Great Scot!

There was a round on Pointless last week that I found a wee bit irritating (for international readers, Pointless is a rather wonderful teatime game show on the BBC that (1) has proper good questions and (2) is quite tricky to win.) It was about Great Scottish People. All fourteen answers were men. They included such luminaries as Gerard Butler and some dude who won a car race once. “Meh,” you might say, “so what? It’s just a quiz show.” Yes, on its own it’s just a quiz show, but in the great beach of society it’s just one more grain of sand ignoring women and their achievements (that’s an awesome metaphor, shusht), and that is irritating. Especially at teatime.

This isn’t the first time Pointless has done something like this. It’s fairly common to have what sounds like a gender neutral topic and all or most of the answers are men. Playwrights was another topic last week. Were any of the playwrights women? No, they were not. Forshame. (A great Scot and playwright? Liz Lochhead, also the current Scots Makar, or national poet.)

Anyway, this was Great Scottish People, which meant it was personal, dammit. They couldn’t be bothered to find even a token great women in my country? Boo, I say. So to do a tiny wee bit to correct the balance, here are brief bios of Ten Great Scottish People (which, yeah, rather reflect my own interests: all were born before 1900, all have some connection to science or politics or military or law… but at least I recognise my biases.):

Matilda of Scotland (~1080 – 1118): Queen consort of England, she married Henry I in 1100. As Queen she controlled and managed vast estates, and much property in London, establishing a precedent for the power of Queens consort in medieval England. Her husband spent over half his reign in Normandy, and it was Matilda who was left to rule England, acting as regent. She both witnessed the King’s charters (where her name was signed second only the King’s) and issued her own. Her letters, where she mediated between her husband, the Pope, and Bishop Anselm during the Investiture Controversy, are the earliest surviving letters of an English queen.

Devorgilla of Galloway (~1210 – 1290): Devorgilla was rich, influential and could have been a contender for the Scottish throne if she’d lived a few more months. After the death of her husband, she lovingly had his heart embalmed and carried it around with her. She used her wealth to secure the founding of Balliol College at Oxford University, and founded a magnificent sandstone abbey in Dumfriesshire. The rather well-preserved ruins can still be seen today.

Agnes Randolph (~1312 – 1369): aka ‘Black Agnes’. One of the more common ways women were directly involved in warfare in the middle ages was as defenders of castles under siege. Agnes’ defence of her home took place in 1337 when the Earl of Salisbury attacked Dunbar Castle. Agnes refused to surrender, though she had only her ladies and a few guards to defend her castle. The Earl brought siege engines in to break the walls. When they took a break from firing, Agnes and her ladies walked the battlements and dusted the walls with their handkerchiefs. The Earl deployed a battering ram to take down the castle gates. Agnes has a giant boulder dropped on the attackers. Where did she get a handy giant boulder from? The Earl’s men had fired it over her walls. The Earl brought out Agnes’ captured brother and stuck a rope around his neck and threatened to hang him. Go ahead, Agnes told them, I’ll get his earldom.

After five fruitless months, the Earl of Salisbury gave up and lifted the siege.

Agnes Campbell (1526 – 1601): Agnes Campbell married the Irish chieftain Turlough Luineach O’Neill, and brought with her a dowry of some 1200 Scottish soldiers, which she led herself against occupying English forces. She was a leader in the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579 – 1583) against the English, and mobilised Scottish support for the Irish.

Mary Stuart (1542 – 1587): Mary Stuart’s rule of Scotland was, in the circumstances, a remarkable one, with a tragic end. She’d been Queen since she was six days old, but raised in France from five years old. At eighteen, she returned to Scotland, a country practically foreign in its cultural and political landscape, not to mention a wee bit barbaric compared to the sophistication of the French court. She was also a Catholic, and Scotland was now Protestant. Despite all this, Mary was, until her disastrous marriage decisions, a much loved and popular monarch. She was no religious zealot like her cousin, Mary Tudor, or Isabel of Castile, and recognised that it would be a fruitless task to try and convert Scotland back to Catholicism. All she fought for, and won, was her right to worship privately as a Catholic. This didn’t stop her using the fact that she was the Catholic monarch in a Protestant country to her advantage. When the Pope suggested she should get on with converting the heathen back to the One True Church, Mary said, sure I will, but I’m going to need money to do that. The Pope sent money; Mary put it to other uses.

