Book Review

My Week In Books. [7]

This week’s post has a bit of a theme, I’ve spent the whole week reading tv tie-in fiction. I absolutely love books related to tv, I have a bookcase filled with reference books, episode guides, and most importantly fiction – both novelisations and original stories. I see tv tie-in fiction as a wonderful way to spend more time with characters I love, the only thing that would be better would be if I achieved my big dream of getting to write it!

The first part of last week was spent with a pair of classic Doctor Who novelisations. I was pretty young when Doctor Who left tv screens in the 1980s and was born into an entirely non-geeky family so there was never any effort made to introduce me to any of the classic sci fi around. I became a fan as an adult and so far the majority of my experiences of the first seven doctors have come from books – I’ve read a handful of Target novelisations and built up a reasonable collection of Big Finish’s Short Trips anthologies before they went out of print.

Last year BBC Books started to reissue classic titles from the Target range of novelisations, to date they’ve released 12 of them, each with an introduction from current writers and fans. I have a set of the first 6 and decided to read Doctor Who and the Daleks and Doctor Who and the Crusaders. Both were written by David Whitaker and feature the first incarnation of The Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell.

I hadn’t had much exposure to this version of The Doctor, and I have to admit I found both books a little hard going. I think this could be down to one of, or a combination of, factors; they were originally written in the 1960s so the writing style is different, they feature Hartnell’s Doctor – as I’ve already said I’m most unfamiliar with him, they’re written in the first person with a narrator (Ian Chesterton) who comes across in quite an irritating manner, and the tight binding of the books meant that I spent as long wrestling with the book as I did reading it (I’ve since discovered the books are available as eBooks so I will have to add these to my Kindle and see if this solves that problem).

I enjoyed the plot of Doctor Who and the Daleks, I know it deviates from the tv episodes but as I haven’t seen them it didn’t clash or appear wrong to me. It was lovely to get an idea of how the Daleks first appeared, and to meet the Thals who I’d heard of but knew nothing about. I didn’t enjoy the plot of Doctor Who and the Crusaders anywhere near as much. It’s not a period of history I know anything about but I think I could have coped okay with that if the story interested me more, and didn’t include quite so much cruelty and violence (both threatened and carried out) towards Barbara. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly can’t imagine I’ll be revisiting it any time soon.

I spent the second half of the week reading Torchwood tie-in books. I had previously read and enjoyed the first fifteen novels that had been released covering the Torchwood story up until the beginning of the Children of Earth, the two I read this week came from the most recently released trio that fit between Children of Earth and Miracle Day. I read First Born by James Goss which focuses on Gwen, Rhys and baby Anwen, and Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough which allows former Torchwood team member Suzie Costello another chance to take centre stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed both books. I’d read and loved books by both authors before so I was pretty confidant they would go some way to ease the disappointment Miracle Day had left me with, and I was right. I found First Born a little slow to get going but once it did it was a great read, twisty and disturbing with a lovely vein of humour running right through it. I fell straight into Long Time Dead, it was wonderful to see Suzie again and to see her back to her villainous best. I read the book in a single sitting, and finally put it down feeling entirely satisfied.

My only complaint about these new Torchwood novels is in their production. The first fifteen were all released in batches of three, they came in a hardcover and the spines each contained a third of a picture so that lined up on a shelf they all look really nice. These new releases are in paperback and don’t have the spine illustration so my nicely coordinated shelf now doesn’t look quite so nice. It’s a real shame, I really dislike it when publishers do this and I know I’m not the only one who feels like that.

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Phew, that turned into a much longer post than I’d expected. It is also the last of these posts for the forseeable future, December is going to see Juniper’s Jungle fully open for reviews again. Whilst I enjoyed the break from reviewing (and getting through the second year of my degree) it was always my plan to get back to it and the time is now right. I’ve got some great books waiting for my attention and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on them in the coming weeks.

Geek Stuff

Hub 4

I’ve just realised it’s now a week since I went to Northampton for the Hub 4 convention (“a 3 day event for Torchwood fans”) and I still haven’t blogged about the weekend. I’m going to put that right now.

We had been to the Hub 2 and Hub 3 conventions last year and had a good time at both, so when the line up for the Hub 4 included both Eve Myles and Naoko Mori for the whole weekend we decided we would attend. The line up as a whole was good, we’d seen Kai Owen and Tom Price before, and Eve was at Hub 2 for one day. In addition Naoko was there for the whole weekend, Cush Jumbo, Ian Gelder and Susan Brown from Children of Earth all did one day, as did Anthony Lewis who had appeared in “To The Last Man”, Ian Hilditch who is a Weevil and also John Barrowman’s body double, and directer Colin Teague.

The morning signings were all as smooth running as they normally are at anything organised by Showmasters / Massive Events. The best guest for the signings was Colin Teague who was on a mission to tell as many people as possible about his new project Resonance. It is a multi platform project that he feels will appeal to fans of genre tv, and it will be interactive so that followers can help to direct the ways that plots and characters will develop. It sounds really interesting and he seemed incredibly passionate about it so I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens.

Both afternoons were taken up by q&a panels. The highlight on Saturday was the panel of Eve, Naoko and Cush. They were all hugely entertaining and witty, Cush had never done a convention before but she got the hang of it quicker and better than most first timers we’ve seen at these events. It would be hard to pick a favourite panel from Sunday, again the first timers were excellent.

Saturday afternoon also so a first in that they did an episode screening with live commentary. They chose the episode “Meat” and Colin, Eve, Kai and Naoko all took part in the commentary. It worked pretty well, there were a few technical teething issues but nothing that couldn’t be improved on for future events. It was a really nice addition to the weekend, one I hope they’ll be including in future events.

All in all it was another brilliant weekend. The tone and atmosphere was different to the previous two Hub events that we had been to, we suspect this was a combination of one of the actors not attending, and some of the fans who attend primarily to see him not going as a result. It was all very nice and laid back though, very enjoyable. I definitely won’t be going to the Hub 5, it’s taking place on the first weekend I’m away at uni. I’m not sure whether there will be a Hub 6, I suspect it will depend on whether another series of Torchwood is greenlit. If it happens I’ll certainly consider being there.