August Books

An amazing thing happened last Saturday: I was actually up to date with bookblogging for the first time in about two years. Of course, it couldn't last, and I am now behind again. But It was a nice feeling, for about 24 hours.

The holiday gave me another respectable total this month.

Non-fiction: 7 (YTD 37)
The Politics of Climate Change, by Anthony Giddens
The Life of Our Lord, by Charles Dickens
Huawei Stories: Pioneers, ed. Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng
Wroxeter Roman City, by Roger H. White
Fair Trade, by Laura T. Reynolds, Douglas L. Murray and John Wilkinson
Women and Power, by Mary Beard
Huawei Stories: Explorers, ed. Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 22)
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, by Marcel Proust
The Deer Hunter, by Eric Corder
Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively

sf (non-Who): 12 (YTD 88)
High-Rise, by J. G. Ballard
“Ill Met in Lankhmar”, by Fritz Leiber
The Region Between, by Harlan Ellison

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
Anno Dracula – Dracula Cha Cha Cha, by Kim Newman
Missile Gap, by Charles Stross
Rare Unsigned Copy, by Simon Petrie
Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
The Laertian Gamble, by Robert Sheckley
Comet in Moominland, by Tove Jansson
Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Doctor Who, etc: 6 (YTD 27)
Now We Are Six Hundred, by James Goss, illustrated by Russell T. Davies
Doctor Who Files 7: The Daleks, by Justin Richards
Doctor Who Files 8: The Cybermen, by Justin Richards
Doctor Who Files 12: The TARDIS, by Justin Richards

Time Lord, by Ian Marsh and Peter Darvill-Evans
Nobody's Children, by Kate Orman, Jonathan Blum and Philip Purser-Hallard

Comics: 1 (YTD 21)
Amoras deel 3: Krimson, by Marc Legendre and Charel Cambré

~5,000 pages (YTD ~52,100)
6/29 (YTD 79/201) by non-male writers (Reynolds, Beard, Lively, Waters, Jansson, Orman – as fas as I know Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng are men)
2/29 (YTD 23/201) by PoC (Tian/Yin x2)
4/29 (YTD 12/201) reread (In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, “Slow Sculpture”, Comet in Moominland, Snow Crash)

Reading now
Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson
Byzantium, by Judith Herrin
Vurt, by Jeff Noon

Coming soon (perhaps):
Ginger Star, by Leigh Brackett
Dark Satanic Mills, by Marcus Sedgwick
Who I Am, by Peter Townshend
Beast Master's Planet, by Andre Norton
Putting Up Roots, by Charles Sheffield
Brewing Justice, by Daniel Jaffee
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, by Sir James Mancham
The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban
Retour sur Aldébaran, tome 1, by Leo
Hybrid, by Shaun Hutson
Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams
Burr, by Gore Vidal
The Stone Book Quartet, by Alan Garner
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer
Missing Adventures, ed. Rebecca Levene

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The Deer Hunter, by Eric Corner

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Thumping noises sounded from the bedroom above. They grew louder. There was a crash, then another, as furniture was hurled about. The a loud thud, follwoed by silence.

I saw the Oscar-winning film when I was a teenager, and was somewhat confused by it, knowing a bit about the Vietnam war but much less about the blue-collar culture which turns out to be the main theme of the story. It’s a very effective film, in sound and vision, and some of it has lingered with me for three decades. It will be some time before I reach it in my current viewing sequence, however. The novelisation is a poor substitute, reminiscent of the least energetic Doctor Who novelisations; it feels like a direct transcription from the screenplay, with very limited authorial insight into the thinking or experiences of the characters. I guess that back in the ancient days of the late 1970s, before there were easily available video tapes, this was the most accessible way for fans of the film to re-experience it. If you want, you can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2011. Next on that list is Beast Master’s Planet, by Andre Norton.

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Monday reading

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
Huawei Stories: Explorers, ed. Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng

Last books finished
The Deer Hunter, by Eric Corder
Amoras deel 3: Krimson, by Marc Legendre and Charel Cambré
Rare Unsigned Copy, by Simon Petrie
Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively
The Laertian Gamble, by Robert Sheckley

Next books
Comet in Moominland, by Tove Jansson
Vurt, by Jeff Noon
Missing Adventures, ed. Rebecca Levene

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My tweets

  • Mon, 10:15: RT @dah_61: @EmporersNewC Galileo is a miniature of the UK’s history with EU: – tried to strangle that birth – claimed no use case – compla…
  • Mon, 10:16: RT @dah_61: @EmporersNewC And having pushed to set very tough and restricted conditions for third country access, now asks for, nay demands…
  • Mon, 10:45: RT @OliverCooper: Loving Katie’s shocked discovery that the Edgware Road has Lebanese shops. The area was built by Huguenot immigrants, had…

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Women & Power: A Manifesto, by Mary Beard

Third paragraph of first lecture, with illustration:

What interests me is the relationship between this classic Homeric moment of silencing a woman and some of the ways in which women's voices are not publicly heard in our own contemporary culture, and in our own politics from the front bench to the shop floor. It is a well-known deafness that's nicely parodied in an old Punch cartoon: 'That's an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it'. I want to reflect on how it might relate to the abuse that many women who do speak out are subjected to even now, and one of the questions at the back of my mind is the connection between publicly speaking out in support of a female logo on a banknote, Twitter threats of rape and decapitation, and Telemachus' put-down of Penelope.

