Tuesday, 30 December 2014

TBR Challenge 2015 - Pagan Style

Just when you thought you'd seen the last of me from 2014, here I am again.  Well, it is the other side - Christmas is over, and the spacious plains and meadows of 2015 loom.  Pathways, crossroads, new things, old ghosts. I still like the whole New Years vibe. By this time of year, the old year is starting to run out of steam, and the new year is starting to catch hold of me. 

I borrowed this idea for organising my thoughts on some of the things I'm planning on reading next year from a blog I've loved for years, and which is in my blogroll- Spiral Spun. Please check her out.  She's the calmest blog, the simplest, and one of the most walk the walk blogs I know.  She's doing the challenge, so I thought, I too have MANY unread books (shelves full, a house full, as I have begun to be a person that keeps very few books when they are finished, unless I'm convinced I'll read them or refer to them again). So it's as well to organise a read for a few of them that have been calling to me for some time.  And they have been calling to me in batches, too, which is handy.

The idea of the TBR pile as the hosting site Spiral is using, RoofBeamReader.Com has it, is that you pick 12 books plus 2 alternates. Obviously I went over that, in my usual over the top way.   I'll show them to you in chunks, as Spiral did in her post, and explain a small bit about why each book.

After Witchfest this year, I had a most interesting experience with Hekate.  Now she and I are getting acquainted, which being me, involves a fair bit of booky research.
1) Hekate Liminal Rites, by Sorita d'Este and David Rankine - on the list because Sorita d'Este of Avalonia books, is highly into Hekate (small understatement), and publishes some very interesting works about her.  I've read several Avalonia books on Hekate already and this book is one of the ones I haven't got to yet. Comes highly recommended via devotees.
2) Hekate Soteira, by Sarah Iles Johnston - a scholarly work on Hekate as represented in the Chaldean Oracles and other classics.  Obviously I need to actually read the classics too, but the list is long as you'll see, and I did fancy putting some historical analysis books on it.  Gives my head things to occupy it.
3) Bearing Torches: A Devotional Anthology for Hekate, ed. Sannion and the board of Bibliotheca Alexandrina - always interesting to hear reflections and essays on a deity from modern adherents, be they reconstructionists or UPG experentialists. Either way, always interesting. This press do a large series on various deities and their work is thought provoking whether you agree with views expressed or not.  Also historical analysis.
4) Thracian Magic: Past and Present, by Georgi Mishev - In case you have forgotten Thrace, its (mostly now) Bulgaria, an area rich with folklore. This may not seem directly Hekate related, but its author is a Hekate devotee and the work is recommended in various reviews as heavily Hekate related. (Also he did a very interesting essay in Hekate: Her Sacred Fires, another excellent Avalonia Hekate book.)  I am looking forward to the history of an area I know little about as well as the local slanting on this goddess who I am coming to see, gets absolutely everywhere and permeates so many different cultures.

The more I look into Hekate, the more I come across the darkness into light, light from darkness  aspect.  Choices, pathways, illuminating the shadow self, the parts of ourselves we find hard to reconcile.
5) Spirits of the Sacred Grove, by Emma Restall-Orr - you may be thinking: 'but this is a book about being a Druid Priestess', its not a dark goddess, dark moon or particularly dark anything book.  There, you'd be wrong. Emma Restall-Orr is one of the most consistently challenging spiritual authors I read. Every single thing she has written has caused me massive internal argument, and lots of hard thinking.  She does not shy away from the dark anything, and she writes very much from a female perspective.  She is also very earthy, very 'get your hands dirty if you're going to say you love the earth' in tone. She also writes like an angel. I have been reading this book for 3 years now, and its about time I finished it...and possibly started it again. Its rich with ideas and information.  I am never less than fully connected when I read this woman. (She's written a book on the Dark Goddess previously which I could have put here...had I not already read it.)
6) The Moonlit Path: Reflections on the Dark Feminine, ed.by Fred Gustafson - this book has been sitting and waiting patiently for some years now.  Drawing from spiritual writers, psychoanalysts and artists, these are essays on aspects of the dark feminine in daily life, celebrating its usefulness, and calling for its integration as a vital part of the female psyche. Looks interesting, will let you know.
7) Dark Moon Mysteries: Wisdom, Power and Magic of the Shadow World, by Timothy Roderick - this actually got onto the list because I rate highly a book he wrote ages ago, a sort of magical primer to be followed a year and a dayish, and I enjoy his blog.  He has a background as a psychotherapist and makes lots of references to Jungian theory (I have time for Jung), so when I found this book, about integrating and learning from those parts of yourself you fear, and those emotions you fight,  I bought it.  And then it sat quietly, waiting. And now it’s time to read it, it’s called again.  (Once to be bought, once to be read, that’s usually how it goes with my books.)
8) Mysteries of the Dark Moon, by Demetra George – this is not only about the actual time of the dark moon, its traditional associations and why (death, isolation, waiting); but about the embodiment of fears about this time, this part of the female psyche into goddesses. Specifically those goddesses known in general as dark, scary, manipulatively clever, or violent: Hekate, Lilith, Morgana, Kali.  The idea of the unconscious is explored through these goddesses, with reference to psychology, myth and symbolic perspectives. The book explores why the female psyche was split (Madonna and Whore is a good starting point), and how it can be reintegrated with the 'dark' parts as a valuable part of the whole person.  I’ve read several reviews of this book and it seems to split people, it has its lovers and its haters.  I’m eager to see if I feel I’ve learned anything.

