A podcast exploring the written worlds of Doctor Who...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sean Jumps the Shark: 'Scream of the Shalka' for October

Hello loyal listeners! Apologies for the lateness of this episode and this post. Still, if you've not yet listened, our September episode on Marc Platt's Downtime is still available for your listening delectation and amusement.

Marc Platt is not the only writer who novelized his own work for the book ranges, of course. Barry Letts did the same when he adapted The Ghosts of N-Space, and for our October episode, we'll be reading Paul Cornell's adaptation of his own script for Scream of the Shalka, which was recently released on DVD. From the back cover:

When the Doctor lands his TARDIS in the Lancaster town of Lannet, in the present day, he finds that something is terribly wrong. The people are scared. They don't like going out onto the streets at night, they don't like making too much noise, and they certainly don't like strangers asking too many questions.

Scream of the Shalka is something of an oddity, of course, as it was originally intended to be, for lack of a better term, canonical. The Ninth Doctor portrayed in the story was meant to carry on directly from the Eighth as seen in the 1996 TV Movie. However, the new series was announced before Scream of the Shalka went live, meaning that the "Shalka Doctor" was quickly forgotten in favor of the new canonical Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. But more to the point: is the book any good? We won't be watching the story itself beforehand, so, as with Downtime, we'll be judging the book as a book. We hope you'll read along and do the same.

For further reading (SPOILERS ahead, as always), you can check out:
Scream of the Shalka at the TARDIS Library
Friend of the show Robert Smith?'s review at The Cloister Library 
But it for your Kindle!

P.S.--In case you're confused as to why we're reading a Past Doctor Adventure when the rotor should have Sean selecting a Virgin New Adventure, well, it's mainly so we could do Shalka as soon as possible after it came out on DVD. For November, we'll do a NA, and December will see us reading an Eighth Doctor Adventure. However, it might be time to re-examine the rotor and see if it couldn't be tweaked...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oops: A Correction to Episode 32 and An Addendum

So, if you've listened to Episode 32, in which Sean and I discuss Trevor Baxendale's Fear of the Dark, you may have heard me say that, as this story is set immediately following "Arc of Infinity," that it would be followed by "Mawdryn Undead." Of course, that was wrong--the next story would be "Snakedance." Now, the reason I really shouldn't have gotten this wrong, aside from the fact that I love "Snakedance," is that, in some ways, Fear of the Dark is a sort of inversion of "Snakedance." In each, one of the Doctor's companions is, via her dreams, contacted and eventually possessed by an ancient evil which seeks to re-establish a physical presence in this world. Except the one ends with death everywhere and the other ends with absolutely no death. There are even references to Tegan's snake dreams in the novel, further drawing attention to the connection between the two stories.

And that's where, as you'll also have heard if you listened to the episode, my biggest issue with the novel lies: it didn't feel very fresh. It felt like a story we'd read or seen before, either with The Pit or "Image of the Fendahl," or "Curse of Fenric," or "Snakedance"--it just felt predictable. Of course, Sean disagreed with me--as did several listeners who've kindly let me know how wrong I am. So, take everything I've written above with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I also forgot to include links about Downtime in the post announcing it, so here they are. Remember, as always--SPOILERS AHEAD!

Downtime at the Doctor Who Reference Guide  
Buy it at Amazon.com! 
Reviews at the Doctor Who Ratings Guide

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Erik Cheats and Picks Downtime

As the headline makes clear, I (Erik here) have made a slight cheat in my selection for September. Oh, but before we get too far into that, here's where you can download our August episode on Trevor Baxendale's Fear of the Dark. Also, here's a complete list  of all the novels being reprinted as part of the 50th Anniversary Collection. Who knows? If they sell well enough, maybe more of these books will be brought back into print. Stranger things have happened, like that time I was in a completely black room and I thought I saw...

