Monthly Archives: January 2012

BSFA awards 2011 – best novel – intro

I haven't read any of the nominees for Best Novel in this year's BSFA wards, and will start scrambling to make up that deficiency (especially if I can do so before the Hugo nomination deadline at end of March). But … Continue reading

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The Curse of Davros

I have been known to get unreasonably excited about Doctor Who stories set in Belgium, and I must admit that I was thrilled when it became clear that Big Finish’s latest audio takes shape-shifting Daleks to the Battle of Waterloo, … Continue reading

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How should British vacancies in the European parliament be filled?

The fuss over replacing Diana Wallis as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber appears to have died down, with her husband, Stewart Arnold, who was the second-placed candidate on the list, announcing that he will not take up the seat; … Continue reading

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The answer to the question

The story about the failure of e-government was slightly adapted from one of my favourite political gossip columns, Tales from the Coffee Shop, which appears weekly in the English-language Cyprus Mail. But I think it is invidious to single out … Continue reading

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When e-government goes bad

A story from one of my favourite internet sources. Special prize to anyone who can guess the country without googling. A friend who wanted to register his company for VAT, decided to try doing this through the internet. After a … Continue reading

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January Books 27) Indian Summer, by Alex von Tunzelmann

A very readable account of the British withdrawal from India, largely from the point of view of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, whose papers are used extensively, though with some effort also made to include the roles of the other key … Continue reading

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January Books 26) Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf

A very readable book about how acquiring the skill of reading actually changes the way the human brain works, which I must admit I skimmed a bit because one bit of brain highlighted in a diagram looks much the same … Continue reading

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January Books 25) Skypoint, by Phil Ford

Another pretty decent Torchwood novel, with an intersection between exploitative aliens and exploitative crime lords in the property market in Cardiff Bay, set just after Gwen and Rhys return from honeymoon, with Owen still dead and walking. Some nice exploration … Continue reading

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January Books 24) Judgement day, by Scott Gray

Sadly the very last of the SJA audiobooks, read by Anjli “Rani” Molhindra, about the kidnapping and trial of Sarah Jane by an alien race with an unhealthy devotion to the truth. It’s a decent tale, well read by Malhotra, … Continue reading

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The complete Earthsearch

I was on the road a lot last week, so only now blogging recent reading/listening; stand by for a few more posts this morning. I remember catching occasional episodes of the 1981-82 BBC sf radio series Earthsearch, in which the … Continue reading

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Никълъс Уайт speaks out

Bulgarian media desperately seek expert on Scotland.

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January Books 23) Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

This is a great book about the human side of space travel. There are fascinating chapters on how astronauts are chosen (people who are able to keep making decisions and responding to instructions while under extreme stress, and also do … Continue reading

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January Books 22) The Blue Angel, by Paul Magrs and Jeremy Hoad

I didn’t really get much out of this Eighth Doctor novel, set immediately after the two-volume Interference, with the Doctor, Fitz and new companion Compassion getting involved with various aliens and Iris Wildthyme. I did like the fact that we … Continue reading

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January Books 21) Children of Steel, by Martin Day

One of the last two Sarah Jane audio books, featuring the voice of Daniel “Clyde” Anthony and a story by Martin Day about a timetravelling steampunk android (the “difference golem”) which needs to be sorted out by SJS and pals. … Continue reading

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Croatia and Finland not rejecting EU shock

Cheerful news on the electoral front today. Croatia has voted by almost 2 to 1 – rather more strongly than opinion polls suggested – to join the European Union. (Official results are not out yet but my old friends at … Continue reading

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January Books 20) Scotch on the Rocks, by Douglas Hurd and Andrew Osmond

A Conservative prime minister, having failed to secure an majority for his party at Westminster, finds himself dealing with a Scottish Nationalist Party leader who is ascendant in Scotland; can a slide towards independence be bought off with an offer … Continue reading

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January Books 19) Why Can’t Elephants Jump?, ed. Mick O’Hare

Another great collection of New Scientist columns with readers asking questions and other readers answering them. Lots of interesting trivia; two different answers given for why we westerners tend to eat a sweet course at the end of the meal … Continue reading

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January Books 18) All-Consuming fire, by Andy Lane

Not a lot to add to my enthusiastic write-up of this book from first reading, except to say that the Doctor Who / Sherlock Holmes mash-up is even better reading in the Moffat Era.

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January Books 17) The Treason and Trial of Sir John Perrot, by Roger Turvey

A brief book going in detail into the demise of the Elizabethan courtier John Perrot, of interest to me because of the supporting role played by my ancestor Sir Nicholas White. I had gone over some of this ground before … Continue reading

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Who should be the new Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber?

Mark Pack asks who should replace Diana Wallis as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber? Her husband Stewart Arnold came second in the selection for the party’s candidates back in 2007, as shown in these figures taken from the offical … Continue reading

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On Australian radio

In about five minutes, discussing the Euro crisis.

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January Books 16) Slow River, by Nicola Griffith

My first Nebula winner of the year (only five more to go). In a lot of ways this is a very good book – excellent that Griffith has nested three different strands of plot, her heroine's childhood and then two … Continue reading

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January Books 15) Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book 2012, ed. Clayton Hickman

This really is a must-have book for fans of New Who. It has shaken off some of the extra material of last year's equivalent, and settled down to being a damn good guide to the 2011 series (and 2010 Christmas … Continue reading

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January Books 14) Making Ireland British 1580-1650, by Nicholas Canny

My first Irish history book of the year, this one looking not so much at the big picture of Irish history as specifically at the colonisation policies pursued by English (and Scottish) officials in Ireland from 1580 until the Cromwellian … Continue reading

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Measures thou see art but trifles

Thanks to Ian Sales I have just caught up with the controversy regarding Liz Bourke's review of Michael J. Sullivan's novel Theft of Swords. For those who want to read the full debate, which has spilled far beyond the review's … Continue reading

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The Pathan who settled in Ireland in the 1630s

I was fascinated to come across this snippet from seventeenth-century Ireland. It is one of the many depositions made by Protestant settlers who were attacked by Catholics during the insurrection of 1641 (I have modernised the spelling and punctuation). But … Continue reading

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January Books 13) How The States Got Their Shapes, by Mark Stein

A popular history of the building blocks of US political geography (NB the author is not the wingnut Mark Steyn). I learned a number of things from it, including the importance of the 1790 Nootka convention and why Hawaii has … Continue reading

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January Books 12) Only You Can Save Mankind, by Terry Pratchett

One of Pratchett's earlier YA novels, about a 12-year-old boy who is an enthusiastic player of computer games, which was very much enjoyed by my 12-year-old son who is an enthusiastic player of computer games. Although Pratchett apologises in the … Continue reading

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Scotland the Brave

I’m agnostic tending to positive on Scottish independence, and have been observing with great interest the current successful manoeuvring by Alex Salmond (see excellent interview by David Rennie)to put himself in pole position to win a vote which in fact … Continue reading

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Sunday number theory problem

Prove that n4+4 is never a prime number for n>1.

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