March Books

Non-fiction: 8 (YTD 16)
An Outline of the History of Pharmacy in Ireland, by William D. Moore M.B.
A History of the Universe in 100 Objects, by Steve Tribe and James Goss
Iain M. Banks, by Paul Kincaid
So, Anyway…, by John Cleese
The Road to Somewhere, by David Goodhart
After Europe, by Ivan Krastev
Free Radical, by Vince Cable
No Going Back to Moldova, by Anna Robertson

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 11)
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
Julian, by Gore Vidal
How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn

sf (non-Who): 9 (YTD 28)
Provenance, by Ann Leckie
Planesrunner by Ian McDonald
Uncanny Valley, by Greg Egan
The Enclave, by Anne Charnock
"Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", by Samuel R. Delany
The Murders of Molly Southbourne, by Tade Thompson
Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
The Man Who Spoke Snakish, by Andrus Kivirähk
Jade City, by Fonda Lee

Doctor Who, etc: 4 (YTD 10)
Doctor Who Storybook 2009, ed. Clayton Hickman
Something Changed, ed. Simon Guerrier
The Missy Chronicles, by James Goss, Cavan Scott, Paul Magrs, Peter Anghelides, Jacqueline Rayner and Richard Dinnick
The Legends of River Song, by Jenny T. Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane

Comics: 1 (YTD 6)
Apostata 07: Niets meer dan een wolk by Ken Broeders

~6,400 pages (YTD ~19,900)
7/25 (YTD 27/72) by women (Robertson, Kingsolver, Leckie, Charnock, Lee, Rayner, Colgan/Rayner)
3/25 (YTD 6/72) by PoC (Delany, Thompson, Lee)
2/25 (YTD 6/72) reread ("Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", Gulliver’s Travels)

Reading now
Spirit by Gwyneth Jones
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H.P. Lovecraft and Ian Culbard

Coming soon (perhaps):
Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith
Contes Fantastiques Complets, by Guy de Maupassant
Something Like Normal, by Trish Doller
The God Instinct, by Jesse Bering
Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
The Road to Middlemarch, by Rebecca Mead
Looking For JJ, by Anne Cassidy
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, by James Finn Garner
Moominvalley in November, by Tove Jansson
Gemini, by Dorothy Dunnett
Virgins, Weeders and Queens, by Twigs Way
Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov
Le Mariage de Figaro, by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Your Code Name is Jonah, by Edward Packard
“Slow Sculpture”, by Theodore Sturgeon
The Aeneid, by Virgil
Rose de Paris, by Gilles Schlesser
The Flood, by Scott Gray and Gareth Roberts
Anno Mortis, by Rebecca Levene
Weapons of Mass Diplomacy, by Abel Lanzac
Genius Loci, by Ben Aaronovitch

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My tweets

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If I was us, I wouldn’t start from here: Damian Gorman, Good Friday Agreement +20years

If I was us, I wouldn’t start from here

Especially in a broken home like ours
Where broken doors and windows feed the cold.
Each generation has a sacred task:
To tell a better story than it was told.

For we are reared by stories in such places
Clawing through the bitter draughts of these
For something we can truly get ahold of.
It seems to help us off our shattered knees.

The kind of myth my generation supped
Was “We’ve got better heroes than they’ve got.
For ours are much more decent, to a fault.
And if we’ve a rotten apple, they’ve the rot.”

Our steps are now, at best, precise and formal
Like dressage horses going nowhere well;
Our peace a thing we part-baked in the 90s
And left to prove, and got used to the smell.

And yet, even in this half-peace we are living
Where death is only half dead, I am sure
That we could learn to change our tunes completely.
But if I was us, I wouldn’t start from here.

If I was us, I wouldn’t start from here
For here’s a swamp we’ve stood in for too long.
We haven’t kept our heads above the water,
And haven’t seen a thing, where we have gone.

And we should fly now, frightened for our children.
Kick off the bottom, rush towards the air,
And break the water into different daylight
And gasp, and say what we can see from there.

For especially in a broken home like ours
Where broken doors and windows feed the cold
Each generation has a sacred task
To tell a better story than it was told.

A story made as honey is in bees
From things that we have found outside ourselves.

The punctuation may be incorrect; I’ve transcribed it from the video.

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My tweets

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The Hugos and Easter

There has been a lot of discussion in the last few days about the ideal time of publishing the Hugo final ballot (as we now call it) with respect to the Christian holiday of Easter.

Below, I present the actual statistics since 1990, taken from The Long List Of Worldcons,, and elsewhere, showing the date of the Worldcon, total membership, the date on which the final ballot was announced, its relationship to Easter (using my own cultural references of Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter Saturday – Easter Sunday – Easter Monday), the number of nominating ballots and the number of final votes.

What jumps out is of course that the seven highest vote totals ever, in either stage, have been in the last seven years, and on four of those years the final ballot was announced on Easter Saturday. There is therefore little empirical evidence to suggest that participation in the Hugos suffers from an Easter Saturday announcement.

The two highest ever votes on the final ballot, in 2014 and 2015, both followed Easter Saturday anouncements. One of those years was the year that a widely cited piece criticising the Easter Saturday publication was published; in fact that year saw a record level of participation.

