purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)




Given how studiously Doctor Who, the show, has avoided giving us child companions, it is always a little jarring when a piece of spin-off media chooses to do so. Though, in the case of a choose your own adventure book, you can see why it might have been tempting, even if it does make your assumptions about your audience pretty explicit.
purplecat: (books)
Reading: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett. It's a Doctor Who novel and I expect it will feature Ice Warriors since they appear on the cover. All the chapter titles are lines from famous carols. I'm only about a chapter in so I can't really deliver any kind of verdict. I bought it because [livejournal.com profile] fififolle was sufficiently impressed by Abnett's Primeval Novelisation that she bought some of his Warhammer novels (despite not playing Warhammer at all) and enjoyed them sufficiently to write fanfic for them (albeit Primeval AU fanfic, IIRC) which I thought was pretty impressive. He wrote The Story of Martha which I wasn't so taken by, I must admit, but that wasn't in a standard format so I was interested to see what he made of something more straightforward.

Watching: Lupin III Part 4 which we are much enjoying. To be honest I think I'm enjoying it as much as Part 1 which was my favourite of the earlier versions (though I know many people prefer Part 2). I'm a bit bemused by the Italian co-production aspect though. It's very odd to have all these Lupin stories based in Italy rather than in Japan+exotic locations around the world.

Listening: It's mostly been Zombies! Run! episodes recently since I wasn't able to listen for a while and so created a bit of a backlog. It is much the same as always, though with the observation that 5 seasons into the storyline, they are very much downplaying the zombie threat aspect in favour of something more like a political thriller.
purplecat: (books)
One the whole I would rate The Eyeless as an above average NuWho novel, but it makes quite a strange read, particularly since I recall the author discussing it on Doctor Who book mailing lists as he was writing. If I remember correctly, Parkin deliberately set out to show that the NuWho tie-in novels could tackle the same kind of material that the Virgin New Adventures and BBC Eighth Doctor novels had tackled. The result is a wierd hybrid - something that takes the themes of NuWho rather more seriously than most of the tie-in novels but, at the same time, includes material that genuinely does feel out of place in a novel at least partially aimed at children.

More under the Cut )

All in all, this is a strange hybrid between the Doctor Who novels of the 1990s and the NuWho novels. I'm glad I read it, and its certainly interesting, but in the end I think it is a failed experiment that demonstrates that, in fact, the NuWho novels can't do the same kinds of things that the New Adventures and Eighth Doctor Adventures did.
purplecat: (books)
The Story of Martha purports to tell the story of the year Martha spent walking the Earth at the end of Season 3 of NuWho and spreading word of the Doctor's plan to defeat the Master. I thought that sounded like a promising premise for a Doctor Who book and so picked this up. I was also interested to read something by Dan Abnett since his Primeval novels had impressed [livejournal.com profile] fififolle enough that she went out and bought some of his Warhammer novels on the basis of them.

More under the cut )

All in all, I think this was a bit of a wasted opportunity. Its focus on the events in Japan leaves much of the rest of Martha's journey unexplored and, all in all, I feel it sacrificed the opportunity to do something a little different in favour of delivering something that was more like a typical Doctor Who story.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
I've read very little Morcock, Elric of Melnibone when I was a teenager (about which I remember virtually nothing) and his Dancers at the End of Time sequence more recently which I thought was interesting but flawed, particularly when it was trying to evoke early 20th century comedies of manners. However he is, by some margin, the most famous novelist to turn his hand to a full-length Doctor Who novel (though I have no doubt that Neil Gaiman will get around to it eventually). So it was with interest and anticipation that I picked up The Coming of the Terraphiles.

Oh Dear )

A massive disappointment.
purplecat: Texture by simpleandclean (LiveJournal) (Doctor Who)
[livejournal.com profile] daniel_saunders commented on my review of The Crusade, that he'd not managed to get hold of a copy of the novelisation. I'm not actually sure that any of the illustrations in the novelisation are from telesnaps, though some are closer to the televised episode than others. Under the cut are three from scenes that definitely didn't take place in the actual show.

Images not appearing in The Crusade )
purplecat: (books)
I'm guessing Who Goes There by Nick Griffiths was supplied by a relative. I don't think it is the kind of book I would purchase myself any more. I spent a lot of the book trying to puzzle out what exactly it was trying to do. Ostensibly its the tale of Griffiths' visits to various Doctor Who locations.

Possibilities considered )

I was actually surprised how alienating I found this book. Obviously Who fandom isn't a monolith by any stretch of the imagination, but I this was the first time I've read something by a Doctor Who fan with whom, it would seem, I have virtually nothing in common.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/15481.html.
purplecat: (books)
I'm guessing Who Goes There by Nick Griffiths was supplied by a relative. I don't think it is the kind of book I would purchase myself any more. I spent a lot of the book trying to puzzle out what exactly it was trying to do. Ostensibly its the tale of Griffiths' visits to various Doctor Who locations.

Possibilities considered )

I was actually surprised how alienating I found this book. Obviously Who fandom isn't a monolith by any stretch of the imagination, but I this was the first time I've read something by a Doctor Who fan with whom, it would seem, I have virtually nothing in common.

