December 2020 books, and 2020 books roundup

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Lockdown having hit again, I did not go very far this month except to nip across the border to France for a haircut. However I did have the satisfaction of comiling a video about science fiction predicitons for the year 2021 – probably a little too long, but I did love the Moon Zero Two opening titles.

And I kept up my ten-day updates in plague times.

And on Christmas Day I managed to get a rare picture of the family all looking in the same direction and all looking happy.

I read 27 books that month.

Non-fiction: 4 (2020 total 50)
Our War: Ireland and the Great War, ed. John Horne
Utopia For Realists, by Rutger Bregman
House of Music, by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason
Explaining Humans, by Camilla Pang

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (2020 total 38)
Terms of Endearment, by Larry McMurtry
Tono-Bungay, by H.G. Wells
The Prisoner of Brenda, by [Colin] Bateman

Scripts: 2 (2020 total 2)
Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer
A Belgian Christmas Eve, by Alfred Noyes

sf (non-Who): 15 (2020 total 114)
After Me Comes the Flood, by Sarah Perry
Ash: A Secret History, by Mary Gentle
“The Persistence of Vision”, by John Varley
The Children of Men, by P.D. James
Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre
The Company Articles of Edward Teach, by Thoraiya Dyer/Angælien Apocalypse, by Matthew Chrulew
2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke
Above, by Stephanie Campisi/Below, by Ben Peek
Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville
Planetfall, by Emma Newman
Macrolife, by George Zebrowski
The Anything Box, by Zenna Henderson
Ormeshadow, by Priya Sharma
Palimpsest, by Charles Stross
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

Doctor Who: 2 (2020 total 18)
All Flesh is Grass, by Una McCormack
Tales of Terror, no editor given

Comics: 1 (2020 total 45)
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Volume 1: A New Beginning, by Jody Houser, Rachael Stott, Giorgia Sposito, Enrica Eren Angiolini

8,200 pages (2020 total 70,400)
14/27 (2020 total 77/266) not by men (Henderson, Kanneh-Mason, Perry, Gentle, James, McIntyre, Dyer, Campisi, Newman, Henderson, Sharma, Clarke, McCormack, Houser et al)
3/27 (2020 total 25/266) by PoC (Kanneh-Mason, Pang, Sharma)

Several really good books this month, and I’m going to single out the RTE history Our War, which you can get here, and Priya Sharma’s short Ormeshadow, which you can get here. On the other hand I completely bounced off Sarah Perry’s After Me Comes the Flood, which you can get here.

2020 books roundup

I read 266 books in 2020, the ninth highest of the nineteen years that I have been keeping track, and 70,400 pages, eleventh highest of nineteen, so pretty much in the middle.

Books by non-male writers in 2020: 77/266, 29% – fifth highest absolute number, eighth highest percentage of the last nineteen years.

Books by PoC in 2020: – 25/266, 9% – fifth highest in both absolute numbers and percentages, higher than any year before 2018.

Most-read author of 2020: Kieron Gillen, as I read all nine volumes of The Wicked + The Divine.

1) Science Fiction and Fantasy (excluding Doctor Who)

2020/2019/2018/2017/2016/2015/2014/2013/2012/2011/2010/2009/2008/2007/2006/2005/2004/
11477108688013012465627873785475687976
43%33%41%29%38%45%43%27%24%26%26%23%15%32%33%55%51%

114 (43%), fifth highest total and percentage of nineteen years.

Top SF book of the year:

The first book I read in 2020 was Ted Chiang’s collection Exhalation, which included some old favouites and a couple of brilliant new stories, both of which got on the Hugo final ballot. You can get it here.

Honourable mentions to:

Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Insurrection, a BSFA finalist, in which near-future Nigeria (like other parts of the world) has been subject to an alien intrusion; this plays out on the ground in micropolitics, including sexual politics, for an interesting and intelligent exploration of what it actually means to be human in an unforgiving and rapidly changing world. You can get it here.

Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on CatNet, a Lodestar finalist, a cracking good read, with conscious AI, dysfunctional family, a courageous road trip across the northeastern USA, and a hilarious robot sex education scene. You can get it here.

The ones you haven’t heard of:

The BSFA long-list included several stories from two anthologies which I consequently sought out and enjoyed, Distaff: A Science Fiction Anthology by Female Authors, eds. Rosie Oliver & Sam Primeau, which you can get here, and Once Upon A Parsec: the Book of Alien Fairy Tales, ed. David Gullen, which you can get here. Sadly none of them made it to the short-list.

The one to avoid:

The worst book I read all year, with some stiff competition, was A Woman in Space, by Sara Cavanaugh (probably a pseudonym). Our heroine is twenty-six, and already a spaceflight veteran. The entire plot lacks any credibility even in its own terms. The sexual politics is awful, and the sex is pretty badly written as well. It’s so bad you have to finish it once you’ve started. (It’s only 192 pages.) You can get it here.

2) Non-fiction

50 (19%), bang in the middle of the historical range.

Top non-fiction book of the year:

From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, by Timothy Knatchbull. More on this below.

