David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14

Chapter 10

  • After Clara’s funeral David’s step-dad and the step-dad’s horrible sister don’t give a shit about him and are fine with his going down to Peggotty’s family for a while. They’ve fired Peggotty (though she’d like to stay with David, who she’s helped almost co-parent since his birth and who’s just lost his mother and brother), so it’s a one-way ticket on her part.
  • Peggotty intimates that the time’s come to say yes to Barkis. It’s a practical sort of marriage, but she’s cheerful about the prospect. It’s a good situation, he likes her a lot, and she finds him funny.
  • Oh my god, after his mom’s HORRIBLE second marriage changing everything between David and his mom, Peggotty is like, ‘David, would you be okay with it if I got married?” And David’s like, ‘would you still love me?’ Peggotty has to excuse herself to DIE OF FEELINGS.
  • Young David is only consoled after his mother’s death by thinking about how gay he is for Steerforth. His friends are kindly going ‘there there, think of your great natural gayness David, this will soothe you in even the darkest hour—’

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  • David gets home and spends some months wondering what they’re going to do with him now, since they’re not interested in sending him back to school.
  • Our ‘maybe the hero’ is then sent to child labour funtime sleepaway camp by his stepdad&step-aunt who’re like YEAH UR WELCOME FOR THIS GREAT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY 🎉 exposure!! 🎉

Chapter 11

  • In London, David lives with the Micawbers. Now, WHILE WE ALL LOVE THESE INSOLUBLE FUCKUPS, Mrs M is also like ‘hi David, nice to meet you, lemme start by saying we’re in a financial crisis and I never realised the promise of my youth. 😬‘ David: I am extremely 10. Pro tip: don’t involve children in your life crises. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • David’s earning less than a shilling a day: even in Victorian, these intern wages suck major ass. He’s also slaving away to benefit his shitty step-dad’s floundering business—his step dad who KNEW EVERYTHING!!, except 1. how to do his own fucking job, and 2. not mismanage Clara-now-David’s tiny inheritance.
  • To be clear, I’m not sure how Clara’s remarriage affected that annuity and whether it passes to David. However I’m pretty fucking sure that by moral rights, any proceeds on his father’s small house are his. This fucker gets his inheritance snatched twice in the same novel! [A/N: More on the annuity question in a moment.] Anyway, David’s too young to advocate for himself or go ‘isn’t this my fucking house, could you leave?’ It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Murdstones have maybe-sort-of sent David off to die, because hey, free house? 🏡 It’d certainly be convenient for them. Probably Betsey could take up David’s cause when she adopts him, but if she did, Murdstone might suddenly find he wanted to keep David. Besides, Betsey’s been through a messy Victorian divorce, so I doubt she ever wants to fuck with barrister-law again, everrrr.
  • You may remember the devastating start of Sense and Sensibility, especially in the version so perfectly played by Harriet Walter/adapted by Emma Thompson/directed by sang Lee, where the heir of an estate and his wife whittle the man’s half-sisters out of their home and life by Reasonable degrees. Murdstone similarly excuses sending David to a shitty school, then excuses totally ignoring him for months, then excuses interminably sentencing David to something lower and more damaging than any legitimate internship. Murdstone sucks ass, but if you’d said this final step to him before his marriage, even he probably would have balked.
  • It’s chickenshit of Orwell to suggest that the problem of David being shipped off to do child labour is purely that someone of David’s class status was put in this position—there’s a wealth of evidence to support that child neglect/labour being things that exist are CD’s 🥩. There are about two sentences which could be read as ‘this work is evil, but particularly unfit for David as a middle class boy’. Though you’d have to read ungenerously to get there, and to be honest, what’s that get you? Do you want a prize for pointing out that it’s hard for even a lower-class Victorian or modern person to entirely decouple conceptions of privilege and worth? Are you trying to say Dickens was uniquely culpable here? It’d be hard to do. If you just want to say look, I found traces of socialisation, well. What… of it? What does that mean for the novel’s project, or for the freedom-work, to invoke Keguro, of striving to unmake class? He Was No Angeling often works in the service of hegemonies.
  • Katerina Ivanovna from Crime and Punishment, who I met first, back when I despised Dickens, and who impressed herself indelibly on me, is almost another angle on Mrs Micawber–the helpless exaggerated gentility of her lost life, the ridiculousness.
  • The Micawbers are in debtors’ jail for living too large/aka just poor people things.