Hmmmm, are you getting a theme here, this next year?!  Am I being a bit single minded? Bear in mind there'll be thousands of other books between this lot, so it won't feel as singleminded as it looks; and probably just as well. For anyone wondering why I don't have a GODS pile, its because the Gods were always my friends; its the Goddesses I've always had a bit of trouble connecting with, simply because culturally, in a Christian household, I was not brought up to think there were any goddesses. So its still relatively new to me, after all this time.  I feel I am brushing up on another part of myself that was ignored, or left fallow. The Gods have walked with me all this while. So have the Goddesses, really, I just wasn't aware of it. We're all getting to know each other. Having tea.

 9) The Triple Goddess: An Exploration of the Archetypal Feminine, by Adam McLean - I've had this one recommended to me left, right and centre, and it turns out its been quietly on my bookshelf for over 10 years and I have no memory of how I got it.  Its time has come!  Very exciting!  And who is that on the front there? Not Hekate again...
10) Voices of the Goddess: A Chorus of Sibyls, ed. by Caitlin Matthews - this also comes highly recommended - several priestesses, authors and artists from entirely different paths tell of the goddess in their lives: how they found her, what she does, how she has changed them. At least 3 of the contributors are women I admire greatly for their writing already. Looking forward to!  My copy of this book is very old and second-hand, and has a gift inscription inside from one woman to another, including a bit at the end about blessings of Sekhmet and Hathor - two goddesses I have heard good things about.
11) Warrior Goddess Training, by Heatherash Amara - this was an impulse purchase, based on the fact I liked the title.  I think its more in the vein of a sort of earth-based self help book, we will see. If it's about accepting yourself and becoming more of a person, it may have some good nuggets: I will report back.  This is the wildcard book.
12) Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality, by Carol P. Christ - I spent time earlier this year, before my Hekate experience, of trying and failing to find THE goddess book that would get me properly started on my idea of female deity studies.  I would buy one that had a perfectly simple title and it would turn out to be about Qabalah (that keeps happening, so clearly next year or sooner I shall have to read about that in more depth too).  Buy another and it would turn out to not have the historical basis I wanted...each of them was not the angle I was after..  This one might be. We'll see.

