Hi, everyone,

In the past few weeks, we've done some small changes, including improving our New Visitors Portal and increasing the frequency of news posted to the Fanlore main page. We're also starting to prepare for the upcoming April Showers celebration.

This week, we're recruiting for new Fanlore committee staffers. These volunteers are responsible for dealing with various behind the scenes stuff to ensure that Fanlore runs smoothly. They respond to questions and complaints; help draft and improve Fanlore policies, categories, and tutorials; assist Fanlore gardeners and other editors; promote Fanlore; and do their best to improve it and plan ahead. No extensive experience is required—only reliability, teamwork, and an interest in fannish history and Fanlore in particular.

If you think you might be interested, please check out the position details and fill out a volunteer application on our website. Join us!

Lastly, an important note: the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine has stopped archiving all links to our sister project, the Archive of Our Own. There are several of these on Fanlore, and we of course strongly believe the Archive should be preserved, so we, in addition to the AO3 development team and the OTW Board, are doing our best to reach out to the Internet Archive team and learn the reason for this error.

As of February 22, Fanlore has 40,970 articles, which have undergone 714,168 revisions. If you're up for doing one more, why not log in? See you on Recent Changes!
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
([personal profile] purplecat Feb. 22nd, 2017 08:51 pm)
Following the comparative success of Vengeance on Varos, Mindwarp by the same writer was one of the more eagerly anticipated stories of Doctor Who's troubled 23rd season though Robert Holmes' final episode (part 1 of the ill-fated Ultimate Foe) was probably more eagerly anticipated. Watching Mindwarp one feels that it had the potential to be as good as Vengeance on Varos but is fatally undermined by both the constricting ongoing story of Trial of a Time Lord and by a general sense of mild incompetence, mostly on the part of the director though, as with much 1980s Who, there is a fair amount of rather lacklustre acting on display as well.

When I first saw Mindwarp I recall thinking that Brian Blessed was sadly wasted in his role as Yrcanos. I'd recently seen him in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V so knew him capable of being, if required, not quite so full on Brian Blessed. Rewatching now, Brian Blessed was definitely one of the best things in Mindwarp. He's clearly having fun and at least we were smiling whenever he was on the screen.

Frustratingly the ongoing story arc of the Doctor's trial condemns this particular segment to a section where doubts are supposed to be growing about the veracity of the material on display. We are essentially told that all the events unfolding on Thoros Beta are being conveyed to us via an unreliable narrator. The Doctor states that events proceeded broadly as depicted but that the emphasis was different. In the hands of a better director this could probably have been made to work, but as it stands the story is frustratingly confusing: relationships may or may not be as the appear on screen, events may or may not have happened for reasons which may or may not be those stated. I've nothing against unreliable narrators per se, but I think Mindwarp demonstrates that you need to work hard to pull them off in a way that doesn't make the result look like something of a confusing mess.

The (as far as one can tell largely one-sided) relationship between Yrcanos and Peri is bizarre as well. It must be said that poor Peri was often saddled with the role of random object of affection/lust for some passing character or villain (we were to watch Timelash next), more so than many companions and I'm sure whole essays could be written on why this particular companion at this particular point in the show's history keeps encountering this trope. In this case though I think we are supposed to believe the feeling is mutual, even though Nicola Bryant conveys nothing more than a kind of indulgent friendly feeling towards Yrcanos. I deduce this because her death at the end of Mindwarp is retconned (I would say unnecessarily) into marriage to Yrcanos six episodes later (in the novelisation it is even more bizarrely retconned into marriage to Yrcanos who is then transported to Earth by the Time Lords where he embarks upon a successful career as a pro-wrestler with Peri as his manager) and one assumes one is supposed to view this as a happy ending - as opposed to a companion being abandoned and forced by circumstances into marriage. Of course one can handwave the lack of apparent affection by invoking the unreliable narrator, but it is ultimately odd and frustrating.