Honourable mentions to:

Two biographies of women. The first is Felicitas Corrigan’s biography of the Ulster writer and historian Helen Waddell, looking at how her star rose and fell – she was invited to lunch at 10 Downing Street with J.M. Barrie and Queen Mary, but died in obscurity. You can get it here.

The other is a finalist for the Hugo for Best Related Work, Mallory O’Meara’s biography of Milicent Patrick, a Hollywood designer who rose and fell much more quickly than Helen Waddell; after the triumph of creating the Creature from the Black Lagoon, she was basically fired for not being invisible enough. You can get it here.

The one you haven’t heard of:

Philip Winter’s personal account of co-ordinating the internal peace process within the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000-2002, a fascinating view of implementation of peace agreements at the sharp end with many lovely glimpses of detail and a real sense of time and place. You can get it here.

The one to avoid:

A Popular History of Ireland, by Thomas D’Arcy McGee – chloroform in print (as Mark Twain said of the Book of Mormon). You can get it here.

3) Comics

45 (17%), highest ever percentage, total number only exceeded in 2021, due to Hugos and Retro Hugos, and because of more Doctor Who comics coming through the system.

Top comics of the year:

Two of the Hugo finalists which were standalones, LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin, which you can get here, and Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil, which you can get here.

Honourable mention:

The second half of Leo’s Survivants series, continuing the Aldebaran cycle. You can get them in English translation here, here and here.

The one you haven’t heard of:

Rick Lundeen’s glorious adaptation of The Daleks’ Master Plan, not on sale anywhere but you can find it in the darker corners of the internet.

The ones to avoid:

The ending of Marc Legendre’s Amoras, an adult reworking of classic Belgian kids’ comic heroes Suske en Wiske, fell pretty flat for me. You can get the last two volumes here and here.

4) Non-genre fiction

40 (15%). In the middle of the historical range, though higher than 2021 or 2022.

Top non-genre fiction of the year:

The triumphant conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. We’ve always known where this wasa going to end up, but the journey is a tremendous achievement. You can get it here.

Honourable mentions:

I found myself enjoying Larry McMurtry’s Terms of Endearment, on which the film was based, much more than I expected – funny and also humane. You can get it here.

Michael Morpurgo’s Listen to the Moon is a sensitive and effective story about wartime in the Scilly Isles for young adult readers. You can get it here.

The one you haven’t heard of:

A wee jewel from a family member, Muddy Lane by Andrew Cheffings, about men loving each other in a lost corner of England. You can get it here.

The one to avoid:

Bruges-la-Morte by George Rodenbach. Very silly and over-written. Ends with the protagonist strangling his lover with a lock of his dead wife’s hair. There, I’ve saved you the bother, but if you still want to, you can get it here.

5) Doctor Who

Novels, collections of shorter fiction, etc excluding comics: 18 (7%), lowest since 2005.

All Who books including comics and non-fiction: 25 (9%), also lowest since 2005.

I took a bit of a sabbatical from Who reading in 2020.

Top Doctor Who books of the year:

Una McCormack’s novel All Flesh Is Grass, featuring the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctors, which you can get here, and Jody Houser’s graphic novel Defender of the Daleks with the Tenth and Thirteenth (marketed for some reason with a very similar cover to Una McCormack’s novel, showing Eight, Nine and Ten, rather than Ten and Thirteen), which you can get here.

Honourable mention:

Paul Cornell’s Third Doctor story Heralds of Destruction is true to the spriti of early 70s Who and takes it a little further. You can get it here.

The one you haven’t heard of:

Already mentioned under comics: Rick Lundeen’s graphic novel adaptation of The Daleks’ Master Plan.

The one to avoid:

The 2020 Official Annual is a poor piece of work. You can get it here. Glad to say that the 2021 version is better.

My Book of the Year

No hesitation at all in naming my Top Book of 2020 as From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, by Timothy Knatchbull, the account of a life punctuated by the 1979 bomb which killed his 14-year-old twin brother, along with their grandfather Lord Mountbatten, their other grandmother and another boy. As one might expect, Knatchbull’s relationship with Ireland is very complex. It was a magical place of childhood holiday memories, which turned to horror in an instant. He has found a way of making sense of the terrible thing that was done to his family, and it is a truly compelling read. I’d had it on the shelves for years but only now got around to it, and I should not have waited. You can get it here.

All Books of the Year:

2003 (2 months): The Separation, by Christopher Priest (review; get it here)
2004: (reread) The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (review; get it here)
– Best new read: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, by Claire Tomalin (review; get it here)
2005: The Island at the Centre of the World, by Russell Shorto (review; get it here)
2006: Lost Lives: The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea (review; get it here)
2007: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel (review; get it here)
2008: (reread) The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, by Anne Frank (review; get it here)
– Best new read: Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero, by William Makepeace Thackeray (review; get it here)
2009: (had seen it on stage previously) Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (review; get it here)
– Best new read: Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi (first volume just pipped by Samuel Pepys in 2004) (review; get it here)
2010: The Bloody Sunday Report, by Lord Savile et al. (review of vol I; get it here)
2011: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon (started in 2009!) (review; get it here)
2012: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë (review; get it here)
2013: A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf (review; get it here)
2014: Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell (review; get it here)
2015: collectively, the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, in particular the winner, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel (get it here). However I did not actually blog about these, being one of the judges at the time.
– Best book I actually blogged about: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin (review; get it here)
2016: Alice in Sunderland, by Bryan Talbot (review; get it here)
2017: Common People: The History of an English Family, by Alison Light (review; get it here)
2018: Factfulness, by Hans Rosling (review; get it here)
2019: Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (review; get it here)
2020: From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, by Timothy Knatchbull (review; get it here)
2021: Carrying the Fire, by Michael Collins (review; get it here)
2022: The Sun is Open, by Gail McConnell (review; get it here)

