Tuesday, July 31, 2012

People Made of Smoke: The New Adventures

Right. So that's Doctor Who, done and dusted. (And thank you all for the excessively nice things you said about me in the comments section of the last post.)

Except, of course, it's not. There's still a lot to cover, and I expect this blog will keep us busy until the early 2014. But obviously, as the line goes, it means I'm gonna change. For the remainder of the year, the primary focus of this blog is books. Specifically the Virgin New Adventures line, which provided the official continuation of Doctor Who from 1991 through to the TV Movie, with some chronological eccentricity at the end.

It's reasonable to ask why I'm doing this, especially given the marginality of the books compared to the series. The answer, glibly, is "because they happened." Doctor Who has a history through the 1990s, and even if it was a more obscure history than its history through the preceding three decades and the next decade, it was a history. More broadly, were I to just jump to the TV Movie and then to Rose then I wouldn't have the context necessary to adequately discuss either. And, well, these books deserve mention and analysis. They're good books worthy of being talked about. I have things to say about them. So I'm saying them. 


That said, I know these are more obscure. Indeed, they're out of print, which is absolutely dreadful, and I really wish they'd go back in print, as they're wonderful, and as the only means of acquiring them these days are either prohibitively expensive (some of the later ones still go for upwards of $50) or illegal, and either way don't actually get the authors any money. I'm sorry about that. It kinda sucks.


(For what it's worth, while I'm certainly not going to link to any sites, I wouldn't think less of someone who downloaded them, so long as, if the books ever come back into print, they were to buy copies then. Others, I know, would disagree with this approach. And for the record, having said that, I have a complete run of the New Adventures, all bought as new copies, from which the authors got their royalties.)


In any case, to mitigate against that I am going to shift the format of the blog ever so slightly when I cover them, opening with a brief summary of what the book is - not so much a plot summary as a bulked out version of the About Time "Which One is This?" sections/a compressed version of the overall basics section. Then we'll get into our usual "It's #DATE. #BAND is at number one with #SONG" stuff.

Once we get into the swing of this phase of things, the plan is that books will be covered on Mondays and Fridays, with Wednesdays devoted to something else - usually, but not always, a Pop Between Realities. That said, it'll take a bit to ease into that schedule - I've got six posts scheduled between Survival and the first Timewyrm books, and the schedule is a bit eccentric around those four books. So it's not until Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, that the Monday/Friday schedule will take hold. That said, the list, with dates for those who want to read along:

8/15 Timewyrm: Genesys/Exodus (single entry combined)
8/17 Timewyrm: Apocalypse/Revelation (ditto)
8/24 Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible
8/27 Cat's Cradle: Warhead
8/31 Love and War

9/3 Transit
9/7 The Highest Science
9/10 Deceit
9/14 Lucifer Rising
9/17 White Darkness
9/21 Birthright
9/24 Blood Heat
9/28 The Left-Handed Hummingbird

10/1 Conundrum
10/5 No Future
10/8 All-Consuming Fire
10/12 Blood Harvest
10/17 First Frontier (Note date - I'm doing this on the Wednesday because I want the relevant Pop Between Realities post to come first.)
10/19 Warlock
10/22 Set Piece
10/26 Sanctuary
10/29 Human Nature

11/2 Original Sin
11/5 Sky Pirates!
11/9 Head Games
11/12 The Also People
11/16 Warchild
11/19 SLEEPY
11/23 Happy Endings
11/26 Christmas on a Rational Planet
11/30 Return of the Living Dad

12/3 Damaged Goods
12/7 So Vile a Sin
12/10 The Room With No Doors
12/14 Lungbarrow
12/21 Oh No It Isn't
12/24 Down
12/26 The TV Movie
12/28 The Dying Days


Even if it's not a television blog for the rest of the year (and a fair chunk of 2013), I'm terribly excited about the next four months. Please do stick around. If you're familiar with the era, it'll hopefully be a discussion that goes in directions you've not thought of. If you're not familiar with the era and can't get ahold of copies, I promise a bracing take on an chunk of Doctor Who's history that you've not heard of before. Either way, if you've enjoyed the blog up to this point, I expect that you'll keep doing so for the next phase of the project.