Worldcon Dates Host city Membership Finalists announced nominations final ballot
75 – Worldcon 75 9-13 Aug 2017 Helsinki, FI 7,119 / 10,616 04-Apr 2464 3319
74 – MidAmeriCon II 17-21 Aug 2016 Kansas City, MO 4,719 / 7,740 26-Apr 4032 3130
73 – Sasquan 19-23 Aug 2015 Spokane, WA 5,077 / 11,742 04-Apr Easter Saturday 2122 5950
72 – Loncon 3 14-18 Aug, 2014 London 6,946 / 10,718 19-Apr Easter Saturday 1923 3587
71 – LoneStarCon 3 29 Aug-2 Sep 2013 San Antonio, TX 4,832 / 6,130 30-Mar Easter Saturday 1343 1848
70 – Chicon 7 30 Aug-3 Sep 2012 Chicago, IL 4,743 / 6,197 07-Apr Easter Saturday 1101 1922
69 – Renovation 17-21 Aug 2011 Reno, NV 4,112 / 5,526 25-Apr Easter Monday 1006 2100
68 – Aussiecon 4 2-6 Sep 2010 Melbourne 2,101 / 3,462 05-Apr Easter Monday 864 1094
67 – Anticipation 6-10 Aug 2009 Montreal 3,925 / 4,499 20-Mar 799 1074
66 – Denvention 3 6-10 Aug 2008 Denver 3,752 / 4,854 21-Mar Good Friday 483 895
65 – Nippon2007 30 Aug-3 Sep 2007 Yokohama, Japan 3,348 / 5,149 29-Mar 409 >471
64 – L.A.con IV 23-27 Aug 2006 Anaheim 5,738 / 6,291 22-Mar 533 >660
63 – Interaction 4-8 Aug 2005 Glasgow 4,115 / 5,202 26-Mar Easter Saturday 546 684
62 – Noreascon 4 2-6 Sep 2004 Boston 6,008 / 7,485 09-Apr Good Friday >462 1093
61 – Torcon 3 28 Aug-1 Sep 2003 Toronto 3,834 / 4,986 18-Apr Good Friday 738 805
60 – ConJosé 29 Aug-2 Sep 2002 San Jose 5,162 / 5,916 18-Apr 626 >885
59 – The Millennium Philcon 30 Aug-3 Sep 2001 Philadelphia 4,840 / 6,269 26-Apr 495 1075
58 – Chicon 2000 31 Aug-4 Sep 2000 Chicago 5,794 / 6,574 20-Apr Holy Thursday 427 1071
57 – Aussiecon Three 2-6 Sep 1999 Melbourne 1,548 / 2,872 23-Apr 425 438
56 – BucConeer 5-9 Aug 1998 Baltimore 6572 10-Apr Good Friday 471 769
55 – LoneStarCon 2 28 Aug-1 Sep 1997 San Antonio 4,634 / 5,614 22-Apr 429 687
54 – L.A.con III 29 Aug-2 Sep 1996 Anaheim 6703 20-Apr 442 939
53 – Intersection 24-28 Aug 1995 Glasgow 4,173/ 6,524 01-May 477 744
52 – ConAdian 1-5 Sep 1994 Winnipeg 3570 26-Apr 649 491
51 – ConFrancisco 2-6 Sep 1993 San Francisco 6,602 / 7,725 18-Apr 397 841
50 – MagiCon 3-7 Sep 1992 Orlando 5,319 / 6,368 10-May 498 902
49 – Chicon V 29 Aug-2 Sep 1991 Chicago 5661 22-May 352 1048
48 – ConFiction 23-27 Aug 1990 The Hague 3580 26-Mar 291 486

NB: Missing off the end of the table: the pre-2011 record of final votes was set at NorEasCon 2 in 1980, with 1788 voters. The next highest was 1595 for MidAmeriCon in 1976. The highest number of nominating votes before 1990 was at ConStellation in 1983, with 660. The second highest was the previous year's L.A.Con IV, the biggest Worldcon ever, with 648.

Easter is late next year, as it was last year, and Dublin 2019 will announce the final ballot earlier in April, as Worldcon 75 did last year. But my personal feeling is that announcing the ballot to a fannish audience at conventions over Easter weekend appeals to the core Hugo voting community and does no demonstrable harm to the awards; so it would be my preferred option, if the date of Easter itself is suitable and other things are equal.

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Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift

I first read this at about the age of eight or nine; I’m pretty sure it was the Cassell edition with illustrations by Thomas Morten, because a) the scatological bits have been bowdlerised out and b) I remember my grandfather, in what may well have been the last conversation I ever had with him, teasing me for not knowing Gulliver’s first name; it does not appear in the Cassell edition, which omits the two introductory letters where he is introduced as Lemuel Gulliver.

In case you don’t know, the story is of a normal English naval surgeon who finds himself on four adventures: first, he goes to a country where everyone is very small; then he goes to a country where everyone is very big; then he goes to a country where everyone is a mad scientist (or at least pursuing peculiar paths of knowledge); and finally he goes to a country where horses are intelligent and humans are primitive brutes. They deserve separate treatment, though they are coherent parts of a whole. The illustrations below are Morten’s from the Cassell edition; the text is from the Penguin edition with footnotes by Robert DeMaria.

Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput

Second paragraph of third chapter:

This Diversion [rope-dancing] is only practised by those Persons who are Candidates for great Employments, and high Favour, at Court. They are trained in this Art from their Youth, and are not always of noble Birth, or liberal Education. When a great Office is vacant either by Death or Disgrace (which often happens) five or six of those Candidates petition the Emperor to entertain his Majesty and the Court with a Dance on the Rope, and whoever jumps the highest without falling, succeeds in the Office. Very often the Chief Ministers themselves are commanded to show their Skill, and to convince the Emperor that they have not lost their Faculty. Flimnap, the Treasurer,38 is allowed to cut a Caper on the strait Rope, at least an Inch higher than any other Lord in the whole Empire. I have seen him do the Summerset39 several times together upon a Trencher40 fixed on the Rope, which is no thicker than a common Packthread in England. My Friend Reldresal,41 Principal Secretary for private Affairs, is, in my opinion, if I am not partial, the second after the Treasurer; the rest of the great Officers are much upon a Par.
38 Flimnap: Thought to represent Robert Walpole, the powerful Whig minister.
39 Summerset: Somersault.
40 Trencher: ‘A piece of wood upon which meat is cut at table’ (Johnson).
41 Reldresal: Perhaps Lord Carteret, a friend of Swift’s, who, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, offered a reward for the identification of the author of Swift’s anti-government pamphlets called The Drapier’s Letters.

Lilliput is the best known of the four books – perhaps it is the easiest to grasp and to film. In 1981 Barry Letts did an adaptation which centred much more around Lady Flimnap than Gulliver; the lead was played by Elisabeth Sladen, formerly (and future) Sarah Jane Smith.

This is the most directly satirical of the four parts, the story of Lilliput and its eternal rival Blefuscu, clearly modelled on England and France, divided also by the debate over which end of the egg to break first, and in the case of Lilliput riven by internal court intrigue into which Gulliver becomes a deeply disturbing factor. Turning the telescope around is an old satirist’s trick, and reducing the squabbles of European politicians and churchmen to a twelfth of their usual size is a good way of putting things in perspective.