November 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Very little travel in November 2020, thanks to the newly reimposed COVID restrictions, but on the first day of the month I took B to the nearby park at Helecine.

I discovered that the American artists Howard Gardiner Cushing and his daughter Lily Emmet Cushing were distant cousins of mine; and better yet, that Lily was married to the grandfather of one of my best friends in the USA.

My ten-day updates on the COVID situation continued:

F and I mounted an expedition to see various megalithic monuments roughly south and east of us, listening to The Daleks’ Master Plan as we travelled.

More art, this time at the abbey of Villier-la-Ville, by Jean-Michel Folon – Anne and I had visited his museum near Brussels a few weeks before.

I updated my list of the appearances of Belgium in Doctor Who:

And in the real world, Joe Biden convincingly defeated Donald Trump in the US election, though it took a worrying length of time before the result was acknowledged and some are still not convinced. I got some decent press coverage for predicting (correctly) that Trump did not have any chance of overturning the result in court.

I managed to read 25 books that month, but several were very short and I failed to keep a record of what I thought of them.

Non-fiction: 2 (YTD 46)
Selected Prose, by Charles Lamb (did not finish)
Mahatma Gandhi: His Life and Times, by Louis Fischer

Fiction (non-sf): 1 (YTD 35)
The Inside of the Cup, by the other Winston Churchill

sf (non-Who): 7 (YTD 99)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
Borderline, by Mishell Baker
SS-GB, by Len Deighton
Painless, by Rich Larson
The Time Invariance of Snow, by E. Lily Yu
Blood is Another Word for Hunger, by Rivers Solomon
More Real Than Him, by Silvia Park

Doctor Who: 5 (YTD 16)
The Nth Doctor, by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier
The Official Doctor Who Annual 2021, by Paul Lang
Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown, by John Peel
Doctor Who: The Mutation of Time, by John Peel
The Astraea Conspiracy, by Lizbeth Myles

Comics: 5 (YTD 44)
Neil Dreams, by Neil Gaiman
An Honest Answer & Other Stories, by Neil Gaiman
The Daleks’ Master Plan, adapted by Rick Lundeen
The Empire Strikes Back, written by Archie Goodwin, art by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon
Return of the Jedi, written by Archie Goodwin, art by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon

4,000 pages (YTD 62,800)
6/20 (YTD 75/239) not by men (Baker, Yu, Solomon, Park, Lofficier, Myles)
3/20 (YTD 22/239) by PoC (Yu, Solomon, Park)

The best new read was Rick Lundeen’s graphic story adaptation of The Daleks’ Master Plan, which unfortunately is not commercially available anywhere. It was also good to return to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which you can get here. Several less good books this month, but I will draw a veil over them.

October 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Alas, after several months of relaxation, COVID restrictions were re-imposed in the middle of the month and working from home started again. This meant that I also re-started my ten-day updates on the COVID situation, which continued until early 2022.

I don’t seem to have written it up elsewhere, but little U and I got to the newly opened permanent exhibition at the Royal Library in Brussels just before the museums closed.

Art commentary on Jean Mayné and his daughter Berthe Flaminé Mayné:

Sadly, we lost Colin Wilkie. And I admitted my Reddit addiction.

Non-fiction: 3 (YTD 44)
Darwin’s Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England, by Steve Jones
Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, by M. Mitchell Waldrop
Helen Waddell, by Felicitas Corrigan

Fiction (non-sf): 9 (YTD 34)
Kramer vs. Kramer, by Avery Corman
Secret Army, by John Brason
Secret Army Dossier, by John Brason
Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
Secret Army: The End of the Line, by John Brason
This Must be the Place, by Maggie O’Farrell
Kessler, by John Brason
Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig

sf (non-Who): 6 (YTD 92)
Palestine 100: Stories from a century after the Nakba, ed. Mazen Maarouf
Gateway, by Frederik Pohl
Carmilla, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
To Be Taught, if Fortunate, by Becky Chambers
The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan
Wild Life, by Molly Gloss

Doctor Who: 1 (YTD 11)
The Knight, the Fool and the Dead, by Steve Cole
B088KQYGBB.01._SX180_SCLZZZZZZZ_[1].jpg

Comics: 6 (YTD 39)
Defender of the Daleks, #1, by Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata
Survivants, Tome 3, by Leo
Defender of the Daleks, #2, by Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata
Survivants, Tome 4, by Leo
Survivants, Tome 5, by Leo
For the Love of God, Marie!, by Jade Sarson
DotD1.jpg DotD2.jpg

5,900 pages (YTD 58,800)
9/25 (YTD 69/219) by women (Corrigan, Guest, O’Farrell, Chambers, Brennan, Gloss, Hoser/Ingranata x2, Sarson)
1/25 (YTD 19/219) by PoC (Maarouf)

The best new book of the month was Felicitas Corrigan’s biography of Helen Waddell, which you can get here, but I also enjoyed returning to Gateway, which you can get here, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which you can get here. Nothing too awful.

