KRAD COVID reading #85: “Raymond’s Room”

Back in 2001, Outpost Gallifrey put together a charity Doctor Who anthology called Missing Pieces. The contributor list was very impressive, and included Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor), Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), and Wendy Padbury (Zoe), as well as several Who fictioneers. I also contributed a story, which brought the Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa to Key West, Florida for a tale called “Raymond’s Room.”

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KRAD COVID reading #76: “UNITed We Fall”

In 1996, I gained the very nifty and totally irrelevant distinction of being the first native-born American citizen to write linear adult Doctor Who fiction. (The need for all the qualifiers is explained in the intro to the reading….) The story “UNITed We Fall” appeared in the anthology Decalog 3: Consequences, one of the last Who titles published by Virgin before BBC Books took over the license. In my story, the Fourth Doctor and a long-retired Brigadier are summoned to New York City to testify before a United Nations appropriations hearing. Also has Tom Baker’s Doctor gallivanting around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park…….

(BTW, Decalog 3 also has a story called “Continuity Errors” by some obscure writer named Stephen Moffat, his first work of Who fiction. Always wondered what happened to him……………………..)

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read my stuff while you’re stuck at home, part 2: TV tie-ins

TVtieins

So many of us are kinda stuck staying home a lot, and that means more reading time! Or, at least, time spent reading so you don’t go batshit because you’re stuck staying at home a lot……

As one possible thing to read, how about my writing? I’ve already posted about my Star Trek work, and now we move on to other TV show tie-ins, which are listed below in alphabetical order, and include: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI: NY, Doctor Who, Farscape, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Heroes, Leverage, Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow, Stargate, Supernatural, The X-Files, Xena, and Young Hercules.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Novels:

  • The Xander Years Volume 1 — novelizing three Xander-focused episodes, “Teacher’s Pet,” “Inca Mummy Girl,” and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”
  • Blackout — a novel focusing on previous Slayer Nikki Wood, who worked in New York in 1977 and faced off against Spike and Drusilla
  • The Deathless — on Ring Day at Sunnydale High School, an evil Russian sorcerer is attempting to be resurrected

Nonfiction:

CSI: NY

Novels:

  • Four Walls — Mac Taylor and his team of CSIs have two cases, a murder in a medium-security prison on Staten Island and another one in a café in the Bronx

Doctor Who

Short stories:

  • “UNITed We Fall” in Decalog 3: Consequences — the Fourth Doctor must defuse a time bomb (literally) in the United Nations, aided by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
  • “Life from Lifelessness” in Short Trips: Destination Prague — the First and Fourth Doctor both encounter the Golem of Prague

Anthology editing:

Nonfiction:

Farscape

Novels

  • House of Cards — taking place during the late second season, the gang goes to a gambling planet where Rygel loses Moya in a card game

Short stories:

Comic books:

  • Farscape Omnibus Volume 1 (written with Rockne S. O’Bannon) — collecting four post-finale storylines, “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning,” “Strange Detractors,” “Gone and Back,” and “Tangled Roots” — Rygel returns home to claim his throne, a vicious disease spreads through the Uncharted Territories, Crichton visits an Unrealized Reality, and Aeryn learns a shocking truth about the Peacekeepers — and the three D’Argo miniseries D’Argo’s Lament, D’Argo’s Trial, and D’Argo’s Quest — which provide D’Argo’s backstory as well as what he did between seasons three and four
  • Red Sky at Morning — Moya returns to the homeworld of the Pilots and learn of a new threat to the Uncharted Territories
  • Compulsions — Moya teams with another Leviathan to deal with a new foe
  • The War for the Uncharted Territories — the Peacekeepers have a surprising new leader, the Kkore are invading, and Crichton must bring the species of the UTs together or risk losing everything

Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda

Novels:

  • Destruction of Illusions — a prequel to the series, showing what both Tyr Anasazi and Beka Valentine and the crew of the Eureka Maru were doing in the nine months leading up to the discovery of Andromeda Ascendant and the time-frozen Dylan Hunt