Beyond that there is a lot of running around and capture-escape in this story, rendered more confusing and apparently pointless by the interruptions of the trial in which the Doctor insists the material is being manipulated. An attempt to portray a planet in which not everyone is white is undermined by the fact that all the non-white characters are slaves or servants and very much secondary to the main cast. Patrick Ryecart as Crozier is working hard to inject some depth into his role but is undermined in part by being a less sympathetic character than the Governor in Vengeance on Varos and, to be honest, by a decision to depict this world, not with the grimness of Varos, but as a dayglo confection of pink and orange. Sil is reduced more or less to being a comedy henchman. Kiv, Sil's superior is potentially more interesting (and marks the start of Christopher Ryan's career as Doctor Who villains in latex masks) but it seems unnecessary to suddenly sideline a successful character by introducing his superior.

To be honest, despite my complaints, Mindwarp isn't that bad but one feels it was very nearly good and somehow misses it mostly by just not having a good enough grip on tone and a clear enough idea how to convey the ambiguity over the gap between what we see and what actually happened.
gramarye1971: Viktor Nikiforov from Yuri!!! on Ice, soaking in the onsen (YoI: Onsen Viktor)
([personal profile] gramarye1971 Feb. 22nd, 2017 03:25 pm)
So there's a licensed YoI katsudon bowl up for preorder at Plamoya, and it actually looks sufficiently practical enough for me to buy it. Whoever designed the outside did an excellent job of replicating the bowl to make it look like it could come from a real place. The text on the front reads Hasetsu (on top), onsen (L) and tennen (R) (on the sides, meaning 'natural onsen', read R-to-L), and Yu-topia Katsuki on the bottom. I could happily eat katsudon out of something like this on a regular basis.

I've mentioned elsewhere that based on the relatively small amount of promotional merchandise I saw in Japan shortly before the fall 2016 season, the YoI team really had no idea that the series would become as popular as it did. But if sales are good enough to encourage them to go all in for in-series items like this one, I'm rather pleased to see it.

(Meanwhile, over at [community profile] panfandomsandbox, Yuri P. is not having a relaxing evening, and I almost feel bad for him, in the way where I don't feel bad in the least.)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
([personal profile] rmc28 Feb. 22nd, 2017 07:37 pm)
What I've read: poetry
[personal profile] serene mentioned the poem-a-day email from Rattle and I signed up. I don't really feel I know or understand poetry very much, but these ones have stuck with me so far:
Shoveling Snow by Vicki L. Wilson
April Rain by Abigail Rose Cargo


What I've read: short fiction
I also recently subscribed to Daily Science Fiction which gets me a short story in my email on weekdays, so even if I'm not getting to anything else, I usually manage to read that.

Shop Talk by O. Hybridity
Grandma Heloise by KT Wagner
An Invasion in Seven Courses by Rene Sears

Two more novellas from the historical romance collection Gambled Away:
Raising the Stakes by Isabel Cooper: A 1930s con-artist accidentally summons elvish help when she wins a flute in a poker game; he helps her pull off a really big con.
Redeemed by Molly O'Keefe: A former army doctor and a former spy, brought together by a really nasty character and a high-stakes poker-game in the aftermath of the US Civil War.



Acquisitions: (so far entirely eyes-bigger-than-stomach-brain)
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor - sequel to Binti which I enjoyed very much
  • Stories of Your Life and Others - anthology by Ted Chiang, including Story of Your Life, which has been made into the film Arrival
  • The Good Immigrant - anthology of essays by twenty British Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers and artists, includes this one by Riz Ahmed (played Bodhi Rook, the defecting cargo pilot in Star Wars: Rogue One; also as Riz MC was one of the artists on Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) - my favourite track from the Hamilton Mixtape)
  • Journeys - anthology of short fantasy stories
Another e-mail I've had from Citizens UK that it will do me no good to send to my own MP, some of you might find it worthwhile though:
Tomorrow MPs will debate the Dubs Scheme in Parliament. This is the Government’s chance to do the right thing.

Email your MP and ask them to attend the debate.