'That's an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.'
2. Almost thirty years ago the cartoonist Riana Duncan captured the sexist atmosphere of the committee or the boardroom.
There is hardly a woman who has opened her mouth at a meeting and not had, at some time or other, the 'Miss Triggs treatment'.

Third paragraph of second lecture:

There are all kinds of irony to this tale. One joke that Perkins Gilman plays throughout is that the women simply don’t recognise their own achievements. They have independently created an exemplary state, one to be proud of, but when confronted by their three uninvited male visitors, who lie somewhere on the spectrum between spineless and scumbag, they tend to defer to the men’s competence, knowledge and expertise; and they are slightly in awe of the male world outside. Although they have made a utopia, they think they have messed it all up.

Though billed as a manifesto, this is actually a collection of two lectures delivered by Beard for the London Review of Books in 2014 and 2017, looking backward rather than forward – but looking very clearly. It is powerful, well-founded stuff, looking back at how women's voices have been marginalised from the political discourse of power since at least the days of Homer. It is brief but punchy – a telling illustration shows how women aspiring to power are always caricatured as Medusa (and men never are). She ties this into the phenomenon of internet trolling, which is much more visibly directed against vocal women than men. Many good points made very effectively and swiftly. Well worth getting, and you can get it here.

This was actually second on my non-fiction pile after Byzantium by Judith Herrin, but someone else was reading that so I skipped ahead to Women & Power (and did not regret doing so).

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Missile Gap, by Charles Stross

Second paragraph of third chapter:

The comrade colonel laughs uneasily. He’s forty-three and still slim and boyish-looking, but carries a quiet melancholy around with him like his own personal storm cloud. “I was very busy all the time,” he says with a self-deprecating little shrug. “I didn’t have time to pay attention to myself. One orbit, it only lasted ninety minutes, what did you expect? If you really want to know, Gherman’s the man to ask. He had more time.”

It’s 1976, and fourteen years ago, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the entire planet Earth and all its inhabitants were transported to a huge flat surface, extending for many millions of mile/kilometres in all directions. New worlds can be found further out by adventurous explorers. The story separately follows Yuri Gagarin, Carl Sagan, and a young woman colonist of the new worlds trying to make sense of the new universe. The path is dark and so is the ending. Memorable chills down the spine! You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2013. Next on that list is The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban.

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Anno Dracula – Dracula Cha Cha Cha, by Kim Newman

Second paragraph of third chapter of Dracula Cha Cha Cha:

‘You saw the assassin?’ Silvestri asked. ‘Il Boia Scarlatto?’

Second paragraph of third chapter of Aquarius:

Before leaving, Timmy asked Kate something she’d heard before.

I had not read any of the previous books in this series, an alternate history in which vampires became visible in society in the late nineteenth century when Count Dracula married Queen Victoria, and history runs more or less along the same course as we know, except with added vampires. The first part of the book is a novel, Dracula Cha Cha Cha, set in Rome in 1959, and the second a novella, Aquarius, set in swinging London in 1968. Both feature vampire detective Kate Reed as a central character, and I suspect that both are pretty dependent on the events of earlier books in the series to the extent that I found it rather hard to get into. There are endnotes for Dracula Cha Cha Cha explaining all the cultural references (and there are a lot of them, including an undead Scottish spy called Hamish Bond). I actually enjoyed Aquarius a bit more, as I felt that Newman was focusing less on details of the setting and a bit more on plot. There are interesting characters in both.

One point that occurred to me: it’s interesting how often alternate histories are actually detective novels. I guess it’s a convenient device to allow the central character to find out more about their own universe and allow us to accompany them on the journey.

Anyway, I think I would have liked this more if I was more into vampire fiction, and if I had read the earlier novels in the series (there is nothing on the cover to indicate that this is not a standalone book). You can get it here.

I thought that this was my top unread book acquired in 2014, but actually it seems a lot further down that scale than I had realised. Be that as it may, the top book on that list as of now is Ginger Star, by Leigh Brackett.

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Fair Trade, by Laura T. Reynolds, Douglas L. Murray and John Wilkinson

Second paragraph of third chapter:

This chapter locates Fair Trade as a manifestation of, and response to, shifting international trade and North/South relations. Fair Trade certification emerged and expanded most rapidly within the coffee sector, a tropical export arena defined by the history of colonialism. The historical polarization of the world along a North/South axis has profoundly shaped both conventional trade relations and alternative global visions like Fair Trade. Yet in the current era, Fair Trade markets and movements are being repositioned within the context of a new global architecture. As elaborated in this book, Fair Trade has grown to incorporate an increasingly complex array of commodities, production/consumption relations, and local and global politics.

A book of essays on the Fair Trade movement, which to be honest left me realising how little I know about the economics of food production; I think of myself as sympathising with Fair Trade, but don’t have enough knowledge or, frankly, interest, to really appreciate the content. You can get it here.

Since I still haven’t found the Eighth Doctor comic collection The Flood, this was the shortest book left on my shelves acquired in 2010. Next on that list is Putting Up Roots, by Charles Sheffield.

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AE Housman, A Shropshire Lad XXXI:

On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble;
      His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
      And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
      When Uricon the city stood:
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
      But then it threshed another wood.

Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman
      At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
      The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
      Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
      Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
      It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
      Are ashes under Uricon.