She successfully put down a rebellion, negotiated tenaciously with Elizabeth to recognise her right to succeed her to the English throne, saw more of her country than most of Scotland’s monarchs with her extensive progressions, made dramatic escapes from both Edinburgh and Lochleven Castle, and managed to be civil to John bloody Knox.

It did all end rather badly though.

Mary Hay (d. 1758): In 1717 Mary Hay inherited the title of Countess of Erroll in her own right, as well as Lord High Constable and Knight Marischal of Scotland. She was a Jacobite, supporting the Old Pretender, James Stuart, son of the deposed James II of England/VII of Scotland. She was a spy for James, ensuring the unnoticed arrival of the Old Pretender’s agents on the Scottish coast at Slains Castle, before having them taken to another of her castles, Delgatie. In 1745, she raised an army in support of Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ to his friends) when he attempted to take the throne.

Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872): You know why the word ‘scientist’ exists? Mary Somerville. Previously calling scientists ‘men of science’ was what was going on, but since ‘man of science’ wasn’t an entirely accurate description of Somerville, the word scientist was coined by the critic William Whewell to describe her. She studied the physical sciences, and became famous after she translated Laplace’s Mécanique Céleste into English. She wrote immensely popular books on mathematics and astronomy. In 1835, along with astronomer Caroline Herschel, she became the first women admitted to the Royal Astronomical Society, and she was awarded a pension by the British Government in recognition of her work.

Betsy Miller (1792 – 1864): Miller was the first female sea captain certified by the Board of Trade when she took over as captain of her family’s ship, The Clytus, in 1847.  She was a successful businesswoman, sailing with coal to Dublin and bringing back limestone to Ayrshire. She continued as captain until she was seventy, when she passed on her command of her ship to her younger sister, Hannah.

Williamina Fleming (1857 – 1911): Discovered the Horsehead Nebula. Also had a life that read a bit like some sort of lifetime movie: she went off to America with her husband, who abandoned her while she was pregnant, leaving her penniless in a foreign land in the nineteenth century. Luckily she found work as a housekeeper, and her employer happened to be the director of the Harvard College Observatory. The director – in a fit of pique at the incompetence of his current assistant, or because he was impressed with Fleming’s intelligence – offered her a job at the observatory.

During her time at the observatory she developed a new system of classifying stars, according to their spectra, that became known as the Pickering-Fleming System. She catalogued over 10 000 stars in nine years and was eventually put in charge of editing all the observatory’s studies, made curator of astronomical photographs, and employed dozens of young women to aid the observatory’s exploration efforts. (These women did all the mathematical calculations that would be done by computer today.)

Fleming discovered 10 novae, 59 nebulae, and 310 variable stars, and the existence of white dwarf stars. She was made an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society and an honorary fellow in astronomy at Wellesley College.

Elsie Inglis (1864 – 1917): Inglis studied at the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women and Glasgow Royal Infirmary. In 1894 she opened a medical practice in Edinburgh, and set up a maternity hospital for the poor (today it’s the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital), and became very active in the suffrage movement, speaking at numerous meetings across the country.

During the First World War, she became famous when she organised all female medical units to be sent to the Front. (The British War Office rebuffed her with charming words, “My good lady, go home and sit still,” but the French and the Serbs were more concerned with their soldiers and accepted her offer.) These medical teams were active in France, Serbia, Corsica, Salonika, Romania, Russia and Malta. As well as caring for the injured, these women went into the trenches to bury the bodies. In 1915, Inglis led a team herself, in Serbia. She and her team were captured during an Austrian offensive, but the American and British negotiated their safe release. Sadly, she died before the war ended.

Chrystal MacMIllan (1872 – 1937): In 1896, MacMillan was Edinburgh University’s first female science graduate, before she completed an MA and became a lawyer. She’s most famous for being the first woman to plead a case before the House of Lords, where she unsuccessfully argued that female university students should have the right to vote (at the time, many universities had their own MPs), but won a great deal of publicity and acclaim for her cause. She continued to speak widely and passionately about women’s rights. In 1913 she became secretary of International Woman Suffrage Alliance. During the First World War, she was a peace activist and one of only three British women to attend the International Congress of Women in the Hague (the low number is thanks to Churchill deliberately cancelling cross-Channel ferry services to prevent attendance) though she did have the chance to travel to the US to present President Woodrow Wilson with the Congess’ Wisconsin Plan, and many of its points were taken up by Wilson. She began working as a lawyer in 1918 and continued to advocate for women’s rights the rest of her life.