There's a tangent, eh? Not really.  I've been stalled on my Ovate OBOD studies for some while now, and I think my goddess reading, allied with some druidry reading might help kickstart me again. Druidry isn't easy, as this first book will show...
13) Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics, by Emma Restall-Orr - yes, she again.  If I'm to have a trying year wrestling with a difficult taskmistress of a goddess (if she asks me to do something I find scary or difficult), someone who will hold me to account, I think I can do no better than to make myself read a book I bought some time ago, but have not yet had the gazonkas to read, as I think I am going to feel fearful, compromised and be reminded of how far I fall short in my attempts to be ethical.  I lie.  I often think its a good idea, too. I'm manipulative on many occasions.  I sneak about.  I wish I was a person of my word - and oddly, to some people in my life without question I always am. And to some others, I view ethics as unecessary, they don't deserve it.  Yet I don't see myself as a bad person; I am... pragmatic, opportunist, realist.  Scared.  (I kind of wish I was Quark on many days; yet I respect honourable Odo so much more.)  I have a feeling if I met Emma Restall-Orr she would terrify me if we had a proper conversation.  But dammit.  Maybe its about time I was terrified by someone else and not the shadows of my own head.  Let her talk to me of history and ethics. Let me not run away.  This is a woman whose voice I deeply respect. I'm going blinkin' well sit down and listen.  Can't be brave and/ or less fearful if I don't practice, right??  Its not going to just miraculously grow out of my arse, now is it?? No. Practice.
14) The Druids, by Ronald Hutton - Got to have a bit of Professor Ronald Hutton if I'm going to read pagan history, as related by a highly respected academic (who is dead nice in real life too).  I had a bit of a choice here: read his first book on the Druids in general historically - perceptions of them as a concept (this one), or the subsequent thicker and more in depth study he also did, of the Druids in Britain as a whole, which has a different emphasis. I decided to err on the side of chronology and begin here. I also wanted to read his latest and hugest book, Pagan Britain, and who knows, I may do.  But there are already some challenging books on this list, and I don't want to rush anything Ronald Hutton writes.  He has a divinely easily read style and I like to immerse and swim in his books. In my own time. So I may have to stick with just this one.  I'm bound to enjoy it (I have never found a book of his boring yet), and I am bound to deface it with notes and reactive comments till its barely legible and I have to get another copy (you should see my copy of Triumph of the Moon - even he was quite impressed at the way there was practically nowhere for him to sign it for me as I had taken so many notes!!). Can't wait to get to this one!
15) In the Grove of the Druids, by Philip Carr-Gomm - what is this with Druid writers being double-barrelled? As an aside.  I've read several books by Philip Carr-Gomm and I always find him stimulating.  Some of the books I love, some I found odd, some I found troubling.  I love his blog too.  He's the current leader (thats not the right word) of OBOD, and he is deeply readable. Another one with a background in psychology and humanism.  This book, one of a few of his still waiting to be read, focusses on the teachings of his teacher and OBOD leading predecessor, Ross Nichols.  Since in my Druid studies with OBOD, Nichols is often referred to and quoted, I thought it would be an idea to read Philip Carr-Gomm's assessment of the man's ideas. Could be very interesting.
16) The Mount Haemus Lectures,volume one, 2000-2007 - this is an OBOD publication, featuring several essays on contemporary Druid research and scholarship.  An essay by Professor Ronald Hutton inside!  Caitlin Matthews too.  A contribution by Philip Carr-Gomm on shadows and light that sounds relevant to my year's focus - though its actually about the composer Tippett! I bought this from the OBOD shop, to see what sort of things were engaging the thoughts of the academically minded in the Order.

And there we have it...will I ever get through ALL these fat and wordy books??

Isn't it hilarious I did a post this long introducing you to books that I will review later??

And how hard it was to pick - so many OTHER goddess books, other Druidry books, other history books (have a most interesting looking newly published one, for example, called Daughters of Hecate, about the gendering of magic as a female activity in antiquity, and whether this was actually so, or just culturally perceived, and if so, how and why...its enormous,and very heavily footnoted and looks...fascinating.  Sigh.)

So.  I will get back to you at the end of the year with a review of those I definitely did actually manage to read.  I should imagine barring disaster, all the specifically Hekate ones will be read ('cos when you say you'll do something to someone you are making friends with, you best do it, its polite and will otherwise create a bad impression - see, this is how people should teach me ethics: remind me its rude and unEnglish to be..impolite; even though, historically, I immediately fall into many holes there...ah, a whole 'nother post - how the English perceive themselves and their morality; compared with what we have actually been like, historically, when interacting with the world!  BlackberryJuniper combusts in a puff of unbearable satirical paradox.)

And obviously, I have a Doctor Who marathon also consisting of thousands of books to read still this year (and likely still until I am dead)...

Well, I have books to look forward to.  Happy New Year, all!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Doctor Who Books Read and Heard, Part 14!

This post: treats from the eras of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Doctors. 
A note on order.  Target Originals are not read in order of publication (which was all over the place), but in order of each Doctor, and each Doctor is read in order of their stories broadcast on TV.  However, I jump about in terms of which Doctor I read at any given time.  The Virgin New Adventures for Sylvester will be read in order; as will the BBC 8th Doctor series (as though they had been on TV, see?  I’m trying to get an arc flavour).  The BBC Past Doctors series and the Virgin Missing Adventures are simply read in terms of which one I fancy next, as they are stand alone adventures slotting in-between the TV ones.

