Saturday, 27 June 2015

Goodbye, Steed

I suspect, like most people, my image of Patrick Macnee is stuck firmly in the 1960s, though he played a lot of parts other than John Steed.
Looking on his official website this morning, I discovered that he'd gone to school with Christopher Lee - they were the same age. He was also friends with another screen idol of mine, David Niven.
And he does seem to have been a genuinely nice man. Charlie Jane Anders has done a very good obituary of him over on i09, where she points out that he was comfortable with sharing the screen with an intelligent, powerful woman (I am slightly too young to remember Cathy Gale, but I always wanted to be Emma Peel).
And he never carried a gun as Steed - saying that he'd seen too many friends blown to bits during the Second World War (he was in the Navy). In later years, apparently, he was in favour of gun control in the United States - he retired to California.
We need more heroes like that.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Disney Princesses as Indian Brides

I found this picture, and others depicting Disney Princesses, on the tumblr Worried about my Fern. She had found the pictures and re-blogged them. They're the work of Vancouver-based wedding photographer Amrit Grewal.
I don't actually know a lot about Disney princesses - that whole craze happened after I was a child - but I presume this is Mulan.
So this is the picture I'll be looking at from now on when I'm thinking about Li Bic, the main character in the Steampunk adventure I'm writing. I already have a picture for her partner Amelia Harper:

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Shanghai Steam

I've just finished this anthology of short stories. It was published by Hades Publications in Canada in 2012, and all the stories are about Chinese characters, mostly in a Steampunk China, but occasionally elsewhere - one is set in Tibet, and several are in the United States, with others on Mars or other extra terrestrial locations. The Boxer Rebellion is mentioned in several, and building the railroads of the United States, and there are clones, and steam powered robots, and drunken master swordsmen, and mechanical dragons.... It's all a lot of fun, and it shows that there's a lot more to Steampunk than just pseudo-Victorian London or the Wierd Wild West.
I don't usually buy (or read) books on Kindle, but it was the only way I could get hold of this one, and it was a good buy.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Christopher Lee

I was sad to hear of the death of Christopher Lee today, at the age of 93 - a man who led a fascinating life. He served in the RAF as an intelligence officer in the Second World War, and almost trained as an opera singer before he became an actor. Although he's best known for Dracula, Count Dooku in Star Wars and Saruman, I believe he was most proud of the film where he played the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

And of course, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

I've come away from this book with a craving for tea and a vague feeling I should be wearing gloves! Which is a sure sign that I was pulled right into the world of the Radch, and the quest for revenge of the AI (artificial intelligence) which used to be the warship Justice of Toren, but is now reduced to one single human body - one of the ancillaries she used to control.
This, of course, is the book that swept the awards last year, Hugo and Nebula - and her sequel is up for awards again this year. I'll be getting it, of course. I want to know what happens to Breq/Justice of Toren and the sidekick she can't get rid of, Seivarden, who spent much of the previous thousand years in suspended animation, and woke to a world so changed that she (though I'm pretty sure Seivarden is male) couldn't cope with it.
The pronouns are one of the famous things about this book. In the Radch empire, everyone is 'she'. It's only when Breq is speaking other languages that she has to take account of gender - and occasionally she will mention that another character sings in a baritone, for instance, so you can guess that they are male. I'm still not sure which gender Lieutenant Awn was, but it doesn't actually matter, because it's the content of her character that's important. It's an interesting way of making the reader think about gender defaults in writing, and as an AI, Breq has a different way of looking at things anyway, which was very cleverly done.
So, this was one of those "keep reading till past midnight" books for me, and I'm happy to have found a new favourite author.