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This Year’s Hugo Awards

These were announced at the SF Worldcon in London.

(I know I really ought to have gone but it was in Docklands rather than London proper and I don’t even like London much. Perhaps I’m tired of life.)

The winners for fiction were:-

Best novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Best novella: Equoid by Charles Stross

Best novelette: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best short story: The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

Of these I’ve read only the novel winner but congratulations to all.

Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy on and off and haven’t had much time for blogging.

Bête  cover

I’m not mentioning Saturday’s result, I’m too depressed. Just as well I didn’t make the trip. I feel I ought to turn up at Easter Road for the League Cup game though.

My latest Interzone review book has arrived. It’s Adam Roberts’s latest, Bête. (It’s not that long ago I read his Jack Glass.) The review will appear in issue 255.

I think I forgot to mention issue 253 had come out.* That one has my review of Kieran Shea’s Koko Takes a Holiday.

*Edited to add. My memory is mince. I did mention it, when I reviewed the fiction in issue 250.

Lauren Bacall

And so now it’s Lauren Bacall.

She was the good lady’s favourite actress, but then again Humphrey Bogart was the good lady’s favourite actor. (Childhood weekends spent watching on TV old black and white films which her father could remember from the first time around.)

Bacall probably had one of the most intriguing entrances to a film career of any actress in that scene from To Have and Have Not. In many ways it was only downhill from there.

Still; she had a long life.

Lauren Bacall (Betty Joan Perske):- 16/9/1924 – August 12/8/2014. So it goes.

Robin Williams

I was so sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams.

I first remember him from, of course, the US TV series Mork and Mindy where Williams played Mork, an alien sent to Earth from the planet Ork in order to observe its customs. He reported back to his superior, Orson, at the end of each episode which allowed fun to be poked at our human peculiarities. The programme wasn’t SF, it just borrowed one of the tropes for comedy purposes. His manicness was apparent even then. He blazed through that show like a meteor.

The first film I saw him in was The World According to Garp, where his serious acting talents were displayed. In Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire he showed a talent for acting in all its variety. By the mid nineties though I had pretty much stopped going to see films nor did I have time to watch them on TV so I haven’t seen much else of his.

He brought a lot of joy with his comedic abilities. It’s regrettable that gifts such as his so often come with a downside. A downside that seems to have cost him his life. So it goes.

Mork signs off.

Robin McLaurin Williams: 21/7/1951 – 11/8/2014. Na-Nu Na-Nu.

MH 17 and Russia 2018

The shooting down of airliner MH17 over Ukrainian airspace was a tragedy – but more likely arising from the cock-up rather than the conspiracy wing of history. Surely no-one seriously thinks that the powers behind either side in the Ukraine fighting intended their minions to shoot down a passenger aircraft? It was clearly done by a trigger-happy clown not subject to much in the way of discipline or command and control as in a regular army. Unfortunately this sort of thing happens in civil conflicts.

The consensus that it was “Russian” rebels who did it is probably correct. That they ought not to have had the weapons to allow them to do it is also a given. But I suspect that Vladimir Putin is raging that it has put him – as the overwhelmingly likely ultimate source of the arms involved – in the wrong. One more reason for the US and EU to portray him as a villain and to increase sanctions.

Yet, unless it blows up into something bigger – in the hundredth anniversary year of the devastating fall-out of an assassination in the Balkans that prospect cannot be overlooked – in four year’s time will most people, apart from the families of the deceased for whom it will linger forever, remember it? Very few gave a toss about the contretemps Russia had had with Georgia in 2008 during the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year.

Yet we have our Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, calling for the World Cup due to be hosted by Russia in 2018 to be stripped from that country. I wish him luck with that. The site of World Cups is in the purview of FIFA and that organisation doesn’t take kindly to outside interference.

What makes his remarks even more counter-productive in terms of his stated objective is that Clegg has said that England might host the tournament instead. Anyone who had any knowledge of FIFA at all would know that is a non-starter.