Chapter 12

  • The Micawbers are now out of jail for their many and varied fuckeries with small tradesmen, and off to find new small tradesmen to inconvenience in Portsmouth. ADVENTURE!!
  • David has no one without them, and so he attempts to run away to his aunt, aka only living relative. He has a crappola time getting there, i.e. WALKING FROM LONDON TO DOVER ALONE AGE 10 WITH NO MONEY, and is harassed by like 8 chancers in a row. At one point he gets to stare up at the sky and think about how he’s gay for Steerforth again, but that’s about it.

Chapter 13

  • There’s a slight but affecting episode with a tinker’s abused wife, who cleverly tries to keep the tinker from harassing this unknown small child–only to get hit for her pains. Shades of Nancy.
  • Betsey’s housemaid Janet is buying rice when David finds her. It’s like 1830, what is she eating rice with? Genuinely interested. UPDATE! Doctor Rachel Moss thinks it could be this 1861 savoury baked rice pudding, or indeed its forbearer. I’m inclined to agree because they then had a bird and ‘a pudding’ for lunch—perhaps the servant nipped out to get the rice for it.
  • We are re-introduced to Betsey, and ah, the wait has been worth it. ‘Janet! Donkies!’ is the stuff of fucking legends.
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  • So basically David’s found his aunt, but said bitch has not forgiven him for being a boy yet.DzocwbYWkAIZf60.jpg
  • Betsey is the prime example of Dickens’ eucatastrophe with characters: someone is portrayed as possibly threatening or simply negatively, but they turn out to be great, so completely and convincingly it seems as if the narrative universe is changing its mind about them (though Dickens was mostly a thoughtful planner rather than a discovery-writer, and none of these about-faces feel retrospectively under-prepared-for). This is huge in Bleak House, for example, with Esther’s guardian and the disparity between that initial coach ride they share and her later meeting with him.

Chapter 14

  • ‘In which I realise I will never meet a badder ass’.
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  • Murdstone tells Betsey that Clara’s annuity ‘died with her’. The house was her property rather than David’s, and so his rather than her child’s. No one made a stipulation about this to protect David at the time of the marriage. Cool cool cool. Cool.
  • I don’t think Murdstone is an out and out fraud, but would he be circumspect about the particulars if he were in straightened means (as he is) and things were otherwise, say if David’s inheritence were tied to his majority? Sure. And is it pretty fucking ridiculous and potentially very contestable that the house is Murdstone’s and not David’s? I suspect so.
  • I’m just putting in the whole thing, because this is the most beautiful invitation to get fucked in English literature. Dover is conveniently near the sea and this dick is commanded to get in it.Dzpc4f2W0AAawJp.jpgDzpc4fsWkAAvTg3.jpg
  • Betsey has adopted David, who feels that if he keeps up the good behaviour Betsey might like him as much as she would a girl!DzpgHZIXgAEAW0X.jpg-large.jpeg

David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 6, 7, 8 & 9

Chapter 6

  • We’re FULLY in a school story now, it’s 1850 and Dickens cannot find a new genre without it becoming the Celine Dion show.

 

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  • David has his first disastrous crush on a charming, privileged fuckboi who’s too rich for direction or manners, and who makes David a shit version of himself: truly relatable. Enter James ‘big wallet, big dick’ Steerforth.

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  • ‘If u had a sister I’d do her just saying’
  • David’s not even that timid? This is like, Steerforth’s dewy-eyed fantasy!David.

