Archives » 2011 » March

Stenhousemuir 2-2 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 80

SFL Div 2, Ochilview Park, 29/3/11

Two points thrown away. And, more importantly, for Stenny one point gained.

So instead of being seven points ahead of them with six games to go (Stenny have a game in hand) we are only four points in front.

A pretty uneventful first half with Pat Walker’s shot hitting the outside of the post and Jon McShane with an overhead kick attempt. Stenny hit the bar.

A goal out of nowhere early in the second after a good combination down the right from Walker and Gilhaney ended with a cross McShane couldn’t miss. The second was a wickedly whipped in free kick where the defence stood about looking for offside. McShane’s shot was parried by the keeper and three of our players could have had the tap in.

Jon McShane pulled an instinctive save from their keeper before Walker nearly chipped him but the clincher never came.

The second goal or the sending off of the Stenny defender for an exactly similar pair of late challenges on the same player (Walker) was the turning point.

We switched off. A Stenny guy ran almost from the halfway line before anyone challenged him and that was in the box. Penalty. 1-2. McShane was then obstructed in their box a minute or so later but no penalty. It would have been a foul anywhere else on the pitch.

They got inspiration from their goal but their second was very poor defending. Firstly the guy was allowed to cross the ball. Secondly, Stephen Grindlay was rooted to his line when he ought to have claimed it (he never does, though.) Free header from a bloke on the pitch only a few seconds.

This felt like a defeat.

I hope the lads’ heads are up for Saturday.

Our next three games are against those in and around us, our last three are against teams in the top four. If we need anything from those last three games let’s hope the play off positions are already decided.

Valles Marineris

Another image from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Sunday’s picture, this is a composite photo of Mars showing the great rift valley named Valles Marineris which almost bisects the hemisphere shown.

3,000 kilometres long, 600 across and up to 8 deep, Valles Marineris could swallow the Grand Canyon many times over.


Brazil 2-0 Scotland

Emirates Stadium, 27/3/11

This was 2-0 going on a doing. Brazil were, as expected, superior in every department.

What was especially noticeable was that every time they lost the ball they swarmed round the Scotland players and as a result got it back very quickly. Their speed of thought and movement were a cut above. Plus their virtuosity was sublime. Only the odd misplaced pass and then working like beavers to get the ball back.

Scotland’s players looked pedestrian.

We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can ever get near them.

Brechin City 6-0 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 80

SFL Div 2, Glebe Park, 26/3/11

Whatever Alan Adamson said to the boys at half time it didn’t work. We started it as slowly as the first and lost an equally quick, if not quicker, goal. After that any semblance of defensive organisation disappeared and it was like the early season again.

We were pretty much abject throughout. Only Ryan McStay – who somehow nearly always seems to create space for himself – and Jon McShane get pass marks, the rest looked like they’d never played together.

Brechin were by far the better team and thoroughly deserved the win. But…

They are the most annoying bunch of shameless whingers I’ve ever seen. While the game was still in the balance every time a decision went against them two or three would be in the ref’s face moaning. Ryan McStay’s booking apart* Dumbarton’s players by and large accepted decisions – even the offside goal (well; it looked offside to me) – but maybe that’s why we lost.

*Ryan had gone in to protect Martin McNiff after Brechin’s neddish no 7 had raised his hands to Martin. The Brechin player should have been sent off – and therefore not on the pitch to score their second, which may have been the critical goal as we more or less fell apart then.

Our day was summed up when Andy Geggan wasted our best chance. He lofted the ball over an absolutely open goal.

A lot of Brechin’s goals came from crosses (get your act together Stephen Grindlay) the last two from pinball melées. When there’s pinball in our area there’s only ever one result.

Nevertheless we could (should?) have had three penalties, two for handball in the first half and a third for a blatant push in the last few seconds.

But we deserved nothing from this game.

It’s getting tight at the bottom again. Alan Adamson has a big job getting the boys up for a crucial game at Stenny on Tuesday night. I’m not at all confident.

Friday On My Mind 51: She Sold Blackpool Rock

The unusually named group Honeybus made most impression on the public consciousness with the single I Can’t Let Maggie Go not so much due to the fact that it was a hit but more that the song was later used in an advert for Nimble, a type of bread for slimmers, which is apparently still going.

Honeybus did not have as much success as perhaps they deserved. They mined that understated, almost fey, very English, wistful, pastoral sound much like Nick Drake.

The group first came to my attention with a previous single Do I Still Figure In Your Life? which is worth a listen.

