pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden (e) (re-read)
Kenneth Grahame, GMW Wemyss, Markham Shaw Pyle. The Annotated Wind in the Willows, for adults and sensible children (or, possibly, children and sensible adults) (e)
Josephine Tey. A Shilling for Candles

In progress
Terry Pratchett. The Fifth Elephant (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Pauline Scudamore. Spike

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Michael Troughton. Patrick Troughton
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
T L Garrison. The Twisted Blackmailer (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. Carpe Jugulum (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Pauline Scudamore. Spike

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Josephine Tey. A Shilling for Candles
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. We have finished the run of Oliver!, to the disappointment apparently of many people who left it too late to get tickets. Apparently there were enough enquiries to suggest that we could have sold out a fourth weekend of performances, but that wasn't practicable because everyone in the cast and crew had already made other plans and in some cases would be out of town.

Despite the logistical complications (and having to share the green room with a crowd of small noisy people), I'm glad we were in our theatre instead of the big one. The trouble with the big one, which I think I've mentioned before, is that it's impossible to book it for more than a few days at a time, so we'd have only been able to do one weekend and would have had to stop just as we were all getting settled into the thing. As it was, we had the first weekend to get settled and then two more weekends to enjoy doing it properly.

The director says that between seeing me in action as Fagin, and hearing the violin player who got recruited for the pit orchestra, she's seriously considering doing Fiddler on the Roof as her next big show. That won't be for a year or two, though. What's coming up now is our annual season of one-act plays, then The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


2. I've been to the gaming group a couple of times since I last mentioned it.

The first time, we played The Resistance and Cards Against Humanity, and I was reminded why I don't like playing The Resistance or Cards Against Humanity. (The Resistance is one of those games that's all about watching people's body language to figure out who's the traitor, and I'm frankly terrible at it. Cards Against Humanity is kind of a joke game, and it's basically the same joke over and over again, which gets boring very quickly if you're not in the mood for that kind of joke, and I'm usually not.)

The second time went better. We played Formula D, a game where you roll dice to move a car around a board shaped like a race track, which is a lot more fun than it sounds. You get to roll different shaped dice depending on what gear you're in, and you have to be careful not to go around corners too fast, or bump into other cars, or several other things that can damage your car and put you out of the race. I drew pole position at the beginning, and had a lot of fun hogging the track by placing my car where it would be more difficult for the others to get past. Later in the race, I fell behind a bit due to some conservative cornering, and in the end I came in third.


3. For SF Writer Appreciation Day this year, I showed appreciation for Tim Powers by putting money down for his latest novel. And the one from a couple of years back, because I somehow hadn't got around to that one yet.


4. This week's fanfic rec is a sequel to the Batman & Catwoman one from last time: Give and Take


5. My current favourite podcast, and the one I'm most consistently keeping up with, is Robot or Not? with John Siracusa and Jason Snell. Episodes drop once a week, and are all under ten minutes long; many are under five minutes, and the shortest to date is 48 seconds including the opening and closing music. The format is very simple: Jason nominates a topic, and John explains why it is or is not a robot. Topics include robots, cyborgs, and AIs from fiction, mechanisms from real life, and occasional left-field balls such as "the dance called The Robot". John's answers are based on intuition rather than a pre-determined set of rules, although as the series progresses an empirical set of guidelines is beginning to take shape, and sometimes don't fall how you might expect. (Assembly-line robot arms? Not robots, for reasons that actually make sense when John explains them.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Terry Pratchett. Maskerade (e) (re-read)
Anthony Price. Gunner Kelly (e)
Anthony Price. The Old Vengeful (e)
Caroline Stevermer. Magic Below Stairs (e)

In progress
Diane Duane. Deep Wizardry (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Feet of Clay (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Adrian Goldsworthy. Augustus (e)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Alliance of Equals
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Brian Clevinger, et al. Real Science Adventures: The Billion Dollar Plot (e)
Lian Hearn. Across the Nightingale Floor (e)
Lian Hearn. Grass for His Pillow (e)
Tim Powers. Dinner at Deviant's Palace
Terry Pratchett. Soul Music (e) (re-read)
Josephine Tey. Brat Farrar (re-read)

In progress
Diane Duane. So You Want to Be a Wizard (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Interesting Times (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Harley Granville-Barker. Prefaces to Shakespeare: Hamlet

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Ryk E Spoor. Phoenix in Shadow
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Lionel Bart. Oliver!
Lois McMaster Bujold. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (e)
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire (e)
T Kingfisher. The Raven and the Reindeer (e)
Tim Powers. On Stranger Tides (e) (re-read)
Manly Wade Wellman. The Beyonders (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. Soul Music (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Harley Granville-Barker. Prefaces to Shakespeare: Hamlet

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
William Shakespeare. Hamlet
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Tim Powers has been one of my favourite fantasy authors since I discovered his 1983 novel The Anubis Gates, which features time travel, romantic poets, and a serial killer who's rumoured to be a werewolf but is actually something even more peculiar. Last year, he returned to that setting with a novella called "Nobody's Home", which expands on the backstory of the novel's main female character. I got hold of it recently through a limited-time ebook offer on Humble Bundle, which was a stroke of luck because it seems to otherwise only be available in a small press Collector's Edition that costs half as much again as the original novel despite being less than a quarter the length. I liked it a lot, but not so much that I would have been able to forgive the Collector's Edition price if I'd had to pay it.