Oh, and in case you forgot, I’ve taken to recording which books I read that are actual paper copies, and which are Kindle or other electronic.  I’m being social historical for my own benefit. I want to see how long it is before I just plug books straight into my brain, how many years before I’m a reading cyborg.

As always with these rambly reviews: OFTEN LARGE SPOILERS ON ALL BOOKS IMMINENT!!!!

1.   Doctor Who: The Sea Devils, by Malcolm Hulke (Target original)
(3rd Doctor.  This is one that I experienced as so Boys Own when I was watching it with Stanley ages ago, that I huddled up under his arm and went to sleep.  The book was a whole different matter!  I loved the book!  I experienced it as a very learning read.  I learned that the equivalent of privates, squaddies in the Navy are called ‘ratings’ [which kept making me think of reality TV shows, I kept expecting there to be a vote].  I learned how to turn a receiver into a transmitter [p.49]; and what exactly sonar is and how it works –I shall now understand ‘pings’ [p.96].  I really enjoy Who when it tells me things, little snippets, that I didn’t already know[and there’s so much I don’t know, or misunderstand, that this is always joyful].  ‘May Day’ is French for ‘aid me’: maid’ez.  I did not know that!

I enjoyed several of the secondary characters too - Jane Blythe, the W.R.N. helping Captain Hart [who was also a nice character], and her “suspicious mind” helps Hart work out that Trenchard is deceiving them about the Master, and that something is wrong at the prison.  They work nicely together.  Trenchard himself is an inept man – and a sad one, who died an inept death.  I thought it was very nicely done, when he had died and his body was discovered by the Doctor, that the Doctor surreptitiously removed the safety on his gun, so no one would know that even in attempting to do the right thing at the end, he had once again messed it up. He thoughtfully preserved Trenchard’s reputation.  Walker, the Man from the Ministry, with his two major qualities of gluttony and changeable cowardice, was also a nice addition.

Both the Silurians and the Sea Devils are quite tragic creations – the Silurians felt more fleshed out in their story [novelised as Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters], since the Sea Devils portrayal suffered from an excess of The Master injecting himself into almost every scene they are in.  I really sympathised with their feeling that the planet was theirs despite their long absence, and their warlike [and desperate] attempts to get it back.  [I know some will think this is a reading too far, but I kept thinking of the Middle East while I read this; alter the outcome at the end of The Silurians or The Sea Devils, and you have a similar situation, which would be reacted to in a similar way by the Earth inhabitants…anyway, that was just a thought that kept popping into my head while I read.]  They were very sympathetic creations, despite their arrogance.

The taking of the submarine read as a real action episode, and not remembering this bit at all [I must have been well asleep by then], it read as a real page turner. I was surprised when the incident wasn’t developed further.  Also, for some reason, this section vaguely reminded me of The Sea Wolves, with Roger Moore.

The Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow TWICE in this book, which clearly makes the story a Total Classic!  Actually, the presentation of the Doctor here WAS archetypal Pertwee era: very much politeness on his part, an awful lot of saying, “oh my dear chap”, or “I’m a scientist”, or subverting equipment while he is fixing it, so that it helps his cause - much tinkering with technology.  Also, after he has blown up the base at the end, he is stoicly and sorrowfully silent when the Master accuses him of mass murder, because he knows it is true; and later, when the Navy try to thank him for his help, he is brief and subdued: “I did what I had to do to prevent a war. I don’t want your thanks.”  This is Pertwee; one moment so flamboyant and bossy; the next reflective and resentful at what he has had to do to save the Earth inhabitants; his lack of choices, the necessity of bad actions.  In this way, Who used to quietly teach the children of the 70s…grey morality.  20/10, totally recommended.  ACTUAL BOOK.)
2.  Doctor Who: Mawdryn Undead, by Peter Grimwade (Target Original)
(5th Doctor. I always enjoy watching this one: partly because Turlough is a most interesting character - hostile yet vulnerable, and I do not quite understand his mind, yet I understand his opportunism.  Partly because the Brigadier is in it, not once but twice.  Partly because I really enjoy his interaction with Tegan, and I find the device of the landing in the same place in 2 different time zones very nice to watch.

