Something Changed 20: The Day They Caught the Train

This is the first Ocean Colour Scene song I consciously remember hearing. Their earlier hits had passed me by. There always semed to be something 60s-ish about their sound, though.

Ocean Colour Scene: The Day They Caught the Train

Llanymynech War Memorial

This simple Celtic cross surmounting a tapering pillar lies just over the Welsh border on the Oswestry-Welshpool road, the A483.

Llanymynech War Memorial

Upper dedication, “1939-1945. Their Memory is blessed. “Second World War names.

Lower dedication, “To the glory of God and in proud and grateful memory of..” Great War names. “The trumpet shall sound. Yr udgorn a gan.”

Llanymynech War Memorial Dedications

Interzone 279 (Nov-Dec, 2018)

TTA Press

Interzone 279 cover

Sean McMullen’s guest Editoriala argues real life has not, quite, caught up with Science Fiction. Andy Hedgcock’s Future Interruptedb riffs on the drawbacks of repetition and sequels in art while noting the originality of recent radio works by Stephen Bacziewicz and Anita Sullivan. Aliya Whiteley’s Climbing Stories ponders the writer’s relationship with and duty towards morality via her life experiences with role-playing games. In Book Zone Andy Hedgecockc comes round to Anthomy Burgess’s Puma despite the author’s disparagement of SF, Ian Hunterd appreciates Suzannah Evans’s poetry collection Near Future, Duncan Lawie finds reacquainting himself with Dave Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe series in Europe at Dawn a warm, comforting experience, Juliet McKenna says Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox is whooly fresh and intensely gripping, Barbara Melville is charmed by the reprint of Starfield edited by Duncan Lunan, Stephen Theaker’s initial reservations about The Sky Woman by J D Moyer are overcome by the tory’s development into a “solid three-star book”, while Ian Sales finds Derek Kunsken’s The Quantum Magician naggingly familiar.
As to the fiction:-
In The Backstitched Heart of Katharine Wright1 by Alison Wilgus, Katharine, the sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, is able to unravel time and retsitch it to prevent Orville’s early deaths.
The Fukinaga Special Chip Job2 by Tim Chagawa has its narrator travelling to all the world’s floating cities seeking out the mythical crisps of the title.
This Buddhafield Is Not Your Buddhafield3 by William Squirrell is printed sideways and tells the tale of a cleaner on a structure in the clouds of Uranus, a structure whose owner never lives there.
For the Wicked Only Weeds Will Grow4 by G V Anderson is set on a kind of interplanetary hospice called Requis. A curmudgeonly Terran tests the narrator’s soothing powers. The story displays an idiosyncratic approach to personal pronouns, use of which seems to depend on species but is inconsistent.
In Seven Stops Along the Graffiti Road by David Cleden survivors of an unspecified catastrophe wend their way along a road bedecked with graffiti – all of it encouraging. The road however becones strange at night, when they are all safely off to the side at way-stations.
Terminalia by Sean McMullen5 is a cod-Edwardian piece of fiction about cardiac resuscitation, a mechanical lady and the elimination of ghosts. The story is good but its execution feels more than a bit rushed.

Pedant’s corner:- adiscrete adultery (discreet that would be.) bidentify (identity makes more sense,) “there are a different set of irritations” (there is a different set.) cdisks (discs, please.) dEvans’ (Evans’s,)
1Written in USian, “[she] lays on her bed” (lies,) 2Written in USian; the story refers to a seal eating a penguin in the Arctic. (Well, I suppose the penguin might have escaped from a Norwegian zoo, otherwise tha’s one hell of a journey it took,) nautilus’ (nautilus’s.) 3Simplicius Simplicissmus (Simplicius Simplicissimus,) “Her mother’s anxiety at this abundance are compressed on the pages” (either ‘anxieties’ or ‘is compressed’.) 4sanatoria is used throughout as a singular noun, lieftenant (lieutenant,) maw (it’s on a plant. Plants do not have stomachs.) 5the contents page says Seam McMullen. “Quite possibly none of them were” (none of them was,) a photo (I doubt Edwardians used this contraction,) “I have a suite questions” (a suite of questions,) “a household electricity socket” (in 1905? Unlikely but just about possible,) “‘Word will be discretely put about’” (discreetly.)

Art Deco Style House, Pant, Shropshire

And so, on the morning after the semi-final we motored towards Powis Castle on the A483 between Oswestry and Welshpool.

Just on the English side of the border I spotted this house in the village of Pant. I had to stop for a photo or three:-

Art Deco Style House, Pant, Shropshire

Closer View:-

Closer View, Art Deco Style House, Pant, Shropshire

Frontage. The windows were surely once Critall but at least some (most) have been replaced:-

Art Deco Style House, Pant, Shropshire

From right:-

Art Deco Style House, Pant, Shropshire from Right.

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Home of The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club aka The New Saints or TNS, once known as Total Network Solutions.

Scene of the most recent historical achievement of Dumbarton FC, the mighty Sons of the Rock.

Since The New Saints play in the Welsh Premier League this also counts as a Welsh Football ground.

The ground is more or less in the middle of nowhere, across the main road which by-passes the town of Oswestry and up a narrow unlit road. And it doesn’t have much in the way of dedicated parking spaces.

Entrance Gates:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

From southwest. The structure on this side is a TV camera platform.

Park Hall Stadium from Southwest.