September 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

The highlight of the month was a trip to western Belgium with Anne, staying at my old friend Lex’s R&Breakfast in Roeselaere. This gave rise to several blog posts:

Only later did I realise that part of my attraction to the portrait of the Jonet family may be that I have almost exactly the same age difference with my own daughters.

We also had an appropriately socially distanced work party in a park near the office; I was going in three days a week at this point.

I read only 17 books that month, but some were very long.

Non-fiction: 3 (YTD 41)
An Inland Voyage, by Robert Louis Stevenson
East West Street, by Philippe Sands
Barcelona, Catalonia: A View from the Inside, by Matthew Tree

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 25)
Bruges-La-Morte, by Georges Rodenbach
The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel

sf (non-Who): 7 (YTD 86)
Jerusalem: Vernal’s Inquest, by Alan Moore
The Sky Road, by Ken MacLeod
Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman
Distraction, by Bruce Sterling
Beren and Luthien, by J.R.R. Tolkien
“Jeffty is Five”, by Harlan Ellison
“Stardance” by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson

Comics: 5 (YTD 33)
Isabelle, by Jean-Claude Servais
Blood Monster, by Neil Gaiman and Marlene O’Connor
Chronin Volume 1: The Knife at Your Back, by Alison Wilgus
Chronin Volume 2: The Sword in Your Hand, by Alison Wilgus
Being An Account of the Life and Death of the Emperor Heliogabolus, by Neil Gaiman

5,000 pages (YTD 52,900)
6/17 (YTD 64/194) by women (Mantel, Hartman, Robinson, O’Connor, Wilgus x2)
None AFAIK (YTD 18/194) by PoC

Standouts this month were Hilary Mantel’s triumphant The Mirror and the Light, which you can get here, and East West Street by Philippe Sands, which you can get here. Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach is total rubbish, but you can get it here.

August 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

The month began grimly, with the notorious 2020 Hugo Awards ceremony unfolding in the early hours of 1 August (in my time zone). I think we have to be clear that it went very badly wrong. Having put many hours of my own time into working on the awards that year, I felt personally that my efforts had been thrown back in my face. The fact that the first actual Hugo winner was not announced until more than an hour into the ceremony demonstrated a fundamental lack of respect for the people who should have been at the heart of the occasion. (Not to mention the rest of us.)

There was some emotional high points of the grim evening, however, and the one that will linger with me was Neil Gaiman’s acceptance speech for Good Omens.

I blogged about the Hugos, the Retro Hugo trophies and the Retro Hugos that weren’t; I also blogged about famous Welsh lesbian Amy Dillwyn, who was a distant relative; the Lib Dem leadership election; and the Bible and the Bechdel test.

This was another month when, due to the pandemic, I did not leave Belgium, but I plucked up my courage to go to Train World with U for a Paul Delvaux exhibition.

Also culturally, Anne and I went to the Fondation Folon south of Brussels, which I strongly recommend.

And I had an exciting physical meeting with an EU official.

I made one last local video on a cartographic curiosity.

Not so many books this month – several were very long, and my demi-commute hit my reading.

Non-fiction: 1 (YTD 38)
From Barrows to Bypass: Excavations at West Cotton, Raunds, Northamptonshire, 1985-1989, by Dave Windell, Andy Chapman and Jo Woodwiss

Fiction (non-sf): 5 (YTD 23)
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens
Jerusalem: The Boroughs, by Alan Moore
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

sf (non-Who): 3 (YTD 79)
A Boy and His Dog, by Harlan Ellison
Jerusalem: Mansoul, by Alan Moore
The Conqueror’s Child, by Suzy McKee Charnas

Comics: 1 (YTD 28)
Star Wars IV: A New Hope, by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin

Doctor Who: 2 (YTD 10)
The Secret in Vault 13, by David Solomons
The Maze of Doom, by David Solomons

3,700 pages (YTD 47,900)
4/12 (YTD 58/177) by women (Woodwiss, Mantel x2, McKee Charnas)
None AFAIK (YTD 18/177) by PoC

Best books this month were the first two volumes of Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (which you can get here) and Bring up the Bodies (which you can get here), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (which you can get here).

Hugely unimpressed by Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (which you can get here).

July 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

The high point of the month was getting out of Belgium for the first time since lockdown, a three-country trip to my cousin in Luxembourg, my sister in France and work/tourism in Geneva. While we were there we watched the Disney Hamilton and saw Comet NEOWISE.

We enjoyed watching Picard and Staged, and I delved into the etymology of the Ardennes. More seriously, the Spanish Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del Periodismo found completely in my favour in a complaint I had raised against a journalist who published a false story about me.

