F’s new favourite

On the BBC Teletubbies site – the Colour Story. His enthusiasm does make it more difficult to “work” on the compuiter though.

I finished my review of the 2003 Hugo nominations; it turned into a meta-review; My picks are:

Novel: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson: The book starts by kiling off the whole of Europe in the Black Death, leaving Islam and China to develop civilisation and the industrial revolution. This book is perhaps a bit of a reaction to the deterministic approach of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Davis S. Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations which both argue that European superiority was more or less historically inevitable. My own view is that “natural” advantages need enlightened (or sometimes just lucky) rulers to exploit them – Rebecca West has some good observations on this in the Dubrovnik section of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. As a lapsed historian of science myself, I am particularly aware the rich tradition of Islamic knowledge, and that there was a time when Baghdad was the intellectual capital of the world. I also liked Robinson’s Mars trilogy and the supplementary volume. Here, rather than the somewhat strained immortality thrust upon the Mars characters, he has reincarnation as a connecting thread between ten linked novellas covering 700 years. Oddly enough he ends up in much the same place as Robert Sawyer in Hominids, with a rather utopian portrayal of an alternate timeline society contemporary with ours, but does it a hundred times better.

Best Novella: A Year in the Linear City by Paul Di Filippo – Brian Aldiss’ The Malacia Tapestry meets Christopher Priest’s Inverted World – as with Bones of the Earth I felt the plot took a while to get going but I was prepared to wait around for it. A superb and vivid setting on an apparently endless city which is two blocks wide, and where the afterlife visibly comes to get you when you die. The protagonist is a science fiction (“Cosmogonic Fiction”) writer; his spectacular girlfriend, his other somewhat disreputable friends, his father, his editor, and the mayor make up a memorable cast.

Best Novelette: “The Wild Girls” by Ursula Le Guin: not her best but I think the best of the nominations; a ghost story from two non-technological cultures with peculiar customs, told in an almost Biblical voice. One could reasonably ask how sfnal this story is, though, so I expect something else will win.

Best Short Story: “Falling Onto Mars” by Geoffrey A. Landis – Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles updated for the horrid realities of our 21st century. As a lapsed historian I very much liked the story’s motto, History is not necessarily what we’d like it to be….

One thought on “F’s new favourite

  1. So, in summary, you cannot actually support your assertion that “Tom-Tell-Truth” was a pseudonym associated with the Tudor theatre?

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