Hugo shortlist: Novels

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:50 pm
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[personal profile] emperor
I didn't really have enough time to get through the Hugo reading this year, but I did manage to read enough of the shortlisted novels that I voted for them. I voted thus:

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit; I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet shortly before the shortlist was announced (and really enjoyed it), which perhaps biased me in favour of this one. That did mean that I knew how one of the story arcs was going to finish, but it was still an engaging read, and I thought the way the author approached neurodiversity was gently but well done
  2. Ninefox Gambit; I would not normally go for military SF, and it did take me a while to get into this, but the author has created a fascinating world, and I really want to find out how the series progresses. Despite being the first in a series, this had a decent narrative arc of its own
  3. All the Birds in the Sky; I wanted to like this, but didn't in the end. The chapters were a bit abrupt, it sometimes felt like it was just being clever, and the magic felt a bit deus ex machina in places. I also found the (inevitable?) romance plot pretty weak. Also, the ending was a bit disappointing.
  4. Too Like the Lightning; I didn't like this at all. The narrator was infuriating, the style affected, the continued harping on about gender irksome, and it didn't even try to come to a natural close, it just stopped. I know there's a sequel, but really.


I didn't read Death's End, because I hated 3-Body Problem; I didn't read The Obelisk Gate because I didn't manage to get hold of a copy (the kindle voter packet only had an excerpt).

Norður

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:24 pm
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[personal profile] naraht
It's that time in the summer when I start to dream about being somewhere far to the north, with a view of the sea. To be fair, I also dream about the north in the depths of winter. To be even fairer, the weather here has been cool and rainy, so maybe that's made me think about northern climes.

If I were for some reason forced to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a hotel, I would go to the Fogo Island Inn, off the northern coast of Newfoundland.

Or maybe a less ridiculously posh place with bonus icebergs, the Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat, Greenland.

I remind myself that I've already got a weekend booked in Iceland on my way home to the States in December. And I can sit and enjoy views of the cold sea from a lovely steaming hotpot at any number of municipal pools. And my room probably has a view of the harbor!

But that's a long ways off. I'm pondering whether to plan an August long weekend somewhere in the UK, and whether it would be worth the faff to travel somewhere more northerly, as opposed to just going to Brighton or something. I'm very fond of Scarborough. I also have this weird desire to see the Isle of Man after watching the national road race championships a few weeks ago.

Also worth pointing out that I'm going to Saint Petersburg at the end of August, and perhaps that counts as northerly if not quite with an unobstructed ocean view? I'm rather tempted by Kronstadt...

Inflation

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:20 pm
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[personal profile] ladyofastolat
Yesterday I was flicking through a favourite book of mine from my childhood: an A to Z guide to Welsh castles. The book kindly quotes entrance fees, specifying that these are the 1972 prices, allowing one to make interesting comparisons.

Take Harlech Castle, for example. 10p in 1972. And what is it now? £6.50.

What else can I find from 1972? I can't be bothered to scour through all my books searching for likely candidates, but I've found a Puffin Book published in 1971, priced at 25p. By that rate of inflation, children's paperbacks nowadays should cost around £16. (Modern day price: generally 5.99 and 6.99)

At Junior School, the crisps sold at the tuck shop were either 7p or 9p - I can't remember which. (These were spicy tomato flavour: those type of crisps that melt on the tongue. I can't remember the brand name.) If these went up at the same rate as castle admission, they would today be costing £7 or £9 per bag.

Also at Junior School, when I briefly flirted with collecting stamps, first class stamps costing 9p. If stamps were as Harlech Castle, it would be costing us £9 to send a swift letter.

Has anything (except perhaps for houses) gone up in price more since the 1970s than castle admission? Yes, I know I could probably Google this and find all sorts of tables, but it's much more fun to piece it together from dimly-held memories of What Stuff Used To Cost.
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
Fans of the coffee stall on the Cambridge market (link to my previous post on opening hours) may be interested to know that he doesn't seem to be open on Thursdays any more - AFAICT he's now Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat.

Not entirely co-incidentally, my coffee supplies are now rather low :(

Planet of the Spiders revisited

Jul. 17th, 2017 01:12 am
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[personal profile] sir_guinglain
Dialogue for the old and new fans...