Uriconium, by Wilfred Owen (opening lines)

It lieth low near merry England's heart
Like a long-buried sin; and Englishmen
Forget that in its death their sires had part.
And, like a sin, Time lays it bare again
      To tell of races wronged,
And ancient glories suddenly overcast,
And treasures flung to fire and rabble wrath.
      If thou hast ever longed
To lift the gloomy curtain of Time Past,
And spy the secret things that Hades hath,
Here through this riven ground take such a view.
The dust, that fell unnoted as a dew,
Wrapped the dead city's face like mummy-cloth:
All is as was: except for worm and moth.

Since Jove was worshipped under Wrekin's shade
Or Latin phrase was writ in Shropshire stone,
Since Druid chaunts desponded in this glade
Or Tuscan general called that field his own,
      How long ago? How long?

From "Rome and Turnips", by Charles Dickens:

Excavations at Wroxeter, the buried city of Uriconium. There was attraction in the news of these fresh diggings. Off we set, therefore. Let it be said, rather, off I set; for there was a time when I, too, was included in the toast of "All Friends Round the Wrekin." I have stood upon that large dropping from the spade of the arch enemy. He would block up the Severn with it, would he? I have stood on it in rainy and fair weather, at midnight and midnoon. I have threaded its needle's eye, dipped in its mystic eagle's bowl, seen from its top the spreading of the dawn on summer mornings; and on many a winter's night, when riding at its foot, laughed at the dismal failure of its very best efforts to look inhospitable. If there is a lump of earth in the inanimate world that I can call my friend, it is old Wrekin. Now antiquaries may read through their spectacles of ancient Uriconium. "What is that ?" I said to myself, "but old Wrekin over again." The Romans had no W or K, they were obliged to write down Wrekin Urecin; ium is only the addendum, which says there's the name of a place. Vowels are pronounced and altered in all sorts of ways : so ancient Uriconium is old Wrekinium. Alas! a nursling of my poor friend's lying dead and buried at his feet.

When I heard about the disinterment, I remembered the grave well. There was a sort of colossal ruined headstone over it, called the Old Wall, and that was all that marked the resting-place of my friend's first and only child. Wroxeter is but a puny little changeling. Merit it has; it neither sits upon nor comes too near the grave of the dead city.

The Romans had a sensible way of accepting all the names of places that they found in conquered countries, altering them as little as might be for the necessary adaptation to their Latin throats and tongues. Some of the legionaries in Britain, who had new cities to name, seem to have taken words that pleasantly reminded them of their own country; but the common rule was followed when a town at the base of an important hill, which was a landmark throughout the surrounding region, took the name of the hill, and became Uricon-ium or Wrekin town. More great hills than this one were called Wrekin by the British. Urachean means heaps of earth; and that was the first form of the word Wrekin. The Romans did not pronounce badly when they spelt it – for they had two forms Virocon or Uricon. And it happens that, when they called their place Uricon-ium, the British name and Roman ending, meant the town under a heap of earth. Prophecy was in the word. There is no doubt now about the heap of earth over the town shovels are in it ; and there is no doubt about the Roman ending.

That heap of earth, on the old Roman town concealing all its skeletons, except, as it may be, a bony index finger represented by the stones of the Old Wall, is resolute to speak. In spite of all the efforts made to stop its mouth with turnip-crops and com for it is arable land upon the surface it cries out, "Look into me. Pay the men for their turnips, and away with them. Dig me, I say, for the knowledge I contain."

Second paragraph of third section of Wroxeter Roman City, by Roger H. White

Wroxeter's bathhouse is a large and impressive example of a design that could be found in other towns across the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire. Because of the cooler climate here, the usual open-air exercise yard, found in Mediterranean countries, was not appropriate. Instead, a large open hall — the baths basilica — was provided. This was an impressive space, designed to awe the visitor, its appearance can easily be reconstructed at Wroxeter because of the survival of the Old Work. This wall, standing 7m high, was the south wall of the basilica. In front of it, in the yellow gravelled area, are round pink discs that mark where the columns of the basilica stood. These were as high as the Old Work and timber beams ran from them to the Old Work wall, supporting a sloping roof above. Above the columns stood another wall, the height and thickness of the Old Work but pierced at the upper level by large, round-headed windows. These shed light into the interior of the basilica, just as they do in a cathedral of similar design. Above this was the pitched roof of the basilica, its apex two and a half times the height of the Old Work, or about 18m.


I have wanted to visit Wroxeter since I was a child, knowing that it was the end of Watling Street, the Roman road from London to what is now Wales. A gruesomely early start to our travel last Saturday meant that unusually we had some time to spare in the Midlands of England, and I realised that Wroxeter was only a few minutes off our route. Fortunately I persuaded the rest of our group that this would be a worthwhile excursion. (There are some advantages to doing most of the driving.)

Viroconium or Uriconium is reckoned to have been the fourth largest town in Roman Britain (I guess after London, York and Colchester). For many centuries the only visible remains were "The Old Work", the large wall which once stood isolated in a field, but turns out to have been part of the basilica containing the public baths. Since the 1850s, archaeologists have uncovered more details, including the foundations of many buildings and some impressive material remains, notably a big ornate silver mirror. Compared with, say, Tongeren near here, or other cities farther south and east, there isn't a lot in Wroxeter; but they have done a good job of presenting what they have.