55 comments:

  1. It's worth pointing not all of the books are illegal to download; a select few were put out as eBooks by the BBC. Not many on this list, but Lungbarrow and Dying Days were certainly in there, so folks can read along with those.

    They fell off the BBC webpage a year or two ago, but bless the Wayback machine and web.archive.org:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20101005210014/http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/ebooks/

    Enjoy.

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    1. Somewhat shocked today to see that some of these books ARE now available on the amazon store as kindle editions. All Lance Parkin's stuff is up there, $8.99 each.

      Shocked, and pleased, that is. There's even one of Lawrence Miles' Faction Paradox novels available there. Apparently they're listening to me frustratedly clicking on the 'I would like to read this on Kindle'.

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    2. Yeah, BBC Books started reissuing some of the EDAs last year, as paperbacks and ebooks, at the same time they started the reissue campaign for the Target books, and the first batch were all Parkin's. No subsequent batches have come out yet, and no NAs as far as I'm aware.

      As for Faction Paradox, all Obverse Books' stuff is available as ebooks, and Mad Norwegian have just started converting their FP books. Phil Purser-Hallard's said that the other Mad Norwegian FP novels are due out as ebooks some time this year.

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    3. Yeah, I just stumbled across the Obverse books shortly before I read your comment. And very reasonably priced they are too (at least compared to the paper ones).

      Really hoping Mad Norwegian do some version of The Book of the War pretty soon, been wanting to have a browse through that for the longest time. And we can only pray for the About Time series...

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  2. Just reading the titles takes me back.

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  3. I'm excited in anticipation of your sideways guide to the printed works. I may even buy a few if you pique my curiosity enough. (Which I'm certain you will). Let the erudition continue!

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  4. And don't forget the public library (which also pays royalties to authors, miniscule as they may be*)

    *the royalties, that is.

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    1. Definitely going to be librarying as many Virgins and BBCs as my system has.

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    2. A marvelous suggestion if you can find one that has them. Though at least in the US, the nearest copy of Timewyrm: Genesys seems to be about fifty miles away, and later books like Lungbarrow seem to have no library holdings in the US.

      The UK, not surprisingly, seems to do rather better.

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    3. Back in the early '00s, my local library had a fair number, but I suspect many have sold them off as circulation numbers declined.

      That said, a good place to find people's old copies (tho only in the US): http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

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    4. abebooks.com would also be a good place to look.

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    5. Also used.addall.com, which searches multiple sites, including abebooks.

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    6. I travel around for work a lot, and one of the things I like to do is track down Doctor Who novels in used bookstores. Sometimes you can find tons of them. I remember being surprised at the selection I found in a used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport.

      If you keep an eye out, there are a lot of Doctor Who books out there.

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  5. As someone who read maybe 50% of the New Adventures upon publication, loved them, and took part in the very active discussion of them on rec.arts.drwho - but who subsequently hasn't revisited them, and has almost forgotten what they said - can I say that I've been very much looking forward to this...

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  6. Also, Oh No It Isn't is available in an audio adaptation from Big Finish, adapted by the great Jac Rayner.

    Not covering Dead Romance?

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    1. And Love & War will be available as an audio adaptation in October, for the 20th anniversary of publication.

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    2. I am going to cover Dead Romance, but I'm going to hold that one until right before Interference.

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  7. I got into Doctor Who in 1990 after the cancellation. I think of the New Adventures as 'my era' and the NA version of the Doctor as 'My Doctor.'

    I'm so glad you are going to invest so much time in the New Adventures. Too many fans wouldn't bother.