Shelf Life

Mar. 4th, 2010 06:28 pm
purplecat: (books)
Craig Hinton was one of the stable of Doctor Who authors nurtured by the Virgin Adventures and who then went on to write for the BBC books. His work was characterised by a love of continuity and an abundance, in some cases over-abundance, of links and connections to the wider Doctor Who universe. He died late in 2006 of a heart attack. Shelf Life (edited by Adrian Middleton, Jay Eales and David McIntee) is a memorial anthology of fan fiction published in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Review under the cut )
purplecat: (doctor who)
A Writer's Tale by Benjamin Cook and Russell T. Davies is a (just about) year long email interview come conversation between Benjamin Cook (a Doctor Who Magazine writer) and Russell T. Davies about the writing process. It encompasses the writing of the 2007 Christmas Special (the one with Kylie in) and then Season 4. And it's a pretty fascinating read.

Details under the cut )
purplecat: (doctor who)
Stuart would have you believe I rode in, out of the blue, on a fleet of formation flying satellites and then nuked it from orbit. Which would actually make a far more interesting post.

Cut for tl;dr )
purplecat: (books)
I first met* Richard Salter when he tried to organise an Internet coordinated Dr Who short story collection for the emerging Decalog series published by Virgin. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then and the idea of using Internet coordination to put together a short story collection no longer seems remotely radical. Richard has been writing and editing Doctor Who short fiction ever since and has had several stories published in other Short Trips collections. This is the first time he's got to edit professionally though. Fortunately, it's a good'un, probably the most successful of the Short Trips collections that I own.

I mentioned in my review of Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership the way I felt the theme there had unfortunately managed to ambush the collection. In this case it's possibly the choice of a nicely abstract theme, "Transmissions", loosely tied to the idea of modes of communication, that has encouraged the writers to rise above the normal Short Trips level of trying to write a mini episode of the parent show. In fact I'd go so far as to say every single piece in this collection is a genuine short story rather than a long story told short.

spoiler free story by story break down under the cut )

*in the Internet sense of "exchanged emails with". I've never actually met Richard. He was called the Happy Halibut back then, a moniker he seems to have subsequently abandoned in preference to his own name. Thus flying in face of all Internet trends.

Campaign

Sep. 6th, 2008 08:54 pm
purplecat: (books)
The story behind Campaign is an odd one. It was commissioned from Jim Mortimore by BBC Books based on a synopsis he submitted but, when he turned in the final manuscript it was so different from the synopsis it was rejected. It's the only original Who novel to be officially commissioned, fully written but never published. There's more to the story but I was never sufficiently enamoured of Jim Mortimore's writing that I could be bothered to learn what it was. However now Campaign is available online for free I thought it couldn't hurt to read it. It comes with extensive author's notes at the end in which, it is implied, the full sorry story of its non-publication is explained. I'm still not sufficiently interested to read them.

So, the universe has vanished, there is only the TARDIS (or possibly the Tardis) and its four (possibly five) inhabitants left. Desperately the TARDIS (or Tardis) crew try to recall the events that led them into this predicament, events that concern meeting Alexander the Great on his epic campaign towards and eventually into India (the Ancient Historians among my readers will notice a problem here - took me a bit longer to see it). So far so good but at about that point the plot stalls for 175 pages while the characters iterate through different versions of the past and present told generally as first person narratives most often by Ian (who is sometimes called Cliff). Each of these segments is beautifully written and crammed with ideas but the thought gradually dawns that the book isn't actually going anywhere. It's just show-casing what amounts to a series of mood pieces about shifting time-lines, worlds within worlds within Tardis's and the possible interactions of the principle characters and, a serious failing, all four of them have exactly the same voice, presumably Jim Mortimore's. You could dip into any of these segments at random and then have to spend the first couple of paragraphs trying to work out from the context who the narrator was. There is no real sense of distinct personalities among the crew, let alone among the many shifting versions of each crew member. The extensive chapter-by-chapter notes which I have skimmed briefly seem to suggest that the intention was that there is a progression here but mostly I'd say the book is marking time while Mortimore indulges in stylistic flourishes. There's a lovely little story within a story, though, about a Glammering.

A criticism I have of Mortimore's other books is that they have a habit of descending into incoherence at the end. Campaign wins out here. The ending at least makes sense but ultimately seems a bit trivial, as if a parlour trick has been played on you, and heightens the feeling that the majority of the book is an exercise in stylistic short prose writing. It also has precious little to do with Alexander the Great, at the end of the day, which was a disappointment too. I was quite interested in the hinted at story of the TARDIS crew's involvement in Alexander's life.

At the end of the day Campaign is an interesting oddity. There's plenty of good writing and lots of startling and interesting moments but it feels self-indulgent and the whole is distinctly less than the sum of it's parts.



WHO DAILY HTML: <lj user=louisedennis> reviews the novel <a href=http://louisedennis.livejournal.com/87147.html>Campaign</a>
purplecat: (doctor who)
The last segment of Time and Relative Dissertations in Space was the part that contained the most essays that read like articles out of DWM. This kind of journalistic article is very well but, as I've got older, I've become more aware of the way these things really are just opinion with no real theoretical framework to back them up and so they felt out of place to me in this volume which was otherwise working quite hard to present its material academically.