Top Five Underrated Doctor Who Monsters

There was a shiny new addition to my Very Grown-Up action figure collection a few days ago. Actually, there were several. But although I’m delighted I now have a bookshelf resplendent with Jo Grant and the Brig, my heart belongs to the third figure in The Three Doctor themed trio: a Gel Guard.

This dude here, that I’m hiding behind:

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The Gel Guard is a smashing monster, but its charms are often overlooked by fandom. It’s Too Silly, you see. It’s not realistic, not a Proper Grown-Up Monster like the Very Serious Art Deco Robots or an alien Egyptian god stuck on his chair in a pyramid on Mars, or those roll-along bug-eyed pepper pots with tentacled cabbages stuck in em.

No, the humble Gel Guard is mocked. But just cause it looks like a giant diseased jelly baby and goes wibble-wobble as it, um, wobbles forwards doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. Its whimsical, even absurd, appearance is all the better for throwing its deadliness into sharp relief. And they’re damn frightening when you’re six years old. (No mocking! …I’m also scared by medium heights, compasses – the drawing circles kind  – and moray eels.)

And so the Gel Guard begins my list of the top five most underrated Doctor Who monsters:

1) The Gel Guard

Gel Guards escorting Second Doctor and Sergeant Benton

Okay, I admit that to my eye now, they look charming, by which I mean, slightly daft. But as a kid their blobbiness just meant they were More Scary. They have one giant eye! And they don’t talk! You only know they’re coming cause you can hear the most menacing of all possible wibble-wobble noises getting closer. And bullets can’t stop them… (And, yeah, that might be par for the course in the Pertwee era, but when you start firing bazookas at monsters, give yourself a hearty pat on the back at your awesome bazooka-shooting destructive power only for the smoke to clear and the wobbling menace to be even closer, it doesn’t do a half bad job at emphasising the indestructibility of these monsters.) You can’t even disarm them – they attack with a cool light-up claw (no light-up claw on the action figure sadly) that blows shit up. Then, and this worried me excessively when I was wee, they’re made of antimatter, so at any moment they might just blow up *everything*. (Yeah, they’ve been adjusted so they can exist in a matter universe but twas an evil mad genius what did it, and they’ve been known to make mistakes.)

Best of all, they only exist in the first place because the villain of the piece has willed them into existence. Of all the minions in all the universes that he could have chosen to create, he goes for one-eyed blob monsters armed with exploding claws. Bless.

2) The Quarks

Quark being all menacing

I watched The Dominators recently and am now of the view that it’s bloody good (go on, ask me how!) Marring this brilliance is the fact that it’s one episode too long and most of the cast are wearing curtains. One thing that very definitely isn’t doing any marring are the Quarks, adorable and deadly robots that are keen on blowing stuff up. Look at them! Aren’t they cute? They have soft, gentle voices, almost like children, but not in a….well, not *really* in a creepy way. Basically, what I’m saying is that they’re the Portal turrets of the Whoniverse. (If you haven’t played Portal, shame on you, it’s brilliant.)

3) The Giant Clam

Harry Sullivan and Giant Clam

Oh, come on, it’s a clam and it’s GIANT. How is that not awesome? And it eats people! Or bites their legs, anyway. You know I had to be told that clams can’t move? I mean, obviously they don’t, but thanks to cunning camera trickery, I was convinced the Giant Clam did for, well, quite a while….actually, I still think it can move, shusht, it’s genetically engineered by a mad scientist, goodness sake. It’s probably got some shiny new moving part inside that shell that lets it rock side to side.

4) The Chronovore

Chronovore from The Time Monster

The Chronovore is ever so slightly hampered in its monstrousness by the fact that it looks almost exactly like a man dressed in a sheet flapping around on wires. I admit that. On the other hand it EATS TIME. It will steal your life and not in the fun Weeping Angel, yay, I get to go back in time way. Sure, later it gets round to eating people or leaving them in a state of living death or whatever, but that first attack in The Time Monster on poor old Stuart leaves him almost-but-not-quite aged to death. Death is common in Doctor Who, and it tends to be easy, instant, leaving those monsters who attack in more inventive ways than a quick laser blast looking that much more horrific. The Chronovore may look daft, but the look on Stuart’s face when he sees what’s happened to him does wonders to convince you a dude flapping around in an unconvincing bird suit ain’t a laughing matter.

