Wednesday, 30 November 2011

All generalisations are false, including this one.

Happy St. Andrew's Day.

Apparently the widescreen Rockwell-esque Google Doodle today celebrates Mark Twain's 176th birthday. 176th. Oh-kay...

His work strongly evokes a sense of place and time (a bit off the beaten track for Doctor Who, being historical America, but still possibly a good guide).

If you remember the Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter Time's Arrow you have a fair idea how he could appear in Doctor Who, as America's Dickens makes a particularly snarky Celebrity Historical hero who will no doubt be left with the inspiration to write A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court.

You could also go crazy literal with this, and have a scruffy adolescent Sam Clemens working the Mississippi river boats when a time portal brings a bunch of chivalric knights on board. Any player who makes the connection deserves a cookie.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Because SFX Demanded It - The Ultimate Democratic Who Adventure

The Tenth Doctor, Sarah Jane, Rory, K9 and the Brigadier battle the Master and a new monster on Gallifrey, as written by Neil Gaiman.

No, I'm not going to try and figure out a plot to fit that.

Stanisław Lem

The latest Google Doodle actually ups the ante for insane levels of size, complexity and involvement, especially as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of Stanisław Lem's first book, which seems like a rather obscure topic for so much work.

(I also discovered that only Russia got Mikhail Lomonosov's 300th birthday recently, and only Italy got one for Italo Calvino even as the whole world got the one for the creator of Gumby which as far as I know was never shown here. Oh well.)

So what can we take from Lem (other than "I want that toy cosmonaut!") of interest? His work features explorers discovering alien and evolutionary robotic cultures, with details like multiple ethnicities and classes in Eden.

How would the travellers deal with a planet taken over by evolving machines? Depends whether they were chasing them with laser eyes, of course. But in general as long as they aren't conquer-the-universe or dismantle-everything-for-parts they'd probably have an interesting viewpoint. And maybe a bunch of organics come down to abduct some to work for them...

And the living planet Solaris attempting to communicate (with little success) could translate into a thoughtful adventure which reveals a great deal about the travellers, or a haunted-spaceship runaround like Event Horizon for that matter.

But maybe the best Lem-related plot hook comes from Philip K. Dick, whose work he praised, but who suspected he was actually a pen name for a cabal of Russian scientists using SF to misdirect American scientific research along blind alleys...

Happy Birthday, Doctor Who!

48, and you don't look it, at the moment anyway.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Vworp Vworp Volume Two

My copy arrived today.

Big and chunky as Volume One, in a bag inside the envelope because of the “Vworpibix” boardgames that come with it. More from Dave Gibbons, now on The Tides Of Time in particular, lots of writers and artists on Abslom Daak, interviews with DWM’s editors, a new Daak comic strip and a Mrs. Wibbsey one, Gareth Roberts, and Tom and Colin Baker on their comic appearances.

Nothing here hit me right in the nostalgia centre like issue one’s big piece on The Iron Legion, but it’s still all rather interesting.

Oh, and Volume Three will have an Alan Moore interview. Eeeee!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Other brief British genre shows that could make decent Who plots...

Between Survival and Rose ushering in the Golden Age of post-2005 British genre telly, we were lucky if we got six episodes of something in a year as well as Red Dwarf. And before and since then we've had some misses as well...

Terry Nation's Survivors, and indeed Adrian Hodges's Survivors - a viral apocalypse leaves an empty Britain with a few down-at-heel people trying to rebuild society and rather more not bothering to.

The Last Train by Matthew Graham - another viral apocalypse just about wipes out the country, apart from a few survivors saved by a cryogenics experiment. Like a much more low-key version of The Morrow Project.

(Viral apocalypses are such a thing around here that we had a sitcom about one.)

A not-fast-enough Avengers-for-the-90s that pointed the way to where Who would return in the schedules. A useful database for just-about-possible technological threats if nothing else.

Crime Traveller
A time travel show on BBC1, Saturday nights, in 1997? In a parallel world, this slot was taken up by the Eighth Doctor. Hmph. Still, no hard feelings...

Vampires trying to take over the government, played absolutely straight, so straight it loops back to be rather funny. Still, good basis for a Secret Invasion, where just about anyone could be tempted to turn.

Invasion: Earth
Pretty ambitious, staging an alien invasion in, er, southern Scotland, with two warring alien species, post-Independence Day dogfighting and, er, a downer ending. It's a good basis for an invasion plot and a misdirection about who's to blame, though.

The newest addition to the list, a future colony with a bit too much mysterious strangeness mixed in with its down-to-earth concerns and grit. Still, lovely approaching/crashing spaceship.

The Uninvited
Aliens taking over human bodies? The head of British Nuclear Power rising from the dead? A conspiracy threatening to take over the country? Plugged as a British X Files it was more a 90s Quatermass II. Novelised by Paul Cornell, who had the Brigadier come in and save the day...

Dark Season
If you can't figure this one out, you're not trying.


Before getting this month's SFX I was at best vaguely aware of Pathfinders In Space, now on DVD, hence it being reviewed. Sydney Newman running an educational space opera (which presaged Lost In Space rather heavily, with a better sense of direction) five years before launching a noted Police Box.

It would therefore seem ideal for back references to (mostly) British pioneers of the stars with stiff upper lips and Dan Dare gentlemanly pulp heroism.

"Ah yes, the Pathfinder Project! The Wedgwood family, unsung pioneers of the British Rocket Group. Mad, every last one of them. Took a guinea pig with them. Literally a guinea pig."

And for added head-scratching...

"Wait, what do you mean we landed on the Moon in 1960? You're the worst time traveller ever."
"They kept it very hush-hush, it was the engineer and his kids launched by accident - health and safety nightmare!"

Let the running around and screaming commence

David Yates is looking at developing a Doctor Who movie completely unconnected from the series continuity.

Huh. Well then.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Doctor Who: The Wonderful Book 1965

A most impressive pack of lies - a fake Doctor Who annual in the style of The Brilliant Book for the Hartnell era. Worth checking out for the the map of Marinus alone.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Science Week

Yesterday's Google Doodle was Marie Curie, today's was Edmond Halley. I don't need to explain how Belle Epoque women investigating (and naming) radioactivity or Jacobean chaps tracking (and naming) comets linked to portents of doom could make adventure hooks, do I? Just add some aliens seeking an advanced power source and a carriage chase around the Eiffel Tower to the first, and a secret invasion in 2061 to the other, and you're good to go.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Adventure Games: The Gunpowder Plot

Released for Hallowe'en despite being set, rather unsurprisingly, around November Fifth, the Adventure Games get a Celebrity Historical, The Gunpowder Plot with Guido "Guy" Fawkes and his gang gaining a suspicious new member.

It's something of an epic, the longest yet (there's a walkthrough online that runs two and a half hours, compared to about 45 minutes for the biggest of the first set of games City Of The Daleks) with a variety of locations including big chunks of Jacobean London to run around. Indeed, it could have been cut down in some places...

Spoilers to follow...

New Objective: Save The World

Happy 75th birthday, BBC TV! Keep up the good work.

Democracy in action

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