Wednesday, 22 November 2017
I have always thought that the Racnoss Queen as she appeared in the Runaway Bride ( oh the memory of happier days and happy holidays.) was an astonishing triumph of of costuming married to prosthetics. Her first appearance was a startling revelation and to this day I cannot see Sarah Parrish buried under that hideous make-up. In this story they have managed to recreate the rasping cringey quality of the Racnoss. Like a bunch of wicked Dickensian Arachnids. It was an old BBC drama trick, projecting archetypes using class inspired performances and this one for me is pitch perfect. This always innocent incarnation of The Doctor is unable to grasp how devious and cruel the Racnoss are as a species. That these enormous spider gods are driven by a voracious hunger that practically defines them as a race. Almost everything they do is motivated by hunger of some shape or form.
Even Tolkien's great spiders, which the always war like Orcs rode into battle, were marked by a similar characteristic. The relationship with everyone they ever allied themselves with breaking down as these great omnivores ate not only their enemies but their allies also. Even giving birth was a hugely dangerous experience as their off-spring were born starving. Baby Racnoss almost always devoured whoever sired them. Art imitating life.
It is a spider's web of a tale. Twisty turny as well as timey-whimey.
Classic Doctor, new expression.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
This is the first story in a quartet of tales, where older incarnations of The Doctor encounter monsters from the more recent era. Written by John Dorney this is a story which evokes much of what I liked, what I loved, about the whole Tom Baker era. It is a story which feels well suited to the first three or four seasons of this most Bohemian of our favourite Time-Lord. A strangely familiar if distant and distorted location where something very nasty lurks in the shadows and dark places. Strong characters emerge and some of those strong characters are reduced to dust and bones.
Tom Baker sounds so on form too. That towering and yet emotive voice helps the drama move along at a thunderous pace, listen to the consternation in his voice as he is constantly frustrated by the very people he is trying to keep alive. It was such an entertaining ride I restarted it right after I finished it. Barely a breath between ending and beginning again.
Much like The Doctor's lives I suppose.
Saturday, 18 November 2017
I am gushing, I know, but this book has so entertained me over the last three nights. I am prone to the blues as the dark nights creep over us and this lovely book has so far proved an antidote to that melancholy shade. Not only a great story well retold it also manages to smuggle a host of wee knowing treats within the text. For instance the great Dave Gibbons gets a mention among a list of great artists named as those whose genius are not recognised within their lifetime. (.Pssssst, Dave, we all know.)
Its a era that is never so very far away from my thoughts. Probably in part because of a framed painting I have on a wall at home of Romanna as played by the lovely Lalla Ward, painted for me by a chap named Roger Shore. In the photo below you will also see a painting by Paul Holden of Leela, signed by Lovely Loise Jameson. Hope these ladies do not mind me prefixing their first names with the descriptive " Lovely." In truth they were and remain so. Lovely, luminous beings.And any friend of The Doctor is a friend of mine.
Shada was to be Douglas Adams swansong on Doctor Who. What a bitter sweet thing it is to see it out there in the public shared cultural zeitgeist about to find a host of new admirers. I almost envy the sense of discovery of coming across the work of Douglas Adams and his time on Doctor Who. I say almost because I would not want to perhaps have foregone sitting through those episodes on dark Saturday tea times oh so long ago on a sofa far, far away as they were originally broadcast.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
(From my sketchbook.)Maybe its the dark nights coming in but The far off days of the Leisure Hive recently.sprung once more to mind. The Doctor snoring away on the pebbly old Brighton beach as Romanna tried her best to entertain K9 in her Thomas Mann swimming suit. Or maybe its the imminent release of the partially animated SHADA. Or maybe its just the fact that Doctor Who is never very far away from my mind but I got to scribbling in one of my sketch books.
Next stop The Leisure Hive on the planet Argolis.
Although I will pass on a session in the Tachyon Recreation Generator.
Do not want to go to pieces.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
For instance your own tastes may lean more towards the dark and very original comedy of Bubba-Ho-Tep by Joe R Lansdale, the story which became the hit cult movie. A rightly beloved slice of Egyptology/Americana. Or perhaps there is The Mummy's Heart by Norman Partridge, a great modern noir writer who has produced some great books and short stories. It is a great novella tucked away in the crispy bindings of this book and has the best chance of breaking out to a wider demographic than the one which would normally be drawn to such an outre collection. A coming of age yarn spawning decades in the history of small town middle america. ( I do not know if that is an actual geographical location. It has always had a location, a welcome place, in the landscape of my imagination.) if you enjoyed a Boy's Life by Robert Mc Crammon or even the movie Stand By Me or the Stephen King short story it was based on, then this is the one for you.
I also really enjoyed On Skua Island by John Langon . It so reminded me of particular movies of my youth such as the Peter Cushing creature feature Island Of Terror. It had isolated locations and mysterious things long buried that would be better left that way. I have always admired and enjoyed the antiquarian qualities of the work of MR James or EF Benson. And this wee story echoes similar themes in spades. A very atmospheric tale with old school perils given a modern twist.
I could continue this way, breaking down the individual stories and their deserving reasons for being in the big collection but I would rob you entirely of that element of discovery that has enriched the history of anthologies.
Get in there. Get dirty and dusty.
Find yer mummy.