Chapter 7

  • David’s been freaking out over being sent to this shit school for weeks alone as a punishment, having to constantly wear a sign that calls him a feral dog. Tommy Traddles rolls up to be COMPLETELY chill about it, because Tommy is a fucking gift, the best person ever around. This whole book is like ‘how I learned to appreciate Traddles, the MVP of my life, the chillest dude there ever was’.
  • Btw, there have been more descriptions of food: you can rest easy, Dickens has got you. There was a pork chop dinner and a full breakfast.
  • We get almost no physical description of David at all, in 800-odd pages. Odd, isn’t it? We do have black and white illustrations, but pretty much the only thing we’re told is that a kid, David considers himself to have a booty? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ DzSxCNYXgAAiNcV.jpg (Both Clara Copperfield and Betsey do suggest he’s ‘pretty’, as a boy and as a young man.)
  • This school sucks, in a ‘parody yet accurate depiction of the problems of under-regulated schooling in Britain’ sort of way. There’s a whole Thing in this part of the book about the psychology of witnessing suffering–the attraction and repulsion of it, the moral weight, the situational pressures on your judgement. It’s all interesting.
  • Traddles is everything, e v e r y t h i n g.
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  • DzS29aXW0AElKoq.jpgYou can just say you’re a sub, it’s ok man.
  • The scene with Mell getting fired/quitting is more complicated and good than it’s ever staged as. Steerforth, who causes the scene that results in this, is embarrassed and defensive about being asked to act like a sensible, decent boy old enough to know better. David’s past and present knowledge of what’s happening are overlaid. Everything about David retrospectively realising that Steerforth is just a dick, while having loved him in the moment and still loving the idea of him in the present, and David’s vast retrospective respect for Mell, is great.
  • Both in the text and at a meta/readerly level, Steerforth provides commentary on David. Both men NEED to be loved, but Steerforth is an abject coward who hounds Traddles to approve of him. David’s too young to side with Traddles, but even so, understands that Steerforth won’t forgive David for feeling conflicted and guilty.
  • Steerforth probably hates Mell because Mell doesn’t approve of him. Steerforth similarly can’t tolerate Rosa’s loving him while also seeing through his shit. He dumps Emily when she begins to really know him as more than a fused ideal and charming, particular precipitate of his privileges. Steerforth refuses to balk at eloping with Emily, to accept that moral curb or suggested limit to his personal power (or, simultaneously but conversely, to not do the thing that will exile him and spare him from having to live up to his potential), but having made that choice, he can’t face seeing David reasonably hate him for it.

Chapter 8

  • David visits home, which is still awful. The only major change is that his mom has had a baby, and as a result, she’s not looking too good. The foreshadowing is strong with this one.

Chapter 9

  • David’s mom’s died, and Traddles is like ‘bro. BRO. U gotta take my pillow.’ David’s like ? I have my own pillo— ‘TAKE MY PILLOW BRO 😭. I drew u some skellies, bro. 👍 Like, a whole fuckin sheet of those bony motherfuckers.’ If I’m ever in emotional distress I want Traddles to come to me with brimming eyes and the silent offer of his pillow and ‘cool S’ designs.
  • We collectively believe we know how death works in Dickens–our consensus conception is aptly summed up by the famous Wilde quote about the overblown death of Little Nell, Victorian sentimentality, blah blah. In fact there is very little textual support for this argument. Death is conspicuously unseeable in Dickens. Here David can’t even name or look directly at his death mother, let alone his baby brother:DzYN-uHX0AIBJ8m.jpg
  • David finds out his mom’s died while he’s at school. He’s been told his baby brother is also in a bad way. Yet far from glorying in infant mortality, the narrative works to distance us from it. Even our first person protagonist learns of the death of his brother in an elliptical way:DzYO0BqWoAAAP2M.jpgDzYO0CqX4AA0cAm.jpg
  • Rather than treating the events with extreme sentimentality or comic coarseness, the narrative locates David and thus us in the midst of people whose business is death, suggesting that death might be the business of life. We see their weird, not nasty but brisk professionalism, butting against David’s feelings. Life goes on, your problems aren’t other people’s, Mourning is a social code, subsumed within the logics of decorum and capitalism, and death is transactional rather than sacrosanct and exempted from such categories and relations.
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  • I love that we’re shown that Murdstone genuinely cares, and that he’s nonetheless an awful abuser who is hugely responsible for his wife’s death. I adore that he gets called out as such when Betsey annihilates him to his face.DzYQIaaX0AARgOy.jpgDzYQIajXgAAdLGM.jpg
  • The queer energy of Peggotty’s retrospective account of Clara’s death is not insignificant. This is too Present for me to have never seen it written on?
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David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapters 2, 3, 4 & 5