The only problem I felt on reading, and Stanley disagreed with me, but I felt it counted, was that the story suffers from a Maguffin! The Blinovitch Limitation Effect – the reason the 2 Brigadiers must not meet up, is harped on a lot - something terrible will happen if they do. Then they…do, in the climax, and it actually fixes everything [allowing Mawdryn and his compatriots to die; whilst simultaneously generating enough energy to right Tegan and Nyssa’s ages].  So it was referred to a lot, and then did the opposite to what it was supposed to, and was all very convenient.  I agree I am mislabelling it in the sense that it did serve a purpose and appear in the story consistently [not discarded like the famous ‘Rosebud’ example from Citizen Kane] – but I really objected to its convenient fixing of everything. 

I also found the Doctor’s behaviour; his fear at Mawdryn’s wanting to steal his lives odd.  I mean, if someone wanted to steal my life I would hate it; and Mawdryn did want to steal all the Doctor’s lives…but it seemed such a craven human base reaction, somehow out of character, coming from especially Davison’s Doctor – usually so calm.  I’m not criticising this bit of the writing, I just didn’t get it.  It felt forced.  His judging of them, that they should take the consequences of their actions…when he interferes himself all the time, and had stolen his own TARDIS: it was a bit…hypocritical…I didn’t truly understand his behaviour there, I was hoping the book might elucidate, but it made it no clearer than when I watch on TV.  Otherwise, an enjoyable read – and really typical story of the Davison era, I always felt. ACTUAL BOOK.)
3.  Doctor Who: The Two Doctors, by Robert Holmes (Target Original)
(6th and 2nd Doctor. Before I ever saw this one, I kept hearing about how people felt the Spanish location had been underused, that they could have been tromping about out in Devon in summer and it would have been the same.  I don’t really know. Devon couldn’t really look like the dryness that Spain has in certain regions.  I can tell they aren’t in England; and the story does have a feeling of difference, a sort of hot brooding sweaty intensity for this atmospheric change in location.  And I also think of the Spanish as a nation full of rich rich meaty juice-iful foods – so this is a good location for Shockeye, surely?

I am in two minds about this story and reading it has not changed that.  This is one of the ones that Fluffhead quite likes to watch, so I’m very familiar with it. I do think it’s very enjoyable; and I do think it’s very flawed!

Troughton’s Doctor seems to spend the whole time he’s on screen puffing and blowing through his cheeks, a sort of overtired petulant child.  There’s little of his more subtle qualities on show, this story. Which is a shame. I also don’t quite understand why he dislikes Colin Baker’s self so much.  Obviously, there’s a tradition of the Doctors riling each other when they meet [the amusing insultings of The Three Doctors always come to mind].  I didn’t like him turning into an Androgum, it was one of the less enjoyable times the Doctor has been taken over by something other; in that it was more disturbing watching him not care at all about violence and killing, and snooze through it, than for him to actually be made to do any.  Oddly.  I felt his scenes were a bit of a missed opportunity, and the book played it the same way.

The portrayals of Shockeye and Chessene I have always felt were troublesome too, and been unable to put my finger on why. I know it was felt that the vegetarianism that Robert Holmes was using Shockeye’s grossly sensual and basic character to promote was overdone, but the book made that somehow more smooth.  On screen, the endless detailing of bloodied meat juices, and the viewing of Peri as a ‘little jill’ and Jamie as a ‘jack’ getting his skin marbled and tenderised by torture [because it works better on a live animal, the tendering] was a cacophony of gluttony and meanness, but I get the odd impression that it didn’t put anyone off their pork chops for dinner.  This I think was because the makeup [eyebrows and the coarse features etc] chosen for the Qwancing Grig was possibly the wrong decision. In the book, Shockeye simply sounded like an obsessed chef – annoying, but that’s his thing: eating all meat. The thing about Shockeye that really leapt out in the book, but less so in the watching [due to the makeup and costuming decisions, I think] was his sheer strength, physique and his boorish implacable physicality.  THAT is what made him formidable and worrying, to read. His ruthlessness in the cause of Dinner…

With Chessene, she was simply too smug all the time. I disagreed with the 2nd Doctor at the beginning, when he said to Dastari that you “could augment an insect until it understood nuclear physics; it would still not be a very sensible thing to do”.  I thought that changing the brain capacity of any creature would OF COURSE change its nature, therefore Chessene would no longer be obsessed with food…yet it did seem very natural when she started to lick the doorstep at the end. What was more interesting, was her getting of the large devious streak out of nowhere. That seemed a plausible thing to pop out of a brain augmentation.  After all: if you can reason more, with more knowledge- you would start to strategise more, be more wily, wouldn’t you? I think I would. [Also, I was brought up on Blakes 7, and I kept expecting her to identify as Servalan any minute, which was distracting, as the 2 characters weren’t all that far apart.]

