who appeared in my long-ago doctoral research. Mary Ball (1812-1892) discovered the underwater stridulation of the … Continue reading

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The Prime Minister’s haiku

I didn’t realise this, but apparently our Prime Minister writes haiku and posts them on his blog: http://hermanvanrompuy.typepad.com/haiku/ Rough translation of the most recent: Als de lente start verrijzen de crocussen. Op weg naar Pasen. At spring’s beginning Crocus flowers … Continue reading

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Eighth Doctor / Lucie: Series 2

This second season is generally solid stuff, with none of these stories being duds, and the Doctor and Lucie getting on with developing a working partnership now that they are no longer being pursued by the Head-Hunter and entangled with … Continue reading

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The Karpass Peninsula

I’m just back from a few days of work in Cyprus, but decided to take yesterday exploring the Karpass peninsula, the long thin panhandle of the northeast of the island. (Top marks, by the way, to Sun Rent A Car … Continue reading

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Macedonian presidential election

If you do an image google on Agron Buxhaku, one of the candidates in today’s Macedonian presidential election, you’ll see the first link is this picture from my livejournal scrapbook. He’s a good friend of mine, but is currently lying … Continue reading

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March Books 16) The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells

I had forgotten just how good this is. Its 200 pages far outshine all later (and mostly longer) invasion-of-Earth stories (or even just disaster stories like The Stand). It feels so very fresh, one of the basic plots of science … Continue reading

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March Books 15) Elizabeth’s London, by Liza Picard

A book that ties in with two of my projects, Sir Nicholas White who was educated in London in the 1540s and died in the Tower in 1592, and of course Shakespeare. Picard has written several other books about London … Continue reading

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Two Companion Chronicles

Driving up and down the peninsula yesterday I had the chance to enjoy a couple of the recent Companion Chronicles which I had somehow missed. The Darkening Eye is a prequel to last year’s Seventh Doctor audio, The Death Collectors, … Continue reading

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March Books 14) The Cyprus Conflict: Looking Ahead, edited by Ahmet Sözen

This is a collection of papers from a 2007 conference in Famagusta; I am one of the contributors (though on Kosovo and Macedonia rather than Cyprus). The standout papers are by Nathalie Tocci, reviewing the EU’s role in failing to … Continue reading

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March Books 13) Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

Of Heinlein’s four or five Hugo-winning novels (Double Star, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and retro-Hugo-winning Farmer in the Sky) this probably is the best. (Reserving judgement on TMiaHM as I haven’t re-read it yet.) Which I … Continue reading

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I’ve said this before, but…

…if you’re a Classic Who fan, and you’re not reading , I have to ask you why not?

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March Books 12) The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I guess I was just not in the mood for this. I found the archaic language tedious, the moral dilemmas artificial and not very interesting, and the portrayal of Puritan society unrealistic; I also was repelled by the author’s lengthy … Continue reading

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The Chaos Pool

Hot off the BF website, it’s the latest of their audio plays, The Chaos Pool in which the Fifth Doctor, human tracer companion Amy, and her sister and rival Zara close in on the last segment of the Key to … Continue reading

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Irish book list

In honour of the national festival, I’ve produced this list of books about Ireland which I have reviewed on-line. This is not a reading list for Irish studies – I ran through most of that when working on my PhD. … Continue reading

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Edward Gibbon on climate change

Along with my various other reading projects I’m slowly working through Gibbon, who may not be a laugh a minute but has a surprising number of jokes. I was struck by his conclusions regarding climate change, which are more or … Continue reading

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March Books 11) The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction

This is a collection of short stories, all but two of which are set in contemporary Ireland, by new Irish writers none of whom I had previously heard of (apart from one, Eileen Brannigan, who I went to school with … Continue reading

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March Books 10) Resurrection, by Leo Tolstoy

I’ve had this one on the shelves for ages, and eventually it bubbled to the top of not one but two of my reading lists simultaneously. I have previously read both War And Peace and Anna Karenina, and I think … Continue reading

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