Chapter 2

  • Baby David is scared as shit his dead dad’s gonna come back as a zombie. 🧟‍♂️  He’s toyed with this imagery/become frightened of the possibility three times by chapter 2! Zombies aren’t even a cultural concept yet son, chill out.
  • I’m not really the person to make this argument, but this segment with Clara and Peggotty living together has a trace of North&South-esque queer energy to it (Mrs Hale and the family servant are close, and there’s an eroticised, worshipful, care taking gaze from servant to mistress, paired with a deep reliance and confidence in the reverse direction).
  • David’s mom starts dating a sketchy dude who David finds both compelling and the absolute worst, and who David doesn’t trust an inch. Neither does Good Instincts Peggotty.
  • As Molly Katz and I started to say in our short piece on dogs in David Copperfield, young David’s ideal, prelapsarian world has no place or use for men. Masculinity, as much as anything, is the unwelcome intruder when Mudstone comes on the scene. The intrusion of greater class distinction–Murdstone’s arrival and the resultant forcible distancing (or queer displacement) of Peggotty–is also characterised as a violent intrusion of patriarchal or social power.
  • I kind of mean it re: displacement: here the two Claras are raising a child together. What is THIS energy?

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Not to mention the deathbed scene later on. I don’t truly believe this,  it but people have said wilder shit for sure.

Chapter 3

  • Peggotty takes David to Yarmouth on a holiday to hang out with her family. Unlike the child narrator, readers can tell something sketchy is going on: this is not a sudden pleasure jaunt.
  • David is IN RAPTURES about Peggotty’s brother’s house, which is a boat. but. a. house. ?!?!?!?! Therein: Peggotty’s brother and his niece and nephew (different parents), who he’s raising. Also his old boating partner’s widow, Mrs. Clinical Depression. Peg-Bro flips shit if anyone says any of this is good of him, u shut ur whore mouth.
  • After two whole chapters in which food was only vaguely mentioned (but not like, lovingly dwelt upon, you know??), Dickens has becomes nervous and given us a full YouTube stage coach food review video en route. Peggotty can BAKE. This will become important later.
  • This mention of a starfish seems purely incidental, but it could also be read as an oblique treatment of Emily, class, and David or Dickens’ not knowing whether it’s better to have ‘left her as she is’.

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  • It’s also odd that Dickens lets David talk about probably his least attractive moment in this passage, which we’re not directly privy to when it happens in the narrative. Does Dickens believe he can make us love David anyway (hugely his Project here, as it never is with Pip), or has time blunted my ability to really appreciate the moral ramifications of Emily’s predicament? Did this read as a normal or even liberal-minded sentiment to the contemporary reader? I thought the best you could say for this statement was that Emily’s death might have preserved Ham and Steerforth’s lives.  Which is fair? David might easily wish Emily hadn’t caused her uncle pain and indirectly caused the deaths of two of his friends?

Molly Katz then mentioned that you could also read this as a wish that Emily herself had never suffered. This hadn’t occurred to me, but it could really be the case. Emily goes through hell: taken in by a cad, estranged from her family, her self-respect undermined, used, heart-broken, abandoned, propositioned by a full-on creep, having to make her way home only to live in the slums and possibly contemplate taking her own life, abused viciously by Rosa, ashamed and guilty over the effects of her choices on her family (including Ham’s death), potentially unhappy in Australia (though active and living in many ways a more grounded and self-directed life than she ever did before). Basically Emily might have been spared a lot of bullshit, even if it largely wasn’t her fault.

  • David is ONCE AGAIN freaked out his zombie dad will return. This child.
  • David returns home and discovered what the reader has been almost certain of: that he has a new and shit-tacular stepdad. Alas, Clara Copperfield could not control her lust for his fierce whiskergame. David’s willing to be reconciled to the situation if Murdstone will be decent to him for ten minutes together, but that is way, way beyond Bearface Bitchcakes, who’s here to immediately drop the charming facade and be a pure fuck to the whole cast.