The Talons of Robert Holmes )

Why is 'City of Death' the best Doctor Who story? )

Canonicity matters: defining the Doctor Who canon )

Broader and deeper: the lineage of and impact of the Timewyrm series )

Televisuality without television? The Big Finish audios and discourses of 'tele-centric' Doctor Who )

So, all in all, I found lots to interest me in Time and Relative Dissertations in Space. But, as I said when I started these reviews, I think it suffers from an uneven tone - veering wildly from very jargon heavy academic discourse to much fluffier, more journalistic pieces and the lasts quarter, in particular, didn't appear to me to have a great deal to offer beyond the articles you can (or at least used to, pre-2005) find regularly in Doctor Who Magazine.

WHO DAILY HTML: <lj user=louisedennis> <a href="http://louisedennis.livejournal.com/81978.html">reviews part four of time and relative disserations in space</a>
purplecat: (doctor who)
This is an oddly schizophrenic book and its clear that the authors had rather different conceptions about its primary audience. Jonathan Bignell and Alec Charles, for instance, are clearly writing essays targetted at an academic audience with a strong background in the theory and jargon of media studies and/or social science (since I'm not an academic in these areas it is difficult to tell which, precisely). Most of the authors settle for writing in an academic style but with an eye to being readily comprehensible by the lay man and a few, particularly in the final section, write pieces that wouldn't be out of place in DWM; light on academic theory and sprinkled with fannish in-jokes.

It also suffers from the accident of timing. It is a collection of essays studying Doctor Who with a particular emphasis on its evolution and its cross-media forms. Sadly, although published in 2007, its essays are all based on presentations given in 2004 so its contents are forced to largely ignore the developments of the new series. This renders most of the essays instantly out-of-date which is a shame because every single one of them (even those that are jargon heavy and difficult to follow) have something interesting to say but you wish that the new series perspective could also have been brought into play.

The other interesting observation I made across all the essays in the book was a more personal one. When I did my PGCHE (Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education) much was made about discipline context and assumptions. So I was struck by two "discipline assumptions" here. Firstly, and this is peculiar to Computer Science, we write predominantly to page counts. Unlike most disciplines which publish in journals we publish predominantly in conferences generally with a 15 page limit. This causes problems (B. often complains about the lack of necessary detail in CS papers), but it also forces you to ruthlessly prune out, for instance, additional interesting examples which are, perhaps, not central to your point. So I found several of the essays "unnecessarily verbose". In particular I felt that they marshalled more examples to make their point than was strictly necessary, almost to the point of mindless listing in some cases. Secondly it seemed very problematic, to me, to try and make a point about the body of work that is Doctor Who as a whole based on selected examples. In something as diverse and multi-authored as Doctor Who (a fact stressed by several of the essays) I couldn't work out what the criteria could be for choosing representative examples since a counter-example was almost bound to come along within a couple of years, if not sooner. How do you distinguish the trend from the one-offs? I suspect this is something obvious to someone within the discipline (or at least, the accepted processes are obvious though they presumably also have their within discipline critiques).

It's too daunting to try and cover all the individual essays in one post and there are things I want to say about several of them. So I'm going to group them together into a number of subsequent posts.

I wouldn't recommend this to a general reader, but anyone interested in a theoretical take on the development and impact of Doctor Who or with a more general interest in the nature of popular culture and television programs in particular, will find lots to sink their teeth into here.
purplecat: (books)
Sick Building by Paul Magrs, has been very well received, at least in my neck of the woods, but I can't for the life of me see why. This book has much in common with his short story in the Doctor Who Storybook 2007 in that there is nothing actually wrong with it in any way, but compared to talking poodles, men transforming into lizards just because, a literally two-dimensional Mike Yates, and a Doctor who is half-human on his mother's side because his mother is a mermaid and so her top half is human this was pretty tame stuff. I wasn't necessarily a huge fan of Paul Magrs other Dr Who books but I was a fan of the fact that this sort of bizarre stuff was being written under the Dr Who banner. It now appears that, stripped of the permission to let his imagination run riot, Magrs is a competent but otherwise uninspiring author.

Sick building is, unsurprisngly, an evil building novel. Our heroes spend much time being menaced (or assisted) by vacuum cleaners, sunbeds and vending machines which, when put that way, makes it seem not so far from talking poodles after all but somehow this feels bereft of the sort of verve and excitement I picked up from Magrs' other works. Certainly the vacuum cleaners etc. don't seem particularly representative, or illustrative, or to be having conceptual fun with or of anything in particular. There is an (almost) obligatory kidult and another mention of the Doctor's apparent preference for Rose over Martha. As an interesting side issue the book was originally entitled The Wicked Bungalow, this being vetoed, by all accounts including his own, by RTD. Since I am at a loss to understand why "Sick Building" is preferable to "The Wicked Bungalow" I can only assume that this must be one of those reasons why I'm not in charge of a vastly successful television brand.

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