5) Kroll! Kroll! Kroll!

Kroll rises from the swamp

Poor old Kroll gets a lot of stick for looking a bit crap, but the ambition! Kroll is not a giant squid, Kroll is a SuperMegaGigantoSquid OF DOOM. Is it Who’s biggest monster? Yes, I think it is. If you were staging some manner Who monster deathmatch, you’d want Kroll on you team. Cause if you didn’t you’d lose. Yes, you would. Daleks vs Cybemen, who wins? KROLL DOES.

And, you know, if Character Options want to release any more of these dudes as action figures, I really really wouldn’t object.

In other news, the second episode of Verity! is now available for your listening pleasure where Erika, Deb, Katrina and Tansy discuss The Eleventh Hour and some other episodes of the Eleventh Doctor era, and Delia Derbyshire Day (she has a day now, hurrah!). Sadly, I’ve no idea if they say sensible things or talk complete nonsense, but I’m about to hit the play button to find out.

Hugo Award Nominations

It’s Hugo nomination season and, for your consideration, if you’re so inclined and such, I’m mentioning the fact that Chicks Unravel Time, edited by Deb Stanish and me, is eligible in the Best Related Work category.

If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably already seen me mention this book once or twice, but just in case: it features 34 writers from round the world examining every season of Doctor Who from 1963 through to season 6 of the reboot with a fresh, feminist eye. There are many fantastic writers amongst our contributors, including Barbara Hambly, Aliette de Bodard, Una McCormack, Amal El-Mohtar, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Lynne Thomas, Rachel Swirsky, Seanan McGuire and Martha Wells. We’re awfully proud of this book and would be honoured if you’d consider it.

Hugo nominations are open until March 10th, and you can nominate if you’ve a Worldcon membership (full or supporting) to this year’s LoneStarCon, last year’s Chicon, or next year’s Loncon, and buy your membership before January 31st.

Now that’s over with, here’s some awesome stuff that I’m nominating:

Best Fancast: The Writer and the Critic. I love these guys. They are delightful and cheer me immensely whilst igniting my enthusiasm for a whole lot of books I’d never have considered buying otherwise. I have a particular wee pile of books sitting on a table; I call it The Writer and the Critic pile.

Best Fan Writer: I was very much “I have no idea” here until reading someone else’s list of stuff they were nominating and they linked to Foz Meadow’s blog. I clicked over and it looked terribly familiar. And then realised, yes, I had been there before. Kind of a lot. For she says a lot of good stuff. Smart, informative and terribly interesting stuff.

Best Short Story: I’ve managed to read a lot of pretty great short stories this year, and in order to save myself kind of a lot of typing, I’m just going to mention my very favourite: Scattered Along the River of Heaven by Aliette de Bodard. I know Immersion’s getting a lot of attention (and it’s set in the same ‘verse, if I’m not mistaken?) but River of Heaven’s the one that makes me flail with delight. I love the world-building, the characters, the conflict. Reading it, I felt the same joy as when I was first discovering so much ‘Golden Age’ sci-fi as a young teenager, but, y’know, without having to ask “where are the women?”

Best Semiprozine: Apex Magazine. There are quite few ezines I read semi-regularly, but Apex is the one I’m always straight off to have a look at as soon as it’s published. Reading it, I find myself gently shoved out of my comfort zone, and persuaded to expand my reading choices, which I think is rather marvellous.

Best Graphic Story: Saucer Country: Run by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly. I feel *slightly* guilty about this one, cause I don’t really read comics thus very much not qualified to say what the best graphic story was last year. But I love this. The premise: Arcadia Alvarado is running for President of the United States…and she was abducted by aliens. Taking a wonderful, ridiculous idea like that and treating it deadly seriously is the sort of thing I draw little hearts around. It’s exciting, marvellously compelling reading, and it’s not terribly easy to get me to read a comic…graphic story, whatever. It’s really, really good is what I’m saying.