This is the only one of the four books where Gulliver is forced to leave by the inhabitants (or rather to avoid their intention to kill or maim him). The precipitating moment is when he puts out a fire in the Queen’s apartments by urinating on it. (This is one of the bits that was left out of the Cassell edition.)

Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag

Second paragraph of third chapter:

The Queen observed my coldness, and when the Farmer was gone out of the Apartment, asked me the reason. I made bold to tell her Majesty that I owed no other Obligation to my late Master, than his not dashing out the Brains of a poor harmless Creature found by chance in his Field; which Obligation was amply recompensed by the gain he had made in showing me through half the Kingdom, and the price he had now sold me for. That the Life I had since led, was laborious enough to kill an Animal of ten times my Strength. That my Health was much impaired by the continual drudgery of entertaining the Rabble every hour of the Day, and that if my Master had not thought my Life in danger, her Majesty perhaps would not have got so cheap a bargain. But as I was out of all fear of being ill treated under the protection of so great and good an Empress, the Ornament of Nature, the Darling of the World, the Delight of her Subjects, the Phoenix of the Creation; so, I hoped my late Master’s apprehensions would appear to be groundless, for I already found my Spirits to revive by the Influence of her most August Presence.

If Lilliput is the most satirical of the four parts of the story, Brobdingnag is the most philosophical. (Also, ironically, the shortest.) The two particularly memorable aspects of the story are, first, the body horror of everything being twelve times its normal size, including lice, flies, rats, monkeys and indeed dwarves; and second, a long conversation about political theory between Gulliver and the King of Brobdingnag, in which Gulliver leads off with a naïvely idealistic description of the British constitution, and the King gently destroys every single point in a series of hypothetical questions. It is the closest we get to sæva Indignatio (though there are several other near encounters).

Incidentally, I surely can’t be alone in detecting an echo of “dashing out the Brains of a poor harmless Creature found by chance in his Field“ in “To a Mouse”.

Part III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan

Second paragraph of third chapter:

The Flying or Floating Island is exactly circular, its Diameter 7837 Yards, or about four Miles and an Half, and consequently contains ten Thousand Acres. It is three Hundred Yards thick. The bottom or under Surface, which appears to those who view it from below, is one even regular Plate of Adamant, shooting up to the Height of about two Hundred Yards. Above it lie the several Minerals in their usual order, and over all is a Coat of rich Mould ten or twelve Foot deep. The Declivity of the upper Surface, from the Circumference to the Centre, is the natural Cause why all the Dews and Rains which fall upon the Island, are conveyed in small Rivulets towards the middle, where they are emptied into four large Basins, each of about half a Mile in Circuit, and two Hundred Yards distant from the Centre. From these Basins the Water is continually exhaled by the Sun in the Daytime, which effectually prevents their overflowing. Besides, as it is in the Power of the Monarch to raise the Island above the Region of Clouds and Vapours, he can prevent the falling of Dews and Rains whenever he pleases. For the highest Clouds cannot rise above two Miles, as Naturalists agree, at least they were never known to do in that Country.

The third section has perhaps weathered the test of time least well of the four – though ironically it is the most sfnal, in that the first half is very much about the application of science and the second half then takes us into accessing the past (by summoning ghosts, and talking to immortals). Swift’s rejection of scientific research as a worthwhile activity, and of science as a useful tool for statecraft, is pretty startling for the modern reader. We make a mistake if we read the floating island of Laputa as a scientific endeavour; it’s essentially a magical mechanism enabling the plot to happen, and the scientists above and below are deranged idealists. Of the three books, this is the one where Gulliver travels the most, and the result is a somewhat disjointed narrative.

Part IV: A Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnhnms

Second paragraph of third chapter:

In speaking, they pronounce through the Nose and Throat, and their Language approaches nearest to the High Dutch or German, of any I know in Europe; but is much more graceful and significant.19 The Emperor Charles V made almost the same Observation, when he said, That if he were to speak to his Horse, it should be in High Dutch.20
19 significant: ‘Expressive or representative in an eminent degree; forcible to impress the meaning’ (Johnson, sense 3).
20 Emperor Charles V … High-Dutch: Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain, Charles (1500–1558) is credited with saying he would address his God in Spanish, his mistress in Italian, and his horse in German.

The fourth and final part is by far the most misanthropic story of the book. The Houyhnhnms are intelligent horses, philosopher kings who do not seem to know crime or even sin. The Yahoos (who they exploit) are degenerate humans with disgusting personal hygiene and morals. Again Gulliver attempts to explain his own society to his hosts, but now he emphasises the negatives rather than the positives. He is appalled to find himself closer physically to the Yahoos, and aspires to be one of the Houyhnhnms. (This of course makes him unbearable to his family, and vice versa, when he eventually does get home.) Again, the reversal of roles is an old satirist’s trick; it’s maybe a little less successful here because we modern readers can’t help but notice the Houyhnhnms’ exploitation of the Yahoos, and also wonder exactly how horses can develop even a modest level of technology without opposable digits. But that’s not the point; to invoke Burns again, the point is “To see oursels as ithers see us”, and the disgusting behaviour of the Yahoos should be read as disturbingly close to our own societies.

Alas, there is precisely no evidence that Swift was inspired to write about Gulliver’s capture in Lilliput by the anthropomorphic profile of Cave Hill as it overlooks Belfast. Shame; it would have been nice if it were true.

This was the top book on the shelves that I had read but not reviewed online. Next up is the Aeneid, by Virgil.

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Parallel Lives and Something Changed: two Bernice Summerfield collections

Two anthologies of short fiction in the Big Finish Bernice Summerfield continuity – but they are actually very different from each other. Parallel Lives includes three novellas, all dealing with the same incident from different angles. Something Changed has sixteen short stories all set in divergent timelines. Both do share linking material by Simon Guerrier, who I guess should be credited as the editor in both cases.

