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Gene Wolfe

And they keep coming. (I suppose, really, that should be going.)

Yesterday, via George R R Martin’s Not a Blog, I learned of the death of Gene Wolfe.

I have been an admirer of his work ever since his novel The Shadow of the Torturer, the first of his sequence set in Urth, with the overall title The Book of the New Sun.

This was followed by Soldier of the Mist set in ancient times, whose hero, Latro, can not remember things from one day to the next, and two more books with the same protagonist.

Two other series, The Book of the Long Sun and The Book of the Short Sun, appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s along with two books related to each other The Wizard and The Knight.

Many stand alone novels were published before, during and after these series books.

I have 24 of Wolfe’s books, 20 novels and 4 collections of his shorter work, but have not yet read them all. (So many books to read, so little time.)

Ursula Le Guin was a great admirer of Wolfe’s writing, calling him “our Melville”, (our in the context of the SF and Fantasy field.)

The last of his novels to be published, A Borrowed Man, 2015, I had the privilege of reviewing for Interzone. I had the impression that was to be the first in another series of books, which sadly are now probably lost for ever.

I’ve got those unread ones to look forward to though.

Gene Rodman Wolfe: 7/5/1931 – April 14/4/2019. So it goes.

Vonda N McIntyre

I was sad to read today of the death of Vonda N McIntyre.

She first came to my attention with the short story Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand – a Nebula Award winner in 1974 and which formed the first part of her later novel Dreamsnake which won the Hugo and Nebula for best novel in 1979. The stroy was unusual in that its protagonist was a healer rather than a fighter. It was immediately obvious McIntyre’s writing was up there with the best the genre had to offer.

Looking at my records I find I have six of her books (including one short story collection.) One of the novels, The Entropy Effect, was in the Star Trek franchise, and much better written than it probably needed to be.

I reviewed her 1986 novel Superluminal here.

In all she won three Nebulas and that Hugo.

She may not have been prolific as a writer and not so prominent latterly as she was at the turn of the 1970s/80s but she is undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy SF authors of the late twentieth century.

Vonda Neel McIntyre: 28/8/1948 – 1/4/2019. So it goes.

Memorable Weekend

I had a wonderful weekend, thank you for asking.

My eldest son tied the knot. (Literally; it was a part of the ceremony.) He and his now wife tailored things very much to their own preferences.

Like his younger brother’s nuptials nearly three years ago now – blimey, though things in the wider world haven’t improved any in the interim and they looked bad enough back then – there was beer involved.

Not that the piss-up was in a brewery this time, rather it was in an old farmyard. But beer there was. Made by the happy couple’s own fair hands.

Beer bottle

Very nice stuff it was too. And there was some left over. I took two bottles home which will need to be drunk before it goes off….

And the mighty Sons of the Rock won at Stranraer, moving from bottom to third bottom and leapfrogging our hosts in the process.

Our first win anywhere since early December and our first away since August. Not to mention going against our truly abysmal record at Stranraer as a whole.

This is one of those results which might rekindle hope. I’ll merely temper that with the observation that the two teams below us both have a game in hand on us with the result that one of them would go above us whatever the result of that game if it were to take place right now. So in effect we’re ninth and by no means out of the relegation woods.

And there’s a tough run of fixtures coming up against teams in the top five.

Freddie Glidden

I see from the club website that former Son Freddie Glidden has died.

His years playing for the club were slightly before my time but I remember my eldest brother reminiscing about him. I recall the word “uncompromising” was implied.

We could do with a bit of that right now.

Frederick Glidden: 7/9/1927 – 1/1/2019. So it goes.

2019

Happy New Year.

Well, I say happy but – apart from my eldest son getting married in February – I can’t see much cause for celebration this new year. Sons are pretty ropy this season (with only the Cup run helping last season to be anything like bearable) and Brexit looks like making life for most people in the UK more arduous then it need have been.

Happy New Year anyway.

Busy Day

I had a busy day yesterday.

Firstly I had the great honour of laying a wreath on behalf of the Community Council at the local War Memorial.

Then in the afternoon it was off to Cellardyke (where we have not-quite-yet relatives) for the Quiet Citizen’s Walk round the town past the houses of the fallen from the Great War poutsid eof which present residents were standing before joining the procession.

The walk ended up at Cellardyke Town Hall where a short talk was given on Cellardyke’s war dead. Unlike in the rest of the country most fishing town’s servicemen enlisted – or were conscripted into in the navy, their boats converted to minesweeping and anti-submarine duties and many sunk as a consequence. So it was with Cellardyke.

Actor Clive Russell who loives in the town recited Ewart Alan Mackintosh’s poem In Memoriam.

Then, in what was a moving detail, a succession of townsfolk who had been allocated a dog-tag with the name one of the dead came on to the stage to give the name and surrender the dog-tag to a total of 62.

There followed another walk to the Cellardyke (Kilrenny) War Memorial for the laying of wreaths and a piper’s lament.

Is it just me being Scottish or is there something more universal about the fittingness of the sound of the bagpipes played in memoriam?

Wilfred Owen

One hundred years ago today, only one week before the armistice which ended the Great War, perhaps the most resonant of that war’s poets, Wilfred Owen, was killed leading his troops across the Sambre–Oise Canal.

Wilfred Owen

On my trip down to Oswestry for the Challenge Cup semi-final in February I discovered his name is on the Great War Memorial inside Shrewsbury Abbey.

The Abbey:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

The War Memorial. Owen’s name is marked by a poppy:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial

Closer View:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial Detail

In the Abbey grounds there is a memorial dedicted to Owen. The text in red this side reads, “Wilfred Owen Poet 18/3/1893-4/11/1918.”:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial, Shrewsbury Abbey Grounds.

The memorial is titled “Symmetry” and was designed by Paul De Monchaux and erected in 1993:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Title

Three other information stones surround the memorial. Birth and life:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Information Plaque

Death:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Plaque

Line of Poem:-

Wilfred Owen  Memorial Explanation

The memorial is in the form of a pontoon bridge. You can read more about it here.

The red writing on this side is the quote (line 40 of “Strange Meeting“) “I am the enemy you killed my friend.”

Wilfred Owen Memorial Reverse View

Poppy Time Again

Two days ago (Wednesday) I was in the Sainsbury’s at Straiton in Edinburgh. I happened to notice that the shop assistants’ name badges had poppies engraved on them.

It was October 10th! Over a month till Remembrance Day.

(Okay; same time interval as last year.)

Last night a woman in the Question Time audience was sporting a largish cloth poppy. First TV sighting of the year. At least I can be sure she wasn’t corralled into wearing it.

Friday on my Mind 171: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – RIP Aretha Franklin

Another giant of 60s (and later) music has gone.

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly the best purveyor of the branch of music she excelled in. Not for nothing was she known as the Queen of Soul.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman wasn’t a hit in Britain. I’m not sure if it was ever released as one in the UK but her expression in this recording is the epitome of soul.

Aretha Franklin: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Her biggest solo hit in the UK in terms of chart placing was actually I Say a Little Prayer, in 1968:-

Aretha Franklin: I Say a Little Prayer

But only one word suffices to describe her achievements.

Respect.

Aretha Louise Franklin: 25/3/1942 – 16/8/2018. So it goes.

V S Naipaul

I note the passing of V S Naipaul, whose Guardian obituary is here.

His work seems to be highly regarded but he is one of those authors to whom I have never got round so I am in no position to say. Nevertheless a Nobel Prize is not to be sniffed at.

It does seem though, as is mentioned in the obituary in the link, that in his personal life he was less than saintly, to put it mildly.

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