Roger H. White's little guide book is a nice summary, explaining to the visitor what we are actually seeing and situating it in the wider context of our knowledge of Roman Britain. Contrary to earlier ideas, it is now thought (though not by everyone) that the city remained inhabited, if more sparsely, for two centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, before plague and war drove the last inhabitants out. The local church was built in Saxon times from Roman stone. Now the custodians have allowed a replica Roman house to be built across the road from the foundations of the city centre commercial building complex.

All slightly eerie, but very fascinating. Recommended, if you are in that part of England.

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Monday reading

Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
The Deer Hunter, by Eric Corner

Last books finished
Nobody’s Children, by Kate Orman, Jonathan Blum and Philip Purser-Hallard
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
Wroxeter Roman City, by Roger H. White
Fair Trade, by Laura T. Reynolds, Douglas L. Murray and John Wilkinson
Anno Dracula – Dracula Cha Cha Cha, by Kim Newman
Missile Gap, by Charles Stross
Women and Power, by Mary Beard

Next books
Rare Unsigned Copy, by Simon Petrie
The Laertian Gamble, by Robert Sheckley
Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

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The 2018 Hugo Awards in detail

The results are here! The stats are here!


  • Closest result of the night was Best Editor Short Form – Lynne M. Thomas and Michael D. Thomas finished just 6 votes ahead of Sheila Williams.
  • Most crushing victory was File 770 for Best Fanzine, 20 votes short of a first-count win, easily getting there on the second count.
  • Missed being on the final ballot by a single nominating vote:
    • Archive of Our Own (Best Related), would have replaced Sleeping with Monsters
    • C.C. Finlay (Best Editor, Short Form), would have replaced Sheila Williams;
  • Yuko Shimizu (Best Professional Artist), would have replaced Kathleen Jennings;
  • Black Gate (Best Fanzine), would have replaced Rocket Stack Rank.
  • Declined nomination:
    • Best Series – The Broken Earth (N.K. Jemisin);
    • Best Editor Long Form – Liz Gorinsky;
    • Best Professional Artist – Julie Dillon;
    • Best Fancast – Tea and Jeopardy
  • For Best Series, N.K. Jemisin declined for The Broken Earth
  • the following were ruled ineligible, due to not having added enough to the series since last year:
    • The Expanse,
    • The Craft Sequence,
    • the October Daye books

In full:

Best Novel

The Stone Sky was well ahead at every stage, winning by 1263 to 974 for The Collapsing Empire, which took second place ahead of Raven Stratagem. Provenance, which had been sixth on the first count, rose to take third place; Six Wakes took fourth by 12 votes ahead of Raven Strategem, which came fifth with New York 2140 sixth.

At nominations stage, The Stone Sky was also far ahead, with almost twice as many nominations as Raven Stratagem. The Stars Are Legion, by Kameron Hurley, and Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, both had more votes than New York 2140 but considerably fewer points. Edited to add Over on File 770, “Goobergunch” points out that The Stars Are Legion would have been nominated over New York 2140 if Raven Stratagem had received 2.58 more points, and that Autonomous was one vote away from being in the same position.

Best Novella

All Systems Red was far ahead, winning on the fifth count with 1021 votes to 554 for Down Among the Sticks and Bones and 457 for “And Then There Were (N-One)”. “And Then There Were (N-One)” took second place by 28 votes ahead of Down Among the Sticks and Bones, which took third. Binti: Home came fourth, The Black Tides of Heaven fifth, River of Teeth sixth.

All Systems Red was also far ahead at nominations stage. The nearest miss was Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, but it was well adrift.

Best Novelette

“The Secret Life of Bots” won by 856 votes to 697 for “Wind Will Rove”. “Wind Will Rove” came second, “A Series of Steaks” third, “Extracurricular Activities” fourth, “Children of Thorns” fifth and “Small Changes over Long Periods of Time” sixth.

Nominations were much tighter here, with “The Secret Life of Bots” top on votes but “Small Changes over Long Periods of Time” getting more points. “The Dark Birds”, by Ursula Vernon, narrowly missed and would have got on the ballot with another 3 votes worth 0.96 points, or another 4 votes.

Best Short Story

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” was ahead at all stages and won by 913 to 844 for “The Martian Obelisk”. “Fandom for Robots” took second place, “The Martian Obelisk” third, “Sun, Moon, Dust” fourth, “Carnival Nine” fifth and “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” sixth.

At nominations stage, “Fandom for Robots” had a strong lead, and “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” was a strong second place. The nearest miss was “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance”, by Tobias S. Buckell, which needed another three votes worth 1.83 points, or another four votes, to qualify.

Best Series

A second victory for Bujold as the World of the Five Gods beat InCryptid by 864 to 595. InCryptid came second, The Memoirs of Lady Trent third by 18 votes over the Books of the Raksura, which came fourth. The Stormlight Archive took fifth place by 5 votes ahead of the Divine Cities, which came sixth.

The Broken Earth topped the nominations poll but N.K. Jemisin declined nomination. In addition, The Expanse, The Craft Sequence and the October Daye books came second, fifth and seventh, but were all deemed ineligible due to not having added enough to the series since last year (this was a contentious rules question, but I agree with the approach taken by this year’s Hugo administrators). The Stormlight Archive therefore got onto the final ballot despite finishing tenth in nominations. C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series had more votes than The Stormlight Archive, but needed another 1.64 points to qualify for the final ballot.