Where was I? Oh, yes--the cheat! Well, it's not really a cheat, I suppose, but we do tend to try to rotate through the various Doctors when we select our books for both the PDA and the VMA ranges. While we've done an equal number of books starring all of the previous classic Doctors (1-6), and I was technically free to pick a book featuring any of them, it's been a year since we've done a book featuring the Second Doctor, and I was leaning in that direction, until I got a mischievous twinkle in my eye and decided, instead, to pick Downtime. And I'm sure the silver control ball I found the other day in no way influenced my decision.

If you're unfamiliar with its history, Downtime was a direct-to-video, independently produced, Doctor Who spin-off made by some long-time fans that featured both actors from the series--Elizabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney, and Deborah Watling, among others--and behind-the-scenes people with experience of working on Who: director Christopher Barry and writer Marc Platt, plus Ian Levine, about whom, the less said, perhaps the better. It was not officially licensed by the BBC, however, and therefore couldn't feature the character of the Doctor or the TARDIS, which Platt worked around by focusing the story on other characters to which they could secure the rights. When the time came to novelize his script for the Virgin Missing Adventure range, Platt seemingly saw no reason to insert the Doctor, and so it is the only book in that range not to focus around any incarnation of the Doctor, though several apparently make cameo appearances.

From the back cover:

Across the room, in a high-backed leather chair, Victoria saw the old man from the reading room. His face was curiously young for someone so long dead.

In 1966 the Doctor defeated the Great Intelligence, but he knew it wasn’t a final victory. And his companion Victoria, whose mind had once hosted the evil entity, might still fall prey to its power.

Now it seems that his fears are justified. In a Tibetan monastery, the monks display unearthly powers - UNIT are investigating. A new university has opened in London with a secret agenda that may threaten the whole country. Victoria, abandoned in an age very different from her own, and haunted by visions of a father she refuses to believe is dead, is slipping into despair and madness. But are the visions which plague her really hallucinations? Or has the Great Intelligence once again made Earth its target for invasion?

So, join is for that discussion in September! Happy reading!

In the meantime, you can email us at dwbcpodcast@gmail.com & follow us on Twitter: the podcast--@DWBCpodcast, Erik--@sjcAustenite, and Sean--@tardistavern.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Hello Book Clubbers! Erik here, retaking control of the blog once more in an ill-fated attempt to satiate my constant and growing hunger for power. More...more...MORE!!!


Actually, Sean's just gotten too busy so I'm stepping back into the breach. Before I blurb August's book, some housekeeping. Due to the aforementioned business, we're behind on posting episodes! Oh no!

And now, for August, we present Trevor Baxendale's Fear of the Dark--from the back cover of the original edition:

On the very edge of the galaxy lies Akoshemon: a putrefied world of legendary evil.

In the year 2382 archaeologists land on Akoshemon’s only moon, searching for evidence of the planet’s infamous past. But when the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa are drawn into the lunar caverns they find more than a team of academics -- and help uncover much more than ancient history.

Something is lying in wait, deep inside the labyrinth of caves: something that remembers the spiral of war, pestilence and deprivation that ruined Akoshemon. Something that rejoiced in every kind of horror and destruction.

An age-old terror is about to be reborn. But what is the hideous secret of the Bloodhunter? And why does Nyssa feel that her thoughts are no longer her own? Forced to confront his own worst fears, even the Doctor will be pushed to breaking point -- and beyond.

Oooh...sounds spooky kids! Baxendale has written several other books set in the Whoniverse (I hate that term, but it is convenient), both during the Wilderness Years and since the show returned in 2005. As a change of pace, Fear of the Dark is available for sale, right now, in a brand new edition as part of the 50th anniversary novel reissues--you can even get it for your Kindle or Nook! So you have no excuse not to grab a copy and read along with us...

Links below may contain spoilers:

Email us and tell us how much you love Erik's laugh at dwbcpodcast@gmail.com, look for us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter via @dwbcpodcast.  You can also follow Erik via @sjcaustenite and Sean via @tardistavern.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Independence Day (No, Not the Movie!)

