purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Faction Paradox originally appeared in Alien Bodies, a Dr Who book released by the BBC in the lean years between the Paul McGann movie and Russell T. Davies' new series. They are a time-travelling voodoo cult set up in reaction to Time Lord culture. In recent years, with the increasing fragmentation of the Who spin-off market, the Faction has found a number of homes with small press publishers and has built up a fairly respectable back catalog of original novels/novellas and short story collections which are divorced from all but the most oblique reference to Doctor Who itself.

Obverse books is, I think, the newest kid on the block when it comes to this kind of "ideas that started off in Doctor Who" publishing. I've reviewed a couple of their Iris Wildthyme short story collections in the past but, like with Big Finish's Benny Summerfield short stories, I felt that I wasn't fond enough of short stories to really warrant buying these collections with the frequency they were published. However they recently released two Factor Paradox-themed short story collections as ebooks in which format, it turned out, I found them a lot more tempting than as actual physical books (go figure). They were Tales of the City edited by Philip Purser-Hallard, featuring stories all centred around Purser-Hallard's City of the Saved where all humans find themselves in some kind of strange afterlife, while Faction Paradox: A Romance in Twelve Parts edited by Lawrence Miles was a more wide-ranging collection.

I enjoyed Tales of the City best of the two. I really like the setting and the authors demonstrate that there are lots of interesting things to be done with it. My favourite tale was The Socratic Problem by Elizabeth Evershed in which Socrates is let loose in a (broadly speaking 21st century, western) university Philosophy department. I was less taken with A Romance in Twelve Parts but I'm not entirely sure its contents are of a lower standard. Faction Paradox technology has always been powered by ritual, bone and blood and so the horror story has never been far from the universe. Horror isn't really a genre I'm all that fond of. There were some clever ideas in this collection but they seemed at once both too self-consciously clever and too eager to shock for me really to engage with them. This is a pity, since I think Faction Paradox is easily the most interesting spin-off concept to come out of the Who Merchandise industry.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
The About Time series are reference works providing a story-by-story guide to Dr Who. Where these differ from the half dozen or so other story-by-story guides I have on my bookshelves, is that they seek explicitly to analyse the Dr Who stories in the wider context of the culture, specifically the media culture, of the time. They started out with the later Doctors (3, 4 and 5, IIRC) and then skipped back. This is the first of the "sixties" books I have read and the first which I have found more irritating than enjoyable.

More on About Time 2 )

An alternative explanation for my dissatisfaction lies outside of the book itself. When I read the books about later Dr Who I remembered watching the episodes at the time, and I remember the surrounding Basil Brush, Star Wars, Buck Rogers milieu. I wasn't watching between 1966 and 1969 and I read this book without nostalgia tinged glasses.


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