Chapter 4

  • Whelp here we are in the Murdstone era, one of the most successful and awful evocations of emotional abuse ever. Mudstone is certainly a physical threat to David from the beginning, but he does far more damage to every member of the household via other means.
  • He also invites his weird hype-man sister to live with them and take over all household management, as part of his programme of infantilising and disempowering Clara.
  • Eventually Murdstone wears everyone down to the point where it’s possible for him to start physically abusing them, and he finds a pretext to beat David. Betsey later hypothesises this is an effort to torment Clara via her son, but I think it could also be because Clara had a husband before him, because there’s another male in the house and he’s a dog in the manger, or because he senses the core resolution of even a very young David’s personality and wants to beat it out of him. I’d even take a very 80s academia reading about the dislike/fascination between the two (a dynamic dwarfed by the appearance of Uriah Heep in 10 chapters and the ensuing foeyay) and a subliminally erotic ‘A Child is Being Beaten’ component to all this. (Similarly, what are we to make of the slightly odd mention of Creakle loving to beat a plump young boy like David later on? David is often, seemingly ‘unconsciously’, a self-eroticising subject.) If you wrote in a fic that Murdstone was the sort of domineering creep who wanted to control, fuck and hurt children, and that’s what drew him to the inexperienced Clara and also the root of his desire to have David under his thumb (the command that David be in the parlour with them, performing cheer), but that he disciplined himself in this and hated the object of his urges, I’d find that believable. Also Mudstone may just think this is Parenting. He mentions he was beaten himself (and look how well he turned out!), and honestly that doesn’t come as a shock.
  • Anyway, David bites Murdsone like ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIS FUCKING HAND when Murdstone tries to whip him. Mudstone beats the living shit out of David in a rage, then locks him in a room on bread and water, seeing no one and with nothing to occupy him, for about a week. Solitary confinement is A LOT to do to a child. Murdstone then has David (who’s guilty and horrified at what he did) sent away to a totally shit, highly disciplinary school run by an incompetent.

Chapter 5

  • I read my sister the ‘Barkis is WILLING’ bit when I got to it because I am That Stan. Basically a man who CANNOT communicate is attempting to express his interest in marrying Peggotty via the medium of a 9 year old while taking said 9 year old to boarding school. This goes poorly. I love that on one level Barkis is like, anyone who made this apple turnover, I would be PROUD to fuck. But also he’s just seen Peggotty burst out of a bush and lose her shit with compassion, and he’s like ‘fuck me up, she rocks’. There are infinitely worse ways to choose a spouse.
  • ‘I was lonelier than Robinson Crusoe who didn’t have anybody to SEE he was lonely!!’ This is some ‘I shall retire to my drama cave and DIEEEE’ energy I can get behind.
  • I don’t really know what to make of claims that Dickens doesn’t do psychological realism, only broad strokes characterisation. Here we are embedded in David’s conscious experience of childhood to a quasi-modernist degree? So what do people want and mean in saying this? Do they want more of a Henry James style adult treatments of consciousness?
  • The same goes for conversations about whether Dickens can write a ‘realistic’ romance. Dora’s a hella real romance just not a GOOD one. In a way is this just a class question about subjects, education, melodrama? Per Molly Katz, Dombey is significantly  invested in educated adult subjects making emotional decisions. Ultimately it’s not very clear to me why Tolstoy clears this bar for people, but not Dickens. Is it Dickens’ capacity for comedy writing? IS it just the class of subjects and writer?
  • It’s one of those big ‘oh but of course Dickens is bad at x’ caveats people make quite airily. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s sufficiently supported, either by argumentation or in terms of evidence. Shouldn’t that kind of claim be founded on more than vague chagrin (that one day I’d really like to work towards explication) and a cocktail party idea of the work? Like, I’ve read Tolstoy. I LOVE Tolstoy! It’s really not a whole register more emotionally real? Dickens’ broadness is just an occasional representational choice that yields many good effects.

David Copperfield Read-Along, Chapter 1

– Taking thesis notes on David Copperfield has required rereading, and to be honest I never wanna hear ‘Dickens can’t write women’ when I am staring at the glory of Aunt Betsey.

