a few more things about St. Mary’s

by dichroic in books

(See previous post for context.)
These books are absolute time travel crack, but they move along so damned fast, apparently, even the author can’t keep up. Just a few of the continuity errors, behind a cut because spoilers are unavoidable though I’ll try not to be too specific.

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a concise St. Mary’s reference

by dichroic in books, daily updates

I really like The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor; the first book was a bit awkward, as first books so often are, but they’ve smoothed out. There are faults, of course – a ton of minor characters not adequately fleshed out (one reason for this post), way too much plot crammed into the first couple of books especially (another reason), but they’re just way too much fun not to read. (The audiobooks, read by Zara Ramm, are also excellent, except for the minor problem that they keep making me laugh out loud while I’m erging. ) The series is up to 7 books now, and is desperately in need of a wiki – in particular, I can’t keep track of the historian corps in each book. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be one; I’ve found a few sites listing the books and stories in internal chronological order, but that’s about it. So, for my own reference, and for the use of anyone who wants to set up a wiki someday (warning, probably spoilers below). Character lists are not complete I’ve just tried to include the ones who actually have personalities.

The Very First Damned Thing
Short story. Prequel.
People: Introduces Dr. Bairstow, Mr. Strong, Major Guthrie, Mrs. Mack, Dr. Rapson, Dr. Dowson, Mrs. Cleo Partridge, Dr. Helen Foster, Markham, Thirsk Chancellor Evelyn Chalfont, Leon Farrell, and Max. (These characters are in every book, so don’t need to be listed again.)
Sites / Events Visited: Battle of Waterloo.

Just One Damned Thing After Another
Novel 1.
Historian Corps in this book: Kalinda Black, Tim Peterson, Lower, Baverstock plus recruits Max, Grant, Davey Sussman, Nagley, Jordan, Rutherford, Stevens, plus Pathfinders (next set of recruits) Van Owens, Schiller, Clarke.
Other important characters introduced: Mrs. Enderby (head of Wardrobe), Big Dave Murdoch,’Weasel’ Whissell and Evans (Security), Dieter (Technical), Izzy Barclay and Polly Perkins (IT), Nurse Hunter, Sybil de Winter (Max’s teacher and occasional recruiter for St. Mary’s), Jamie Cameron (R&D), Clive Ronan
Sites / Events Visited: the building of Westminster Abbey, the Somme in WWI, Cretaceous Era, Library of Alexandria

When a Child is Born
Short story. Peterson, Guthrie, Markham and Max try to visit London in 1066.

A Symphony of Echoes

Novel 2
Historian Corps in this book: Kalinda Black, Tim Peterson, Max, Schiller, Van Owen, Clerk (same as Clarke from Book 1?), Pathfinders Prentiss, Hopwood, Dewar
Other important characters introduced: David Sands, Rosie Lee, Evans (different one), Pinkie, Knox, Katie Carr, Rosie Lee
Sites / Events Visited: Jack the Ripper’s London; a future St. Mary’s; assassination of Thomas a Becket; Hanging Gardens of “Babylon”; Edinburgh and the court of Mary, Queen of Scots;

A Second Chance
Novel 3
Historian Corps in this book: Tim Peterson, Miss Van Owen, Miss Schiller, Mr. Clerk, Miss Prentiss, Mr. Roberts, Miss Morgan, Kalinda Black (visiting from Thirsk)
Other important characters introduced: Professor Penrose, retiring from Thirsk, Joe Nelson
Sites / Events Visited: Isaac Newton at Cambridge, Troy, the Gates of Grief, Cretaceous, Battle of Agincourt

Roman Holiday
Short story. Max, Peterson, Van Owen, Guthrie and Markham visit Caesar and Cleopatra.

A Trail Through Time

Novel 4
Historian Corps in this book: Tim Peterson, Miss Van Owen, Miss Schiller, Mr. Clerk, Miss Prentiss, Mr. Roberts, David Sands
Other important characters introduced: Officer Ellis
Sites / Events Visited: the Great Frost Fair (London 1683); Thebes in ancient Egypt, eruption of Pompeii, the Tabard Inn in 14th-century London; finishing with the Battle of St. Mary’s.

Christmas Present
Short story. Max, Peterson and Markham visited Boudicca’s Colchester in AD60

No Time Like the Past
Novel 5
Historian Corps in this book: Tim Peterson, Miss Van Owen, Miss Schiller, Mr. Clerk, Miss Prentiss, Mr. Roberts, David Sands,
Other important characters introduced: Officer Ellis, Bashford (History), Elspeth Grey (History), Randall (Security), Miss Shaw (PA to Training Officer)
Sites / Events Visited: St. Mary’s during the English Civil War; the Crystal Palace Exhibition; Great Fire of London; Florence, Bonfire of the Vanities, Battle of Thermopylae

Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings
Short story. Max, Peterson and Markham in Ancient Egypt.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Novel 6
Historian Corps in this book: Tim Peterson, Mr. Clerk, Miss Prentiss, Mr. Bashford, Miss Grey, Mr. Roberts, David Sands. Trainees: Atherton, Hoyle, Lingoss, North, Sykes.
Other important characters introduced: the trainees
Sites / Events Visited: Valley of the Kings, end of 18th dynasty; Pleistocene / Ice Age; Herodotus; Joan of Arc’s execution, opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, 1864; Battle of Bosworth

Lies, Damned Lies, and History
Novel 7.
Historian Corps in this book: Tim Peterson, Mr. Clerk, Miss Prentiss, Mr. Bashford, Miss Grey, Mr. Roberts, David Sands. Pathfinders: Atherton, North, Sykes.
Other important characters introduced: Halcombe, Dottle, Matthew Farrell
Sites / Events Visited: Coronation of George IV; Wales, 6th century; presentation of Edward II as first Prince of Wales; King John; early Stonehenge circa 2300 BC, unidentified location

The Great St. Mary’s Day Out
Short Story. Dr Bairstow and most of the major characters visit a showing of Hamlet, complete with Sharespeare as the Ghost.

narrative dreaming

by dichroic in daily updates

I had the coolest dream last night – something about being on a spaceship that was mostly built by the Mayans. There were some issues with the oxygen system – we’d thought we wouldn’t need any O2 above 900 miles, then it turned out we did, so suddenly I couldn’t breathe and thout we were all going to die – but then the backup system kicked in. It had only been intended for a few people who for some reason had different breathing requirements than the rest of us, but it was somehow self-contained and could handle any number of people. It provided less air than we were used to but plenty to function well. (This may have something to do with me recently spending a few days in Quito, which is at an elevation of 9250’/2820m.)

Later on, I went to explore the ship farther and walked into a big room with a sign proclaiming “GET ALL YOUR SPACE QUESTIONS ANSWERED – FROM MOVIES, BOOKS, ANYTHING”. There were lots of people all around the room, at screens or talking to computers.

The whole thing seemed like a much more cohesive story at the time than my patchy memories are conveying now, I do like it when I get narrative dreams – it’s like getting to keep reading even while I’m asleep. (Aside from the time I had a nightmare involving cryogenics. I don’t ever need to do that one again. The problem was, Ted went under first, To be woken up at some far future time, and only then did I learn that the procedure ended up killing about 75% of the people who went through it. So I had to choose between losing him or taking that risk myself. Blech.)

Los Galapagos!!

by dichroic in daily updates, travel

I finally got our Galapagos trip blogged, and it took only 5 posts to do it. You can click each link below directly or just start with the first (or last) and page through.


About the ship, trip and people

Photo-intensive posts:
Tortoises, sea lions and scenery
Birds (and also more birds) (and there were even some more kids we didn’t get photos of – ask me if you want to know which of these are which)
Iguanas, lizards, and a few other things


by dichroic in knitting

Just a couple of photos of the knitting projects I’ve just finished:





nearly back to normal life

by dichroic in daily updates, photos, travel

We got back from the Galapagos just a week ago and I’m at the tail end of catching up: I’ve unpacked and done all my laundry; restocked the fridge and cupboards; caught up on email and news: set up a Google Drive and given access to all the other people on our trip so we can share photos; uploaded some of our own photos for them (everyone was eager to see Ted’s photos, because he brought a long telephoto lens).

I’ve also just about caught up on sleep; I never did get to sleep a night through during the trip. We were on the lower deck, toward the bow of a 12-passenger ship with no high-tech stabilizers. I can sleep through a ship’s rocking, but not through the bow whapping down after each wave, or through the anchor chain being lowered from right overhead. Then in Quito, our hotel room was noisy, then we had a red-eye flight that was a couple hours late so we left at 1:40 AM, one day off, and then back to work.

This weekend, I finished both the shawl I was knitting during the trip and the socks I’d left at home (after I frogged and reknitted the leg of the first sock four times before we left).

So now I just need to blog the trip – having selected our best photos already, for sharing, should help with that.

And then it’s time to be thinking about where we’d want to go for our next big trip.

Here, have a couple photos.





Turning protest to pablum: when will they ever learn?

by dichroic in musing

To the people who want to take “This land is your land, this land is my land” out of copyright: there’s really no need. I bet Woody’s heirs would be glad to let you use it if you just use ALL the verses he wrote:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

who will be left to speak for you?

by dichroic in politics

First, because I want to say a thing I think is important and I don’t want to be misunderstood: Black lives matter.

Of course all lives matter, but Black lives are at an unfair and unwarranted level of risk today in the US (and some other countries); that’s why we need the #Blacklivesmatter movement and slogan.

So I am trying to strengthen, not weaken, that movement’s ability to argue when I point out that some of its activists seem to have a far rosier picture of where society is right now on other issues than reality justifies.