Main Stand from southwest. The word stand isn’t really appropriate. The brick structure is more like a social club with a small balcony fronting onto the pitch. It doesn’t seem to have seats. The covered area to the left here does, though:-

Main Stand from Southwest, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Main stand and north terracing/stand from southwest:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Stadium from main stand, showing TV platform:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry from Main Stand

Pitch and TV platform from northeast:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, from northeast.

Pitch and East terracing from northeast:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Pitch and East terracing

North Terracing/Stand:-

Park Hall Stadium Main Stand

Camera platform from north:-

Camer Platform, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Main stand and covered terracing from north terracing:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Teams Shake Hands, Irn Bru Cup Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Feb 2018:-

Teams Shake Hands, Irn Bru Cup Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Feb 2018

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.

The Courilof Affair by Irène Némirovsky

Vintage, 2008, 174 p. Translated from the French L’Affaire Courilof, (Éditions Grasset, 1933,) by Sandra Smith.

The Courilof Affair cover

The narrative here has a prologue set in Nice in the 1920s which acts as a framing device but the subsequent chapters are delivered to us in the form of Léon M’s memoirs. The son of would-be Russian revolutionaries, Léon was brought up in exile, and assigned by the Revolutionary Committee to kill the Russian Education Secretary, Courilof, a notoriously harsh man, known as the Killer Whale. To enable this and to worm himself into Courilof’s household he takes up a position, under the name Marcel Legrand, as Courilof’s physician. At once warming to his charge and disgusted by him, “Legrand” has a ringside seat at the ins and outs of the higher echelons of the pre-revolutionary system, watching Courilof fall from favour as a result of his marriage to his second wife (who has a past) before his restoration following a scandal involving his successor.

Despite Courilof’s elevated position he nevertheless has the capacity to observe, “‘An ordinary man has the right to be greedy, because he knows that otherwise he would starve to death. But these people who have everything – money, friends in high places, property – they never have enough! I just don’t understand it.’” Plus ça change.

This is the only one of Némirovsky’s novels to be set more or less entirely in her native Russia – and (almost certainly non-coincidentally) it is the most concerned with politics and the usage of power. Affairs of the heart are incidental here as it is the wielding of, and manœvring to maintain, influence, and the single-mindedness of those opposing the regime which are the book’s main themes. Léon’s subsequent acts as an instrument of the revolutionary government – a far more implacable proposition than Courilof ever was – are related briefly and quite off-handedly, simply as things that had to be done. Léon’s fall from grace is glossed over, we never quite find out why he ends up living in exile – though we can guess.

This isn’t Némirovsky at the peak of her powers but it is an interesting examination of the mind-set of would-be revolutionaries eager to be seen to be activists (the assassination requires as big an audience as possible) but more in thrall to the idea than the action – as well as, in Courilof, the exigencies of assiduous service to a monarch who doesn’t warrant devotion.

Pedant’s Corner:- “the Pierre and Paul Fortress” (usually Peter and Paul Fortress in English,) hung (hanged, x3, though there was a ‘hanged’ and one of the ‘hung’s on page 168,) Nevsky river, (it’s the Neva river that flows through St Petersburg,) “fishermen ….must have the same feeling as they contemplate their dazzling catch” (catches, surely, since its fishermen, plural,) sterling (as a fish. Is there such a creature?) “A great crowd of people were silently listening to music” (a crowd was silently listening,) Léon as Legrand is referred to in speech as ‘Monsieur Legrand’ (the English would be Mister Legrand, but then back in the day educated Russians spoke French and the speaker thought ‘Legrand’ knew no Russian so would be addressing him in that language,) hiccoughs (hiccups, it’s not – and never has been – a cough of any sort,) “I wanted to lay down right there” (lie down.) In the translator’s Afterword: Camus’ (Camus’s, x2.)

BSFA Award Novel List

I’ve now read three of the short-listed novels for this year’s BSFA Award.

I can’t say I’ve been too struck on any of them.

Gareth L Powell’s Embers of War did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary.

My thoughts on Before Mars by Emma Newman are here.

Dave Hutchinson’s Europe at Dawn was beautifully written but is the fourth in his Fractured Europe sequence and did not add substantially to the world(s) he has created.

I’ll not be reading the Yoon Ha Lee. I found his Nine Fox Gambit was not very good and put me off his fiction for life.

That leaves Tade Thompson’s Rosewater for which I probably don’t now have the time to resource or read. I gather also there is some doubt as to its eligibility as it was published on the Kindle in 2017 rather than 2018.

My reading of the short fiction has not progressed since the short list was announced (see first link in this post.) The usual BSFA booklet containing the stories has not yet arrived. I live in hope. In any case I doubt anything else will be better than Ian McDonald’s Time Was.

Shrewsbury Railway Station

Shrewsbury’s Railway Station Building is impressive. Stitch of two photos as I didn’t have the angle to get it all in one.

Shrewsbury Railway Station

More War Memorials, St Chad’s, Shrewsbury

King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) Roll of Honour:-

KSLI Roll of Honour, St Chad's, Shrewsbury

Roll of Honour, Shropshire Towns:-

Roll of Honour, Shropshire Towns, St Chad's, Shrewsbury

KSLI Battle Honours, St Chad’s, Shrewsbury:-

Great War and World War 2-

KSLI Battle Honours, St Chad's, Shrewsbury

Other Conflicts-

KSLI Other Conflicts Battle Honours

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