Heroes

Novellas:

Leverage

Novels:

  • The Zoo Job — a small zoo in central Massachusetts didn’t get the black rhinos they paid for, leading half the Leverage crew to west Africa and the other half to the world of the uber-rich who illegally purchase wild animals

Orphan Black

Reference:

Sleepy Hollow

Novels:

  • Children of the Revolution — toward the end of the first season, Ichabod Crane and Detective Abby Mills must find a series of medals that were issued during the Revolutionary War before they’re used to resurrect Serilda of Abaddon

Stargate

Novels:

  • SG-1: Kali’s Wrath — toward the end of the fifth season, Jacob Carter and Bra’tac must team up to help SG-1 face off against Kali and the return of the Reetou

Short Stories:

  • “Time Keeps on Slippin'” in SG-1/Atlantis: Far Horizons — a story that takes place between seasons three and four, explaining Carter’s non-regulation haircut and Teal’c’s soul patch
  • “Sun-Breaker” in SG-1/Atlantis: Homeworlds — on board the General George Hammond, Carter and Teal’c must stop the Lucian Alliance from acquiring a Go’auld weapon

Nonfiction:

Supernatural

Novels

  • Nevermore — in the second season, the boys go to the Bronx to solve some Edgar Allan Poe-themed killings and stop a haunting
  • Bone Key — two demons super-charge the ghosts that haunt Key West, but one becomes too powerful and the Winchester brothers must work with the demons to stop it
  • Heart of the Dragon — a violent spirit appears in 1969 San Francisco and is banished by the Campbell family of Samuel, Deanna, and Mary; it returns in 1989, and is banished again by John Winchester; and it comes back again in 2009 in the midst of the angel-demon war and must be stopped by Sam, Dean, and Castiel

Nonfiction

The X-Files

Short stories:

  • “Back in El Paso My Life Would Be Worthless” in Trust No One — a second-season story where Mulder and Scully are to work alongside an FBI agent who’s not thrilled at being stuck with the weirdos in the basement

Xena/Hercules

Novels:

Short stories:

 

gratuitous cover post

Been a while since I did one of these. Here are the covers to my 2018 and 2019 releases (at least those that have covers — at least two projects I’ve got that are coming out this year haven’t released their final covers into the wild yet):

 

Alien: Isolation:

AlienIsolation-SalesCover-FINAL

 

Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot (with my story “Six Red Dragons”):

bakerstreet2cover

 

Batman: Quotes from Gotham City (compiled by me):

BatmanQuotesFromGotham

 

Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gals and Gizmos (with my story “The Silent Dust”):

56120173_10101511394170772_48911005962469376_n

 

Children of Time: The Companions of Doctor Who (with my essay on Tegan Jovanka):

ChildrenOfTime

 

Farscape Omnibus Volume 1 (collecting several comics I scripted and/or wrote):

omnibus1

 

Footprints in the Stars (with my story “Puzzle Box”):

FB-McP-Footsteps-Proof

 

A Furnace Sealed:

AFurnaceSealed

 

Mermaid Precinct:

HaftScale-Proof-Mermaid

 

Outside In Takes a Stab: 139 New Perspectives on 139 Buffy Stories by 139 Writers (with my essay on “Fool for Love”):

OutsideInTakesAStab

 

Poison Ivy Hardcover Ruled Journal:

PoisonIvyJournal

 

Release the Virgins! (with my story “The Midwinter of Our Discontent”):

ReleaseTheVirgins

 

They Keep Killing Glenn (with my story “House Hunting”):

TheyKeepKillingGlenn

 

Thrilling Adventure Yarns (with my story “Alien Invasion of Earth!”):

TAY front cover

 

Unearthed (with my story “Rán for Your Life”):

Unearthed

on the radio, whoa whoa whoa whoa, on the radio

qol

I’m gonna be on Hour of the Wolf with Jim Freund tonight at midnight (Eastern time) to discuss a whole lotta things, but mostly Doctor Who on the eve of its new season’s premiere. There’s a casting choice that was made that apparently has some people in a tizzy. That may come up in the conversation…..