The follow up to “Maggie,” Girl Of Independent Means had a much jauntier sound, video embedded here for comparison pusposes.

Honeybus: Girl Of Independent Means

The next single, She Sold Blackpool Rock, is the best of the lot. It has a harder edge and is, in parts, reminiscent of Donovan’s Atlantis.

Honeybus: She Sold Blackpool Rock

Elizabeth Taylor

I never really understood the fuss about Elizabeth Taylor.

She was always one of those people who seemed to be famous for being famous. Quite why we were meant to care about her manifold relationships and her on off on off liaison with Richard Burton was always beyond me. I felt much the same about Lady Di’s shenanigans, I must confess.

I suppose I was too young to witness Liz at her peak but her acting never appeared too great to me, competent at best.

It’s sad to see anyone pass away, though.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, 27/2/32-23/3/11. So it goes.

Smallworld by Dominic Green

Fingerpress, 2010. 282p.

My review of this book has been delivered to Interzone. I’ll let you know when the issue is imminent.

The biographical stuff at the end says Green graduated in English from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

Despite this we had a span count of 3. Also there were three instances of miniscule (sic.)

That last one doesn’t say much for standards at one of Britain’s so-called “best Universities.”

Jet Harris

The Shadows were a bit before my time though they were a kind of Saturday night variety televisual backdrop to my childhood.

But I do know that they were important and that without them there might have been no Beatles, no Clapton, no Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Jimmy Page etc etc.*

It’s only right to mention, then, the passing of bassist Jet Harris.

Terence (Jet) Harris. 6/7/1939 -18/3/2011. So it goes.

*This is maybe overstating the case a little as some of these might have come to prominence anyway but there is more than a grain of truth in it.

Science Fiction Mistresses

This is the list of Science Fiction Mistressworks that Ian Sales has come up with.

Some of these are historically important (Frankenstein, Herland) others are just worthy examples of female SF.

Asterisked books are in the SF Masterworks series.

Those in bold I have read. If the bold text comes after the mentioned book and its date, it is another book (or books) I have read by the same author.

Italicised means either co-authorship with a male (Windhaven) or my reading of it is imminent (Lightborn.)