For two weeks our voices have been loud and clear - from Rowan Williams to Keira Knightly to Birmingham City Council, from Aberdeen to Hammersmith - we have sent a clear message: Britain is better than this.

And we know the Government can hear us - just this weekend Theresa May agreed to review the claims of 400 refugee children. Already we have made a huge difference. But we can win bigger than this.

We need to get every single MP we can in the chamber tomorrow.


Together, if we urge our representatives to show up, we can create more pressure than ever before.
Email your MP now to ask them to go to the debate and tell the Government to keep the Dubs Scheme open.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
([personal profile] purplecat Feb. 21st, 2017 08:28 pm)
The Randomizer suggested we watch The Faceless Ones but, when I put it on, Tame Layman claimed to have seen it. I'm fairly sure he's actually only seen the two episodes that exist, and those many years ago, but he was adamant. We've been gradually collecting exceptions to the Randomiser. The project is now to watch all of Doctor Who in random order except NuWho, anything seen in the previous five years and The Faceless Ones. I may try to sneak The Faceless Ones back in at the end.

Anyway, the Randomiser next offered up The Invasion. I had bought the version of The Invasion with animations replacing the two missing episodes some time ago (more than five years, I was fairly sure) and we had watched it so I took the precaution of mentioning this in advance to Tame Layman who then didn't veto it.

The Invasion is remarkably watchable given it is one of the longest Doctor Who stories out there and, as a result, features even more random and somewhat pointless capture escape than normal.

It is definitely helped by featuring one of the better Tardis teams. Although Wendy Padbury has complained that Zoe Herriot, having started out well, was rapidly reduced to just another screaming girly I think the character is generally pretty well-served and definitely fares better than either Deborah Watling's Victoria or Anneke Wills' Polly. While still sometimes constrained by a tendency to be placed in a damsel in distress role, Zoe is generally proactive, competent and often gets to show off her mathematical skills (as she does here - confusing computer receptionists and calculating missile trajectories).

The Brigadier and UNIT, in its first appearance, also work very well. The Brigadier has yet to be reduced to the kind of buffoon who refuses to believe he is on an alien planet and is, in fact, remarkably helpful and supportive of the Doctor throughout. This gives the whole story the feel of military versus aliens which is both nostaligically reminiscent of much 1960s sci-fi fare and refreshing for Doctor Who in which the military are often one of the obstacles to be overcome.

Kevin Stoney's Tobias Vaughn is a triumph as a villain. In particular, it is refreshing to see a villain who is under no illusions about his likely fate once the Cybermen take over and part of the reason I think the story fares so well over its extended length is that it effectively portrays the interaction of three factions at work, rather than two.

We spent quite a while discussing the animation. I felt it was broadly similiar in both style and quality to that in the recent Power of the Daleks release while Tame Layman preferred it. I think it certainly helped that there were live episodes in between the animated ones which helped ground the characters out better in existing performances.

Frankly this is a pretty good chunk of 1960s Doctor Who and certainly much better than it has any right to be lasting, as it does, for eight episodes.
rmc28: (BRAINS)
([personal profile] rmc28 Feb. 21st, 2017 10:23 am)
I've been having more flashing-light / visual obstruction migraine auras in the last few months.  Yesterday evening I had the fingers of my right hand go temporarily numb!  Fellow migraineurs, is this a known thing?

It was about 90 minutes after I'd first seen visual disturbances. I'd taken my drugs, waited for them to work, reached the point where I couldn't see my desktop properly so left work a bit early; collected the children; made them some food so I could crash if/when the headache got really bad.  I was in the middle of making myself some food when numbness started up in my right thumb.  It  moved slowly across the hand - maybe 5-10 minutes to move completely across.  By the time the fourth finger was solidly numb, the thumb wasn't any more.  My impression is the progression was similar in speed to the way flashing lights move across my field of vision from the left side to the right, and I gather that is something to do with the neurochemical cascade of the migraine travelling across the brain.  So maybe this was too.