There’ll also be a movie review from Dan Persons, and I will read one of my Who short stories, “Raymond’s Room” from the 2001 charity anthology Missing Pieces.

pieces

If you’re in NYC, tune your radio to 99.5 FM, WBAI. If you’re not in NYC or don’t have access to a radio (don’t laugh, we don’t actually have a radio in the house), you can listen online at WBAI.org, or watch it on Facebook Live.

 

the Doctor will be in once a month on Patreon

DayoftheDoctor

One of the things Wrenn and I inherited from Dale was his complete DVD collection of everything Doctor Who. In Dale’s honor, I’ve decided that, for a while at least, one of the four or five TV reviews I’ll be doing per month on Patreon will be of a Doctor Who storyline. It will be chosen randomly, from any era of the show, any of the dozen-plus Doctors. It might be a six-part William Hartnell storyline from 1965, a four-part Tom Baker storyline from 1975, a three-part Colin Baker storyline from 1985, a one-hour Christopher Eccleston episode from 2005, or a two-part Peter Capaldi storyline from 2015.

So for those of you supporting at $5/month and up, you’re guaranteed that one of the TV reviews will be of the funny-looking person travelling around time and space in a blue police box that’s bigger on the inside. Those of you who aren’t supporting at that level or at all, now might be the time to start………….

from the archives: thinky thoughts on the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special

In 2013, following the broadcast of “The Day of the Doctor,” the special done for Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, I wrote the following piece about the special in question. It was later reprinted on Tor.com under the title “A Moment of Heroism: Thinky Thoughts on Doctor Who‘s ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

DayoftheDoctor

Steven Moffat hasn’t always been successful as a show-runner of Doctor Who. I’ve enjoyed his work more than some others have, but it’s obvious he’s sometimes struggled with keeping it all together. I think he’s been done in by modern television’s insistence on “seasonal arcs,” which is excellent for some shows, but it’s something that far too many shows that are ill-suited to it have forced themselves to adopt rather than just stick with standalone episodes and progressing character arcs. (This need for ever-escalating seasonal arcs pretty much killed Burn Notice in its final two seasons, and severely damaged later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just to give two examples.)

Part of it is Moffat’s own ambition — he’s not satisfied with just dropping a phrase (“bad wolf”) or a reference (Torchwood, Prime Minister Saxon) into every episode, he needs there to be a big Rubik’s cube of stuff that has to come together with each color on the right side at the end. The problem being, of course, that he doesn’t always succeed in that. (The whole impossible astronaut thing, for example, didn’t quite come together as well as it should have.) I think the arc in this most recent season worked well in part because it was scaled back somewhat to simply the mystery of one character, as well as paying tribute to the show’s history (in its 50th anniversary year) by bringing back an old bad guy in the Great Intelligence.

But Moffat’s hit-and-miss ability to manage an entire season’s worth of shows has made it very easy to lose track of the fact that, holy shit, the man can write, and when he’s on, he’s as good or better than anybody at writing a Doctor Who story. He’s been responsible for some of the absolute best stories of Who‘s 21st century iteration, starting with “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances,” the high point of Christopher Eccleston’s lone season (against some fairly fierce competition, as that 2005 season had really only one or two duds), and continuing to masterpieces like “The Girl in the Fireplace” and “Blink” — but even before that, there’s “The Curse of the Fatal Death,” the 1999 comedy piece that managed the neat trick of parodying Who while exemplifying it at the same time, and there’s Moffat’s very first story in the mythos, a magnificent little short story called “Continuity Errors,” which appeared in Decalog 3: Consequences in 1996 (and which is being fiercely bid upon on eBay right now….) [NOTE: obviously that’s no longer the case, as it was purchased shortly after I posted this], which was in many ways the first draft of “A Christmas Carol,” the best of the Christmas special episodes (for which the competition is actually not at all fierce as the Christmas specials have mostly been awful).