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– Betsey has immense and terrifying big dick energy, to the extent that everyone in town straight up thinks she’s a witch. David’s just like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I love her

– Betsey returns this affection to the extent that she is willing to allow David’s femme ass as one (1) exception to her lifestyle misandry after a probation period of not less than ten years for not having been a girl. She also constantly addresses the girl David SHOULD have been.

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– Betsey should possibly stop roasting her dead bestie Original Flavour David in front of his INCREDIBLY pregnant widow, who’s known her 10 min, but I don’t think she knows how. ‘David was teaching me how to cook—‘ ‘the fuck did DAVID know about cooking??’

– Betsey has brought ear plugs in case she had to ignore a baby being born today because this bitch is never at a loss.

– Interestingly, comments about Dickens being unable to write women ‘between 25 and 60’, I think is was, are very class-bound. For one—how old do they think Peggotty is, or do they not like her either? (What about Rosa?)

– Betsey mellows as she ages over the course of the novel/gets over her awful marriage (Dickens likes Betsey and wants her to have an arc, even if it does diminish her TITANIC nature somewhat). But at this point in the novel, Betsey should be, as Molly Katz points out, something like 45? given her stated age later. (“Retrospective: unclear if this is written after 1857 or in 1857. Seems to me to be ‘in’. […] Betsey now 80 years old. If it is 1857 that would mean she was born in 1777, and that she is 3 years older than David Sr.”) That’s rather young to be the original David’s aunt, but then my grandma and her Aunt Mimi (properly Lapetta Mignolo, I just called her Mimi as a baby because I couldn’t say that, so everyone started to) have that spilt, and they’re bffs. It certainly happens. The upshot is: Betsey IS exactly that Middle Aged Woman, supposedly absent or under-written. We see her being a boss bitch from 45 to 70 through the core events of the novel, and hear about her before and after, and I think claiming she doesn’t have a significant Journey as well as great presence would be a tough sell, or a rather churlish read. You could claim it’s a bit too subtle, but then the typical vague criticism of Dickens is never ‘undue subtlety’, is it?

– The scene with the physician Mr Chillip is proof that from 1820 on, even when done by the softest of dudes, people fucking HATE being told to ‘calm down’ and it is never useful.

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This conflation of death/unbeing/potential/dream/shadow is actually quite curious&elegant if focused on, isn’t it? Particularly given CD’s expressed wish to be a shadow. ‘Our’ is also slippery: is it David&his mother, or he&his sister-self? We know David’s room has this prospect. [A/N: I’ve realised I conflated things a little here. David initially shares his mother’s room, then a small ante-room to it he calls a closet. He’s then is sent off to another bedroom when Clara Copperfield remarries.]

2018 Writing Round-Up

Blog posts, journalism, etc. I published in 2018:

STRANGE HORIZONS:
Strange Horizons’ 2018 in Review (review)
ERIN GROANS: A GORMENVAST REVIEW OF EVERY ADAPTATION OF MERVYN PEAKE’S TITUS BOOKS (review)
Gormenghast Read-Along Review: Titus Groan
Gormenghast Read-Along Review: The Boy in Darkness and Gormenghast
Gormenghast Read-Along Review: Titus Alone and Aftermath
The Worst Witch (2017 tv series) (review)
Bone Swans, by C.S.E. Cooney (review)
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (review)
Paddington 2 (review)
Nirvana in Fire / Lángyá Bǎng (review)

Here I am on “Engage”, CBS’s official Star Trek podcast, hosted by Jordan Hoffman, for an episode about my Strange Horizons essay “Kirk Drift”.

VECTOR:
SFF Board Games of 2017 (review)
Living on Borrowed Time (see below)

THE LANCET PSYCHIATRY:
“Just Typical”: on the Victorian origins of personality typology.
Power Failure: on diagnoses, agency, and the limits of ‘patient centred’ care in capitalist medical practice.