(My sumatriptan has been working approx 4-5 times out of 6 if I take it as soon as I notice visual disturbance.  Yesterday was one of the times it didn't. I briefly tried getting up this morning; Tony got up to do the school run assuming I wouldn't be fit to go anywhere and he turned out to be right.)
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miss_s_b: (Default)
([personal profile] miss_s_b Feb. 21st, 2017 10:00 am)
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
([personal profile] purplecat Feb. 20th, 2017 05:35 pm)


On the request of one of my father's carers
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
([personal profile] tree_and_leaf Feb. 20th, 2017 12:14 pm)
Belated happy birthday to [personal profile] lilliburlero!
choco_frosh: (Default)
([personal profile] choco_frosh Feb. 19th, 2017 10:10 pm)
Whelp, it finally happened.

People who started ringing after me are now better at than I am.*

(sigh)
([syndicated profile] andrew_rilstone_feed Feb. 19th, 2017 11:57 pm)

Posted by Andrew Rilstone

Spidey Strikes Back! 



Villains: 
Sandman, the Enforcers 

Supporting Cast: 
Aunt May, Liz Allan, J.Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Flash Thompson, Ned Leeds, “Wormly” 

Guest Stars: 
The Human Torch, again. 

Observations 

p6: “I couldn’t take a chance on ever having to eat someone else’s pancakes” 
“Wheatcakes” are simply pancakes made with buckwheat flour, so these are presumably the same breakfast food that Peter Parker liked so much in Amazing Fantasy # 15.

p9 “All hail the Spider, a hardy breed is he”. 
This sound like it should be a parody of a popular song, but I can’t work out what he has in mind: can anyone help? 

p9 “Hey, Amscray, you guys” 
More Pig Latin (Amscray = Scram = Scramble I.e “Everyone run away!”) 

p17 “You sure took your own sweet time about freeing me” 
“Count your blessings, mister.” 
These are both arguably references to hymns. (”Father, lead me day by day / ever in thy own sweet way” “Count your blessings, one by one.”) Perhaps part of the Spider-Man / Torch feud is a clash between their Jewish and Protestant heritages? 

Peter Parker’s Financial Position: 
Jameson thinks that the pictures of Spider-Man fighting the Enforcers are “sensational”; so he probably gets the same $2,000 he did for the pictures of the Vulture.


One of the wrongest things which has ever been said (by Andrew Garfield, among others) is that Spider-Man is a Christ figure. 

The Jesus-story is about a divine being who condescends to come down to earth from heaven to be our Saviour. That’s why characters like the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock and Superman (who have supernatural origins and come from the sky) find it so hard to avoid being Christ-like. 

Spider-Man doesn’t descend from heaven; he pulls him self up from the earth. On webs. Which he made in his bedroom. His story is about an all-too-human Everyman who struggles to do what is right with the hand that life has dealt him. His situation isn’t fundamentally different from anyone yours or mine. If it were, we wouldn’t be very interested in it. 

Throughout 1963 and 1964 one of the key themes of the comic has been perseverance. Spider-Man gets knocked down, but he gets back up again. Up until now, this has largely consisted of Spider-Man being beaten defeated by a baddie but coming back and beating the baddie on the second attempt. But it is now going to take a slightly new — and much more inward looking — form. From now on the formula is going to be:

  • Spider-Man suffers a set-back
  • Spider-Man despairs
  • Spider-Man quits being Spider-Man
  • Spider-Man changes his mind and swears that he will remain Spider-Man forever. 
The story is there in embryo in Spider-Man Annual #1, when Peter wishes his powers away; and it forms the moral center of the triptych. It will crop up over and over again for the rest of the comic's history (most notably in Spider-Man #50, which forms the basis for the second and best Spider-Man movie. )

And most versions of the story do indeed contain a de prefundis moment. 