From Planet of the Spiders part one, as it might be re-edited:

LUPTON: Not only a Doctor, but a woman Doctor. We do not want her here.
CHO-JE: We cannot shut out the world entirely, my brother.
LUPTON: Why not? You used to, in Tibet.
CHO-JE: All things pass away, as you will learn in your meditation. This world of samsara, the world of appearance, is the world of change.
LUPTON: Yes, but I came here to get away from the world. So did the others. We came here to find solitude.
CHO-JE: One day you will learn to walk in solitude amidst the traffic of the world.
LUPTON: It's still not too late to stop her coming.
CHO-JE: But it is. Mister Chibnall has already gone to the station to fetch her.

**

CHO-JE: We can but point a finger along the way. A man must go inside and face his fears and hopes, his hates and his loves, and watch them wither away. Then he will find his true self, which is no self. He will see his true mind, which is no mind.
SARAH: And that's what meditation's all about?
CHO-JE: Yes! The old man must die and the new woman will discover to her inexpressible joy that he has never existed.
SARAH: Well, good luck, mate.

From Chrissie's Transcripts Site, with alterations.

Sciffy Chicks

Jul. 16th, 2017 04:15 pm

random non-spoilery TdF observations

Jul. 14th, 2017 09:51 pm
naraht: Chris Froome and Peter Sagan chatting (other-HelloFroomey)
[personal profile] naraht
I've been feeling inexplicably unwell so I finished work early this afternoon and spent it lying on the couch watching the Tour de France...

• One of Britain's top cyclists from the 80s, Philippa York, has just publicly come out as trans during the Tour. Apparently she had been avoiding public life for some years, but people in the know were aware that she'd transitioned. What's heartening is that the reception from the cycling world has, as far as I can tell, been extremely supportive. She's been guest commentating on ITV for a few stages now, and I haven't heard a single stumble over name or pronouns. Chapeau, Philippa. It must have taken a lot of courage.

• David Millar gets so into the tactics. You get the feeling that he doesn't care so much who wins (or does a good job of covering it up, unlike Carlton Kirby, who has his crushes), but he gets passionately angry if he disagrees with a team's choices: "why are they doing that??!? It's ridiculous! What are they trying to achieve???"

Yet when Ned Boulting asked, he heartily and believably denied having any desire to be out on the mountain himself: "no, no, a thousand times no."

• I've managed to get my parents into watching the Tour. They're both backing Froome. What did I do to deserve this?

• As always, a special thanks is due to whoever at ITV does the end-of-show montages. They are always superbly on point and they almost always choose great music. Today I owe them particular thanks for introducing me to the music of Jacqueline Taïeb, a French singer of Tunisian origin from the 60s.

Apart from being a great song, Bravo just makes me think of the "Carlien Daten?" saga. (Spoiler: after the date they "decided to just be friends.")

I don't get the feeling that Taïeb pities (or particularly respects) the hero, though perhaps I'm reading too much into it...

(French lyrics)



• ETA: What have I learned from the Orica Backstage Pass so far? That Esteban Chaves is reading a Danielle Steele novel and that (unrelatedly) Matt Hayman has had to explain to him what a "bromance" is.

We is smart, we is!

Jul. 14th, 2017 10:38 am
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[personal profile] muninnhuginn
Ravens can plan for future as well as 4-year-old children can

Actually, don't bother reading the article (we already knew we were clever), just admire those glossy feathers.

Smart,... and smart, eh?
naraht: Chris Froome and Peter Sagan chatting (other-HelloFroomey)
[personal profile] naraht
I did actually laugh out loud at this one. I love these guys. Can they be a Yuletide fandom?

sir_guinglain: (MummyIcon)
[personal profile] sir_guinglain
I found myself double-booked for The Doctor Falls, and so over a week after broadcast have returned with a follow-up review for Time Lines, John Connors's blog which continues the ancient traditions of his earlier fanzines Top, Faze, This Way Up, Antenna and others. As I write, it's not quite a review...

Steven Moffat at his best is very good at treating characters and events as symbols whose interaction as principles not only shapes but often overtakes conventional narrative. Looking back after over a week of rewatches and reviews, the success of The Doctor Falls lies largely in how this coded writing works, laying emphasis on specific aspects of character and setting which sometimes confound expectations which World Enough and Time might have encouraged. What follows isn’t quite another review but a set of reactions considering some of the opinions I’ve come across since The Doctor Falls was broadcast. In case anyone is in any doubt, I greatly enjoyed the episode; there was a tense fatalism throughout, leavened by statements of optimistic principle. I realised while watching it that kindness was probably the factor that kept me watching Doctor Who in the first place. The Doctor has not always been kind, but he tries to be kind to the greatest possible conceivable number of people, all the time. This is his virtue and periodically, in limited ways, his downfall.

Read more...
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