I learned from the book that the 6th Doctor made up Gumblejack, and it isn’t a real fish!  I’m pretty sure it’s been referred to as a real fish of the Who universe in subsequent stories [I think Sylvester mentioned it?], so this is a bit of retro-history that will quietly annoy continuity obsessives [of which I can be one when I take it into my head - enough to note this detail, anyway!]

While this story does skip along, it was sad that Oscar died, and in the book he is properly gutted – I am very surprised that Shockeye didn’t take him with him for cooking elsewhere, it seemed a waste knowing his character. Anita is never seen again after that scene, weird.  Peri and Jamie could have had much more of an interaction than they did, but for some reason they don’t- which is almost the most missed opportunity of the whole story.  And the Sontarans, well, tsk.  They don’t seem as clever or as menacing as I always remember them from the story where they kidnap and torture Sarah Jane.

Actually, unsure why I do like this story so much, there’s quite a bit wrong with it. But I do.  Colin Baker displays a lot of energy this story, and drives his scenes well, maybe that helps.  ACTUAL BOOK.)
4.  Doctor Who: Minuet in Hell, by Alan W. Lear (Big Finish Monthly releases, no.18)
(8th Doctor.  Another one of those stories that started well and then as it went on – despite the presence of the Brigadier, for who I did indeed perk up - I felt…languished a bit.

I wasn’t happy that Paul McGann spent so much of the story absent, it felt like almost a third all told, where he quietly sat, having lost his memory, all confused and looneybinned. While Charley started to figure out what was going on. That was ok, but what was going on involved an awful lot of very fake Southern accents, and a lot of one character, Becky, talking to her ‘granpappy’ about things at length. I’ve said in another Who review somewhere, that I think it’s always a big risk to start ventriloquizing other very close but not ours, cultures.  The Americans read lots of our books; we read lots of theirs; same with TV and film. They would be forgiven for thinking our entire reality is a cross between the new Who episode The Unicorn and the Wasp, where Agatha Christie 20’s it about in a flapper dress solving the crime where we all live in a country mansion….OR a hard and manly cockney based world where we Lock and Stock and Barrel it about, swearing loudly, with Vinnie Jones and Danny Dyer replicas nutting each other all the time.  Those are some very LOUD stereotypes I just evoked there.  But this story had some very loud stereotypes of a certain sort of US culture and historical point, too. And I know it’s just shorthand, code, but its tired, and old and I would like a hugely less clichéd way of seeing the South - even if it is an imaginary scifi South of the Good Old US of A.  So that impinged on my hearing this play.

I liked the way the demon wasn’t a demon, but just another life form, with his 21st century slang and his casualness to go with the hellfire voice.  That was amusing and annoying; but mostly amusing.

I liked the way the story skated close to the idea of Charley and the other girls being sold into prostitution in the HellFire Club - it managed to imply it vigorously without actually saying it at all, and it was quite horrifying.  Her reaction, an outraged ‘I’m British!’ in tone, was almost clever, in that it managed to take some of the horror off what was a quite nasty situation.

Not only is the Doctor not really the Doctor for much of the story, but someone else –having come too close to a device – DOES think he is the Doctor, and much of the 8th Doctor’s scenes in this play are trying to convince himself and others, notably Gideon Crane, the other Doctor, that he is himself.  This could have been a whole topic in itself: one of those madness episodes that all scifi progs seem to deal in after a while, and always effective in my viewing [both Charmed, Buffy and Star Trek Next Generation have pulled this one off nicely, the idea that you aren’t special at all, you just think you’re a special person with a mission, but really you’re a sad loser in a mental institution escaping your reality – and those were just the shows I thought of off the top of my head].  They choose not to go this route, fair enough-but it does leave the Doctor weak and ineffective through quite a chunk of the story, which I feel was a mistake.