Long before Joseph Campbell turned the whole thing into colossal bore, Northrop Frye (a proper literary critic, who was examined by C.S Lewis) had argued that heroic stories typically have a V shaped pattern of descent and ascent. This could be literal — a hero might go down and face an enemy in a cave, or a dungeon, or an undersea base, or a giant glass fish-bowl and then come up into the light. But it could also be metaphorical — a hero might descend to the depths of despair and then have his faith and confidence restored. That “V” movement of descent and ascent does have a structural resemblance to Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, even if the hero in question is very un-Christ-like indeed. Frye called these kinds of romances Secular Scriptures, although perhaps he would have been better off saying that the Gospels are sacred romances. 

Many of Spider-Man’s greatest adventures clearly do have that “V” shaped structure. And many of his finest moments do take place at the nadir of the “V”. It’s when he doesn’t have any powers and faces Electro anyway that he is most like Spider-Man; it is when he has chucked his Spider-Costume in the dustbin that he realizes who he irreducibly is. The Sinister Six story has a moment when he very nearly calls out "my powers, my powers, why have you forsaken me?"

*

Spider-Man 19 is not as highly regarded as the other two stories in the triptych: but it is essential, and a marvelous comic in its own right. Together, the three parts show us the fall and rise of Spider-Man in beautiful slow motion. Amazing Spider-Man #17 showed us Spider-Man humiliating himself in front of the biggest audience possible; #18 showed us him at the very depths of despair; so issue #19 has to show us a truly confident Spidey bouncing back, and even showing the Human Torch a thing or two. 

Stan Lee’s claims about “non stop action” would normally presage an extended fight scene — but the truth is that this issue is more violent and kinetic than the comic has been in months. Ditko seems to be reveling in the Spider-Man-ness of Spider-Man. The character can too easily become merely a strong guy with a web-shooter-full of plot devices; but Ditko spends this issue thinking of new poses for Spider-Man to strike and new angles to look at him from. Instead of taking it for granted, we keep being surprised and delighted by the fact that Peter Parker can stick to walls.

Look at pages 12 and 13: Spider-Man is in every panel, and every panel puts him in an imaginative pose: crouched on the wall outside Jameson’s office; hanging upside down to interrogate the hood; caught mid leap, letting go of a web at the apex of a swing and propelling himself forward, feet first. Panel 4 on page 13 has Spidey swinging straight at us: an iconic image that would be used over and over again both in the movies and the TV series. If you ever imagined that Spider-Man was just a hipper, younger version of Superman then you need to look at these pages, and see the uniqueness of the character. It’s all in the energy. There is a realism here that even Kirby would struggle to compete with. (An apparent realism, at any rate: a circus performer or a gymnast could tell us which of Spider-Man's maneuvers are physically possible.) 

Look at the choreography of the fight against the Enforcers and the thugs on page 8: Spider-Man on the ceiling, on all fours. Spider-Man spotted by the Enforcers, now sticking to the ceiling with just his feet. Ox throwing Montana at Spider-Man, knocking him down. Spider-Man landing in a handstand position; three thugs running at him from different directions; Spider-Man springing up again so the thugs knock each other out. Granted, the “jumping away from two guys who are running at you” motif has been used before: and it probably works better in slapstick than an actual fight. But quite brilliantly, Montana catches Spider-Man in his lasso as he jumps — so Spider-Man escapes from one peril (the thugs) and into another (Montana) in a single frame. 

It would be an interesting exercise for an artist to redraw these twelve panels (pages 8 and 9) in a more contemporary, decompressed style. I suspect that it would be impossible. The action probably wouldn’t make realistic or cinematic sense: Ditko thinks in terms of individual frames, and the whole thing would break down if you had to work out where everyone is standing. (What happens to the bodies of the thugs Spider-Man knocks out?) An 11 panel fight in which slightly more is happening than you can easily keep track of is precisely what is necessary to to create the sense of exhilaration which Ditko is aiming at. It's the sensation of being released, the feeling that Spider-Man is now free and can do anything he likes… 

Spider-Man’s dialogue reflects the pictures. It’s punchy, it’s funny, and it confirms that Spider-Man has embraced his identity and is having a good time. We sometimes criticize Stan Lee for being too wordy; we sometimes point out that dialogue which would take ten or fifteen seconds to speak is superimposed over a frame representing a fraction of a second of action. But it isn’t really possible to imagine a Spider-Man fight without a running commentary — 

“Ha! I thought that would rattle ya a little!” 
“You were right, meathead! It did rattle me..but just a little!” 

