Category Archives: fandom

Liz Shaw from Dr Who — Audiobook Bible! Free!

Liz Shaw, the iconic no-nonsense UNIT scientific adviser who worked with the Third Doctor on Dr Who, was played by Caroline John, a very good actress with a very good voice. I’ve always been sorry we haven’t seen more of her work over here.

Now, in an amazing project for charity, Caroline John has recorded a complete audiobook version of the Gospel of Mark, and a good chunk of the Gospel of Matthew (currently, Chapters 1-11 have been posted). I think it’s the King James version; and it was professionally recorded over in London.

The Lambs Audio Bible is being put together by longtime US Dr Who fan Jeri Massi, who has been running the Conference of the Lambs, a group for documenting abuse of members of independent Fundamentalist churches (mostly a small denomination called IFB), and helping the survivors heal. The idea here is that people have sometimes been misled by selective quoting of the Gospels, and that hearing them as a whole will help people reorient themselves.

But anybody can use this. It’s free to download and may be freely distributed, too. (Details on the first chapter of Mark.)

Oh, such a lovely English voice. Even if you’re not religious or Christian, this is a real treat for any audiobook listener or Who fan. Obviously, Caroline John should be hired immediately by audiobook companies everywhere.

Here’s a Facebook page for just the Gospel of Mark.

Caroline John has also read bits of scripture previously for various series of talks on Jeri’s podcast All of Grace. (About which I don’t know much, and obviously Jeri’s theology isn’t Catholic; but there you are.)

UPDATE: See comment below from Jeri Massi. Apparently three out of the four Gospels were finished and are good, but the Gospel of John had audio problems. So posting is ongoing, but production is at the Argh! What to do?!? stage.



Filed under fandom, Recommendations

A Hemry by Any Other Name

A guy named John G. Hemry wrote a very decent series of military SF books focusing on JAG cases in the future. I thought they were very interesting, and was sad that Hemry apparently had no other books come out after that.

But wait! There’s more Hemry! He is just writing under the name “Jack Campbell” now. Hurrah!

I found this out by listening to the audiobook version of The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. This is the first book in a series which contemplates what happens if some poor guy gets turned into a King Arthur or similar culture hero legend, and then actually comes back from the dead at some point in the future. He crosses this with a big helping of Xenophon’s March; and this mixture actually works quite well. His hero finds himself faced with huge problems, despite considering himself just an average professional military officer, and has to both catch up and adapt to survive — all without drinking the Kool-Aid about how great everyone thinks he is.

The premise is somewhat similar to that of the old series Andromeda, but is carried out with less mythos and a lot more modernity of feel. Hemry/Campbell repeatedly captures both a realism of military setting and leadership, and of the jarring way that cultural and ethical differences would tend to show up when you least expected them, no matter how much you tried to study up. Hemry also notes in his audiobook foreword that he tried to use his Navy experience with “relative motion” to make the space shiphandling bits credible; and I think this also works well. I’m only about a third of the way through the audiobook, but it is really keeping my interest.

Anyway, if you have also been seeing Jack Campbell books in the store, but hesitated to buy them lest the cool concept be badly executed and your valuable reading time wasted, hesitate no more. Also, there’s an earlier trilogy by Hemry called Stark’s War. (I’ve never seen it, but in my area that just means that people bought it and held onto it. We like military sf in this town.)

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Takedown or Fakedown?

Warner Music Group recently had a hissy with YouTube, and demanded that all the previously permitted use of their songs in peoples’ video end forthwith, and all the videos be taken down.

However, a close examination of the offending tunes reveals that WMG hasn’t actually checked to see if the songs they want taken down are actually their songs.

For example, they have taken down some Scarlet Pimpernel musical songs that they managed to hunt out. But wait! Only the Broadway musical albums and their progeny were albums produced by Atlantic Records, in the Warner Music Group. The pre-production album by Linda Eder was and is from Angel Records, a subsidiary of the EMI/Virgin group. So those songs, or those versions of them, are none of their business.

So… Maybe other record companies ought to sue WMG for pretending to own their music?

Btw, YouTube is not at all interested in hearing about this from the peons. You should just see the maneuvers you have to go through to reach a complaint form, coupled with dark threats about lawyers and penalties. And it’s stupid. People will just get a new account and put the videos up again, or put them up on a different video service. It’s all just one big corporate lawyer kabuki dance, for which the lawyers are paid and by which the non-lawyers have their time wasted.

Of course, I only noticed this because our little Warner friends took down an ancient fanvid of mine. Doesn’t really affect me, of course, except to make me annoyed.

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Filed under Cartoons/Animation/Video, fandom

In the Midst of Life….

A few days ago, the daughter of one of our nicest choir members was born with her umbilical cord wrapped far too tightly around her neck. I’ve heard that her grieving father was able to reach a priest and get her baptized; her parents also were comforted by many, many of the staff at the hospital who very kindly stopped by while they were given the time to hold her. Somehow, this baby’s death was as blessed and comforting as it was sad and wrenching. We forget that there really can be such a thing as a happy and blessed death — and then it happens again, and we remember how humans were meant to live and die, before we first sinned.

(We say these things are extraordinary, but really, they happen all the time yet are always something unexpected. We don’t know why some people receive certain consolations in special ways; why others are comforted by God through more mundane channels; or why others suffer like Christ, mostly alone. Some day we will know, but not yet.)

