Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

A lot of Doctor Who related reading this year, what with it being the 50th anniversary and everything there was a lot available to read.

Available as a poll over on Live Journal (you don’t need an LJ account to vote, just an OpenID account which means an account from WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo, Blogger, etc.)

The Doctor's Monsters

Doctor Who

  • Dark Horizons by J.T. Colgan
  • Devil in the Smoke by Justin Richards
  • About Time Volume 7: 2005-2006 Series 1 & 2 by Tat Wood
  • TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 2: Patrick Troughton by Philip Sandifer
  • TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 3: Jon Pertwee by Philip Sandifer
  • The Doctor’s Monsters by Graham Sleight
  • Who-ology by Cavan Scott
  • Time & Space Visualiser by Paul Smith
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 1
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2
  • Nemesis of the Daleks

Nemo: Heart of Ice

Graphic Novels

  • Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore
  • Fables Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland
  • Fables Volume 19: Snow White
  • The Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares
  • John Constantine Hellblazer: Death and Cigarettes
  • Justice League Volume 1: Origin
  • Demon Knights Volume 2: The Avalon Trap
  • Stormwatch Volume 2: Enemies of Earth
  • Stormwatch Volume 3: Betrayal
  • Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor
  • Willow Volume 1: Wonderland
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 3: Guarded
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 4: Welcome to the Team
  • Weasels by Elys Dolan

Supergods

Fiction

  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
  • Stonemouth by Iain Banks
  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
  • The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
  • London Falling by Paul Cornell
  • 1356 by Bernard Cornwell
  • The Iron King by Maurice Druon
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser

Non-Fiction

  • Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram by Iain Banks
  • Prime Minister Boris… and other things that never happened by Duncan Brack and Iain Dale
  • All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To by Stuart Laycock
  • Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison
  • A Radical History of Britain by Edward Vallance
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2 DZ Miniatures dinosaurs (Tarbosaurus and Megalosaurus), via eBay @ £37.98

Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space RPG (Core Set and Aliens and Monsters), via eBay @ £16.55

2 4D Master Dragon plastic models (Wizard Dragon and Mystery Dragon), via The Works, @ £9.98

Battlestar Galactica model kit, via ModelZone @ £19.99

Pot of Games Workshop Liquid Greenstuff @ £2.00

Pot of Army Painter Quickshade dip, via Heroes & Legends @ £20.00

WFRP Death’s Dark Shadow, via Black Lion Games in Edinburgh, @ £17.00

Wargames Soldiers & Strategy #64, @ £4.20

Wargames Illustrated #305, @ £4.50

Miniature Wargames #358, @ £4.25

Total: £136.45


A decent amount of non-fiction read this year (including an amount of decent non-fiction), plus the whole (to date) of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Available as a poll over on Live Journal (you don’t need an LJ account to vote, just an OpenID account which means an account from WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo, Blogger, etc.)

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009

Graphic Novels

  • John Constantine, Hellblazer: Phantom Pains by Peter Milligan
  • John Constantine, Hellblazer: The Devil’s Trenchcoat by Peter Milligan
  • Midnighter: Anthem by Keith Giffen
  • Stormwatch Volume 1: The Dark Side by Paul Cornell
  • Demon Knights Volume 1: Seven Against the Dark by Paul Cornell
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 1: Freefall
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 2: On Your Own
  • The Boys Volume 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker by Garth Ennis
  • The Boys Volume 11: Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men by Garth Ennis
  • The Boys Volume 12: The Bloody Doors Off by Garth Ennis
  • Fables Volume 16: Super Group by Bill Willingham
  • Fables Volume 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  • Neonomicon by Alan Moore
  • League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century 2009 by Alan Moore

A Certain Big Fat Fantasy Epic

  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  • A Storm of Swords: Part 1 Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin
  • A Storm of Swords: Part 2 Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin
  • A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  • A Dance With Dragons: Part 1 Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin
  • A Dance With Dragons: Part 2 After the Feast by George R. R. Martin

Whispers Under Ground

Other Science Fiction & Fantasy

  • The Bride That Time Forgot by Paul Magrs
  • Hell’s Belles! by Paul Magrs
  • Conjugal Rites by Paul Magrs
  • Doctor Who: Frayed by Tara Samms
  • Snuff by Terry Pratchett
  • Star Trek New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff by Peter David
  • Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Bernice Summerfield – Life During Wartime edited by Paul Cornell

Historical (for some value of)

  • A Body In The Bath House by Lindsey Davis
  • See Delphi And Die by Lindsey Davis
  • Nemesis by Lindsey Davis
  • Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell
  • King’s Man by Angus Donald
  • Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser

The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters

Non-Fiction

  • Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
  • The Making of the British Landscape: How We Have Transformed the Land, from Prehistory to Today by Francis Pryor
  • Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood
  • Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox
  • The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters by Mark Henderson
  • Information is Beautiful by David McCandless
  • How to Land an A330 Airbus: And Other Vital Skills for the Modern Man by James May
  • How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee
  • Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who edited by Steve Berry

Field of Glory 12 – Blood and Gold: The Americas at War, via WHSmith sale, @ £1.50

Field of Glory 13 – Lost Scrolls: The Ancient and Medieval World at War, via WHSmith sale, @ £1.50

Total: £3.00

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Fewer graphic novels (especially superheroes) this year – almost certainly down to Croydon libraries being a lot poorer in that respect than Lambeth.