Our review of Paul Magrs' The Scarlet Empress can be downloaded here.  We were tickled pink to hear that Mr. Magrs actually listened to our podcast and described us as "camp".  That's an in-joke that you may or may not get, but we'll just leave it at that.

For April of 2013 we go back to a traditional Seventh Doctor and Ace story (as opposed to the grumpy manipulative Doctor and the angst-ridden Ace we know from the Virgin New Adventures).  It's the BBC Past Doctor Adventure Independence Day by Peter Darvill-Evans.  From the back cover:

'Danger is my middle name,' Ace said, 'or it would be if I had more than one.  I can look after myself these days, you know.'

Freedom.  Liberty.  Free will.  Independence.  Choice.  Everyone wants to be free.  But at what point does freedom become irresponsibility?  What happens when one person's choice causes another's oppression?

The Doctor's on a simple mission to return a communications device he borrowed years previously.  Being a Time Lord, he can return it before anyone misses it.

But events in the Mendeb system have moved more quickly than the Doctor estimated, and he lands in the ruins of a civilisation devastated by mysterious invaders.

Darvill-Evans is arguably the single most important person in the history of Doctor Who novels.  In 1989, he oversaw the Target novelizations of the televised stories, and then went on to work for Virgin, where he created launched the New Adventures (he even wrote one himself, Deceit).  Aside from that book and Independence Day, he also wrote the BBC Past Doctors Adventure Asylum, featuring the Fourth Doctor and Nyssa.

Asylum, published in 2001, was the last thing Darvill-Evans published.  However, you can catch him on the DVD extra, "Doctor Forever! -- Love and War" on the recently-released special edition of "The Ark of Space".

Fun links:

"Independence Day" on Amazon  (Hey, it's affordable!)

Email us and tell us how much you love Erik's laugh at dwbcpodcast@gmail.com, look for us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter via @dwbcpodcast.  You can also follow Erik via @sjcaustenite and Sean via @tardistavern.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obligatory Post: Yes, We're Keeping This Blog Up!

The past few months have been filled with stuff like real life and other issues, so yours truly (that would be Sean), hasn't been the most loyal blogger on the planet for the last few episodes.  But never fear, dear readers, I'm here to update you on the last three months, plus a preview of what's coming later this month.

In December we read Simon Guerrier's BBC Past Doctor novel The Time Travellers, featuring the First Doctor, Susan, Barbara, and Ian.  This was the penultimate BBC Past Doctor book (the final being Atom Bomb Blues, although I'm told it depends on whom you ask).  From the back cover:

'Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension, to be exiles?'

24 June, 2006.  The TARDIS has landed in London.  Ian and Barbara are almost back home.  But this isn't the city they knew.  This London is a ruin, torn apart by war.  A war that the British are losing.

With his friends mistaken for vagrants and sentenced to death, the Doctor is press-ganged into helping perfect a weapon that might just turn the tables in the war.  The British Army has discovered time travel.  And the consequences are already devastating.

What has happened to the world that Ian and Barbara once knew?  How much of the experiment do the Doctor and Susan really understand?

And, despite all the Doctor has said to the contrary, is it actually possible to change history?

For the New Year, we turned our sights back to the Virgin Missing Adventures.  January featured a discussion of The Ghosts of N-Space by Barry Letts, best known for being the series show runner during the Pertwee era.  This selection (as the cover blatantly suggests) features the Third Doctor, Sarah Jane, and the Brigadier.  From the back cover:

'When the barrier gives way this planet will be flooded by all the evil in N-Space.  And, at the moment, I have no idea how to stop it.'

Sarah Jane Smith, on holiday with her chum Jeremy and a bad case of writer's block, is amazed to find the Brigadier in the same part of Italy.  He is there to help a distant relative whose tiny island home has been threatened by American mobster Max Vilmio.

When the ghosts that haunt the island's crumbling castle are joined by less benign spectres, the Brigadier summons the Doctor -- who discovers that the whole of mankind is threatened by the plans of the ruthless Vilmio and his mysterious, hooded henchman.

