a few more things about St. Mary’s



(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.

In book 7, Max refers to a baby by name … just a couple of pages before his name is given to him, and it’s made clear that the name is a surprise to Max.

At an earlier point in the book, Max opts not to be reinstated as head of the History Department because that wouldn’t be fair to Clerk, and isn’t even sure she’ll stay at St. Mary’s … yet in the following short story she’s right back in the role.

Speaking of Clerk, who appears in Books 2-7, is he the same person called Clarke in Book 1? If so I’d have thought anyone appearing in the entire series deserves at least a little character development, beyond Max saying he’s good at his job.

Sometimes people don’t seem to know things they should. In Book 5, Peterson asks Max, “Was really once naked, tied to a bed?” If it’s the incident I’m thinking of, if he was naked it wasn’t mentioned, he wasn’t tied to a bed because he was in a coma, and anyway Peterson was there and would have seen for himself.

Also, time passage is a bit wonky: Max is fairly young, just a few years past PhD when she’s introduced (I guess she could be as old as early thirties), referring to herself as middle-aged when it seems just a few years have passed, and apparently never does stop to think about whether she might be fertile. (Being a fictional female means never having to go on the rag, after all – certainly that’s an omission not unique to this series!)

THen there’s the big obvious question, but I think this one contains its own answer
If Leon’s pod can be summoned anywhere, anywhen, why don’t he and Max just carry the remote at all times? Or give one to everyone qualified when they go on missions. OK, there are some reasons in a few incidences: the first time it’s needed, Leon had no reason to expect he would, the second time he’s in a coma and couldn’t have used it, the third time, Max wasn’t expecting to do any time travel at all for a while. But given at least three kidnappings, a couple of incidences of people being left behind, and a few cases where it’s too hard to get back to the main pod, you’d think having emergency transit on call would be a no-brainer. However, it would also be a plot-wrecker, so I understand that one.

So all in all, just a few continuity issues that rival the lack of logic in the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait for the next one.

(There’s a short story coming on Christmas that will be told by Mr. Markham, and a new book out next July 4. I don’t know how long she plans to keep going.)

a concise St. Mary’s reference



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



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!!



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