A friend likes to sum up his year in a hundred words, and I copy this
fine idea. "Think of it as a short and un-boastful summary of the
year, which nobody is expected to understand all of."
In 2015 I read 132 books, on a par with recent years but lower than I
Since yesterday was the Boxing Day Bank Holiday, I went to the Science
Museum for their Cosmonauts exhibition. Images follow:
everything. (I'd been told photography was prohibited, but there were
no signs and nobody tried to stop me. I didn't use flash, which may
This has been a year when "Internet of Things" devices became
relatively mainstream. Oh dear.
1982 cosy American detective fiction; third of MacLeod's novels of
Professor Peter Shandy, set at an agricultural college in
Massachussetts. Hilda Horsefall is 105 years old and still keeping the
family farm going, until her farmhand is horribly murdered. But is it
just part of a land-grab, and if so who's trying to do it? And how is
the Viking runestone on her land connected to everything?
Pyramid is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with
a loose linking theme. This time it's the near now, things that are
just barely possible or not quite possible yet.
(Merry Christmas to all my readers.)
On a dreary November day I visited
a two-day show in Reading that's filling the gap left by Colours
having moved to Newbury. With images;
2015 Regency fantasy, first of a planned trilogy. "Zacharias Wythe,
England's first African Sorcerer Royal, is contending with attempts to
depose him, rumours that he murdered his predecessor, and an alarming
decline in England's magical stocks. But his troubles are multiplied
when he encounters runaway orphan Prunella Gentleman, who has just
stumbled upon English magic's greatest discovery in centuries."
2013, dir. Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud;
The former supervillain Gru is trying to be a good father. But
supervillainous schemes are still afoot.
2011; fourteenth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude's new lover Piers is a tennis fanatic – real tennis –
but when she turns up for a lesson one of the other club members is
found dead. Heart attack, clearly, but why is everyone acting so
cagey? Meanwhile Jude's friend Carole conducts a separate
A remarkably mild day for mid-December, with temperatures about
12-13°C, no rain and not much wind. All images are
On a chilly December morning I went to Dragonmeet again. All images
1999 collected newspaper columns, written from 1985 onwards. Hiaasen
gets his teeth into issues of local politics, corruption, finance and
wildlife preservation, often all at once.
This Dungeon Fantasy supplement deals with the thing closest to a
dungeon-delver's heart: money.
2014-2015, 22 episodes. Police procedural in the CSI mould: a team of
forensic experts at the "Jeffersonian" consults for the FBI.
2004 mystery, twelfth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. After four seasonal park employees disappear on
the same day in Yosemite, Anna Pigeon goes undercover to try to find
out what happened.
As always, spoilers abound. See Wikipedia for production details
The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
Ace - Sophie Aldred
2015 supernatural mystery, fifth in Oswald's Inspector McLean
series. In a network of man-made caves under Edinburgh, a journalist
turns up with his throat cut. Why there, why then, and why him?
2015, 13 episodes:
Also known as I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying.
Continuation of the slice of life comedy dealing with the daily
routine of a busy office lady and her otaku husband.
1981 science fiction. In the Todos Santos arcology, life is much safer
than outside in Los Angeles, if somewhat sanitised: but it's still
right next door.
St Albans is a bit far away for me to visit regularly, but their
boardgames club was having a big Saturday event so I went along.
1986 SF, first in the Antares trilogy. The colony world of Alta has
been cut off from other planets for more than a century, since Antares
exploded into a supernova. Now a ship has come through where there
wasn't supposed to be a jump point…
Ithacus was a 1966
study by Douglas, producers of the DC- series transport aircraft and
the Thor IRBM, for a sub-orbital troop transport.
1982, cozy American detective fiction; third of MacLeod's novels of
Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. At a private art museum, a guard
falls to his death, having been complaining that his favourite Rubens
is different these days.
This GURPS Transhuman Space supplement gives an overview of biotech,
dealing with all the fiddly bits that aren't bioroids or smart
uplifted animals (which were in Bioroid Bazaar).
2015 science fiction; a team of scientists is assembled to explore a
newly-discovered planet. Saraswati Callicot is an exoethnologist, and
the planet's uninhabited, but she's sent along to keep an eye on Thora
Lassiter, the daughter of one of the powerful families who went a bit
mad on her previous mission; she's been cured, but she might still be
an embarrassment. Then things start to go bizarrely wrong.
Let's Encrypt has moved to public beta,
and I've taken advantage of it. Why? Because a non-zero proportion of
the people intercepting your web traffic are bad guys. The less
plain-text traffic is out there, the less they learn.
Another scenario from South Atlantic War, the Black Buck One raid on
the airfield at Port Stanley.
1964 children's SF. Nik Colherne's face was badly burned in an
accident, and as a resident of the Dipple he can't afford the advanced
surgery that might fix it. The Thieves' Guild offers him a new face,
if he impersonates a boy's fantasised hero. But it's all rather more
complex than that.
Because there is no such thing as "enough dice". (And some other
Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are