Best Related Work

No Time to Spare was a close second to Crash Override on the first count, but picked up transfers to win by 760 votes to 660. Crash Override won a convincing second place. Luminescent Threads came third, Iain M. Banks beat Sleeping With Monsters by 2 votes for fourth place (the closest result of the night), Sleeping With Monsters came fifth and A Lit Fuse sixth.

At nominations stage, No Time To Spare came third, in a tight race with Crash Override, Iain M. Banks and Luminescent Threads. At the other end, An Archive of Our Own needed only 0.25 more points to qualify, the nearest miss of the lot; it would have displaced Sleeping with Monsters.

Best Graphic Story:

Monstress vol 2 was ahead at all stages and beat Saga vol 7 by 687 to 438. Saga vol 7 came second, Bitch Planet vol 2 came third; Black Bolt vol 1 came fourth; Paper Girls vol 3 came fifth by 11 votes; and My Favourite Thing Is Monsters came sixth.

Unusually, this was also the order at nominations stage, with Monstress vol 2 far ahead. Ms Marvel vol 7 was only one vote behind My Favourite Thing is Monsters, but was much further adrift in points so would have needed two more votes (of any value) to qualify. Ladycastle, The Wicked + The Divine vol 5 and Ms Marvel vol 8 were all in the zone as well.

Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

Wonder Woman started only 4 votes ahead of Get Out, but extended that lead to win by 1307 to 971. Get Out won second place by only 20 votes ahead of Thor: Ragnarok, which came third. Star Wars: The Last Jedi came fourth, The Shape of Water fifth and Blade Runner 2049 sixth.

Wonder Woman was also substantially ahead in nominations. The nearest miss was Logan, but it was pretty far behind Blade Runner 2049.

Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form

The Good Place: The Trolley Problem actually started 34 votes behind Black Mirror: USS Callister, but picked up transfers from The Good Place: Michael’s Gambit and won by 750 to 709. USS Callister came second, Michael’s Gambit third, Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time fourth, Star Trek: Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad fifth and The Deep sixth.

Michael’s Gambit was actually far ahead on nominations, with USS Callister and The Trolley Problem trailing in second and third place. The Expanse: Caliban’s War needed another 9 votes to catch Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.

Best Editor: Long Form

Sheila E. Gilbert was ahead at all stages and won by 437 to 368 for Navah Wolfe, who came second. Diana M. Pho beat Devi Pillai for third place by 14 votes, having trailed up to the last stage. Devi Pillai came fourth, Miriam Weinberg fifth and Joe Monti sixth. Worth noting perhaps that No Award got 112 first preferences here, its best result for any category.

Navah Wolfe was far ahead in nominations here. Liz Gorinsky declined, bringing Devi Pillai onto the ballot. Will Hinton, the next in line, was 5 votes and 6.24 points adrift.

Best Editor, Short Form

The Thomases started 5 votes ahead of Sheila Williams and finished 6 votes ahead, winning by 466 to 460, the closest result for the top spot on the night. Sheila Williams came second, Neil Clarke third, John Joseph Adams fourth, Jonathan Strahan fifth and Lee Harris sixth.

The Thomases were well ahead at nominations stage. At the other end, C.C. Finlay would have displaced Sheila Williams with another bullet vote, and Ellen Datlow was also in the zone.

Best Professional Artist

Sana Takeda started 15 votes behind John Picacio, but beat him in the end by 653 to 533. Picacio took second place by 13 votes ahead of Galen Dara, who came third. Victo Ngai was fourth, Kathleen Jennings fifth and Bastien Lecouffe Deharme sixth.

Victo Ngai got the most nominating votes. Julie Dillon, who came fourth in nominations, declined, bringing Bastien Lecouffe Deharme onto the ballot. Yuko Shimizu had more votes than Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, and the same number as Kathleen Jennings; she was far behind both on points, but with one more vote would have displaced Jennings from the ballot.

Best Semiprozine

Uncanny Magazine was far ahead and won on the fifth count with 627 votes to 309 for Strange Horizons and 280 for Escape Pod. Strange Horizons came second, Beneath Ceaseless Skies third, Escape Pod fourth, Fireside Magazine fifth and The Book Smugglers sixth.

Uncanny Magazine was also far ahead in nominations. FIYAH Literary Magazine was the nearest miss, but was some way behind Escape Pod.

Best Fanzine

File 770 pulled off the strongest win of the night, twenty votes off a first-round victory and beating the rest after No Award’s transfers. SF Bluestocking came second, nerds of a feather, flock together beat Journey Planet by 10 votes for third place, Journey Planet came fourth, Galactic Journey fifth and Rocket Stack Rank sixth.

File 770 was also very far ahead at nomination stage. At the other end, Black Gate would have displaced Rocket Stack Rank with one more vote.

Best Fancast

Ditch Diggers was only 8 votes ahead of The Coode Street Podcast on the first count, but extended the lead to win by 317 to 271. The other results were closely contested. Fangirl Happy Hour rose to take second place by a 6-vote margin over The Coode Street Podcast, which won third by 12 votes over Sword and Laser, which then lost fourth place to Galactic Suburbia by 18 votes but won fifth, Verity! coming in sixth.

Ditch Diggers topped the nominations poll, though The Coode Street Podcast was close behind. Tea and Jeopardy came fifth, but declined nomination. The nearest miss was The Skiffy and Fanty Show, but it was well adrift of Sword and Laser.

