Saturday, 23 February 2013

Recent Interesting Obits

Trevor Grills (d. 11 Feb 2013) - singer of sea shanties.
BBC 12 Feb 2013
Guardian 13 Feb 2013
Independent 14 Feb 2013

Reg Turnill

Reg Turnill (d. 12 Feb 2013) - journalist; the BBC's space man.
BBC 12 Feb 2013
Daily Telegraph 13 Feb 2013
Guardian 13 Feb 2013
Independent 18 Feb 2013

Friday, 22 February 2013

Literary Prizes

Just a note about two very different literary prizes.

File:Nebula Award logo.pngThe shortlist for the Nebula Awards 2012 has been announced.  The Nebulas are one of the oldest and best-respected awards in the Science Fiction world, and the roll-call of past winners is that of the greatest in the genre.

My old friend Joan Druett lists the contenders on her blog World of the the Written Word and very helpfully linked to those that can be read on-line.  The short stories I had a look at last night seem very good (as you'd expect).

The other shortlist is a bit of fun.  It's the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.

That shortlist is
  • Was Hitler Ill? by Henrik Eberle and Hans-Joachim Neumann
  • Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne
  • How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees
  • God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman
  • Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley
  • How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior
My favorites are Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop and How to Sharpen Pencils.  What are yours?  The winner is chosen by public vote, so go ahead and have your say.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Dreams of Space

The great and understated blog Dreams of Space celebrated its fourth birthday yesterday.

The subject matter is nicely summed-up in its full title: Dreams of Space - books and Ephemera.  Non-fiction children's space flight books 1945-1975.

Go and have a  look - they've got some great stuff to share with us!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Pope Benedict's Abdication

Just listening to the surprising news that Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month.

Although commentators will be very quick to say that there is precedent (though 600 years old) for this and it's always been an option in Canon Law, this is a very progressive step.  As they statement says "both strength in body and mind is necessary" for the job. Nobody wants to see the long deterioration before death we saw with John Paul II and Paul VI.

This is a good thing, and it's very much a case 'of only Nixon could go to China'

My prayers are with him for a peaceful retirement.

The Pope's statement to the Cardinals in Consistory:-
Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Atompunk Magazine Covers!

Thanks to Victoria's Boys in Red, I've come across the Pulp-O-Mizer - a very cool tool for making your own pulp magazine covers.

I've had a little play...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Agatha Christie: Security Threat

Christie's most worrying book?

Lovely story on Daily Telegraph website about the security services being worried that Agatha Christie might have breached security when she published a 1941 novel that featured a 'Major Bletchley' who 'knew everything about what was really going on in the war'.

Apparently, Christie was a friend of Dilly Knox, who headed the code-breaking at Bletchley Park.  There's a more prosaic, and amusing explanation.   Read on...

Knox came from an interesting family.  His father was Edmund Knox, the evangelical Bishop of Manchester and opponent of Ritualism in the Church of England.  His brothers were E.V. Knox, a satirist who wrote as 'Evoe' and was editor of Punch (and was father of the Booker Prize winner Penelope Fitzgerald); Wilfred was a High Churchman and became an Anglican monk; the youngest was Mgr Ronnie Knox, who converted, was a well-known Roman Catholic apologist, broadcaster and crime writer.  Both sisters, Ethel and Winifred (Lady Peck), were novelists.

Richard III Announcement

Richard III

As regular readers will know, I have been following the saga of the excavation in Leicester of what might be Richard III's remains.

Well, scientists have this morning announce that they are convinced 'beyond all reasonable doubts' that the remains are those of the king.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Books and Stuff

A [supposedly] weekly round-up of my book news.

What I've been reading....

Carried on with The Kingdom Beyond the Waves.

What I've bought....

Bruce Fogle, The Dog Owner's Manual - 30p
MRD Foot & JM Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion, 1939-1945 - 30p
John Parker, The Gurkhas - 30p

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