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    1. I was watching Doctor Who since the 80s, but started identifying myself as a Doctor Who fan in 1989, so I know where you're coming from. Really looking forward to this.

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    2. My friends were watching Doctor Who in 1988 and 1989, but I was not into it for some reason. Being terrified by a few minutes of Curse of Fenric did not help.

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  8. I didn't start in on the books until BBC Books took over after the TV movies, and even then I only read a few titles before other interests crowded out reading Who. So all this stuff is new to me -- so this is like finding a cache of missing episodes that weren't just lost, but never transmitted in the first place.

    I'll read as much as I'm capable, but I doubt I'll get to every title on the list (and September will definitely take a hit if the new TV stories go up then.) That said, I'm glad there's time to get caught up with Timewyrm, whatever that is, and rather pleased the blog's kicking them off on Lost Day.

    Mostly, I don't want to miss out on the conversation, and forty titles in five months is daunting. I suppose that's my biggest reticence about the blog's direction, but that's just based out of my own insecurities. Of course it makes sense to go this route -- nay, I think it's *vital*, and I'm glad I'm getting dragged back into the Nineties to catch up with my "education."

    :)

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    1. I'm gonna try to do a similar thing, mostly because I don't like to read the entries of the stuff I haven't seen/read/experienced, which means that since I haven't seen most of the episodes of the 80's (and almost none of McCoy's), I haven't been able to properly follow this blog for a while, and I don't want four more months of that. And the NA's intrigue me anyhow.

      Though I'm going to be attempting to cram all 60-something of them in as well, which should be fun.

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    2. I'm willing to give it a try with you both - at least one title a week...

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  9. First, I just what to say I have enjoyed your blog since I found it in May (after seeing it in the links on Shabogan Graffiti blog). It has taken a while to catch up and it is one of my first destinations on M-W-F. While I have enjoyed it so far, I have to say that this is the part of the blog (your covering of the NAs) I have looked look forward to the most.

    While I started watching Who in 1978 and was part of the American fan culture of the 1980's, by late 1988 my interest started to wane (the combination of my PBS station dropping the show, the cancellation and going to university). However, in 1992 I picked up Love and War in a comic book story on vacation and it single handed restarted my interest in Doctor Who. In the pages of these books I found my new favorite Doctor, the Seventh (on TV it had been the fourth) and my new co-favorite companion in Bernice Summerfield. The NAs are my favorite era of Doctor Who, so this should be fun.

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  10. I support this product or service!

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  11. Will the next several months appear in book/ebook form? Just curious, since I realize it would be a while before we got there.

    I wish I had more time on my hands for reading - it would be fascinating to go back and read these books with the benefit of another 15-20 years of living.

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    1. The McCoy book will include all of the material up to the TV Movie. The book after that will be McGann (including the BBC Books and Big Finish audios) and Eccleston.

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    2. I was wondering how you were going to divide that up: I figured it'd be that or Cartmel with a book of his own and either a book just for Virgin or Virgin/McGann/BBC Books as a volume for "The 90s". For what it's worth, you probably could have gotten away with doing Eccleston/Tennant as a single book too to cover the whole of the Russel T. Davies era.

      Also, did you ever find out a way to deal with the monster that the Tom Baker book promises to be? ;-) I was thinking one solution might be to give a book each to Phillip Hinchcliffe and Graham Williams and stick Season 18 either at the end of the Williams book or the start of the Saward one. Thus, you'd be keeping adequate distance between "The Deadly Assassin" and "Logopolis". I think about this sort of thing, you see, because I am a dreadfully boring person.

      And also I'm very much looking forward to seeing your take on the New Adventures-I don't plan on going anywhere, not to worry!