I also paused my ten-day COVID updates, but restarted my Doctor Who anniversary posts, which I had first done in 2010-11. I am still doing them, but on Facebook only.

The Hugo Awards gave us a lot of grief. The preparation of the online voting system on the final ballot was so badly delayed that we were within hours of just using Surveymonkey, before the local software solution finally came through at the last moment. Online commentators were rightly scornful of the fact that we opened voting so late, but they didn’t know the half of it. The final ballot results came through as we were driving home from Geneva, and to my astonishment it turned out that there was a tie for the Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). I checked and rechecked the votes, but there was no error.

The CoNZealand Retro Hugo ceremony passed off OK on 30 July, though my connection was poor and some of the actual winners were a bit embarrassing. At midnight on July 31st, I was at my computer waiting anxiously for the 2020 Hugo ceremony itself. We had heard worrying hints about the presentation, but as administrators we had little to do with it (indeed, the pronunciations we had painstakingly gathered earlier in the year somehow were not communicated to the ceremony team [edit: turns out they were communicated, just not used]); surely the convention leadership would take action to protect their own reputation?

…well, I’ll write more about that when I get to August 2020.

Anyway, in July 2020 I read 21 books:

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 37)
EU Lobbying Handbook, by Andreas Geiger
The Complete Secret Army: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Classic TV Drama Series by Andy Priestner
George Eliot, by Tim Dolin
Yugoslavia’s Implosion: The Fatal Attraction of Serbian Nationalism, by Sonja Biserko
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, by Mary Trump

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 18)
The Overstory, by Richard Powers
Guban, by Abdi Latif Ega
Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

sf (non-Who): 5 (YTD 76)
City of Lies, by Sam Hawke
Tooth & Claw, by Jo Walton
TOR: Assassin Hunter, by Billy Bob Buttons (did not finish)
“Houston, Houston, do you read?” by James Tiptree Jr
The Ruin of Kings, by Jenn Lyons
“The Bicentennial Man” by Isaac Asimov

Comics: 6 (YTD 27)
The Wicked + The Divine vol 6: Imperial Phase Part 2, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 7: Mothering Invention, by Kieron Gillen etc
Gaze of the Medusa, by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby and Brian Williamson
The Wicked + The Divine vol 8: Old is the New New, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen etc
The 1945 Retro Hugo finalists for Best Graphic Story or Comic

Doctor Who 2 (YTD 8)
Doctor Who Annual 2020
Doctor Who and the Cybermen, by Gerry Davis

5,700 pages (YTD 44,200)
7/21 (YTD 54/165) by women (Biserko, Trump, Hawke, Walton, Tiptree, Lyons, Beeby)
1/21 (YTD 18/165) by PoC (Ega)

As so often, two non-fiction books stood out for me this month, Andy Priestner’s delightful Complete Secret Army, which you can get here, and Sonja Biserko’s horrifying Yugoslavia’s Implosion, which you can get here. I also enjoyed rereading James Tiptree Jr’s “Houston, Houston, do you read?”, which you can get here.

Some awful books too. The 2020 Doctor Who Annual was a poor effort; you can get it here. Guban, by Abdi Latif Ega, is very badly edited; you can get it here. TOR: Assassin Hunter, by Billy Bob Buttons, is rubbish; you can get it here. And Asimov’s “The Bicentennial Man” has not aged well, but you can get it here.

June 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Things began to improve this month. with restrictions gradually easing; I went for a triumphant lunch with a colleague the day that the restaurants opened again.

We were allowed to see B again for the first time in more than three months, on her 23rd birthday.

Even so, I kept up my ten-day plague posts.

I also wrote about some of the TV we had been watching – Derry Girls, Unorthodox, The Good Place, Normal People and The Beiderbecke Affair. And I asked the thorny question, Who was both oldest former US President and oldest former Vice-President, but not at the same time?

More locally, I went to church, and made a final local video about an ancient enclave of imperial territory just across the river from us.

I read 20 books that month.

Non-fiction: 6 (YTD 32)
The Beiderbecke Affair, by William Gallagher
The Queen’s Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England, by John Cooper
The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, by Stephen Fry
Modern China: A Very Short Introduction, by Rana Mitter
From A Clear Blue Sky, by Timothy Knatchbull
The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, by John Bolton

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 15)
Local Hero, by David Benedictus
The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies
Laatste schooldag, by Jan Siebelink (did not finish)

sf (non-Who): 5 (YTD 70)
The Sleeper Awakes, by H.G. Wells
Heaven’s War by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt (did not finish)
Dreaming In Smoke, by Tricia Sullivan
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Extremes, by Christopher Priest

Comics: 6 (YTD 21)
The Wicked + The Divine vol 2: Fandemonium, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 3: Commercial Suicide, by Kieron Gillen etc
The Wicked + The Divine vol 4: Rising Action, by Kieron Gillen etc
De dag waarop de bus zonder haar vertrok, by BeKa, Marko and Maëla Cosson
The Wicked + The Divine vol 5: Imperial Phase Part 1, by Kieron Gillen etc
De dag waarop ze haar vlucht nam, by BeKa, Marko, and Maëla Cosson

5,000 pages (YTD 38,500)
4/20 (YTD 47/144) by women (Davie, Sullivan, 2x Ka of BeKa and Cosson)
1/20 (YTD 17/144) by PoC (Mitter)

The best book of this month, indeed of 2020, was Timothy Knatchbull’s From a Clear Blue Sky, his account of the Mountbatten bomb in 1979 and its aftermath; you can get it here. I also had a car-crash fascination with John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened; you can get it here. Rana Mitter’s Modern China: A Very Short Introduction is not as exciting than either of the above but also very good; you can get it here.