In recent days I’ve seen people trying to explain why Black lives matter with claims like “You wouldn’t have walked into Orlando right after the shooting saying Straight lives matter!’ ” or “You don’t go to a breast cancer fundraiser and shout ‘What about other cancers?’ or ‘Heart attack victims matter too!’ ”

Sorry to say it, but yes. Yes, some people would say those things, because I’ve heard and seen them.

I’m not saying in any way that anyone should relax the fight to value black lives. I am REALLY not saying “You don’t have it so bad, other people have problems too.” Racism in the US is a real and desperate problem – I do believe we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got miles to go. (And backlash is a problem too, in any advancement in social justice.) What I’m saying is, bigotry is out there and it’s widespread – don’t underestimate how many facets it has. Prejudices are intertwined. That’s why the fight for justice is personal for all of us – because if you let hatred go unchallenged today, it’s coming for you tomorrow.

ETA: Thinking about this a little more, now I’m in a logical bind – because I don’t believe everybody has to fight every issue, every time. None of us have infinite energy, and we’re each liable to be most effective fighting for the cause that speaks to us. So I’m not trying to imply that every #BlackLivesMatter activist needs to put in equal time on queer rights or vice versa, just trying to say that none of us can get away with saying “that cause doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me”. I think it has to be more like “I choose to put my energy here where I think my efforts matter most – but I respect the people fighting this other battle; they are my comrades in arms and I will support them and speak up for them.”

a short sermon I need to get off my chest

by dichroic in politics

Black people.
BLACK people.

Usually when we(1) say that phrase we’re stressing the first word – the thing that the people it describes have in common, that brings them together. And they did come together last night, along with allies of other ethnicities, in cities across the US to march for peace and for an end to unjust shootings: in New York, in Minnesota, in DC, in Portland, in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia and other states … and in Texas, where 12 police officers were shot.

And that’s where that second word comes in: because black people are PEOPLE. And like any other group of humans, the vast majority of them are good and decent people who want nothing more than to be left alone, to live their lives in peace, safety and as much lovingkindness as they can muster around them. As much lovingkindness as we can muster around us … because I stubbornly believe that most people, most of us of any shade of skin, are good and decent people. But like any other large group of people, among black people there are a few that are just bad, that have chosen to do evil.

What it means to have equality – equality under the law as well as in our hearts and minds – is to just those people, not by the color of their skins but by the content of their characters, as shown in their actions. Go ahead and judge the sniper in Dallas who shot those police officers. Judge and mete out punishment to anyone who may have acted to support him and who survived last night. Judge them, because their own actions have rendered them liable to that judgement. But don’t judge the peaceful marchers they used as cover; don’t assume that people who just want to be sure their sons will survive random traffic stops will support the killings of other mothers’ sons just because they happen to have similar pigmentation to the perpetrators of evil. The shootings in Dallas were an evil done by one or more individuals who should not be judged as a representative of their race.

Also, until they release names and photos, don’t assume the sniper’s victims were white. Nearly half of Dallas police officers are minority (as of 2011, the latest numbers I could find that showed members of the force and not just applicants – their applicant pool is even more diverse. Sure, he said he “wanted to kill white people” – but just as his general actions will probably turn out to hurt other people of color most in the long run, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t so fussy about his actual immediate victims.

(1) Note: When I say “we” here I mean all Americans of any shade of skin. And I am not predominantly addressing this screed to Black Americans, because most of them already know this shit, viscerally and through experience.

(2) Some days I really do wish I had a pulpit. Stepping down now.

pray and hope for the peaceful, everywhere

by dichroic in daily updates

If you’ve had a sprained ankle, you might have gained some knowledge of what it would be like if you couldn’t walk. If you’ve been broke during college and didn’t have parents who could just send you money, you might have some idea of how it feels to be actually poor. If you’ve had a pet die, it might give you just a tiny bit of insight into the grief of someone who’s lost a child. In all of these cases, the situations are not the same – nowhere near the same – and sometimes the difference in scale is so great as to be a different thing entirely. Nonetheless, the more minor mishaps might just spur your empathy a bit, making it a little easier to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone with a bigger problem. Maybe you can’t really ever know what it’s like (and wouldn’t want to) but you are that nanometer closer.

That’s about how I feel about the bombing attacks in Medina yesterday.

Jewish women – women like me – have been physically attacked by Orthodox men for the crime of daring to be themselves and pray at the Western wall, in the “wrong” spot or while wearing the “wrong clothing”; as far as I know, none have been seriously hurt, but there’s that roiling mix of hurt and shame, to be attacked by those who are supposed to be our people, who claim to be upholding our holiest site. And obviously this can’t come anywhere near to the grief and shock of four deaths in Medina on top of a wave of killings in Istanbul, Bangladesh and Baghdad; I’m not making a comparison. All I’m saying is that I got burnt by a candle and it taught me just an infinitesimal bit about the heat of the sun.

My heart goes out to those who have lost someone they loved and also to those who are still in shock that groups who claim to be defending their faith could so defile it. I hope the killers and those who funded, trained and supported them will be brought to justice.