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    3. I forgot to add this, as Phil pointed out all of these books are out of print and some are hard to get a hold of and there is a lot of them. A sort of short cut for those who haven't read them or need to brush up on the ones they have there is the I Who book series by Lars Pearson from Mad Norwegian Press (http://madnorwegian.com/). These books are set up like the DiscContinuity Guide. I think the 1st Volume (which covers the NAs) is out of print, but Who North America (http://www.whona.com) has copies for $5 and you can get volumes 2 & 3 from Mad Norwegian Press.

      Most people probably know this, but the Doctor Who Guide (http://www.drwhoguide.com/) also has good synopsis of all the NAs.

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    4. "Also, did you ever find out a way to deal with the monster that the Tom Baker book promises to be? ;-) I was thinking one solution might be to give a book each to Phillip Hinchcliffe and Graham Williams and stick Season 18 either at the end of the Williams book or the start of the Saward one. Thus, you'd be keeping adequate distance between "The Deadly Assassin" and "Logopolis". I think about this sort of thing, you see, because I am a dreadfully boring person."

      I'd do the former, just because it would provide a nice capstone-contrast to wrap up the Baker volume... and because that "Logopolis" entry is a great place for ANY book to end, let alone Phil's. :-D

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    5. As I said in the Survival thread, the logic on a McGann/Eccleston book is somewhat mercenary. An Eccleston/Tennant book would, as you point out, make a lot of sense thematically. But a McGann book will almost certainly be a weak seller, whereas the new series material will probably sell quite briskly, and so, Peter Jackson-like, I'm stretching three books out of new series material. (The logic of putting the Virgin stuff with McCoy, on the other hand, is more straightforward - the McCoy book would be too short otherwise.)

      As for the monstrosity of the Baker book, right now I plan to just damn the torpedoes and do it as one volume, but I may end up splitting it if that proves unmanageable.

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    6. Well, I mean Troughton got his own book and he lasted just as long as McCoy. I think three seasons is sufficient enough, but that works too of course.

      But yes I missed the thread on the "Survival" post. Would have commented there had I seen it. Good luck on all of them, especially the Tom Baker one!

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    7. Sure, but Troughton's seasons consisted of forty plus episodes such that he had a total of twenty-one stories. McCoy had twelve.

      (Similarly, much as the scope of the Baker book feels big, he actually "only" has forty-two stories, which, while more than any other Doctor, isn't as much bigger than Hartnell's thirty as it feels. The larger problem with that book is that it has two essays that are over twelve thousand words long.)

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    8. Yeah, that's a good point about story count. I never know how to classify Doctor Who seasons...

      My suggestion about possibly splitting the Tom Baker book was less because I think his era is long as much as it is divided into 2.5 conceptually, thematically distinct eras. *And* has two essays from you that are over twelve thousand words long. :-)

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  12. I have to ask... will you address the obvious parallels betwen the Timewyrm books and Series 6, Phil? ;-)

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    1. I don't know - at the moment I'm only 30 pages into Exodus and there aren't that many parallels yet. Remind me what you have in mind?

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    2. The Doctor meets Hitler, and there is a sequence where an astronaut appears in a distinctly unaeronautical locale and kills a major character; it is later revealed that said astronaut is a child being controlled in the suit.

      I can see why Moffat utilized it; it's certainly memorably imagery...

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  13. I didn't realize I owned so many of these -- somehow I thought there were a lot more. I wish they were still in print, too, though happily I've been able to pick up a few of them gently used for decent prices by watching Half.com. Luckily I bought Lungbarrow back in the day; I have seriously mixed feelings about its contents but it's nice to be able to refer to it if need be.

    I'm excited that you'll be covering these, too, even and perhaps especially the ones I haven't read. I know I won't have time to get through them at your pace, so I'll just have to live with spoilers.

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  14. While I heartily endorse your concern for authors' royalties, I suspect it wouldn't make any difference to them in this case. Tie-in work is usually for a flat fee with no subsequent payments even if sales are astronomical. Unless the BBC was extraordinarily generous in this area, you can happily buy secondhand copies without fear of robbing anyone, except the BBC, which hasn't made the books available.