Best Fan Writer

Sarah Gailey was only 12 votes ahead on first preferences, but won by 509 to 396 for Mike Glyer. Foz Meadows won second place, and Mike Glyer third by 19 votes over Bogi Takács, who came fourth. Camestros Felapton was fifth, Charles Payseur sixth.

Charles Payseur had actually topped the nomination votes, though it was a tight range – 67 for him, 54 for Bogi Takács with the rest in between. Natalie Luhrs, the nearest miss, was well behind.

Best Fan Artist

Geneva Benton started 9 votes ahead of Likhain and extended that lead to win by 436 to 342. Likhain came second, Grace P. Fong third, Maya hahto fourth, Spring Schoenhuth fifth and Steve Stiles sixth.

Likhain was far ahead at nominations stage, with more than three times as many votes as second-placed Geneva Benton. At the other end, Stephanie Law had more votes than Maya Hahto but far fewer points – Hahto’s support was much more concentrated.

WSFS Award for Best Young Adult Book

Akata Warrior was ahead at all stages and won by 616 to 496 for Summer in Orcus, which came second. In Other Lands came third, A Skinful of Shadows beat La Belle Sauvage by 7 votes for fourth place, The Art of Starving also beat La Belle Sauvage by 7 votes for fifth place, and La Belle Sauvage came sixth.

Akata Warrior also had a substantial lead at nominations stage. The nearest miss was Buried Heart, by Kate Elliott, but it was some way from displacing A Skinful of Shadows.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Rebecca Roanhorse and Vina Jie-Min Prasad actually tied for first preferences, and were nip and tuck, tying again on the penultimate stage, until Rivers Solomon’s transfers pulled Roanhorse ahead to win by 561 to 523. Vina Jie-Min Prasad took second place, and Jeannette Ng then rose to take third, Rivers Solomon coming fourth, Katherine Arden fifth and Sarah Kuhn sixth.

Vina Jie-Min Prasad was substantially ahead of Rivers Solomon at the nominations stage. The nearest miss was S. A. Chakraborty, who would have needed 8 more votes to displace the winner, Rebecca Roanhorse.

I think that’s it!!!

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Second paragraph of third chapter:

But expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.

Apart from the sampler submitted as part of this year’s Hugo packet, I think the only works by Sanderson that I had previously read were his Hugo-winning novella The Emperor’s Soul, which I voted for back in the day, and his Hugo-finalist novella Perfect State, which I didn’t vote for. His various overlapping series caused me a lot of head-scratching last year as Hugo administrator; judging by ownership on LibraryThing and Goodreads, which may of course reflect the heavy marketing push it was given by Tor back in 2010 when it first came out, the Stormlight Archive (of which this is the first volume) must be a front-runner for this evening’s award for Best Series (though my own vote is with Bujold).

The Way of Kings clocks in at 1007 pages in hard copy, which makes it the third longest book I have read so far this year (after Gone With the Wind and Islandia). It’s a decent epic fantasy, with three main characters – royal prince, disgraced but talented soldier, young woman who is deciding between theft and scholarship – in a world where humans battle non-humans atop very peculiar geology, with magic oozing from the pores of a lucky (or unlucky) few. The detail is good and the conclusion dramatic, with matters well set up for the next volume, but it’s a very long journey to get there, and it hasn’t changed my mind about my vote. If you didn’t already get it from the Hugo packet, Gollancz have actually published it in two volumes, which you can get here and here.

This was the top sf book in my unread pile. Next is the second in the series, Words of Radiance.

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Nobody’s Children, by Kate Orman, Jonathan Blum and Philip Purser-Hallard

Second paragraph of third section of “All Mimsy Were the Borogoves”, by Kate Orman:

I pulled myself off her torso, which made her flinch, and took the form of a madder-lily once more – a harmless ornament on the phone room’s table.

Second paragraph of third section of “The Loyal Left Hand”, by Jonathan Blum:

And that was just the capper to the whole journey – at that time when you’ve had all the sleep you’re going to get, and the breakfast service is still an eternity away, and there’s just no cosmic point to freshening up for landing yet, and no matter what time it is at either end of the flight your internal clock is stuck at the 3am of the soul. Their shrieking neighbours weren’t helping either… As usual on a Draconian flight, they had a separate economy section for families with children, with extra running-about-room in the back and entertainments for rambunctious little lizards. A lovely theory, but this meant every single squalling infant within a third of a light year was right next to her ears.

Second paragraph of third section of “Nursery Politics”, by Philip Purser-Hallard:

It’s not that I forgot, exactly, I just got distracted. You would have too. No really, I guarantee.

Next in my readthrough of the Bernice books, this is a rather good collection of three novellas telling the story of Benny, the Draconians and the Mim, the last of these being a race capable of metamorphosis and mass reproduction. The particular issue is the destiny of a large number of infant Mim, captured by the Draconians in a recent conflict, at the same time as Benny and Jason are recomciling and thinking about having their own child (hitherto glimpsed as an alternate future possibility). The Whoniverse doesn’t always do big issues like parenting and relationships all that well; this is one of the better efforts in that direction, with plenty of plot to keep all three novellas going. I liked all three very much; maybe I can single out Kate Orman’s introductory piece, which sets the tone by observing human life (especially sex) from the point of view of a non-human. You can get it here.

Next on my list is a short story collection, Missing Adventures, edited by Rebecca Levene.