Available as a poll over on Live Journal (you don’t need an LJ account to vote, just an OpenID account which means an account from WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo, Blogger, etc.)

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969

Graphic Novels

  • The Boys Volume 6: The Self-Preservation Society by Garth Ennis
  • The Boys Volume 7: The Innocents by Garth Ennis
  • The Boys Volume 8: Highland Laddie by Garth Ennis
  • The Boys Volume 9: The Big Ride by Garth Ennis
  • Dark Entries by Ian Rankin
  • John Constantine, Hellblazer: Pandemonium by Jamie Delano
  • John Constantine: Hellblazer: Bloody Carnations by Peter Milligan
  • Angel: After the Fall Volume 3 by Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon
  • Angel: After the Fall Volume 4 by Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 8: Last Gleaming by Joss Whedon
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Alan Moore
  • Tom Strong Volume 1 by Alan Moore
  • Eternals by Neil Gaiman
  • Fables Volume 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham

Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography

Doctor Who

  • Doctor Who: Dragon’s Claw by Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse and Dave Gibbons
  • Doctor Who: The Eyeless by Lance Parkin
  • Doctor Who: The Indestructible Man by Simon Messingham
  • Doctor Who: Wolfsbane by Jacqueline Rayner
  • Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography by Elisabeth Sladen
  • Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Volume 1: The 60s) by Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke
  • Time, Unincorporated 3: The Doctor Who Fanzine Archives: (Vol. 3: Writings on the New Series) edited by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?

The Windup Girl

Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Never the Bride by Paul Magrs
  • Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs
  • Enter Wildthyme by Paul Magrs
  • I Shall Wear Midnight: A Story of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  • Transition by Iain Banks
  • Surface Detail by Iain Banks
  • The City and the City by China Mieville
  • Looking for Jake and Other Stories by China Mieville
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Other Fiction

  • Flash for Freedom! by George MacDonald Fraser
  • Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser
  • Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  • Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  • Flashman in the Great Game by George MacDonald Fraser
  • The Fort by Bernard Cornwell
  • The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni

Non-Fiction

  • God Collar by Marcus Brigstocke
  • Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance Survey by Mike Parker
  • Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom by Tom Holland
  • Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club: One Man’s Quest to Uncover the Books That Taste Forgot by Robin Ince
  • Seven Million Years: The Story of Human Evolution by Douglas Palmer
  • The Story of English: How the English Language Conquered the World by Philip Gooden

'Out of this World' at the British Library

Last Thursday evening I attended the launch of the Out of this World science fiction exhibition at the British Library. I’ve blogged about the exhibition for work.

The launch night was fun in a peculiarly geeky way as I got to play spot the author/critic/BNF. Some people (Kim Newman to give the obvious example) are easy to spot but far too many fall into the general category of middle aged men with greying beards. In fact I could easily have been looking at the crowd at Salute or @media instead.

At the same time that I was listening to China Miéville give a speech to open the show, Lettice was at a different exhibition launch with Cilla Black and Ringo Star. There’s probably something profound in that contrast but I’m really not sure what.


Last year I said “I think 2010 may be slightly less weighted towards graphic novels”. Whoops.

How many of my 2010 books have you read?

Available as a poll over on Live Journal (you don’t need an LJ account to vote, just an OpenID account which means an account from WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo, Blogger, etc.)

Read the rest of this very true thing…

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I’ve been writing JavaScript for almost as long as the language has existed. My first “script” was a simple onMouseOver="window.status='Hello World'" affair back in the days of Netscape 2. I spent the dot.com years writing popup windows and hover images and scrolling boxes and other basic stuff. Then I took a break from doing much JavaScript – this almost exactly coincided with the years that some “proper” programmers took a a look at the language and applied a bit of rigour to it. So when I got back into JavaScript a few years ago I was way behind the curve.

I’ve managed to catch up a little and by using the jQuery library plus a few plugins I’ve done some quite cool things despite not having the sort of knowledge that real JavaScript pros have these days.

I’m a front end engineer, I’m not a “proper” programmer, I don’t come from a programming background and have had close to zero formal training. I only vaguely understand the principles behind object oriented programming and design patterns and so on and I think that I think that they are good things, but I have no real idea of how to apply them to my code.

Speaking of which, unminified it’s 70Kb, 1500 lines and growing. There’s a big refactoring job that needs doing there before it becomes impossible to maintain. But how to start?