Best Fan Artist: Katy Shuttleworth. There’s a confident humour, an infectious joy, in her art that makes me want to lock her in a room and make her draw things for me all day. I would never do that, obviously, because kidnap is wrong. And also she’s very far away, so, y’know, effort. Her tumblr has many of the lovely things she’s made here: http://jigglykat.tumblr.com/tagged/i-did-this.

I feel a bit rubbish at completely failing to nominate any novels, but turns out I read only one novel published in 2012 in 2012, and I’m *fairly* sure Bring Up the Bodies isn’t SFF. It is, however, superb, and everyone should read it.

CITV’s 30 Years of Kids’ Telly

This weekend I have the Most Exciting Plans: scheduling everything around ITV’s celebration of 30 Years of Children’s Television.

When I first heard they were doing this, I was sceptical (“ITV?! I never even *watched* CITV. Or at least just enough to know I *hated* Children’s Ward.” No reflection on the quality of Children’s Ward – my dislike extends to all hospital drama – not my thing.) But a quick look at the schedule reminded me that this wasn’t true, caused a very dignified flail on my part for the sheer volume of Delicious Childhood Nostalgia they were ladling onto the screen, and prompted this rundown of some of the best stuff they were showing on the tellybox this weekend:

“…the vicious vampire ducks!”

Count Duckula! My memories of this mostly extend to the awesome opening theme which scared the crap out of me, even when I knew it was all going to be okay cause the incompetent minions would mistake tomato sauce for blood ANY MOMENT NOW. Possibly this show is to be blamed from my none-too-restrained love of Hammer Horror.

“Enter, stranger!”

Knightmare! OMG KNIGHTMARE I LOVE YOU SO. Friday nights, this was on, and at more or less the same time as *something* on the BBC that my sister liked, so I kept only getting to see the last couple of minutes. I love everything about it. The gameplay, the music (omg, the music!), the graphics, the costumes, characters, sets, and, of course, the brutal unfairness of it all. If you won the trophy at the end, you *really* deserved it, and if you didn’t, your teammate suffered a horrible, horrible end.

It was properly scary: when the face came up onscreen to tell the kids they were running of time, I was *terrified*; HIS FACE WAS DISINTEGRATING. And the noise of…goblins? Orcs? Some sort of bad guys approaching – that sent me literally running behind the couch, folks.

Pickle was a delight. Not so fond of the genie. HUGO MYATT = AMAZING. Didn’t like the changes in the nineties when they seemed to soften everything: music and graphics especially. No cool eighties twang to the theme tune, dammit! I did like Lord Fear though.

Art Attack, oh ffs. The only reason I ever watched this, or indeed, any art show, was because of my sister. She liked this crap, I didn’t. On the other hand, she never ever complained no matter how often I watched Doctor Who, which was kind of a lot, so, y’know, happy memories, in a way.

“It’s a real crazy show!”

The worst thing about Fun House, other than Pat Sharp’s mullet, is I can remember the lyrics to the theme all these years later. MY SOUL IS DAMAGED PEOPLE. Didn’t they get amazingly cool prizes on this? …well, they were amazingly cool to a six-year-old in the early nineties, so shusht.

There was always something weirdly cathartic about watching Finders Keepers. From what I remember there was answering a question, running round a (fake) house in the studio and a lot of tearing the rooms apart and making a massive great mess. Probably this says something dreadful about my mental state, but never mind.

“Look, Ma, I caught a fraggle!”

Confession: I’m not very good at Muppets. I watched Muppet Babies as a kid and I loved it, so seeing them as grown-ups and not in cartoon form was mostly strange and disconcerting to me. Apart from A Muppet Christmas Carol. Cause that’s just brilliant.

I DID GET FRAGGLE ROCK THOUGH. Look at them! All singing and stuff! I feel awful saying this cause it’s exactly the sort of sentiment that I’ll respond to with a glare and eye roll and stuff, but the theme tunes to kids’ shows when I was a kid were SO MUCH BETTER THAN THEY ARE NOWADAYS.

“Oh, crumbs!”

Dangermouse! Oh, someone ruined Dangermouse for me cause they told me David Jason did all the voices (no, I hadn’t noticed, shush) and then I didn’t hear Dangermouse any more, I heard DEREK TROTTER. So thanks for that, WHOEVER YOU WERE.

But before that traumatic incident it was fabulous. Dangermouse, other than the voice thing, is one of those smashing cartoons that manages to be even better when you’re an adult.