I felt that Parallel Lives was much stronger. Second paragraph of third section of first story: (“The Serpent’s Tooth”, by Rebecca Levene):

But, on the upside, the fact that in under 24 hours she was due to be married to the Emperor’s daughter did have some advantages. For a start, she’d had the chance to ride back into Portred in state, in a carriage pulled by what really did appear to be unicorns. She’d also eaten so much at her victory feast that her prostheses were in danger of popping.

Second paragraph of third story (“Jason and the Pirates”, by Dave Stone):

Shamanthra rested the palm of a hand on the palm tree under which she sat, and it obligingly dropped a coconut.

The three stories concern the aftermath of the disappearance of Clarissa, the secretary of the Braxiatel collection, with Bernice’s young son. The strongest is Rebecca Levene’s opener, with Bernice herself travelling to a world where gender roles are strongly reinforced and needing to disguise herself as a man. The middle one by Stewart Shergold is a not terribly exciting piece with regular characters Bev and Adrian trapped in a strange seaside hotel. The third piece, by Dave Stone, is fun if you like pirates (not really my thing) and also moves that overall narrative along more satidfactorily than the others.

Something Changed introduces a new regular character to the series, Doggles, who wields a History Machine which malfunctions leading to fourteen branching narratives. The third chapter is “Dead Mice”, by Joseph Lidster, and its second paragraph is:

It’s a bit like screaming as the bell continues to chime and a thousand universes and a billion and one choices force their way through him and something… no, everything changes as white light starts to explode around him but he holds it back and he makes it stop. And he buttons his jacket, looks at his reflection and, having taken control once more, he breathes in.

However all of the chapters between the first and the last are numbered “Chapter Two”; the second paragraph of the final story “After Life” by Simon Guerrier, which is actually numbered “Chapter Three”, is:

She stared down at the loose soil. Hass had encouraged her to help fill in the hole, a shovel at a time. Sweaty, tired, raw, it helped her not to think. She couldn’t even manage tears. The grave looked peaceful now. This spot, just next to the greenhouse, always got the sun. It had been a favourite place. He had loved napping here, lying right in the way of the gardeners. Hass used to trip over him. She smiled at that, and tears came.

(The grave is that of Wolsey the cat, who is dead in all iterations.)

I found it striking that the fifteen authors of the sixteen chapters (Simon Guerrier tops and tails the book) are all men. I also find it difficult to get invested in a collection of stories each of which effectively has a reset button that brings us back to the end of the first chapter, and most of which involve dealing with the death or disability of one or other of the key characters. So these are a set of character studies and “what ifs”, with some moments of vivid descriptive writing but which deliberately don’t take the overall story arc forward, and it felt a bit pointless to me.

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My tweets

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“Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, by Samuel R. Delany

Second paragraph of third section:

“Hey, how long have you been back?”

I don't always get on with Delany's writing, and this is a good example of a story that I admire but don't especially like. The protagonist is a professional criminal in a near-future society who goes by many different aliases, all of which have the initials H.C.E. (this is a lift from Finnegan's Wake, apparently). Two of the other characters share a name, Hawk the Singer and Arty the Hawk, a mafia don. The story is pinned by two encounters with security agent Maud Hinkle (though who knows if that is really her name). The semi-precious stones of the title are code-words among the criminal underworld, changed every month.

There is a particularly gorgeous party scene near the beginning, and later on some juicy incidental detail and innuendo about what may be really going on; it's not too difficult to read a lot of aspects of the story as reflecting the underground gay scene in the pre-Stonewall period. Delany's writing style sparkles but also has hidden depths; however, I don't see a lot of substance here – no plot, really, and little character development. Clearly he caught the Zeitgeist of the sf scene, given the story's award-winning success against strong competition.

"Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" won the 1970 Hugo for Best Short Story. Other finalists were: "Passengers", by Robert Silverberg; "Not Long Before the End", by Larry Niven; "Deeper Than the Darkness", by Gregory Benford; and "Winter's King", by Ursula K. Le Guin. It also won the 1969 Nebula for Best Novelette. Other finalists were "Nine Lives", by Ursula K. Le Guin; "The Big Flash", by Norman Spinrad; and "Deeper Than the Darkness" by Gregory Benford again. I must say that I find the two Le Guin stories more to my own taste, and "Passengers" (which won a Nebula) still sends chills down my back when I think of it.

Other awards that year: The Left Hand of Darkness won both Hugo and Nebula for Best Novel (published 1969, awarded 1970) – I reread it five years ago so I'm going to skip ahead to Theodore Sturgeon's "Slow Sculpture" for my next entry in this sequence. "Ship of Shadows", by Fritz Leiber, won the Best Novella Hugo; "A Boy and his Dog", by Harlan Ellison, won the equivalent Nebula. The latter has had more staying power, I think. As mentioned above, "Passengers", by Robert Silverberg, won the Nebula for Best Short Story. (There was no Hugo for Best Short Story.)

Reprinted this century (so far) in Nebula Awards Showcase 2015, ed. Greg Bear, and the Delany collection Aye, and Gomorrah.

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My latest submission to the Boundary Commission

Dear Commissioners,

Thank you again for your hard work on this difficult issue. I just want to make a few final points as the consultation period closes.

Preliminary remarks

1. As stated in my previous submission, I do not believe that there will be a parliamentary majority for the Final Proposals (and those of your fellow Commissioners in England, Scotland and Wales) when push comes to shove. It is probable that all of the opposition parties will oppose changes which generally benefit the Conservative Party, and sufficient government MPs will rebel because the proposed changes do not benefit the Conservatives enough. The position of the DUP, who have always been hostile to the abolition of Northern Ireland’s 18th seat, will then be irrelevant. However, the show must go on.

2. The Commission’s decisions to minimise disruption to existing constituencies and to invoke Rule 7 without hesitation have produced a much better map than the Provisional Proposals. Your remit has been made more difficult by the arbitrary decisions of the government before last in regard to how the process is conducted. The limitation to 5% variation has proven very difficult to implement in practice. On a process point, the previous system, which allowed local Assistant Commissioners to produce their own recommendations, was much superior.

3. It is regrettable that the political rhetoric around the Commission’s work has been inflated by a party which failed to respond substantially to the Provisional Proposals (a marked contrast to the mid-1990s, when they successfully mobilised to prevent a previous proposal to reduce Belfast to three seats). It is ridiculous that the process is being presented by some as a gerrymander in favour of the DUP, who are the only party that (according to my calculations) will actually lose Westminster representation as a result of these proposals.