Bookwise, I have Jon Resig’s Pro JavaScript Techniques and Douglas Crockford’s JavaScript: The Good Parts and a few others. Are there any others that I should be looking at? What about training? Web sites? Blogs I should be following? Where do I go from here?


Yesterday, I tweeted "According to my LibraryThing records I’ve read 141 books this year: 26 novels, 7 non-fiction, 102 graphic novels and 6 ‘other’."

Then I went out and bought another two graphic novels… But it must be said that most of the comics I’ve read this year came from West Norwood library, and now that I’ve exhausted most of their good ones, and some of their bad ones, I think 2010 may be slightly less weighted towards graphic novels.

How many of my 2009 books have you read?

Available as a poll over on Live Journal (you don’t need an LJ account to vote, just an OpenID account which means an account from WordPress.com, Google, Yahoo, Blogger, etc.)

Read the rest of this very true thing…


Doctor Who on Christmas Day, that was a bit of splendid nonsense, wasn’t it? And not long now until we find out how it all ends.

I’ve been passing the time between parts one and two by dipping into the festering mire of DW fandom to see what crackpot speculation people have come up.

Timothy Dalton’s character, “The Narrator”, is the Lord President of Gallifrey according to the preview scene on the BBC web site. He’s also clearly a bit of a nutter, vapourising a member of the high council and screaming “I will not die!”.

So some fans have decided that he must be Borusa. Because Borusa was, at one point, Lord President and, at one point, sought the secret of eternal life. I think this is rubbish. Borusa only went bad in his final appearance, before that he was cunning and sometimes ruthless, but basically a good guy. Many long term fans don’t like what happened to Borusa’s personality in “The Five Doctors” and even Terrence Dicks, writer of that story, has tried to redeem Borusa in a novel. RTD is more a fan of the 70s rather than the 80s so I think that he’d be unlikely to bring back the crazy Borusa from The Five Doctors.

Okay, time for my crackpot idea… Do you want to know who “The Narrator” reminds me of? Morbius. Warmongering psychopathic timelord obsessed with immortality – gotcha. Of course the timeline would be really screwed up if he was, but why not? In the middle of the Time War the Time Lords (willing to resurrect the Master after all) reach back in time and bring in a wartime leader.

(Of course, he’s also a version of the War King from the Faction Paradox encyclopaedia/novel “The Book of the War” but as the War King is actually the Master, this parallel probably won’t be followed through. Shame as we’ve had multi-Doctor stories in the past so why not a multi-Master story some day? As in multiple regenerations of the Master, not multiple copies of the same regeneration as we have as of the cliffhanger.)

Claire Bloom’s character, “The Woman”, is according to fans either Romana, the Rani or the White Guardian. Based on the facts that, in turn, she’s a woman, ditto, and where’s white. Every female character in the new series has at some point been claimed to be really Romana or the Rani. The White Guardian is definitely possible but having the White without the Black would be unbalanced, both in terms of mythology and storytelling.

My crackpot idea… (assuming for the moment that she’s far too po-faced and serious to be Iris Wildthyme) She’s Rose. An older Rose from many years hence who reaches back in time and across universes to help the Doctor one last time. It has a distressing ring of plausibility about it.

Wilf is a Time Lord who’s been transformed into a human and his real personality is inside his unfired service revolver. At the end, he will go off in his own TARDIS with his granddaughter Donna thus recreating the very start of the series. Except that this has already been done, and with better justification, in the novel “Sometime Never” where an alien empowered with some of the Doctor’s life force and the Doctor’s not-really but really really (don’t ask) granddaughter end up semi-amnesiac in a malfunctioning time machine in a junkyard with a superweapon thus providing an origin story for the Doctor, Susan, the TARDIS and the Hand of Omega in universe where the Time Lords never existed.

Having Wilf and/or Donna turn out to be another Time Lord would be heartbreaking. They are such wonderful, lovely characters and killing them to bring some Gallifreyan back to life is just tragic. I hope that Wilf turns out to be Wilf because there’s no one better he could be. RTD has shown in Torchwood that he’s not sentimental (except Rose…) about much loved characters so I’m somewhat prepared to be heartbroken.

Many people have speculated that the Time Lords are, in some way, stashed away inside the Master’s head, and there does seem to be some evidence pointing towards this. If this is the case, then RTD owes Lance Parkin, author of the novel “The Gallifrey Chronicles”, a large sum of money; because after the last time that Gallifrey was destroyed the Time Lords ended up stashed away inside the Doctor’s head (thus causing the longest lasting of the Eighth Doctor’s several bouts of amnesia). If the Time War in the TV series does happen “after” the Time War in the novels then maybe the Time Lords resurrected the Master for the sole purpose of using his talent for self-preservation in exactly the same way that the Doctor had used his own last time around.

So there you go, I’ve proved that almost everything that could happen in part two has already been done in the novels, and that I’m as anal and crackpot as any other fan.

I suspect that the reality of part two will be even more sane/crazy, predictable/unpredictable, clichéd/original than the above.