Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Books 2014, 13)

This is the one that’s won them all: BSFA (jointly), Clarke, Nebula, and more recently, the Hugo Award. Never before has a single book had such a sweeping effect on the world of SF awards.

And does it deserve them all? Does it live up to the effusive reaction of the community?

Err, well… no, not really.

Which is not to say it’s bad. In a sense, nothing could live up that level of praise.

However, my personal problem with it — at least at first — was this: I like my super-intelligent spaceship minds to be the good guys. To be part of, and defending, Utopia. In short, I want The Culture. And I guess I hoped that Ann Leckie might sort of take Banksie’s place.

Obviously there wasn’t much chance of that, and it isn’t fair to judge the book on those terms.

So, back to its own terms. In any case, these super-intelligent spaceship minds aren’t necessarily bad guys; but they’re in the service of a pretty unpleasant empire. Though things get ambiguous. And interesting. And of course, there’s the gender-blindness of the viewpoint character, which is great. So yeah, it was fun, I enjoyed it, it goes to some interesting places, and it sets things up nicely for a series.

Oh, god, a series. Does nobody write books in ones any more? I was just looking at the current crop of so-called “Black Friday” deals on Kindle. There were quite a lot of books for crazy-cheap prices. Except… there weren’t really that many if you count a series as one.

C’mon, folks, write a book that doesn’t have a sequel, hey?

But I digress. Go read about Ancillary Justice: you’ll find reviews of it all over the place. Then go and read it. It’s great.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Books 2014, 13)

Terror, or Not; and Bail

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the [Abu Qatada]( situation. But Jack Deighton has said all I would have; most notably, [“If we do not behave in a better way than those who are against what we stand for then we would be worse than them.”

The BBC lists Qatada’s [bail conditions]( Why the emphasis on technology, you have to wonder? Is he going to terrorise us over the internet?

Terror, or Not; and Bail

Easter Weekend plans

Off to the exciting, glamorous Heathrow area tomorrow, for “Orbital”:, the 2008 “Eastercon”: It’ll be the first convention I’ve been to for about ten years, so it should be quite fun.

When I was last at the “hotel in question”:, it had a swimming pool. That has since been filled in, sadly. Then again, when I was last there, I don’t think that I actually used the pool, so perhaps it’s not a big deal.

It’ll be good to see some old friends and hopefully make some new ones. And they’ve got a great lineup of guests: “Neil Gaiman”:, “Charlie Stross”:, and “China MiĆ©ville”: are the official ones, but as always, there will be various other authors there.

I’ll report back here on how it was (unless, you know, I don’t). Actually, come to think of it, there’s said to be free wifi in the hotel, so I’ll probably report back _from_ it.

Easter Weekend plans

One Device to Do It All?

So, my new phone arrived today. It’s a Sony-Ericsson M600i smartphone. Most excitingly, with T-Mobile’s Web ‘n’ Walk service, I get unlimited (though capped) mobile internet.

All that remains (apart from ugrading the firmware, sorting out backups and synchronisation, and generally finding my way around the thing) is to get Orange to send my PAC code (actually I suspect the ‘C’ stands for ‘code’, but never mind), so that I can get my number transferred. Which they’ve said they’ll do, but I’ve heard it can be difficult.

Anyway, I’m typing this on it, and will try posting from it next.

One Device to Do It All?

New website, blog

I’ve had the domain for nearly two years, now. But it has taken me this long to actually start using it for more than a source of throwaway email addresses.

At last, though, I’ve put some readable stuff up there. So far it’s just a main page and a blog. In time, though, I might put up some stories, pictures or other material.

WordPress, which I’m using for the blog, has a nifty little plugin that allows you to automatically crosspost to LiveJournal. So you should shortly start seeing posts here with links back to original posts over there.

Pop on over and have a look; or why not add the RSS feed to your favourite feed reader?

To summarise, then: the site; the blog; the feed for posts; the feed for comments.

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New website, blog

The Many-Angled Pub

I went out for a drink with some people from work last night.  We went to a place in Covent Garden called The Porterhouse.

It’s a very curious place.  It extends across three or maybe four floors.  Or maybe only two, but with lots of mezzanines.  It’s full of alcoves: everything, it seems, is an alcove.  I have no idea, for example, how many bars it has.  And in fact, I didn’t go to the bar all night.  That, though, is because they have something that is remarkable in a British pub: table service.

Yes, it’s very strange.  waiters come and go, collecting glasses and trays, but also, when asked, taking orders and returning — very quickly — with trays of beers.

So I spent the night drinking Caledonian 80/-.  A taste of home, perhaps, but a) it was bottled; b) it was too cold to taste right; and c) it’s been such a long time since I drank it back home that it hardly counts.  And I always preferred McEwan’s 80/-, anyway.  Oh, and pizza.  They serve food, too, and claim a woodburning oven.

It was a good night.  But that pub.  You know the old computer game that used to say, “You are in a maze of little twisty passages, all the same”?  It was a bit like that.  But mostly it reminded me of the house in HP Lovecraft’s ‘Dreams in the Witch-House.’

Oh, I suppose the angles weren’t really that wrong; that the walls were quite straight. But there were definitely too many rooms, and bits, and stuff: if not angles.

The Many-Angled Pub