4. Having said that, I do think that Dungiven is poorly served by the Revised Proposals. This is not the Commission’s fault – you were not responsible for the drawing of the ward boundaries of Dungiven, Altahullion and Feeny, which intersect so confusingly in the streets of the town; and you were also not responsible for the rigid 5% limits of the legislation.

5. However, the Commission’s duty is to take into account as of equal weight the current ward boundaries (which after all are of relatively recent vintage, and themselves reflect an attempt to fit numbers to maps) and the strength of local ties that might be broken by the new boundaries. (Rule 5 (1) (b) and Rule 5 (1) (d).)

6. A reasonable interpretation would be to take the wards as a starting point, but not hesitate to split them where necessary, as a previous Commission did for the Derriaghy ward in the mid-2000s and as your colleagues across the water have done in this review cycle.

7. Dungiven is a clear case where too rigid an adherence to ward boundaries violates local ties. The boundary between Dungiven ward and Feeny ward, which is also the boundary between the proposed constituencies of Mid Ulster and West Tyrone, runs along Main Street. Main Street is not actually central to the town, most of which lies to its north and east; but it is reasonable to feel that both sides of the road should be in the same parliamentary constituency.

8. To solve this problem, Feeny ward (and probably also Altahullion ward) should be divided between constituencies. The map below illustrates my proposal, the blue lines indicating my proposed new boundaries between Mid Ulster and respectively West Tyrone (to the southwest of the map) and Causeway (to the north).

9. The very small part of Feeny ward to the east of the Owenreagh River, and the Roe River north of its confluence with the Owenreagh River, should be included in the Mid Ulster constituency, and the rest of Feeny ward should remain in the proposed West Tyrone constituency. The whole of Dungiven town lies east of the Owenreagh and the Roe.

10. The Commission’s proposed West Tyrone has an electorate of 70,498, which is almost 800 more than the lower Rule 7 limit of 69,701. The number of voters in the part of Feeny ward east of the Roe and the Owenreagh may be close to 797, but I would be surprised if it is actually more. Mid Ulster, at 73,902 voters, can comfortably absorb a few hundred (or indeed a few thousand).

11. To the north, the boundary between Mid Ulster and Causeway could be made tidier by including the townland of Derryware in Mid Ulster rather than Causeway. The number of voters involved looks to be only a handful. Both Causeway and (as stated above) Mid Ulster are comfortably in the middle of the permitted range of variation of electorate, so this proposed change should not pose any further problem.

County Down

12. My other substantial remark relates to the two seats of South Down and Mid Down, as proposed by the Commission. This is a case where adhering to existing boundaries may actually be detrimental to local links. I am rather attracted by the proposal made by Pete Whitehead on the Vote UK Forum on 31 January:

13. Mr Whitehead’s proposal moves the four Banbridge wards, as well as Quilly and Dromore, from Mid Down to South Down, and in return moves Drumaness, Ballydugan, Crossgar and Killyleagh, Quoile, Cathedral, Knocknashinne, Lecale and Strangford wards from South Down to Mid Down (or East Down, as the seat might then be better described).

14. This proposal clearly respects local links much better than the Commission’s Revised Proposals, or indeed than the existing boundaries. Banbridge would be linked with Newry, 15 miles away along a main road, rather than Newtownards, 35 miles away across the countryside. Downpatrick would be united with the rest of the Strangford Lough shoreline. Both constituencies would be much more compact and less extended.

15. The Commission may however feel that this proposal, untested by public consultation, goes too far for this stage of proceedings. If so, I have an alternative proposal that goes the other way.

Loughbrickland and Ballynahinch

16. The Commission’s Mid Down regrettably excludes Loughbrickland, thus detaching it from Banbridge, which is only three miles away and is the commercial focus of most economic activity in the village. Ballynahinch however is included in Mid Down, even though its closest neighbours, Carryduff and Downpatrick, are to be in different constituencies (South Belfast and South Down respectively).

17. The two wards have comparable electorates (Loughbrickland has 3790, Ballynahinch 2884, a difference of 906). A straight swap would therefore give South Down an electorate of 76,018 and Mid Down an electorate of 78,673. Unfortunately that would put Mid Down a shade above the 78,507 upper limit.

18. This can be fixed in two possible ways. First, the new Loughbrickland ward could be divided along the current boundary between Upper Bann (briefly Newry and Armagh) and South Down, the western part going to Mid Down and the eastern part remaining in South Down. The territory west of this line, but in the new Loughbrickland ward, contains the village of Annaclone, and certainly has more than 174 voters, though probably not many more.

19. Second, turning to Ballynahinch, the western edge of the Ballynahinch ward excludes the residents of Edengrove Park and Lime Trees from the rest of the town. If the Commission is minded to look at the Ballynahinch situation, it could divide the Kilmore ward and include those hundred or so electors in South Down along with the rest of Ballynahinch; that may well make division of the Loughbrickland ward unnecessary.

20. It should be noted that the Commission’s Revised Proposals divide voters living on The Brae and The Drumlins from the rest of Ballynahinch, as they live in the ward of Ballyward. If the Commission is not minded to take my proposal to transfer Ballynahinch and Loughbrickland, it could at least look at dividing Ballyward along the Edenavaddy Road and Grove Road, in order to include those voters who live on the southwestern fringe of Ballynahinch in the same constituency as their fellow townspeople. Again, the numbers involved will be a couple of hundred at most.

21. The two maps following illustrate these proposals. My proposed Mid Down is now even more extended than the Commisson’s Revised Proposals, but if the seat is conceived as the joining of Newtownards/Comber/Ballygowan/Saintfield and Banbridge/Dromore/Loughbrickland, it makes more sense.

22. Like Mr Whitehead’s suggested map, my proposals keep Loughbrickland with Banbridge, and make the more sensible link between Ballynahinch and Downpatrick given that it loses Carryduff as a constituency neighbour.

(NB that the southern part of my proposed new boundary is the existing boundary between Loughbrickland and Mayobridge wards; it is only the eastern side that breaches current ward boundaries, though in fact it is the current constituency boundary.)