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    1. Actually, the BBC didn't publish the New Adventures, Virgin did, and the authors retained their own copyright on the books and on any characters they created. The ones that the BBC put on their website were ones where all rights had reverted to the authors.

      I *believe* that Virgin paid a nominal royalty on the New Adventures, though in practice few of the books earned out their advance. That's my understanding, but I can't say for sure where I got that understanding from, so take it with a pinch of salt.

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    2. Well that's surprisingly awesome.

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    3. Apologies for my early-morning vagueness re who published what. Of course: Virgin! And if you're right about rights and royalties (I have no reason to believe you're not as my experience is entirely with other franchises) this speaks to a very enlightened model. Makes me wish I had tried harder for a gig when the opportunity existed . . . .

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  15. I'm rushing through these books as fast as I can, but I only just finished the Timewyrm stuff and just started the three Cat's Cradle books. I'll try to contribute to the conversation where I can. :\

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  16. I have just today run across this blog. Don't know how it escaped me all this time. I find your assessment of the episodes (the few I've read so far) have many interesting bits that I had missed upon my initial viewings so thank you for pointing out so much.

    I am starting from the beginning and working my way up to the present. Excellent work...

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  17. sigh...i am going to have to take my new adventures out of their box now...i have the dying days, return of the living dad and so vile as sin on the shelves now, but the rest are in a couple of big boxes along with the Target novels.

    Also, I was wondering if you are going to cover the novelizations of Power & Evil of the Daleks, since they came deep into the Virgin era.

    Thanks, love the blog

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  18. How many people have asked if you're doing Dimensions In Time? Can I ask as well?

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    1. I would just point out the best version of DiT is the "production notes subtitles" version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFoutUmpv6Q

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  19. Ah, but what about the Pop Betweens? Will you be concentrating on other books to compare with what the book line was doing, or taking a look at some of the short-lived genre TV series the BBC put out in the 90s? BUGS? (Surely a winner, with your love of techno thrillers.) Crime Traveller? Virtual Murder?

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    1. Surely the most influential genre shows in this period come from the US: Star Trek TNG, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, The X-Files, Quantum Leap.

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  20. I'm up to Lucifer Rising right now, and am going to switch from trying to read everything to just reading your list so I can hopefully keep up. I'm missing 10 of the NA's right now, but have the BBC web versions of a couple of those.

    For the record, it was The Pit that slowed me down enough that I gave up in the middle and went to just the reading list.

    Happy note: we've reached a point where I was reading the book on the way to work on a Metro bus, and not only was I not getting odd looks, I wasn't the only person reading a Doctor Who novel. (They were reading one of the Tennant novels, not sure which.)

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  21. Glad to see the Virgin line of books getting some attention. I bought every one of them in the '90s (and still have them), though I don't think I ever got around to reading all of them thanks to university. Based on some of the comments here, I've forgotten a great deal about the ones I did read.

    Can't wait for the entries on the "someone is messing with the Doctor's timeline" arc starting with BLOOD HEAT . I really liked that set of stories, especially CONUNDRUM.

    Not sure what the majority of fans thought of the series, but I do recall reading early feedback in DWM along the lines of "Why are the New Adventures so bad", which wasn't entirely unexpected with stories like THE PIT and TRANSIT (the latter being criticized for sexually graphic material, if I recall correctly).

    Any plans to incorporate the comics from DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE as well? I recall them doing some good stories around the same time that made use of NA characters and developments (EMPEROR OF THE DALEKS, a parallel universe story with a similar premise to BLOOD HEAT, etc).

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  22. Great news! As a newer fan (having only watched the series for the first time through from 2009 to 2011), I've only just started the first of the New Adventures, so hopefully the lure of your ever-insightful commentaries will force me to speed up my intake.

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  23. They're pretty much impossible to find even by the usual legal means. This is an apparent deficiency in the preservation of culture.

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