ACADEMIC:
Bring Back the Mice“: on the disastrous “Woman in White” musical
Living on Borrowed Time: on time travel and economics in Diana Wynne Jones’ Tale of Time City, in Vector
“From ‘Shalom Aleichem’ to ‘Live Long and Prosper’: Engaging with Post-War American Jewish Identity via Star Trek: the Original Series”, a chapter in Set Phasers to Teach!: Star Trek in Research and Teaching
“The Charming Home”: a section of my thesis/some writing on the history of British domestic magic
‘Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla’, by Felix Barker (review)

CONFERENCE PAPERS:
“The Future, Wouldn’t That Be Nice?”, on post-scarcity economies in SF popular television (Wording SF, Graz, Austria)
“IV, IV$, V”, on economics and empire in Eurogames (Wording SF, Graz, Austria)
“Treading Other Boards: Performing SF in the Modern Eurogame” (2019: A Stage Odyssey – A Symposium on Science Fiction Theatre & Performance, Toronto, Canada)

– DICKENS:
David Copperfield, 1913 Silent Film (review)
David Copperfield, 1966 BBC series with Ian McKellen (review)
Canterbury: architecture and David Copperfield plot locations
“David Copperfield” Material in the BFI Archive
Dickens for Children

EROTICA:

1. Blood in the Rain IV includes my short story “Lawful Evil”, a gay Victorian vampire comedy set in the Inns of Court.

2. No Holds Bard, a queer Shakespeare anthology I have a story in:

“Couched in a Curious Bed”: Having lost his youngest son, a shaken but still-living York is determined to bring the War of the Roses to a swift end – preferably one that will benefit his family. The Lancastrian queen and heir are dead, and, medieval diplomacy being what it is, the best hope for peace lies in a highly unexpected royal marriage.

You can purchase this book here.

2. I have a story in the erotica anthology Owning It. “Rereading”: Avery is about to leave for uni, and her step-father’s paralegal Sheba thinks they should actually talk about their long-running sexual tension before she does. Contains a nasty, loaded argument about Gaudy Night and realisations about one’s sexuality by way of a very butch haircut and very femme nails.

You can purchase this book here.

3. The erotica anthology Corrupted includes my story “Solo Exhibition”, in which cookbook writer Usha plays Scheherazade for her foreign rights agent (and definitely not boyfriend) Jory. You can buy it at Amazon and various other outlets.

I wrote a 15k fic as well.

***

I have at four erotica fiction sales and three or four academic publications pending, but they’re not out yet so I can’t direct you to them.

I still have two big things I can’t discuss, but I’m finally able to talk about my upcoming book on Dickens, Doctor Who and “Unquiet Dead”, from the Black Archive. It’s out in 2020. I am pleased to have the gig.

Strange Horizons’ 2018 in Review

Here’s my contribution:

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This has been a cool year in genre for me personally, as I got my first SF non-fiction book contract (on the complex exchanges between the Dickens canon and Doctor Who as national epics and, more specifically, the episode “Unquiet Dead”, from the Black Archive) and wrote my first SF radio play at Auntie’s pleasure, which I can’t say more about yet, but which is being recorded in something like February.

I also published academic work on English domestic magical traditions, on Star Trek and Jewish Studies, and on Diana Wynne Jones. And some historical fiction where Richard not-yet-III and Henry VI get married. Also some vampire porn, and some other stuff.

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I saw another great Beowulf at the Edinburgh Fringe, this time from Take Thou That. There was also a fun, very new-to-me wuxia production of Wu Song—The Tiger Warrior, presented by Taiwanese company Hsing Legend Theatre. Board game designers Red Raven produced their Amber Mines expansion for Near and Far, and new quests for partner-game Above and Below. I really like this company for both their well-crafted games and their thoughtful customer service. Everdell, Root and Scythe’s new campaign mode, The Rise of Fenris, were also new this year and enjoyable. Worst Witch, Paddington 2 and Ronja the Robber’s Daughter were thoroughly pleasing, as was Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse. I finally read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken and the first Moomin books, which were great to get around to.

Academically, though I found both tough going I really profited from Aisling Byrne’s Otherworlds, which is new, and Geraldine Heng’s Empire of Magic, which is a little older. And, as regular SH readers may know, this was the year I at last read that Gormenghast stuff, watched every adaptation thereof, and indelibly seared a text I both love and hate into my brain. I don’t know if I recommend it, but that definitely happened to me.

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