(The northern boundary of the Ballynahinch ward is shown in light blue. The potential ward division of Kilmore [if Ballynahinch is transferred to South Down] is indicated in a darker blue. The potential ward division of Ballyward [if Ballynahinch is retained in Mid Down] is indicated in bright red.)


23. Some may feel that I have been rather unorthodox in proposing the division of wards. But the fact is that the rigidity of the 5% limit, even with Rule 7 flexibility, combined with a narrow interpretation of the rules regarding ward boundaries, has led the Commission to propose the disruption of local ties which could be retained with a very small amount of intervention, and invoking Rule 5 (1) (d) instead of Rule 5 (1) (b) where appropriate.

24. I have concentrated here on Dungiven, because of the amount of public commentary it has engendered, and Loughbrickland, because I happen to know the area. There may well be other cases: for instance, it strikes me that in the case of North Belfast / East Antrim, the Three Mile Water is a much more natural boundary than the artificial demarcation of Carnmoney Hill, Abbey and Monkstown wards to the south and Ballyduff, Jordanstown and Rostulla wards to the north. However I have no idea how to calibrate the number of voters in that case.

25. I wish the Commissioners well in their future work, and I am grateful for the positive interaction we have had over the course of this review cycle. As I said at the beginning, even if (as I expect) this particular review never sees legislative effect, it is practice for next time.

Nicholas Whyte

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Monday reading

Free Radical, by Vince Cable
Jade City, by Fonda Lee

Last books finished
The Legends of River Song, by Jenny T. Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane
Julian, by Gore Vidal
How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn
Apostata 07: Niets meer dan een wolk, by Ken Broeders
The Road to Somewhere, by David Goodhart
After Europe, by Ivan Krastev

Next books
No Going Back To Moldova, by Anna Robertson
Spirit by Gwyneth Jones
Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith

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Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories

Still a great deal of catching up to do on Big Finish, but here’s a release from 2014, four half-hour stories about the Sixth Doctor and Peri by four different authors, two of whom were regular readers of this Livejournal back when Livejournal was still a thing.

Luckily their two are the best of the four. L.M. Myles’ title story, “Breaking Bubbles”, has the Tardis crew coming to the aid of a political prisoner – but it turns out that she may have been imprisoned for very good reasons, and there is a nice navigation of ethics and responsibilities on all sides.

I may be getting old, but I found Mark Ravenhill’s “Of Chaos Time The” rather difficult to follow, and I did listen to it twice.

Una McCormack’s “An Eye for Murder” takes us to the fictional St Ursula’s College in 1939 as war clouds darken the horizon. It packs a huge amount of plot into quite a short space and nicely reverses the Peri/Doctor dynamic as he is treated as her assistant by the women academics.

Finally, I am perhaps a bit too close to the subject matter of Nev Fountain’s “The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night-Time” to appreciate it; missing parents, fake garden gnomes and autism. Probably those with less of a stake will enjoy it more.

Three guest actors to note. Johnny Gibbon, who starred in the West End version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, reprises the same role adapted to the Whoniverse and does it rather well. Jemma Churchill is brilliant as the prisoner in “Breaking Bubbles” and the college principal in “An Eye for Murder”. And Andy Secombe, son of Harry (and therefore uncle of our former au pair) is reassuringly solid as the antagonist in “Breaking Bubbles” and the policeman in “An Eye for Murder”.

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How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley won the Oscar for Outstanding Motion Picture in 1941, the first of three years in which the award had that name. It got a total of ten Oscar nominations, and apart from Outstanding Motion Picture also won in Best Director (John Ford, for the third of four times), Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp as Gwilym Morgan), Best Art Direction (Black and White) and Best Cinematography (Black and White).

Infamously, the Oscar voters ranked it ahead of Citizen Kane, which is now universally ranked as the best film of 1941 (or indeed as the best film of all time by some), and also The Maltese Falcon, which is ranked second on both IMDB systems. Dumbo is third on both systems; How Green Was My Valley makes fourth place on one system but only seventh on the other. At present writing, the whole film is on Youtube here. Here is a contemporary (but post-Oscars) trailer.

I’m not going to make invidious comparisons with Citizen Kane, but I wasn’t especially blown away by this, and in my personal ranking of Oscar-winning films it’s going just above the midpoint, below Grand Hotel and above Gone With The Wind (which loses points for racism). A lot of other people like it more than I did, and I’m pondering why I bounced off it. I feel in the end that the tone is emotionally uneven; the overall story is one of family tragedy, as the younger generation are lost to industrial accident and emigration, and I didn’t feel that the freight of the plot was sufficiently reflected in the script or incidental music. Maybe tastes have changed (and maybe my tastes are just weird), but the various tragic events of the film seem to just happen and then life moves on to the next tragic event. Maybe real life is actually like that.

The choral music is good, but I found the orchestral music sometimes unreasonably chirpy; judge for yourself in this video (whose owner has disabled embedding).

It is a film that tries to grapple with the economic issues of the Great Depression: some of the miners go on strike, some are sacked because cheaper workers are available from the ranks of the unemployed elsewhere, the owner’s son gets his pick of the local girls, fatal accidents are all too common. Yet this is moored in a framing narrative which seems positive and nostalgic, suggesting that the problems all happened later than the time being remembered:

There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my valley as it is today, and it is gone, and I see it as it was when I was a boy. Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the Earth. In all Wales, there was none so beautiful. Everything I ever learned as a small boy came from my father and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday. In those days, the black slag, the waste of the coal pits, had only begun to cover the sides of our hill. Not yet enough to mar the countryside, nor blacken the beauty of our village, for the colliery had only begun to poke its skinny black fingers through the green.

Another part of my problem is that the book is set over a period of several years in the lives of the Morgan family (father, mother, six sons and one daughter), so the viewpoint character, youngest son Huw, starts as a young schoolboy and by the end has turned down a university place to work down the mine. Huw is played by Roddy McDowell, in the first of his major screen roles. The film was released just after his thirteenth birthday so he would have been twelve while it was being made. I think it’s a tremendously assured performance, but the fact is that the plot needs him to be several years older by the end of the story.