I read some pretty bad books too. I gave up on Goyer and Cassutt’s Heaven’s War after a few pages; you can get it here. The short story collection Laatste Schooldag by Jan Siebelink fell flat for me; you can get it here. So did the second of the bandes dessinées by BeKa, De Dag Waarop Ze Haar Vlucht Nam; you can get it here.

May 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

We continued to labour under COVID restrictions in May 2020, but our office had reopened for one day a week by the middle of the month and I certainly took advantage of being able to (cautiously) share physical space with colleagues.

I also indulged in some nostalgia, digging out photographs from my 21st birthday party in 1988. The lady in the red jacket later married the guy who is visible over my shoulder, who was one of my co-hosts. The lady in green married another of the co-hosts. The fourth co-host was the much missed Liz.

We finished the month with a visit to the park at Tervuren on a blisteringly hot day.

I kept up my ten-day plague posts:

And I did a last few videos from the village.

I read only 18 books this month.

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 26)
The Hunt for Vulcan: …And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe, by Thomas Levenson
Joanna Russ, by Gwyneth Jones
A Sacred Cause: The Inter-Congolese Dialogue 2000-2003, by P. E. Winter
Roger of Hereford’s Judicial Astrology: England’s First Astrology Book?, by Chris Mitchell
A border too far: the Ilemi triangle yesterday and today, by Philip Winter

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 12)
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
The Accident, by Ismail Kadarë

sf (non-Who): 9 (YTD 65)
Riverland, by Fran Wilde
In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
Black Wine, by Candas Jane Dorsey
Arthur C. Clarke’s Venus Prime 1: Breaking Strain, by Paul Preuss
Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut
The Nightmare Stacks, by Charles Stross
The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht
Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison

Comics: 2 (YTD 15)
Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz, ed. Shannon Watters
The Wicked + The Divine vol 1: The Faust Act, by Kieron Gillen etc

5,000 pages (YTD 33,500)
6/18 (YTD 43/124) by non-male writers (Jones, Wilde, McGuire, Dorsey, Olbreht, Walters)
0/18 (YTD 13/124) by PoC

The best of these was my former colleague Philip Winter’s account of peacemaking in DR Congo, A Sacred Cause, which you can get here. I also enjoyed rereading The Godfather, which you can get here, and reading for the first time Make Room! Make Room!, which you can get here. Nothing too awful this month.

April 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

Not surprisingly, I went no further than Brussels in April 2020, and that was only once to deliver essential supplies to two colleagues who had joined just as lockdown hit. We met in the open air by the monument to the brave carrier pigeons of the first world war.

I kept up my ten-day plague posts…

…and also my occasional videos about our village.

The last Sunday of the month was my birthday, and I had a virtual party on Zoom to which dozens of friends and relatives came. It was very affirming.

I read 28 books that month.

Non-fiction: 4 (YTD 21)
The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, by Mallory O’Meara
The European Parliament, by Francis Jacobs, Richard Corbett and Michael Shackleton
Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski
The French Connection, by Robin Moore

Fiction (non-sf): 3 (YTD 10)
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
Muddy Lane, by Andrew Cheffings
The Long Song, by Andrea Levy

sf (non-Who): 14 (YTD 56)
The Wind on the Moon, by Eric Linklater
Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher
Prophet of Bones, by Ted Kosmatka
The Wicked King, by Holly Black
The Moomins and the Great Flood, by Tove Jansson
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsin Muir
A Woman in Space, by Sara Cavanagh
Catfishing on Catnet, by Naomi Kritzer
The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes
Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson – did not finish
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee
The First Men in the Moon, by H. G. Wells
The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Comics: 7 (YTD 13)
Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
Wiske, by Willy Vandersteen
Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Barabas, by Willy Vandersteen
LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin
Torchwood: World Without End, by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano
The Heralds of Destruction, by Paul Cornell and Christopher Jones

7,800 pages (YTD 28,500)
14/28 (YTD 37/106) by non-male writers (O’Meara, Levy, “Kingfisher” [Vernon], Black, Jansson, Muir, Cavanaugh, Kritzer, Solomon, Lowry, Xu/Walker, Liu/Takeda, Okorafor/Ford, Barrowman)
5/28 (YTD 13/106) by PoC (Levy, Solomon/Diggs, Xu, Liu/Takeda, Okorafor)

I particularly loved Catfishing on CatNet, which you can get here, and The Lady from the Black Lagoon, which you can get here.

A Woman in Space, by “Sara Cavanaugh” (surely a pseudonym) is so bad that it must be deliberate. You can get it here.

