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I would like a hat like that

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

This post contains a spoiler for the Doctor Who finale, The Big Bang. If you want to look away to avoid spoilers then you can always read the Shiny Shelf post-Big Bang survival kit which contains no spoilers for it. But does waffle about pre-2005 Who a lot.


All the way up to Eleven

Friday, 2 April 2010

Or, a fangrrl writes.

[Note: I’ve been having a clean-up of my files, moving them all over to Dropbox in the process, and found this draft dated 4 January 2009. I’ve not edited it today…]

Like a lot of fans watching Doctor Who Confidential last night, I was on such tenterhooks that I didn’t even realise they’d put the new guy up on screen until the caption came up. “Who’s this new bloke— oh!”. And like most fangirls who have been crushing on Tennant’s Doctor (something I kept to myself, my blog readers and all my friends), I instantly thought… “oh”.

Then I remembered that I’d seen him in the Sally Lockhart adaptations and he’d been good in that. Admittedly, I wasn’t mad on the adaptations themselves, and they’d aged the Jim character up somewhat. At the time I’d pointed out that I doubted they would do The Tin Princess as it mainly follows Jim around Prussia. That wasn’t even a critique of Matt Smith as a potential leading man, more an assessment of how bankable the story would be without Billie Piper in the lead.

Until we see Smith in action in 2010, there’s just no way to be sure. I recall a lot of negative fan opinion about Tennant. He’d never replace the previous Doctor; he’s too young/pretty; he’s too just Not Right. And the internet is churning over the same old ground as before now. The same ground we probably went over in fanzines back in 1980. He’d never replace the previous Doctor; he’s too young/pretty; he’s just Not Right.

One curious trait is the determination of some fans to believe that any casting of a young actor means the production team is “aiming the show at women/girlfriends” and that this is a negative thing. As a fangrrl of around thirty years, I’m fascinated by this response (as well as staggered by its assumptions).

In the 1960s, the Doctor had a male companion who did the action sequences and was “there for the girls”. And some boys, as The Orton Diaries‘ entries about Jamie testify. In 1974, they added a young male companion in case the Doctor they cast was too old and couldn’t do the stunts. But in those distant times, Who also had the indulgence of stories that ran for up to six or seven weeks (around 90 minutes per story) for up to half the year, and could afford to have a large TARDIS crew to run around the corridors filling the airtime. By the 80s, with shorter story lengths and a much shorter season, the male companion had become the anomaly. Since Tom Baker the Doctor has always been young enough, as an actor, to do most of his own stunts. He’d also become a character who some women may fancy.

Tennant is the most obvious, as online fandom as a whole has a more even gender balance than Who fandom of old so a lot of women and girls expressing their appreciation of the Doctor’s puppy-dog eyes has become as visible as back when men and boys were prone to ramblings about Peri’s finer, ahem, points. But I’ve known women with crushes on Baker (both), McCoy, Pertwee, Davison and Troughton. Not to mention the slightly tongue in cheek Paul McGann Ostrogen Brigade. The only Doctor not to raise a squee is Hartnell.

[that's where the draft ends. I suspect I stopped to think about a conclusion, maybe because putting Hartnell and squee into the same sentence caused my brain to stop for a bit...]


Thursday, 3 September 2009

I’ve been following @samuelpepys since the summer. I did read the online Pepys’s diary for a while back in 2004 but there were one too many entries in which too little happened. Then this summer I read By Permission of Heaven about the Great Fire of London and someone mentioned @samuelpepys on a #followfriday. I discovered it was the same person who built the Pepys diary, and that we were in the summer of 1666. Rumours of the Dutch abounded, and occassional sickness.

And, of course, I knew what was coming in September.

Phil Gyford, the man who coded the site and the twitter feed, has set it up perfectly.

Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City.
03:12, 2 Sept

The timing of it suggests someone who, having been woken with the news, reaches for their iphone/blackberry/other in order to share things immediately.

To the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane.
08:12, 2 Sept

This is one reason why twitter is interesting and meaningful. It has the ability to create a sense of what an event must be like to live through unmatched by anything written after the event.

At the time of the Fire, there was much suspicion that the fire was started by aliens (in the older sense of the word i.e. foreigners). I can reveal this to be true:

See? Aliens.

Sasha and Jueves

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

I’m clearing out a mountain of papers at the moment, so we have space in the house for the Chap’s papers. A-Level Communications revision? Gone! Printed drafts of other people’s Who novels? Going. Own notes? Staying.