I’m not going to be too curmudgeonly. The film looks fantastic (apparently they decided to do it in black and white when they realised that the colours of the California vegetation are insufficiently Welsh).

The performances are generally excellent, although (perhaps unsurprisingly) nobody sounds very Welsh. In particular, Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood are great as the Morgan parents Gwilym and Beth; he won an Oscar for it, and she was nominated.

Anna Lee (left) as daughter-in-law Bronwen and Maureen O’Hara (right) as daughter Angharad are very luminous (though apart from Huw the brothers are rather interchangeable). Indeed, the film gets rather good marks for the portrayal of women – Beth goes and confronts the men of the village on a political issue (though she is wrong and they are right) and poor Angharad marries the wrong man and is sympathetically treated by the script.

Walter Pidgeon is also tremendous as the preacher Mr Gruffudd, mentor to Huw and thwarted suitor of Angharad, though he (perhaps wisely) does not even attempt to disguise his New Brunswick origins.

A lovely Irish factoid which I found on IMDB (backed by the Irish Times): John Loder, who plays the oldest Morgan son, Ianto, and Arthur Shields, who plays the creepy deacon Mr Parry, had fought on opposite sides in the 1916 Easter Rising. Shields, then aged 20, was subsequently interned in Frongoch, getting an early involuntary exposure to Wales; Loder’s father, General W. H. M. Lowe, was the general to whom Padraig Pearse surrendered – indeed, Loder, aged 18, was present at the surrender and was detailed to accompany Pearse in the staff car that drove him to Kilmainham. About a third of the way through the film they confront each other – Loder is on the right of the first of these two shots. One hopes that they had got over any residual differences in the intervening 25 years.

And let’s finish, literally, on a high note: here is the performance of Cwm Rhondda which opens the film.

Next up is Mrs Miniver, of which I know nothing at all.

The book is much much better than the film. The second paragraph of the third chapter is:

We learnt sums and letters, some history and the names of towns and rivers and where they were. Mrs. Tom Jenkins had come from Caernarvon where her father had been a book seller, so, of course, she knew a lot.

The characterisation of the Morgan siblings is much better; the politics makes a lot more sense; the change in the economics of mining over the decades of the story is well conveyed; the spoil tip, ever increasing in size, hangs over the village as an ominous threat (this in a book written thirty years before Aberfan); eveyone actually sounds Welsh. It is an effective portrayal of the violent, oppressive society where an unmarried mother is outcast while the father of her child gets sympathy (and even attending a theatrical performance can lead to disgrace). In one particularly chilling chapter, a young girl is murdered and the killer is quickly identified and lynched by the villagers. Llewellyn built a myth about himself from the book that may not have been entirely true, but considered as a Bildungsroman conveying a fictional time and place, I think it is a great book. You can get it here.

1920s: Wings (1927-28) | The Broadway Melody (1928-29)
1930s: All Quiet on the Western Front (1929-30) | Cimarron (1930-31) | Grand Hotel (1931-32) | Cavalcade (1932-33) | It Happened One Night (1934) | Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, and books) | The Great Ziegfeld (1936) | The Life of Emile Zola (1937) | You Can’t Take It with You (1938) | Gone with the Wind (1939, and book)
1940s: Rebecca (1940) | How Green Was My Valley (1941) | Mrs. Miniver (1942) | Casablanca (1943) | Going My Way (1944) | The Lost Weekend (1945) | The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) | Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) | Hamlet (1948) | All the King’s Men (1949)
1950s: All About Eve (1950) | An American in Paris (1951) | The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) | From Here to Eternity (1953) | On The Waterfront (1954, and book) | Marty (1955) | Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) | The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) | Gigi (1958) | Ben-Hur (1959)
1960s: The Apartment (1960) | West Side Story (1961) | Lawrence of Arabia (1962) | Tom Jones (1963) | My Fair Lady (1964) | The Sound of Music (1965) | A Man for All Seasons (1966) | In the Heat of the Night (1967) | Oliver! (1968) | Midnight Cowboy (1969)
1970s: Patton (1970) | The French Connection (1971) | The Godfather (1972) | The Sting (1973) | The Godfather, Part II (1974) | One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) | Rocky (1976) | Annie Hall (1977) | The Deer Hunter (1978) | Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
1980s: Ordinary People (1980) | Chariots of Fire (1981) | Gandhi (1982) | Terms of Endearment (1983) | Amadeus (1984) | Out of Africa (1985) | Platoon (1986) | The Last Emperor (1987) | Rain Man (1988) | Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
1990s: Dances With Wolves (1990) | The Silence of the Lambs (1991) | Unforgiven (1992) | Schindler’s List (1993) | Forrest Gump (1994) | Braveheart (1995) | The English Patient (1996) | Titanic (1997) | Shakespeare in Love (1998) | American Beauty (1999)
21st century: Gladiator (2000) | A Beautiful Mind (2001) | Chicago (2002) | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) | Million Dollar Baby (2004, and book) | Crash (2005) | The Departed (2006) | No Country for Old Men (2007) | Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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The Doctor Who Storybook 2009, ed. Clayton Hickman

Second paragraph of third story (“Cold”, by Mark Gatiss):

Then the dream was gone, Anna, and it was morning. Outside, the snow howled like an animal. And like an animal it beat and tore and hammered at the walls of the Hut. I opened one eye just a little – a thin, pink line – and then shut it tight again. I didn’t want to move.

Ten authors listed here, all of them men; no women among the artists either. It’s a straightforward book of short stories featuring the Tenth Doctor and Donna (apart from the last two, in which Ten on his own links up with a plucky lad for adventure), none terribly memorable and none awful either, with art that varies from OK to good.

Having said that none of the written stories are awful, I am dubious about the comic strip, by Jonathan Morris with art by Rob Davis, in which it turns out that the terracotta army are disabled robots previously under the control of a cyborg Chinese emperor. Maybe better not to recast other cultures’ achievements as “really’ alien technology.

You can still get it here.