2. Another thing I've revisited recently is the comic book series Atomic Robo; the back issues have been re-released as a webcomic, so I'm reading the series through again from the beginning. If you don't know Atomic Robo, I highly recommend it; it's kind of like Indiana Jones with weird science instead of half-remembered mythology and also the hero is a self-aware robot created by Nikola Tesla. Robo's greatest enemy is the megalomaniac scientist Heinrich von Helsingard; his oldest enemy is his father's great rival Thomas Edison; and his most annoying enemy is Doctor Dinosaur, a talking velociraptor whose attempts to science are patently nonsensical and yet somehow seem to work anyway.


3. Speaking of web sites having significant updates that I didn't notice until they were pretty much over: after saying that Adventures with the Wife in Space definitely wasn't going to do any of New Who, Neil and Sue have apparently been talked into doing the Eccleston year. They're absolutely not going to continue on and do Tennant, though. Probably.


4. And speaking of favourite fantasy authors, I can't remember whether I've recommended T. Kingfisher's fairy tale retellings in this space, but if so they're certainly worth recommending again. There are currently two novels, The Seventh Bride and Bryony and Roses, and a short story collection, Toad Words. There will probably be another collection at some point, since she's still writing new ones, and just recently won a Nebula for one of them.

(T. Kingfisher is Ursula Vernon, who won a Hugo for Digger and then became a best-selling author of children's fantasy, which is why now when she writes something in a similar vein to Digger she has to publish it under a different name so that nobody accidentally gives it to their ten-year-old.)


5. It seems to me that it says something about the priorities of the people making Thunderbirds Are Go that when, thirteen episodes in, one of the episodes has an expert consultant credited at the end, it (a) comes as a complete surprise, and (b) turns out to be, not a physicist or an engineer, but a speech therapist. Thunderbirds Are Go is not a series where scientific accuracy gets much of a look-in. (Good on them for wanting to make sure Brains's stammer is portrayed appropriately, though.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr Dinosaur
T Kingfisher. Nine Goblins (e)
T Kingfisher. The Seventh Bride (e)
Sharon Lee. Carousel Seas (e)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Ghost Ship (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Moving Pictures (e) (re-read)
Patricia C Wrede. The Magician's Ward (e)
Patricia C Wrede. Mairelon the Magician (e) (re-read)

In progress
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener. Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne (e) (re-read)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Necessity's Child (e) (re-read)
George MacDonald. The Princess and the Goblin
Tamora Pierce. Street Magic (e)
Terry Pratchett. Reaper Man (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books
Simon Singh. Big Bang

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Jung Chang. Empress Dowager Cixi
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. I Dare (re-read)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Saltation (re-read)
Robert Lopshire. Put Me in the Zoo (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Healing in the Vine (e)
Terry Pratchett. Eric (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Guards! Guards! (e) (re-read)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Ghost Ship (e) (re-read)
George MacDonald. At the Back of the North Wind
Terry Pratchett. Moving Pictures (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Simon Singh. Big Bang

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Kylie Chan. White Tiger
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Ben Aaronovitch. Broken Homes (e)
Diana Wynne Jones. Deep Secret (e) (re-read)
Sharon Lee. Carousel Sun (e)
Sharon Lee. Carousel Tides (e) (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. The Colour of Magic (e) (re-read)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Conflict of Honors (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. The Light Fantastic (e) (re-read)
Patricia C Wrede. Talking to Dragons (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Adrian Goldsworthy. Antony and Cleopatra
Nigel West. MI5

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic. Thor, God of Thunder: The God Butcher
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Last week, the Rep Club had a quiz night to raise funds for renovating the theatre. I went along with a couple of friends and some of their friends, and upheld the noble and long-standing family tradition of coming second at quiz nights.


2. The house I'm renting is at that age where things are gradually wearing out and needing to be replaced, which makes me glad I'm only renting and not on the hook for what all this must cost. In the time I've been living here, I've seen the replacement of the hot water system, the toilet cistern, and the shower outlet pipe (which proved, on excavation, to consist of several large holes held together by rust), and at some point, something is going to have to be done about the rain gutters (see also: large holes held together by rust). In the circumstances, the fact that the kitchen sink takes several minutes to drain is such a minor detail that I haven't even bothered to mention it.


3. I caught part of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on TV recently, including the scene where Captain Jack Sparrow learns he has a doppelganger who has been going around recruiting people in his name. Now I'm trying to remember if there's anything like that in the original novel; it's very much the kind of situation that would occur in a Tim Powers novel, though it would be played for understated horror instead of laughs and the scene where hero and doppelganger face off definitely wouldn't end with the same revelation that the scene in the movie leads to.

(While I'm on the subject, my opinion in brief of Pirates of the Caribbean is that the first movie was a pretty good swashbuckling pirate movie that happened to have some dark fantasy in, and the sequels tend too much toward being dark fantasy movies that happen to have some swashbuckling pirates in. And my opinion in brief of Tim Powers is that his novels are awesome, and I hope he got paid well for letting Hollywood plunder one of them.)