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1943 Retro Hugos: the detail

The full results of the 1943 Retro Hugos have been released. As usual, below I am reporting the margin of victory for the winner, and the other placings, giving margins of victory where they were less than 20 votes. For the nominations stage, I am reporting the top vote-getters and the nearest misses.

Highlights: the closest result of the Retro Hugos was Best Fanzine, where Le Zombie won by only ten votes, and The Phantagraph won second place by only nine votes. The only closer races were Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker winning second place in Best Fan Writer by three votes, and Donovan’s Brain Darkness and the Light winning third place in Best Novel by a single vote.

At nominations, Best Editor Short Form, Best Professional Artist and Best Fanzine all had several candidates in contention for the final places, and a single vote more or a single vote less would have made the difference between being on or off the final ballot

The Screwtape Letters was disqualified for Best Novel due to the original publication date. “The Twonky” got enough votes to qualify in Best Novelette as well as Best Short Story (it won the latter category).

Detail below.

Best Novel: Beyond This Horizon won by 66 votes, 271 to 205 for Second Stage Lensmen, which crushed the competition for second place. Third place went to Donovan’s Brain Darkness and the Light, by a margin of a single vote over Darkness and the Light Donovan’s Brain. Fourth place went to is also currently listed as won by Donovan’s Brain, presumably in error. The Uninvited fifth, Islandia sixth.

Beyond This Horizon also had the most nomination votes by some way. The Screwtape Letters got the second highest number of nomination votes, but was ruled inelgible because of its serial publication in the Guardian in 1941, thus bringing The Uninvited onto the ballot. Closest also-ran was Grand Canyon by Vita Sackville-West, which would have needed another five votes worth more than 4.2 points to get on the ballot.

Best Novella: “Waldo” beat “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” by 61 votes, 277 to 216. Second place goes to “Hoag” by a similar margin, then “Nerves” comes third, “The Complete Werewolf” fourth, “Asylum” fifth by 10 votes, and “Hell is Forever” sixth.

At nominations stage, “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” was ahead of “Waldo”, and both were way in front of the field. “Recruiting Station” by AE van Vogt would have displaced “Asylum” from the ballot with just one more vote. The Screwtape Letters (which by my count is actually novella length, but of course was not eligible) was also not far behind and would have needed just over 1.02 points to get on the ballot (and then get disqualified).

Best Novelette: “Foundation” crushed the opposition with a first round victory, 338 votes out of 628 (53.8%). “The Weapon Shop” came second, “There Shall Be Darkness” third, “Star Mouse” fourth by 16 votes, “Bridle and Saddle” fifth and “Goldfish Bowl” sixth.

“Foundation” was far ahead of “The Weapon Shop” in nominations, and both were far ahead of the rest. “The Twonky” had the third highest nominations in this category but is a short story, enabling “Bridle and Saddle” to take the last place on the ballot. “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon” by Leigh= Brackett would have taken that place instead with 2 more votes worth more than 1.14 points.

Best Short Story: “The Twonky” won here by 47 votes, 268 to 221 for “Runaround”. “Proof” then picked up enough transfers to come second, with “Runaround” finishing third, “The Sunken Land” fourth, “Etaoin Shrdlu” fifth and “Mimic” sixth.

“Rumaround” topped the nomination votes. Second-placed was “Waldo”, eligible in a different category, which would have needed 2 more votes worth more than 1 point to get disqualified from the final ballot here. “Robot AL-76 Goes Astray”, by Isaac Asimov, needed only one more vote to displace “Mimic”.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Bambi beat Cat People by 59 votes, 274 to 215. Cat People came second, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book third, I Married A Witch fourth, The Ghost of Frankenstein fifth and Invisible Agent sixth.

Cat People had a substantial lead at nominations stage, with Bambi only third. The only two other nominees reported, The Corpse Vanishes and The Mouse of Tomorrow, were far behind with only 5 and 4 votes respectively (to Invisible Agent’s 13).

Best Editor, Short Form: John W. Campbell crushed the opposition with 325 votes out of 490 (66.3%). Donald A. Wollheim came second, Dorothy McIlwraith third, Raymond A. Palmer fourth, Oscar J. Friend fifth (by 17 votes), and Malcolm Reiss sixth.

At nominations stage, Campbell was even further ahead, with 75 votes to 8 for McIlwraith, 7 for Palmer, 6 for Reiss and Friend and 5 for Wollheim. Frederik Pohl also had 5 nominating votes, but lost due to EPH; with one more vote he would have displaced Friend or Wollheim. The only other reported nominee, Alden H. Norton, had 4 nominating votes, and would likewise have had a good chance of being a finalist with another 2 vote.

Best Professional Artist: Virgil Finlay won by 49 votes, 199 to 150 for Margaret Brundage. Hannes Bok then beat Brundage by 16 points for second place. Brundage came third, Edd Cartier fourth, Hubert Rogers fifth and Harold W. McCauley sixth, all on the first count.

Hannes Bok and Virgil Finlay were also top of the nomination votes, with 34 and 28 respectively. The other five were far ahead of McCauley, who had only 4 to Brundage’s 15. Two other nominees are reported, J. Allen St. John and Earl K. Bergey, who like McCauley had 4 nominating votes but lost due to EPH; 1 more vote would have been enough for either one of them to replace McCauley.