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So, Anyway…, by John Cleese

Second paragraph of third chapter:

I had one other survival technique: I sometimes said things that made the other boys laugh. When this happened I inmediately experienced a moment of warmth, of acceptance, of feeling ‘Maybe I am all right, after all.’ Peter Cook always said that he quite deliberately staved off bullying by being funny. I think in my case it was less a conscious activity – more ‘Oh, that felt nice.’ And, as I relaxed, I became funnier, of course, because the spark was always there. So the bullying faded away, and I started, for the first time, to make friends.

This is the autobiography of John Cleese, up until the first day of Monty Python, starting with his birth and childhood in Weston-Super-Mare, then on to Cambridge and his early career in London (and to an extent in New York), with occasional flashforwards to more recent happenings. I was familiar with some of the basics already from Roger Wilmut's 1980 book From Fringe to Flying Circusau pair for a few months back in 2002 – she hadn't mentioned it before she arrived, and, needless to say, I was blown away when she told us.)

I hadn't realised, though it's fairly obvious, that Cleese almost became a teacher, and indeed taught posh boys at his former school both immediately before and after his studies at Cambridge. That explains part of how he does so well in Clockwise. He explains his frustration with his mother all too well. And he attempts to explain the mysterious process of writing and performing – he feels that he is much better at the former than the later, which does make one wonder if this is another mistaken self-perception – if he was really such a bad performer, people would hardly continue asking him to do it!

Anyway, I found this an interesting insight into the dynamics of Cleese's own personality and his engagement with Python, and I hope that he will continue the story in a future volume. You can get this one here.

This was both my top unread non-fiction book, and my top unread book acquired in 2015. Next on those lists respectively are The Road to Middlemarch, by Rebecca Mead, and Looking for JJ, by Anne Cassidy.

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Planesrunner, by Ian McDonald

Second paragraph of third chapter:

See that girl, hear her scream, kicking the dancing queen. It’s not that! Everett seethed inside. Clown Control to Mao Tse Tung . . . Major Tom! Everett wanted to shout. Major Tom Major Tom Major Tom. Get it right. The song was forty years old but Everett knew it better than his mum. There was a word for misheard lyrics. Everett had come across it online: a mondegreen. He’d liked the word. He remembered it.

A decent YA novel from Ian McDonald, whose protagonist finds himself on a quest for his lost father, slipping between universes to a steampunk parallel reality, though London remains London whichever universe it is in. It was interesting to read this at the same time as Nina Allan’s The Rift, which deals with similar themes in a very different way. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2013; next on that list is Your Code Name Is Jonah by Edward Packard.

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A History of the Universe in 100 Objects, by Steve Tribe and James Goss

Second paragraph of third chapter:

If the forces of darkness became too powerful, the White Guardian was able to use the Key to reset the balance. Otherwise the universe would fall under the control of the Black Guardian and slip into eternal chaos – with Time itself perhaps ceasing to have meaning.

Promotional video:

This is really rather gorgeous – clearly rips off the British Museum's excellent podcast and book with similar titles, but a good idea is worth stealing imitating. Tribe and Goss list 100 important objects in the Whoniverse in chronological order (ie from the early universe to the far future, passing through the 1960s and 2000s en route), mentioned in TV stories from 1963 to 2012; each entry recapitulates the story or stories in which the particular object appears, but then also looks at other stories with similar themes (eg space arks) and even at sources of inspiration for the originating writers. The whole thing is beautifully illustrated. Definitely at the top end of the Doctor Who reference book range. Get it here.

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  • Tue, 11:54: RT @Iainbking: @nwbrux And me. PE and so called ‘games’ was awful. It inspired in me a life long interest in all things non-sport related.
  • Tue, 11:55: RT @greensideknits: @nwbrux My favourite ever school PE report read “Catherine always tries hard”. Said it all.
  • Tue, 11:57: RT @greensideknits: @nwbrux My point exactly. My ability to fly completely under the PE teachers’ radar had been achieved…
  • Tue, 11:59: RT @AdrianHiel: @nwbrux Didn’t like it at all. Overweight and lousy at sports in school. But in my 20s moved to Belgium and with the right…

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Monday reading

Julian, by Gore Vidal
The Legends of River Song, by Jenny T. Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane
How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn
Free Radical, by Vince Cable

Last books finished
The Missy Chronicles, by James Goss, Cavan Scott, Paul Magrs, Peter Anghelides, Jacqueline Rayner and Richard Dinnick
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Next books
Jade City, by Fonda Lee
No Going Back To Moldova, by Anna Robertson

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  • Mon, 10:49: RT @DanielFerrie: Press conference today at 12:45pm (Brussels time) following latest round of #Brexit negotiations watch live here: htt…

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Seventeen Equations that Changed the World, by Ian Stewart

Second paragraph of third chapter:

During those two years, an obscure and unassuming undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, completed his studies. Hoping to avoid the plague, he returned to the house of his birth, from which his mother managed a farm. His father had died shortly before he was born, and he had been brought up by his maternal grandmother. Perhaps inspired by rural peace and quiet, or lacking anything better to do with his time, the young man thought about science and mathematics. Later he wrote: 'In those days I was in the prime of my life for invention, and minded mathematics and [natural] philosophy more than at any other time since.' His researches led him to understand the importance of the inverse square law of gravity, an idea that had been hanging around ineffectually for at least 50 years. He worked out a practical method for solving problems in calculus, another concept that was in the air but had not been formulated in any generality. And he discovered that white sunlight is composed of many different colours — all the colours of the rainbow.

One of my colleagues saw me reading this, and commented that while he recognised Pythagoras a2 + b2 = c2, and also Einstein's E = mc2, the third equation on the front cover was unknown to him. It is:

2u = c2 2u

∂t2 ∂x2

I guess the wave equation isn't as visible in popular culture as the other two. Be that as it may, this is a breezy popular science book, by an author well known in Pratchett fandom, looking at a succession of well known scientific equations and the concepts and consequences that have flowed from each one. He finishes with the Black-Scholes equation regarding the price of financial derivatives:

½ σ2S2 2V +  rS ∂V + ∂V –  rV = 0

∂S2 ∂S ∂t

However, it's not actually clear that Black-Scholes is correct, or that it is helpful (which may not be the same thing). A nice popularising book for the advanced reader; get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2012; next on that list is Something Like Normal, by Trish Doller.

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