Lee and Ditko are delivering on the promise made at the end of last issue. Spider-Man really has dropped the self-pity. He’s kind and funny with Aunt May ("what’s a pretty young girl doing here in my Aunt May’s kitchen?") relaxed with Flash Thompson ("I heard the whole routine before, I could recite it by heart!") and only mildly unpleasant to J.J.J. ("Sometimes, I suspect that man just doesn’t like me!"). Betty remarks that “he seems to have a new confidence in himself”. 

As a story, though, there is not very much to it. The Sandman, who Spider-Man ran away from last issue, teams up with reliable division-two baddies the Enforcers to kidnap the Human Torch. They cleverly use asbestos rope to pull him down; chemical foam to douse his flame; before Sandman deposits him in a specially constructed glass jar – which lets in just enough air to keep Johnny alive, but not quite enough to let him 'Flame On'. (It would be interesting to know who constructed all this hardware — the Judo expert, the Big Strong Guy, the Rope Trick Guy, or the Habitual Thug Who Never Finished High School?) But of course, Spider-Man comes along and rescues the Torch -- which is a kind of pay-back for all the times he's been upstaged by him.

Perhaps the highlight of the whole comic — of the whole trilogy — is Jameson falling on his arse one more time. He spent the whole of last issue with a terrible grin on his face, telling Betty to forgive Peter for apparently two-timing him, and telling his “loyal employees” they were welcome to ask their “tender hearted employer” for help and advice. He hears that Spider-Man is back in action just before he is supposed to give a lecture entitled “How I proved that Spider-Man is a cowardly fraud.” The three-frame sequence in which the smile falls from his face — eyes drooping, frown lines appearing — is a little masterpiece. (It also reminds us that olden days arts could do decompression if they wanted to.) When we next see Jonah, he’s wondering if he’s “too old to join the foreign legion.” 

In January 1964, Spider-Man threw away his glasses and punched Flash Thompson. The Return of the Green Goblin, The End of Spider-Man and Spidey Strikes Back bring the year to a triumphant end. They tell us the tale of a hero who loses his confidence, regains his confidence and bounces back just about as well as it could be told. 

But we are left with a dangling question.

Has whiny Pete really quit the stage for good? Is this new, self-confident Peter going to be who the comic is about from now on? 

Or will we have to go through the whole thing again this time next year? 




white_hart: (Default)
([personal profile] white_hart Feb. 19th, 2017 08:51 pm)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] lilliburlero!
white_hart: (Default)
([personal profile] white_hart Feb. 19th, 2017 08:24 pm)
House of Many Ways is the third of Diana Wynne Jones's loose trilogy of novels that began with Howl's Moving Castle. Like the second, Castle in the Air, it's set in a different part of the series universe and has its own main characters, but Sophie, Howl and Calcifer also feature (and at least one minor character from Castle in the Air makes it into this one).

I don't think either of the sequels is a patch on Howl's Moving Castle, really, and I thought this was the weakest of the three (the villains seemed particulary ill-developed), but even a less-good DWJ is still pretty good; it was a fun read and a nice bit of light relief after Dorothy Dunnett's plot twists and tendency to make her heroes suffer.
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([personal profile] hollymath Feb. 18th, 2017 10:03 pm)
Chased down photo & references today, so citizenship application is DONE!

Need to sort out payment form and collect all the passports and marriage certificate and proof of passing the Life in the UK Test in a big envelope with all this. Then on Monday I can take it to the post office.