“I am so sweet and loveable, cuddly toys just sneer at me.”

Another confession: I never saw Press Gang as a kid. Not any of it. Not once. I have no nostalgia for it, and that hurts. It’s like I’m missing a tiny part of the quintessential television-watching British child growing up late-eighties/early-nineties experience. A PIECE OF ME IS MISSING.

On the bright side, I did watch the whole thing a couple of years ago over a weekend where I was woken up every morning with the words “it’s Press Gang time!” And, yes, yes it was. And it was brilliant. Every good thing anyone has said about this show is true. It’s probably the best children’s show ever made.

Verity!

I’m on a podcast now! Which is mostly quite exciting but also a little bit scary because sometimes I hear my own voice, and sure, everyone says Scottish accents are great and they are, but only when they’re Other People’s accents.

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But, yes, podcast! It’s called Verity! And, yes, it has an exclamation mark in the title, and is about Doctor Who (you know, that telly show that is the greatest telly show ever made) and has six marvellous contributers from four countries who all share kind of a lot of love for the show:

The people:

Deborah Stanish – My ridiculously wonderful co-editor from Chicks Unravel Time (and this other book called Whedonistas, which is not about Doctor Who), and writer of many a Doctor Who opinion in various zines and books.

Erika Ensign – Who makes my eyes light up with glee at the things she writes about classic Who on Fangirl Knits Scarfs. She’s also reponsible for the magic that turns our enthusiastic discussion into a podcast episode, or ‘editing’ as she calls it.

Katrina Griffiths – From the late, great Bridging the Rift podcast. She now hosts Across the Planet. Where I’ve just noticed they’re currently discussing the early nineties animated X-men series and I’m going to try very hard to pretend I didn’t see that, because I have Stuff To Do, darnit! (That X-men series? Greatest cartoon ever and pillar of my childhood.)

Lynne M. Thomas – She’s got two Hugos, y’know. And three Hugo nomination pins. I stole one once, for about fifteen minutes before she had Words at me. She’s co-editor of several nifty-keen books (Chicks Dig Time Lords, Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Comics), moderator of the SF Squeecast and editor of Apex Magazine

Tansy Rayner Roberts  – She has a Hugo pin for co-hosting the rather awesome Galactic Suburbia podcast, and is the writer of the Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk (which has been recommended to me by a silly amount of people and I just bought, since I decided, yes, I *can* be in the future and buy ebooks and probably won’t accidently spend all my money. Probably.)

So that’s our line-up. And, as you would probably be quite right to expect from a podcast, we’ve things you can listen to: a terribly exciting teaser, some delightful waffle (aka episode 0) and Our First Proper Episode (aka episode 1), in which we discuss this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen, and which you should absolutely definitely listen to. Cause it is great.

(You can find us on our website, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes.)

My New Year’s resolution…

It’s a lovely shiny New Year, a New Year full of the number 13. Lots and lots of 13s. Which is just super. It would probably be better not to admit this, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the number 13. It makes me nervous. All odd numbers are a bit suspicious, but 13 is really a bit much and I’d be much happier if it were replaced by the much prettier 14-1. Look at that lovely 14. Look how pretty and Not Unsettling it is.

Anyway, in hopes of actually keeping to New Year’s resolutions, I have but one. I want to finish this book (I’ve enhanced the photo with a smiley face of yarg):

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Now, that might not seem like much, but I’ve been reading that biography for TEN YEARS. I didn’t finish all that many books this year (…or last year come to think of it), possibly less because I wasn’t reading much and more because I got ever so slightly distracted, frequently. I was given a lovely biography on Matilda of Flanders for Christmas. Did I consider maybe finishing one of the biographies lying around a bookmark already in it before starting it? No, of course not, that would be SILLY. Which is why I have all these untidy piles of books I’ve started reading and not yet finished. (On the bright side, I don’t have a To Read pile.)

So, this one WILL BE FINISHED. Not merely so I can find out what happens to Marie Antoinette (SHUSH, Fraser is writing it as if any possible horrible and tragic endings are not a foregone conclusion and she’s really very good and sometimes I do forget), but as a symbol of less procrastination and more getting stuff done in the shiny new year of 2014-1.

That, and getting my K1 Robot’s right arm. (If that made sense to you, you’ve got my admiration AND PITY.)

Happy New Year!