March 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

This, as you may remember, was the month that the world ended. When I woke up in Cambridge on the morning of 1 March, I had no idea that it would be my last time outside Belgium until July. I visited B a week later, on Sunday 8 March, which was just as well because we were told on Friday 13 that we could not see the girls again until the pandemic situation allowed. As it became clear how things were going, though not how log it would last, we had a gloomy socially distanced farewell lunch in the office with the last few colleagues before lockdown hit. (Colleagues in the picture are from Cyprus, the USA, Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Italy.)

And that was that; we were all working from home, and not allowed to see anyone outside our own households. It also coincided with the close of Hugo nominations, the only time of the five times that I have been involved that we did not use the Kansa system first developed by Eemeli Aro in 2017; it was a complete nightmare, on top of everything else.

I marked the passage of time with two videos about our village:

and with the first of what would become a long series of ten-day updates about life in plague times.

Despite the interruption to my commute, I read 26 books that month.

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 17)
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of Scandinavia’s Utopia, by Michael Booth
1493, by Charles C. Mann
Strategic Europe, ed. Jan Techau
Red Notice, by Bill Browder
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith – did not finish

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 7)
Small Island, by Andrea Levy
Midnight Cowboy, by James Leo Herlihy

sf (non-Who): 17 (YTD 42)
The Golden Fleece, by Robert Graves
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge
The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (did not finish)
The Green Man’s Foe, by Juliet E. McKenna
Fleet of Knives, by Gareth A. Powell
Babayaga, by Toby Barlow
Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman
Ragged Alice, by Gareth A. Powell
The Survival of Molly Southbourne, by Tade Thompson
Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
The Winged Man, by E. Mayne Hull
Excession, by Iain M. Banks
A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine
Blake’s 7 Annual 1979
Blake’s 7 Annual 1980
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djélì Clark
Blake’s 7 Annual 1981

Doctor Who: 1 (YTD 6)
Doctor Who: The Macra Terror, by Ian Stuart Black

Comics: 1 (YTD 6)
Die, vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles

7,400 pages (YTD 20,700)
9/26 (YTD 23/78) by women (Levy, Hardinge, Hurley, McKenna, Newman, McGuire, Hull, Martine, Hans)
3/26 (YTD 8/78) by PoC (Levy, Thompson, Clark)

Thumbs up for Deeplight, which you can get here; thumbs down, I’m afraid, for Atlas Alone, which you can get here.

February 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

I started the month with a Bulgarian TV interview about Brexit, which had just happened:

With no idea of what was to come, I did a lot of travelling in February 2020; a work trip to the FAO headquarters in Rome, right beside the Circus Maximus;

with a statue sculpted by Gina Lollobrigida, who died last month:

I had my last transatlantic flight for two years to Gallifrey One in Los Angeles:

And went to another convention the next weekend in Brussels, where I slightly crossed the streams by going as a Ghostbuster but getting Doctor Who photos with Paul McGann, Alex Kingston and the Paternoster Gang:

And finally a trip to England at the end of the month, finishing at a friend’s birthday party. Little did I realise, as I fell asleep in Cambridge on 29 February, that it would be almost five months until I next left Belgium.

I read 20 books that month.

Non-fiction: 6 (YTD 12)
The Idea of Justice, by Amartya Sen
The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn
The Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant – (did not finish)
A Popular History of Ireland, by Thomas D’Arcy McGee – (did not finish)
H.G. Wells: A Literary Life, by Adam Roberts
J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for Lúthien: the “gallant” Edith Bratt, by Nancy Bunting and Seamus Hamill-Keays
B004UJ260O.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ_[1].jpg

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 5)
A Killing Winter, by Tom Callaghan
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

sf (non-Who): 8 (YTD 25)
Shadow Over Mars, by Leigh Brackett
Arc of the Dream, by A. A. Attanasio (did not finish)
The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders
The Aachen Memorandum, by Andrew Roberts
2020 Vision, ed. Jerry Pournelle
Hex, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Children of Ruin, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Rosewater Insurrection, by Tade Thompson

Doctor Who: 3 (YTD 5)
Doctor Who and the Sontaran Experiment, by Ian Marter
Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks, by Terrance Dicks
Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen, by Terrance Dicks

Comics: 1 (YTD 5)
The Wicked + The Divine vol 9: Okay, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson & Clayton Cowles

5,800 pages (YTD 13,300)
4/20 (YTD 14/52) by women (Mendlesohn, Bunting, Brackett, Anders)
2/20 (YTD 4/52) by PoC (Sen, Thompson)

The best books of this month were all BSFA nominees, two novels and one non-fiction:

  • Children of Ruin, by Adrian Tchaikovsky; get it here
  • The Rosewater Insurrection, by Tade Thompson; get it here
  • The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn; get it here

On the other hand I completely bounced off Arc of the Dream, by A.A. Attanasio, after ten pages; simply too badly written. (You can get it here.)

January 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

We had no idea what was coming in that fateful month of January 2020. I went to London for work in the first week; went to the first Glasgow 2024 planning weekend in the middle of the month…

and also went to Rome again, where I caught the Castel Sant’Angelo across the bridge.

And the UK left the EU. I was still angry. And I still am.