Having (extra) cake and (another) glass of wine to celebrate/destress. I didn't realize how miserable working on this today had made me until it was done.
the Master and Margarita (3893 words) by Naraht
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Lilia Baranovskaya/Yakov Feltsman
Characters: Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya
Additional Tags: 1980s, Soviet Union, Moscow, Cold War, Jewish Characters, Antisemitism, First Meeting, First Time
Series: Part 4 of trials of Coach Yakov
Summary: In 1980, Yakov Feltsman is the USSR's skating hero. At a dull official reception, he defends his loyalty to the motherland – and makes the acquaintance of a beautiful young dancer from the Bolshoi.
Tags:
white_hart: (Matilda)
([personal profile] white_hart Feb. 17th, 2017 07:29 pm)
The fourth of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo books takes the eponymous hero to Africa after the security of his business is threatened by a run on his capital instigated partly by his long-standing enemy Simon and partly by the shadowy Vatachino company. In search of the legendary gold-mines of Guinea and an overland route to the perhaps equally legendary Christian kingdom of Prester John in Ethiopia, after a difficult and dangerous journey he comes instead to Timbuktu*, ancient capital of learning and trade in a prosperous, mainly peaceful pre-colonial sub-Saharan Africa.

This was my favourite of the Niccolo books so far, and the first one I loved as much as I loved the Lymond series. Having recently read HMS Surprise, I really enjoyed the description of the voyage from Portugal to the Gambia in an age when Europeans had only recently discovered that Africa extended further south than Cape Bojador, slightly south of the latitude of the Canaries and for many years assumed to be the literal end of the world. I loved the depiction of fifteenth-century Africa as no less civilised than Europe, just different (and with surprisingly good communication links for the era), and Nicholas's perilous and uncertain journeys were utterly compelling reading. I found myself reading while walking down the street because I couldn't bear to put my Kindle down on more than one occasion.

Slightly spoilery for the end of the book. )

* I may have found myself at one point pondering whether it was possible to cast the party who make it to Timbuktu with the cast of Cabin Pressure, who of course never do get to Timbuktu. The description of Nicholas does make him sound rather like John Finnemore, and he certainly affects an Arthur Shappey-esque innocence on occasion.
naraht: (yoi-Victor)
([personal profile] naraht Feb. 17th, 2017 06:04 pm)
The pound-to-krona exchange rate is absolutely ruinous at the moment. I may have obsessively visited Iceland during the roughly five years when it was actually financially possible for me to do so.

This has not stopped me buying Icelandic books, as I have to read something (logical fallacy ahoy), but I've decided not to go for that Dracula edition for the time being.

***

My hairstyle choices are disturbingly influenced by fannishness. I cut my hair short for the first time when I was about 12 because of Kira Nerys. Then I grew it out while doing my DPhil in a spate of Victorianism. My current incarnation of very short hair was, I thought, fairly secure. It was only getting shaggy because I've been too fiendishly busy to get to the salon. But... everyone on Yuri!!! on Ice is growing their hair out.

And suddenly having a floppy, eye-length half fringe combined with a weird hairline (widow's peak in my case) seems like Awesome Fashion. (See icon.) Maybe I'll just get a trim after all.

Is it weird to bring a picture of Victor Nikiforov to your hairdresser? ;)

***

Absolutely loving the Tour of Andalusia. Rather minor race unexpectedly enlivened by epic Contador/Valverde rivalry. And Matt Stephens' commentary on Eurosport is coming into its own. He's a much better foil for Carlton Kirby than Sean Kelly.

(Kirbyism of the race : "Just clearing his nasal passages there. Preparing for battle.")
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([personal profile] hollymath Feb. 17th, 2017 02:50 pm)
The other day, Citizens UK e-mailed encouraging people to get in touch with their local councillors to try to get individual cities to do what the government won't do as a whole and continue the Dubs scheme for refugee children. You can write to yours with WriteToThem. I've just written to mine, based partly on their template.
I am deeply concerned at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year, and am writing to ask for your leadership.

Last year the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK for unaccompanied children. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme.

Manchester really should be one of those. I see "Refugees Welcome" signs all around Levenshulme, from Inspire to spray-painted on the path near the train station, and yet Manchester has shamefully not done its bit in fulfilling that promise.

Please help us change that by helping keep the Dubs program going here in Levenshulme and in Manchester.

Thank you.
.

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