Homeward Bounders (was Re: Bujold Bibliography in Haiku)

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Wed Sep 14 18:14:08 EDT 2005

minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
> Charlie wrote:
>>FWIW, in DWJ's 2001 interview with me (collected in Exciting and Exacting
>>Wisdom) she identifies the city that inspired HB as Bristol:
>>"I do know that Bristol inspired The Homeward Bounders (1981), which was
>>one of the first books I wrote when we got here. I think it’Äôs because
>>there are an enormous number of triangular towers and curious places in
>>Bristol, and you seem to go from the ancient to the modern in two easy
>>steps: you seem to be in two different worlds, almost instantly."
> Further to this: I asked DWJ today about this, and she explained:
> "Strange triangular or perhaps wedge-of-pie gaps in town are certainly a
> feature of Bristol, and there is a triangular building near the Cumberland
> Basin, just across the water from here, that I'm sure must be full of
> people wargaming because I can't think what on earth else it is for and I
> can't think why they need a *huge* roll-up garage door in the side wall at
> the end that's too narrow for even a Mini to fit across, but the town in
> the book is one of those Lancashire mill towns where the canals and the
> railway sort of weave, and there are aqueducts, which Bristol doesn't have.
> Somewhere a bit like Oldham but not really any one of them in particular.
> It being Lancashire explains how he came not to know about cricket --
> Lancashire was very late getting into the game, and they were a minor
> county for a long while as a result."
> So it's a made-up town with bits from all over, really, which I don't find
> entirely surprising.
Indeed. But rereading it I find we have another Scots name besides 
'Macready' and 'Jamie': his surname, 'Hamilton'. And come to think of 
it, I am dubious that 'Graham' (Elsie's husband) would have been used as 
a given name outside a Scots family in the 19th Century. So I'm sticking 
with my Scots element.

And while I'm on names - what about Ahasuerus? Why does he bear an 
English version of a Latin version of a Hebrew version of a Persian 
name? (The same name that comes to us through Greek as 'Xerxes')

Of course, there's all sorts of ways you can fix up answers to this - 
though he uses the name himself, it doesn't mean that it was his 
original name, nor in fact is there necessarily anything Jewish about 
him. But I do find it odd.
(I confess I don't know whether Diana named him, or whether that name is 
attached to him in legend).

> Apparently when they were house-hunting, she and John looked at several of
> the strange houses in the middles of blocks, including one that was a
> free-standing triangle-ish (is that a trapezoid? one end almost coming to a
> point, the other end much longer, two walls the same length joining them,
> anyhow[1]),

I would call it a trapezium, expecting that a trapezoid was something 
you got by relaxing the remaining condition, so that no edges were 
parallel. Collins agrees with me, except that it notes that the two 
words are also used ('now chiefly US') in exactly reversed senses.

  but didn't buy them because mostly they didn't seem to be on
> any mains services, or had only two bedrooms but two utility rooms and four
> bathrooms and a *huge* kitchen in the cellar, or had other minor drawbacks.
> :-)  Personally, I'm amazed she ended up in a house as normal as the one
> they have.  Apart from having two ground floors, one above the other, it's
> positively ordinary!
Sounds ordinary to me. The two ground floors, I mean. My house is a 
bungalow with a downstairs at the downhill end.


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