Non-fiction: 6
Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain, by Charlotte Higgins
Roots and Wings: Ten Lessons of Motherhood that Helped Me Create and Run a Company, by Margery Kraus
Backstop Land, by Glenn Patterson
About Writing, by Gareth L. Powell
The Lost Worlds of 2001, by Arthur C. Clarke (in fact this is mostly SF but the non-fiction framing is key)
In Praise of Disobedience: The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Other Writings, by Oscar Wilde (mostly non-fiction but includes several fantasy stories)

sf (non-Who): 17
Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman
Land of Terror, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Demon in Leuven, by Guido Eekhaut
“Home is the Hangman”, by Roger Zelazny
The Last Days of New Paris, by China Mieville
Miss Shumway Waves a Wand, by James Hadley Chase
Distaff: A Science Fiction Anthology by Female Authors, eds. Rosie Oliver & Sam Primeau
Sirius, by Olaf Stapledon
The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie
Once Upon a Parsec: The Book of Alien Fairy Tales, ed. David Gullen
The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
The True Queen, by Zen Cho
To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow

Doctor Who: 2
Doctor Who and the Giant Robot, by Terrance Dicks
Doctor Who and the Ark in Space, by Ian Marter

Comics: 4
Auguria, Tome 1: Ecce signum, by Peter Nuyten
Auguria, Tome 2: Gaeso dux, by Peter Nuyten
Auguria, Tome 3: Fatum, by Peter Nuyten

As Time Goes By, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Matthew Dow Smith

7,500 pages
10/32 by women (Higgins, Kraus, Kingsolver, Hartman, Oliver/Primeau, Leckie, Atwood, El-Mohtar, Cho, Chambers)
2/32 by PoC (El-Mohtar, Cho)

Three here that I really enjoyed, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (get it here), Exhalation by Ted Chiang (get it here) and Sirius by Olaf Stapledon (get it here). But you need not bother with Land of Terror by Edgar Rice Burroughs (if you do, you can get it here).

The End of the Day, by Claire North

Second paragraph of third chapter:

…in a land of rain…

I very much liked four of the previous five books I have read by Claire North – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Touch, The Sudden Appearance of Hope and 84k – and also enjoyed seeing her at Novacon a year ago.

I’m afraid The End of the Day fell into the less good category for me. The writing as ever is good,and there are some lovely vignettes, but I did not quite gel with the central plot concept: Charlie, the protagonist, has been recruited to be the harbinger of Death, who together with the other three Horsemen of the Apocalypse is active in today’s world; bad guys are trying to interfere with Death, and there’s some incidental observations on US politics that didn’t really come together for me. Still, liking four out of six books by her is not bad and I’ll still be looking to buy more. You can get this one here.

This was the top unread book on my shelves acquired in 2018. Next on that pile is Ratlines, by Stuart Neville.

Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election, by John Danforth et al

Second paragraph of third chapter:

According to Michigan election officials who certified the results, President Biden carried Michigan by a margin of 154,188 votes out of 5.5 million cast.113 Biden received 50.6% of the vote and Trump received 47.8%.114 In 2016, Trump carried Michigan by a margin of 10,700 votes out of roughly five million cast.115 Trump received 47.3% of the vote.116 Clinton received 47.0%.117
113 Michigan Election Results 2020, POLITICO (last updated Jan. 6, 2021), https://www.politico.com/2020-election/results/michigan/; Michigan Bureau of Elections, Audits of the November 3, 2020 General Election 1 (2021), https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/BOE_2020_Post_Election_Audit_Report_04_21_21_723005_7.pdf.
114 Michigan Election Results 2020, supra note 113.
115 Id.
116 Id.
117 Id.

A short but very stern report signed by eight leading American conservative lawyers; the two I had heard of are former senator John Danforth, who was briefly the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2004, and Ted Olsen, who was solicitor-general under the younger Bush and whose wife was killed on 9/11. The actual author of most of it is presumably an unnamed researcher working for one of the eight (my money would be on Michael W. McConnell, who is a university professor and thus has access to the necessary resources of both young people and information).

In any case, it’s very straightforward: the report simply summarises all 64 lawsuits initiated by the Trump campaign and its supporters in the six key states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and describes why each was lost or withdrawn. I don’t think it will be news to anyone reading this that there is simply no evidence of fraud on behalf of the Biden campaign in those states at all, let alone anything large enough to have affected the outcome. It’s forensic and not too long (69 pages).

I dabbled in this issue a bit myself, on the morning after the 2020 election when a journalist friend called me for comment on Trump’s threat to take the election result to the Supreme Court. At a moment when a lot of commentators were holding their fire (in many cases because they were still in bed), I said on the record that Trump had no case, and that even if he did, he’d have to fight through lower level courts first. I consequently found my name popping up in mentions in Chinese (both Hong Kong and Taiwan, and presumably the mainland as well), Indonesian and Vietnamese as well as the less unusual Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek.

I did not think I was doing anything more than stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated, and this report does it at greater length and more effectively than me. I spoke, of course, before the 6 January 2021 attempt to overthrow the democratic results of the election, which Trump incited and directed, so it still needs to be said. You can get the report here.