Moving right along, in February we attended Gallifrey One in Los Angeles.  According to tradition, we were joined by a third reviewer, namely Michele of The Doctor Who Podcast.  The three of us huddled around a microphone in a quiet hotel room and reviewed White Darkness, the first novel by David A. McIntee.  From the back cover:

'We believe that death should always be a part of life.'

The Doctor's last three visits to the scattered human colonies of the third millennium have not been entirely successful.  And now that Ace has rejoined him and Bernice, life on board the TARDIS is getting pretty stressful.  The Doctor yearns for a simpler time and place: Earth, the tropics, the early twentieth century.

The TARDIS lands in Haiti in the early years of the First World War.  And the Doctor, Bernice and Ace land in a murderous plot involving voodoo, violent death, Zombies and German spies.  And perhaps something else -- something far, far worse.

But what of the present?  As of this writing, we are mere days away from March's release, Paul Magrs' The Scarlet Empress, a BBC Eighth Doctor Adventure that marks the first appearance of Iris Wildthyme.  From the back cover:

Arriving on the almost impossibly ancient planet of Hyspero, a world where magic and danger walk hand in hand, the Doctor and Sam are caught up in a bizarre struggle for survival.

Hyspero has been ruled for thousands of years by the Scarlet Empresses, creatures of dangerous powers -- powers that a member of the Doctor's own race is keen to possess herself: the eccentric time traveller and philanderer known as Iris Wildthyme.

As the real reasons for Iris's obsession become clear, the Doctor and Sam must embark on a perilous journey across deserts, mountains, forests and oceans.  Both friends and foes are found among spirits, djinns, alligator men and golden bears -- but in a land where the magical is possible, is anything really as it seems?

Grab a copy of our latest selection, mix yourself a gin and tonic, and sit back and relax!
Feel free to email us at dwbcpodcast@gmail.com, look for us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter via @dwbcpodcast.  Also follow Erik via @sjcaustenite and Sean via @tardistavern.


Monday, December 3, 2012

The City of the Dead

You can download and listen to our latest discussion right hereThe penultimate month of 2012 (because we love any chance to use the word “penultimate”) brings us City of the Dead by Lloyd Rose, an Eighth Doctor BBC Books novel.  This was Rose’s first novel, before which she wrote for Homicide: Life on the Street.  After the success of City of the Dead, she was asked to return for the Eighth Doctor series with Camera Obscura and for the Algebra of Ice, featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and the Brigadier.

From the back cover:

‘Nothing can get into the TARDIS,’ the Doctor whispered.  Then he realized that Nothing had.

New Orleans, the early 21st century.  A dealer in morbid artefacts has been murdered.  A charm carved from human bone is missing.  An old plantation, miles from any water, has been destroyed by a tidal wave.

Anji goes dancing.  Fitz goes grave-robbing.  The Doctor attracts the interest of a homicide detective and the enmity of a would-be magician.  He wants to find out the secret of the redneck thief and his blind wife.  He’d like to help the crippled curator of a museum of magic.  He’s trying to refuse politely the request of a crazy young artist that he pose naked with the man’s wife.

Most of all, he needs to figure out what all of them have to do with the Void that is hunting him down.
Before it catches him.

Voodoo, hoodoo, and mystery abound in this month’s selection, which is bound to go down a lot easier than last month’s.  Be sure to grab a (cheap) copy and sit back and relax as we discuss The City of the Dead.

Please don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, email us at dwbcpodcast@gmail.com, and follow us on Twitter via @dwbcpodcast.  Also, feel free to follow Erik via @sjcaustenite and Sean via @tardistavern.

Fun links:

The City of the Dead on Amazon.  (You can afford it!)
Reviews on the Doctor Who Ratings Guide.
Synopsis on The Doctor Who Reference Guide.  (Spoilers, sweetie!)
Lloyd Rose's Wikipedia page.