There are two things that Moffat in particular excels at. One is that he’s the only writer of televised Who who makes the time travel an active part of the storytelling. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, a Who writer will use the time travel element solely as a means to get the Doctor and his companion du jour into and out of the adventure. The TARDIS is treated as a vehicle only, no different from Bessie, the roadster that Jon Pertwee’s Doctor used so often.

Moffat, though, often makes time travel part of the story, probably best on display in “Blink” and “The Girl in the Fireplace,” but also in the arc of Amelia Pond’s first year on the show, Clara Oswald’s purpose in the Doctor’s life, and the Doctor’s entire interaction with River Song from “Silence in the Library” all the way through to “The Name of the Doctor.”

But the other thing he is great at is knowing the most important part of the Doctor, and it was perfectly summed up in the phone conversation between the Doctor and the Master in “The Sound of Drums”: he chose the name “the Doctor” because he helps people. The Doctor at his heart(s) is a hero, and he always helps people.

One of the hallmarks of the 21st century iteration of the series has been the Time War. We’ve caught glimpses of it here and there, probably most aggressively in “The End of Time” (one of those mediocre Christmas specials), and it’s been such an important part of what’s made the Doctor what he is in this version, the thing that’s set him aside from the 20th century version.

But it’s also really problematic. The Doctor committing genocide twice over is something totally antithetical to what the Doctor is. Indeed, that was the point — that the Doctor who refused to kill all the Daleks in “Genesis of the Daleks” (with one of his reasons being the good that came from the Daleks’ evil, a line echoed by John Hurt in this story when he sees the good that his successors have done in the wake of his destroying Gallifrey), the Doctor who powerfully lamented at the end of “Warriors of the Deep” when surrounded by corpses that “There should have been another way,” that Doctor would never kill so many unless he had absolutely no other choice, that there was no other way.

“The Day of the Doctor” is Moffat’s way of addressing that without at all negating what happened just before “Rose.” The actions the Doctor took were sufficiently problematic that it was etched on every pore of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, and David Tennant’s Doctor still had it etched on every other pore — but by the time we get to the latter portion of Matt Smith’s Doctor, who’s been around for some four centuries, he’s tried to forget it, to move on. And then in this episode — set up by both the end of “The Name of the Doctor” and the minisode “The Night of the Doctor” (which you you really need to watch if you haven’t) — we learn that those actions were sufficiently horrible that the Doctor has basically wished the incarnation of the Doctor responsible for them into the cornfield. John Hurt’s Doctor’s crimes were so awful that none of his successors even are willing to acknowledge that he exists (at least not until Clara had to rescue the Doctor from the Great Intelligence’s meddling in his personal timestream).

And then that glorious wonderful ending when Clara does the thing that the companions have always done, from Ian and Barbara all the way through to whoever comes after Clara: reminding the Doctor of humanity. It’s the companion who has the perspective, the companion who reminds the Doctor who he is, and that’s someone who can use the fact that he’s a) 400 years older and b) a time traveller to go back (along with his previous self) to be there for the final moment and fix it. To find that better way that’s been staring them in the face since Kate Stewart took them into the secret art gallery. To save the billions of children on Gallifrey, who deserve to live (especially since “Doomsday” established that a mess of Daleks managed to survive the Time War).

He gets to go back and fix it. He gets to save people. Just as in Moffat’s first storyline for the 2005 season, the Doctor gets to dance and joyfully cry out that “Everybody lives!” Because the Doctor’s job is to make sure that that is the outcome.

And that’s why this is the perfect 50th anniversary special. Not because it acknowledged all fifty years of the show, though it did do that, and more, starting with the use of the original opening titles and same opening shot as “An Unearthly Child” in 1963. Not because there were cameos by all thirteen people who will have played the role by the time 2013 ends (thanks to a cameo from Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows), though that too was wonderful (not to mention the appearance by a deep-voiced fellow with a big nose). But because it reinforced what the Doctor is about: a person who travels through time and space saving people.