Best Fanzine: This saw the tightest races both for nominations and final places. Le Zombie beat The Phantagraph by 10 votes, 122 to 112, having trailed up to the final count – the closest result for first place of the night. The Phantagraph beat Spaceways by 9 votes for second place, and Spaceways beat Voice of the Imagi-Nation by 16 votes for third place. Voice of the Imagi-Nation came fourth, Futurian War Digest fifth and Inspiration sixth.

The nominations report is confusingly laid out, but it’s clear that Le Zombie and Spaceways were far ahead of the field with 14 and 12 nominating votes respectively. Two finalists (Futurian War Digest and The Phantagraph) had only 4 nominating votes, two unsuccessful nominees had only 3, and Inspiration and three unsuccessful nominees had only 2. A single extra vote with the right value would have been enough for any of the five other reported nominees to get on the final ballot – The Acolyte, Fanfare, Fantasy Fiction Field, Madman of Mars and Fantasite.

Best Fan Writer: Forrest J. Ackerman won by 31 votes, 186 to 155 for Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker. Tucker then beat Donald A. Wollheim for second place by 3 votes, despite trailing at all stages before the last. Wollheim came third, Harry Warner Jr fourth, Jack Speer fifth and Art Widner sixth.

Tucker led at nominations stage by 11 to 8 for Warner. The only unsuccessful nominee reported is Ray Bradbury, who had only 2 votes to 4 for Speer, Widner and Wollheim. Speer and Widner were in fact tied on EPH points; if Bradbury had had two more votes worth more than 0.45 points, all seven nominees would have been on the final ballot.

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Time Lord, by Ian Marsh and Peter Darville-Evans

Second paragraph of Part Three:

Players and the referee should read this chapter carefully, or have it explained to them by someone who knows the rules. Rules in subsequent chapters can be skimmed by players to glean some knowledge of the game’s workings; the referee needs to set aside time to read the rules at least once.

My role-playing game days are very far behind me now, but in my late teens I was pretty absorbed in the linked fandoms of postal diplomacy and RPG design. One of the major figures of the latter was Ian Marsh, co-editor of the famous zine Dragonlords, solo editor of the less famous Year of the Rat, and briefly the professional editor of White Dwarf, which is of course still going. Ian himself now runs a tabletop miniatures business in the Isle of Wight. I only recently realised that he and Peter Darville-Evans, the original editor of Virgin’s New Adventures, had collaborated on this role-playing game. I am no longer enough of an RPG fan to really evaluate it; the points that struck me were:

  • No time needed for players to roll up characters, because character sheets for the (then) seven Doctors and their companions are already provided and players are expected to use them.
  • An interesting mechanism for invoking chance: the referee establishes the difficulty of a particular task on a scale of 0-5, and the player must then “beat the difference”, by rolling two dice and seeing if the difference between the two numbers exceeds the difficulty of the task.
  • Quite a strong time element, in terms of how long particular activities will take mattering a lot to the outcome of your scenario, perhaps deliberately echoing the time pressure of a 25-minute TV episode.

There are also two skeleton stories provided, one of the Doctor and Ace intervening in high politics of a spacefaring planet, the other an alien mystery in a contemporary shopping centre. I think for completists only, whether Whovians or RPGers, but interesting enough. (Not so sure about Colin Howard’s art here though. He has improved in the meantime.) I got mine in hard copy, but you can download it here, and I believe that more adventures are available if you hunt around.

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  • Fri, 06:14: RT @TheHugoAwards: 1943 Retrospective Hugo Award for Best Novel: Beyond This Horizon, by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding S…
  • Fri, 06:16: RT @PEMatson: 1943 #RetroHugos award winner at #WorldCon76 for Best Novel is “Beyond This Horizon” by Robert A. Heinlein, writing as Anson…
  • Fri, 06:18: Name recognition and nostalgia seem to have helped a lot with Retro Hugos – two to Heinlein, one to Asimov for firs…
  • Fri, 09:12: Human Rights activist banned from Schengen zone by Poland! Appalling!
  • Fri, 10:45: RT @hhesterm: Project Fear is all over the press again, so let’s think about – Brexit preparation – an ongoing civil war – why propaganda h…

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Huawei Stories: Pioneers, ed. Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng

Second paragraph of third chapter (“A London Courtship”, by Victor Zhang):

This ‘London courtship’ helped us to get our foot in the door of the European sector, and was a milestone in Huawei’s progress into the global markets.

I attended a reception hosted by Huawei a few months ago, and they kindly handed out two books of essays by Huawei staff, of which this is the first. It opens with an introductory paean of praise for Huawei’s wonderful corporate culture, but then settles down into a series of first-person accounts by young Chinese people working in different cultures.

The growth of China is possibly the most important global economic trend right now, and I really did find it interesting to get this insight into some of the people who are making it happen. About half of the accounts are set in Africa, where those of us who have paid attention have noted the huge growth in Chinese investment over the last twenty years or so. Several stories emphasise the importance of access to Chinese food for company morale (one contributor was the chef of the Huawei office in Côte d’Ivoire). There is a memorably grim account of being stuck in Iceland (apart from anything else, Icelandic hairdresses were unable to cope with Chinese hair). The most spectacular chapter tells how a Huawei base station was set up in Medog County, Tibet, where there were no roads and every single piece of equipment had to be carried in by porters – I guess the landscape is too extreme for four-footed transport.

It is slightly propagandistic, but it is a fascinating insight into an important part of what’s going on in our world today. It was at the top of my pile of books by non-white writers; next on that pile is the other Huawei book, Explorers. If you want, you can get it here.

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