Twonk.

di Stéfano

The football legend who has died today had a name that needed no further explanation. He was part of that legendary Real Madrid side that captivated the football followers of Glasgow and Scotland at the European Cup Final of 1960 – played at Hampden Park. di Stéfano scored a hat-trick.

I was too young to be aware of it at the time but the folk memory was promulgated and persists. Such was the effect of that display of what football could be that the names of the forward line still trip off the tongue with no need for googling. Canario, Del Sol, di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. Mind you, I see film of that game now and think, “Where was the marking?”

One curiosity is that I believe the Eintracht Frankfurt team that formed the opposition that day were all amateurs – as was German football as a whole.

di Stéfano may be unique in having played international football for three different countries, his native Argentina, Colombia, where he played league football for a while, and Spain for whom he was naturalised in 1956. That was the type of scenario that I thought had been resolved by FIFA with its rules on eligibility but in the recent World Cup one of the commentators remarked that Kevin-Prince Boateng who played for Ghana in the tournament had previously played for Germany (but not, it seems, for the senior side.)

The World Cup was one stage that di Stéfano did not grace, for various reasons, but his thirteen national titles (two in Argentina, three in Colombia and no less than eight in Spain) and five European Cups – not to mention his scoring record – speak for themselves.

Alfredo Stéfano di Stéfano Laulhé: 4/7/1926 – 7/7/2014. So it goes.

Daniel Keyes

I see from yesterday’s Guardian (I was out all day yesterday and only got round to reading it this morning) that Daniel Keyes has died.

He was best known in the SF world for just the one story, Flowers for Algernon.

But what a story! I read it many years ago and it is one of those that sticks in the mind forever. I haven’t read the later novel to which it was converted. I didn’t want my memories of the short piece to be diminished in any way. From the obituary and the link above I learned that it has been adapted for film and TV. I doubt that any of those have the power of the original text.

Daniel Keyes: 9/8/1927 – 15/6/2014. So it goes.

Glasgow School of Art

I was devastated to hear today of the fire at Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s masterpiece building, the Glasgow School of Art. (For pictures of the undamaged building see here.)

I have featured another of his buildings, Scotland Street School, here.

I have also visited the House for an Art Lover, built to Mackintosh designs in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (on part of the site of the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938,) and Hill House in Helensburgh as well as the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow but all without benefit a modern camera. All are visually stunning.

I must confess to being a teeny bit annoyed when Lorna Gordon, BBC London’s Scotland correspondent, called the Art School an Art Deco building. None of Mackintosh’s buildings are Deco. They are leaning towards it, certainly, but really have more in common with Art Nouveau. At a pinch you could say they act as a bridge between the two styles. While some Mackintosh designs have the blend of horizontal and vertical that is a signifier of Art Deco he also had a strong liking for curves which grew firmly from the Art Nouveau tradition of evoking nature and natural forms.

I assume the plans for the School of Art are still in existence somewhere – and that there is insurance in place. Even if it is costly it is to be hoped that some sort of effort at restoration can be made to the Art School. The result may not be original but so few of Mackintosh’s designs were erected in his lifetime it would be tantamount to a crime to allow to disappear the outstanding example that was.

In the meantime, not just Glasgow, not only Scotland, but the world, is a poorer place to live in tonight.

Great News for Sons Fans

Sons manager Ian Murray has signed a new two year contract.

His achievements over the past 18 months have meant his stock is high and that means he’ll probably be able to attract players of good quality to the club and keep those we already have – unless they are offered full-time elsewhere.

If he gets us anywhere near (or better) next season than the fifth place in which we finished this year it will represent something of a miracle – given the support other clubs in the division will have – and his reputation will only improve. Even just avoiding the relegation play-off spot is still going to be a good outcome for a club of our size.

Whatever, if any other club comes in for him over the next two years at least ours will get some compensation.

Flitting Again

Not me this time – that would be silly after only five weeks in the new house – but my younger son, who has – along with our not-quite daughter-in-law – bought himself a nice semi-detached house in Errol.

It still meant humphing boxes and furniture around, though. I’m knackered – and sore.

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