Just yesterday, Robert L. Asprin (funny and controversial author, musician, songwriter, co-creator of the Thieves’ World shared world anthologies, creator of the Mythadventures, and founder of the Dorsai Irregulars, the Klingon Diplomatic Corps, and the SCA’s Great Dark Horde) passed away at his home in New Orleans. He was fine earlier that afternoon; he was dead by the time a friend arrived to give him a ride to the airport to be Guest of Honor at Marcon in Columbus. He died reading a Terry Pratchett book — and surely, that’s a little sign of God’s grace to him.

I only met him once or twice. Sure, I’ve heard lots about the bad stuff he did. But my friends and acquaintances in the Horde and Dorsai have enriched my life, and so have his songs and stories. He was good and bad; but he was never indifferent. So farewell, Yang the Nauseating, Commander Kras of the KDC, and all the rest.

In the midst of life, we are in death. This Memorial Day, we will remember and pray for our gallant dead. Please add to your prayers and thoughts a moment to remember an old pro and a tiny young girl — to pray for their friends and family as well — and to remember that you too must die.

Will you and I make as much of a difference as he did? Or as she?

UPDATE: A portrait of Bob Asprin by Kaja Foglio.


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Technology for a Better Life

If you are reading a fanfic on your computer, and the author names one of his characters

A) something twee, and

B) after someone you despise,

you can easily solve the problem with a global search and replace. What’s more, you can use this to deal with overly elaborate Mary Sue names, foolish errors in historical naming, and the like. (As long as you remember what you’ve done, and never write any reviews of scholarly articles based solely on your version, that is.)

Now, let’s see. Wouldn’t it be better if people didn’t use Merlin’s name so gratuitously to name their characters? Aren’t there a wide variety of other magicians about, like Michael Scott, Gerald Fitzgerald the Wizard Earl, Jan Tregeagle, Virgil, and Maugis? And wouldn’t it be better if everyone with a pretentious name were renamed things like Bob or Ann? So… if somebody is named, say, Pretentius Myrllllyn, you just rename him Bob Tregeagle or Mac Mogie.

Ahhhh. Much better.


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Because It’s There

I’ve always liked Vathara, who is one of the better exponents of the theory that any sufficiently interesting universe can be crossed over with any other. I don’t like all her stuff, but I couldn’t go to sleep last night until I finished “Shadows in Starlight”.

Even if you don’t normally like fanfic, this one you might enjoy. It is a work in which we learn what Rurouni Kenshin would be like if the people and situations had been born into the Star Wars universe, circa A New Hope. However, she also manages to retcon the chronologically-earlier first trilogy,  such that I don’t hate and despise all its works and pomps at the moment. (Though I still say Alec Guinness was thrice the Obi-Wan that anyone else could possibly be.) Anyway, tons of fun. If we have to have Those Other Movies, I’ll explain ’em to myself like this.


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“Inventor Rutili” Update

You know how you tend to have a certain picture in your head of how history was, and then you find out some little bit of information that brings you up short, like you’ve just tried to walk through a glass door?

In the Pope’s Easter Vigil homily this year, he said, “Gregory of Tours recounts a practice that in some places was preserved for a long time, of lighting the new fire for the celebration of the Easter Vigil directly from the sun, using a crystal.”


I assumed that the “petram” “silicis” in the hymn was flint. So did everybody else, apparently. But the poetic images transition much more smoothly from sun to rock, if Prudentius were referring to using rock crystal to focus sunlight the same way a magnifying glass does. Heck, the whole Easter Vigil imagery is stronger, for that matter.

We just don’t want to think of the classical world as knowing so many of the same scientific facts we do, much less of the early Church as employing science and technology in the service of religion. But many of the Fathers loved natural philosophy as much or more than regular philosophy. Also, it’s much easier for a Christian to love the wonderful things God’s creation can do, than if one were a Stoic thinking of the world as a plate that can break or a Gnostic hating all matter. So heck, if the early Christians had had a “frickin’ laserbeam” available to turn the sunlight into something that could start the Easter fire, they’d probably have used it.

(*rub hands together evilly* And you know, I have seen some calculations that lasers were possible in the classical world, given a good enough gemstone… that is, a good enough crystal…. Heh! No, I don’t really believe the early Christians had lasers. But in an alternate Greco-Roman universe, it’d be a pretty obvious liturgical development; and it would be really cool if the Vatican did something like that now. Not practical for every parish, though. And I think the frickin’ Roman laserbeams wouldn’t really have been technically possible without some real improvements in all kinds of materials. So take this all as total fiction; but it was pretty cool in a fictional way in that one James Rollins novel, and I think it might have showed up in a few more sf historical novels.)

UPDATE: Thanks, Cassandra, for the correction! At certain hours of the morning, I apparently can’t remember what Latin goes where, and… um… I was kinda in a hurry to post before work, so I didn’t do a fact check. *bloggy blush*

So silex, silicis = pebble, stone, rock, flint, boulder, stone. Not sounding very much like “rock crystal”, is it? I suppose Prudentius could have been writing about it in a way which would possibly include both flint and rock crystal, but… I don’t know that I’m buying it.

Sigh. Another beautiful crystalline boat of theory sinks slowly into the West, under the weight of a boulder of fact. Taking with it my frickin’ laserbeam.


Filed under Church, fandom, History