1 *Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
2 Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
3 Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)
4 Lest Ye Die, Cicely Hamilton (1928)
5 Swastika Night, Katherine Burdekin (1937)
6 *
7 The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett (1953)
8 Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson (1961) The People: No Different Flesh many moons ago.
9 Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)
10 Witch World, Andre Norton (1963)
11 Sunburst, Phyllis Gotlieb (1964)
12 Jirel of Joiry, CL Moore (1969)
13 Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter (1969)
14 Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, James Tiptree Jr (1973) plus 7 other books, usually story collections – Tiptree (Alice Sheldon) was primarily active in short fiction.
15 *The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (1974) The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969, plus over 20 others
16 Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
17 *The Female Man, Joana Russ (1975) Picnic On Paradise, 1968
18 Missing Man, Katherine MacLean (1975)
19 *Arslan, MJ Engh (1976)
20 *Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)
21 *Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)
22 Islands, Marta Randall (1976)
23 Dreamsnake, Vonda N McIntyre (1978) plus various others.
24 False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)
25 Shikasta [Canopus in Argos: Archives], Doris Lessing (1979)
26 Kindred, Octavia Butler (1979)
27 Benefits, Zoe Fairbairns (1979)
28 The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
29 The Silent City, Élisabeth Vonarburg (1981)
30 The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
31 The Many-Coloured Land [Saga of the Exiles], Julian May (1981)
32 Darkchild [Daughters of the Sunstone], Sydney J van Scyoc (1982)
33 The Crystal Singer, Anne McCaffrey (1982) Dragonflight 1968
34 Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984) plus The Judas Rose (1987).
35 The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)
36 Jerusalem Fire, RM Meluch (1985)
37 Children of Anthi, Jay D Blakeney (1985)
38 The Dream Years, Lisa Goldstein (1985)
39 Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, Sarah Lefanu & Jen Green (1985)
40 Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (1986)
41 The Wave and the Flame [Lear’s Daughters], Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (1986)
42 The Journal of Nicholas the American, Leigh Kennedy (1986)
43 A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (1986)
44 Angel at Apogee, SN Lewitt (1987)
45 In Conquest Born, CS Friedman (1987)
46 Pennterra, Judith Moffett (1987)
47 Kairos, Gwyneth Jones (1988)
48 Cyteen, CJ Cherryh (1988) Downbelow Station , 1981, plus 6/8 others.
49 Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (1988)
50 The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (1988)
51 The Steerswoman [Steerswoman series], Rosemary Kirstein (1989)
52 The Third Eagle, RA MacAvoy (1989)
53 *Grass, Sheri S Tepper (1989)
54 Heritage of Flight, Susan Shwartz (1989)
55 Falcon, Emma Bull (1989)
56 The Archivist, Gill Alderman (1989)
57 Winterlong [Winterlong trilogy], Elizabeth Hand (1990)
58 A Gift Upon the Shore, MK Wren (1990)
59 Red Spider, White Web, Misha (1990)
60 Polar City Blues, Katharine Kerr (1990)
61 Body of Glass (AKA He, She and It), Marge Piercy (1991)
62 Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
63 Beggars in Spain [Sleepless trilogy], Nancy Kress (1991)
64 A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason (1991)
65 Hermetech, Storm Constantine (1991)
66 China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F McHugh (1992)
67 Fools, Pat Cadigan (1992) Tea From An Empty Cup, 1998
68 Correspondence, Sue Thomas (1992)
69 Lost Futures, Lisa Tuttle (1992) Windhaven, 1981
70 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (1992)
71 Ammonite, Nicola Griffith (1993)
72 The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee (1993)
73 Queen City Jazz, Kathleen Ann Goonan (1994)
74 Happy Policeman, Patricia Anthony (1994)
75 Shadow Man, Melissa Scott (1995)
76 Legacies, Alison Sinclair (1995)
77 Primary Inversion [Skolian Saga], Catherine Asaro (1995)
78 Alien Influences, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1995)
79 The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (1996)
80 Memory [Vorkosigan series], Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)
81 Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon (1996)
82 Looking for the Mahdi, N Lee Wood (1996)
83 An Exchange of Hostages [Jurisdiction series], Susan R Matthews (1997)
84 Fool’s War, Sarah Zettel (1997)
85 Black Wine, Candas Jane Dorsey (1997)
86 Halfway Human, Carolyn Ives Gilman (1998)
87 Vast, Linda Nagata (1998)
88 Hand of Prophecy, Severna Park (1998)
89 Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
90 Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (1999) Someone To Watch Over Me, 1997 Lightborn, 2010
91 Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle (2000) Golden Witchbreed, 1983, Ancient Light, 1987 plus 4 others

So. 15 out of 91; but eight more if other books by authors in the list were to count.

Edited to add *Wrong Side of the Moon, Francis Leslie Ashton (1951.) Ian Sales has now amended his list. Francis Leslie Ashton is apparently a man.

Narration: 1st vs 3rd person

In Saturday’€™s Guardian Margaret Drabble made a comment that she gave up first person narration after three novels because she came to think it a lazy form.

This is (or was) apparently a general view among the literati, that third person narration was more literary, more legitimate, that first person was less worthy, but it’€™s not one I ever shared.

I declare an interest here. Most (if not all) of my published works have been in the first person.

I do make one claim to distinction, though. I am one of the very few people to have written a piece of fiction in the first person plural. That story was This Is The Road, in the anthology New Worlds 3, Gollancz, 1993 – nominated for the BSFA award 1994 – which was also published in translation as “Le Chemin D’Eternité,” in Cyberdreams 7. The only other instance I recall of the use of “we” in a narrative sense was in one of Primo Levi‘s books (for shame, I forget which) about his experiences in the concentration camps.

Granted, third person gives insight into the inner life of all the characters and enables us to know them in the round but all we are told is vouchsafed to us by the author, who by definition knows everything about the character. That can present a problem, for it means that the author has to choose not so much what to tell us but instead what to leave out, or else overburden us with information.

Consider now the first person narrative. Except for the viewpoint character, everything we as readers know about all the other characters in the book is not what is known to the author – who is still omniscient I need hardly add – but merely what is known to the narrator. Everything the reader needs to learn has to be revealed by the narrator’s interactions with, or observations of, the other characters and cannot be told to us directly. To my mind, far from being lazy, that is a much harder act to bring off successfully than merely entering a character’€™s head whenever convenient. This difficulty is perhaps heightened when the chosen first person narrator is unreliable.

In this regard, I would submit that the use of multiple viewpoints each of whom is a first person narrator, while providing a more complex narrative, is a form of cheating.

From her last sentence (see above link) Drabble seems to have altered her view. “It’s the straight true line that’s hard.”

Welcome (back) to the club.

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