One folder was marked “H101 junk stuff” except I opened it up to find the ‘wall’ for H101. These were the bits and pieces pinned to the attic wall throughout the writing of it so that when I stared into the distance beyond the monitor, I saw things related to the novel. I always have a ‘wall’ and have done since I was a teenager.

Two scraps that fell out were photos of John Cusack. The ones of him in Being John Malkovich – all spectacles and messy hair – are labeled ‘Jueves’. The one from Pushing Tin - clean-shaven and in a leather jacket – is labeled ‘Sasha’. I’d managed to totally forget that I did this: both that the characters were written to look like John Cusack and that I’d pinned specific photos to the wall in order to remember what each one looked like.

I’m in Florence, Italy, I’ve rented a scooter that’s parked outside, and I’m in a little restaurant eating ziti, and there are no more tables left, so they have to seat this guy with me, and it’s John Cusack!
Willow, BtVS

How could I forget John Cusack???

A cut in Transmission

Monday, 4 May 2009

Buy early! Buy often!

Doctor Who: Short Trips: Transmissions is available half-price at the Big Finish website, as are their other Short Trips collections.   Transmissions includes my short story Gudok.

My favourite story, Gudok, is a throughly gripping thriller set in Tsarist Russia and following the dangerous trans-Siberian train journey of Tegan and Turlough as they seek to deliver a vital message. [...]

Anthologies by their nature are hit and miss, and Transmissions has more of the former.

(Doctor Who Magazine No.400, October 2008)

This is very nearly perfect. Mags Halliday’s is the pre-eminent Doctor Who historical writer and [...] ‘Gudok’ succeeds on every level in conjuring up the Trans-Siberian railway in the early twentieth century. Little touches [...] litter and colour the text, and Halliday really nails the interation between Tegan and Turlough.”

(review at Half a Dozen Streets… – disclaimer: this reviewer edited my latest short story so may have been buttering me up)

The offer makes buying Transmissions and one other Short Trips book effectively a two-for-one deal, and is rather a bargain anyway at £7.50 a book (+ P&P).

Alternatively, you could bulk out your order with Bernice Summerfield and the Vampire Curse which includes my novella The Badblood Diaries.

Mags L. Halliday has crafted an engaging and intriguing tale. It’s engaging because of its structure as a daily series of written accounts of the professor’s participation in an archaeological expedition to the colony world of Badblood, which has only recently reopened diplomatic relations with Earth. It’s intriguing because of the colonists’ (and of course Halliday’s) unique and ingenious method of keeping “the cursed” at bay: Badblood’s cities are giant vehicles that crawl across the planet’s surface, remaining constantly in sunlight. The author convincingly explores the technological and cultural effects of this mode of existence – and the horror that ensues when the system go wrong.

(Sci-fi online review)

Get ‘em while they’re hot! And, indeed, in print.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

I went, at 3 hours notice, to IKEA on Wednesday. In the course of the journey there and back again, we were talking about Christmas and getting presents to the States (Sarah being American). She mentioned, to my surprise, that Christmas crackers are not part of the whole festive ritual over there. It’s odd the extent to which you assume the time-honoured traditions which everyone groans about but takes part in are universal.

I’ve been to two Christmas meals already this year. The twitter history of one read:
8.49am: is in a party frock at 8am. Truly office party season is here.
2.27pm: is tipsy.
10.22pm: is pissed.

Dignity, always dignityAnd part of the tradition of office parties is the ritual humiliation of wearing the hat from the cracker. Or getting into a lengthy bartering session in order to get a hat in a better colour. When I was younger, I would refuse to put the hat on for more than a few minutes as it was so uncool. So undignified. But, of course, that the whole point of the hat. It’s supposed to undercut any authority a person has. Although it arrived in crackers as a marketing gimmick (as, indeed, did crackers themselves), it seems significant that the agreed shape of the hat is a crown. It harks back to the idea of the Lords of Misrule who preside over the Christmas Feast of Fools. The real fools are the ones unwilling to look undignified by wearing the damn thing. And the lack of crackers – and by implication the hats – makes me wonder what American viewers made of the scene where the shiny new tenth Doctor put on a paper crown in the first Doctor Who Christmas special. Without the cultural subtext, without knowing that no-one wants to wear the hats but everyone does it in order not to appear a fool, does that scene resonate for viewers?

I may not get online again before Thursday (presents to finish, more parties, visits to family, food shopping), so if I don’t I hope you all have a lovely break. And here’s some Christmassy fun for the fangrrls:


ETA: this is my 1000th post!

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