4. I've mentioned before that I have procrastination issues, which sometimes manifest in avoiding a job for months that turns out to be fairly straightforward and over in half an hour. A related problem is the one where I'm about to start on a job I know I can do when I notice an unexpected complication and decide to put it off while I think about (read: avoid thinking about) how it's going to affect things.

I think I've identified one of the underlying motivators for this sort of thing; put into words, it's something like "If I never start, there's no risk of it ending in everybody finding out I can't do it".

Having the words is useful; it suggests coping strategies. Due consideration of the actual probability that I won't be able to do whatever-it-is can be illuminating. Also, in some cases the fear that starting will lead to being discovered as a failure can be vanquished by the fear that not starting will lead to being discovered as someone who promised to do something and then never even started.


5. At the Toastmasters meeting this week, I was the designated MC, which also carried with it the duty of checking that people would be available for their rostered roles and arranging for gaps to be covered. The actual MCing part was not a worry, but the aspect that involved Being Organized and Phoning People kicked off the whole "this is going to end in disaster, the schedule will be full of holes, and it will be All My Fault" train, and up until a few hours before the meeting I was seriously considering calling in sick and hiding.

I got through it partly by the aforementioned due consideration of the actual probability of failure, partly by reminding myself that Toastmasters people are friendly and don't mind imperfect success as an outcome of honest effort, and partly by acknowledging that I also like my fellow club-members and wouldn't feel right dumping a potential disaster on one of them with a few hours notice -- but the single thing that tipped the balance was that I thought of the perfect joke to use in my opening remarks, and after that I couldn't bear the thought of not getting to deliver it.

(After all the stressing, the actual meeting ran smoothly and I'm very glad I went.)
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Ben Aaronovitch. Whispers Under Ground
Neil Gaiman, et al. Sandman: The Kindly Ones (re-read)
Neil Gaiman, et al. Sandman: The Wake (re-read)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Dragon Ship (e)
Naomi Novik. Crucible of Gold
Ellis Peters. Death to the Landlords!
Vernor Vinge. The Children of the Sky

Abandoned
Franz Kafka. The Trial

Non-fiction books in progress
Douglas A. Anderson, Verlyn Flieger. J.R.R. Tolkien On Fairy-stories
Barbara Sher, Barbara Smith. I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Greg Weisman, Karine Charlebois. Gargoyles: Bad Guys
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
JD Arnold, Rich Koslowski. BB Wolf and the Three LPs
Tim Powers. Earthquake Weather
Tim Powers. Expiration Date (re-read)
Anthony Price. Other Paths to Glory
JRR Tolkien. Smith of Wootton Major (re-read)
Robin Wood, Diana Harlan Stein. The Theory of Cat Gravity

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books
(committee). Bless 'Em All: a pictorial history of St. George's College 1931-2006

In progress
Linda Gale. Discover What You're Best At

Abandoned
H Keith Melton. Ultimate Spy

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
JRR Tolkien. The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
(anthology). Forest
Jackie French. Pete the Sheep
Neil Gaiman, et al. Absolute Sandman volume 4
George R R Martin. Tuf Voyaging
Kim Newman. Mysteries of the Diogenes Club
Peter O'Donnell. Modesty Blaise (re-read)
Lane Smith. It's a Book
Mo Willems. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Gene Wolfe. Soldier of Arete

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books completed
(none)

Abandoned
Terry Crowdy. The Enemy Within: a history of spies, spymasters and espionage

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Linda Gale. Discover What You're Best At
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Rosemary Kirstein. The Language of Power
Rosemary Kirstein. The Lost Steersman
James D Macdonald. The Apocalypse Door
Baroness Orczy. The Scarlet Pimpernel
Tim Powers. Last Call (re-read)
John Scalzi. Old Man's War (re-read)
John Scalzi. The Last Colony
John Scalzi. The Ghost Brigades
John Scalzi. Zoe's Tale
Jeff Smith, Tom Sniegoski. Bone: Tall Tales
Gene Wolfe. Soldier of the Mist

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books
(none)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Gene Wolfe. Soldier of Arete
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
Raymond Briggs. The Puddleman
John Brunner. The Compleat Traveller in Black
Warren Ellis, Raulo Caceres. Crecy
Warren Ellis, John Cassaday. Planetary: All Over the World and other stories
Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson. Transmetropolitan: Back on the the Street
Don Freeman. Will's Quill: or, How a Goose Saved Shakespeare
Agatha Christie. Death Comes As the End
Crawford Kilian. Greenmagic
Anthony Price. The Labyrinth Makers
Kathleen Sky. Vulcan!
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 001
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 002
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 003
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 004
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 005
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 006
Naoki Urasawa, et al. Pluto: 007
Aaron Williams. PS 238: Senseless Acts of Tourism! (re-read)
Aaron Williams. PS 238: Daughters, Sons, & Shrink-Ray Guns

In progress
Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace

Non-fiction books
(none)

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Dennis Palumbo. City Wars

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