Hmm, I can’t say much else. This had some interesting ideas: the US politics, the cerebral surgery, the technology of it; but it was not dealt with very well, I felt. Oh well. Onward…ON DOWNLOAD.)
  1. Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil, by Philip Reeve (BBC 50th Anniversary Short Stories, e-story)
    (4th Doctor. A very small and succinct self-contained story.  Satisfying, if brief.  The Doctor and Leela [yay, Leela!], go to visit a huge and beautiful tree world that has been subverted by one of the founders into an everlasting revenge scenario, awaiting the Doctor to return so its inhabitants can kill him [because of something he hasn’t done yet].  But he is too charming, too helpful, and too honest – when the planet’s spores attack, he helps them, and soon he fights with them.  The portrayals of Leela and The Doctor were spot on, and I felt this could have been expanded to a much larger old style story – it felt in keeping with the mores of Leela’s story period. ON KINDLE.)

  2. Doctor Who: The Rescue, by Ian Marter (Target original)
    (1st Doctor.  I had absolutely no memory of having ever seen this one, though I know I have.  So I watched it again, directly after I read it.  Which gives light to the realisation that Ian Marter greatly increased the story.  There is a whole section at the beginning of the book, where the rescue ship experiences strange difficulties trying to get to the Astra 9; and again at the end where the silver beings are unceremoniously killed by accident by the rescue team – and then the novel ends with an ironic Christmas wish – all out of nowhere.  In addition, there are many more references to the silver beings, they keep being seen around the place, notably by Vicki and Barbara.

    I felt the bit at the end where they are just…killed, was an oddly postmodern and bleak little addendum. Unnecessary, harsh and sad. I don’t know why Ian Marter decided to put it in – it’s completely absent from the TV presentation, and it changes the whole tone of the end of the story, from one of joy at finding a new companion and the excitement of another adventure beginning; to the crapness of humans and the lightness with which we take life on occasion.  To add the Christmas message onto that was loading some irony heavily. I wonder why he did that…

    The best scene in the book, for me, as well as the TV version, was the Doctor’s confronting Bennett in the Temple, and unmasking him, before Bennett tries to kill him. In the book this scene is much enlarged and made more of, to good effect, both in description and the dialogue.  The silver beings are stranger here, and they look morealien in the books description; more helpful of the Doctor, albeit silently, without explanation.

    There are enlarged scenes too, where Ian and Vicki struggle to get out of the various places they get trapped in- impossible scenes of her clinging onto his back as he tries to climb up a vertical tube, balanced by bracing his hands and knees to breaking point. There was something very modern about all this action, and it oddly fitted in perfectly with Ian and Vicki’s characters.  Barbara’s sadness at killing Sandy is also elaborated, as is the strength of Vicki’s reaction, the initial instability of her character.

    I got the impression Ian Marter really enjoyed having some room to play within such an otherwise short story; and apart from the sad epilogue, I loved what he did with this underrated story.)

Note, unrelated to Who but related to this blog - Christmas: This will probably be the last post of this year, unless I suddenly gain a swathe of time by pretending to be dead or somesuch.  Do you remember this post?

Well, I don't feel like that anymore, and haven't for a while.  Its become a time of year where people want me to do things to please them (and I don't mean my children).  Its become about pressure and expectations of others, instead of the lovely Christmases Stanley and I used to share, unbothered by others, with our ideas in tandem.  Its very odd, that this idea of the Christmas Spirit, and giving, and family time etc should have become such a time of overheated pressure to be jolly, pressure to happyhappyhappy, and pressure to be with others and do things their way - to not be alone if thats how you want it (and I know at least 3 people who would prefer that).  And before anyone corrects or disagrees with me - if you have the freedom to spend your Christmas how and with who you CHOOSE, then no wonder it goes well!  Mine used to, for that reason. Its not that way anymore, and the pressure and expectations of others seem to get worse with every year...As Fry would say: the bloody politics of it all, not the right emphasis for the season.

So, to get to the point, I'm having a bit of a seasonal descent into worry and anxiety and the feeling of pressure; not to mention school holidays soon, so I won't have blogging (or reading, where Who is concerned) time.  So I may well call hiatus till January 2015.

I may be back before then, but don't hold your breath. As I said to a good friend of mine, I am becoming Worf until next year. Seething and worrying about Duty and Honour Obligations and other such things. (I love Worf...)

Worf's extremely valid and important point, which in this case I apply to interminable 'fun'games of Scrabble or Cribbage or Monopoly played at Christmas with relatives who seem to think endless talking, togetherness and competitiveness, plus a complete lack of downtime or privacy (usually mixed with alcohol) is a good idea.

I hope you all have a Good Christmas - and you get to spend it where and with whom you want to be. See you on the other side.