Fireball XL5

Another blast from my past, a song by Russell Crowe’s ex father in law, Don Spencer (in his younger days) and number 19 on my personal list of “31 songs”.

This TV show theme song was one of the first records my parents bought for me.


A Blast From My “Crime Fiction” Past

While looking for details of a review I recall writing on my very first version of this blog (not on wordpress), I accidently came across the following, that shows my journey into crime fiction wasn’t quite as recent as I thought.
However the books I wrote about here definitely aren’t examples of the type of crime fiction I’ve recently begun to read.

Reading Jasper Ffforde’s Thursday Next series is like jumping into a blender with an armful of books selected from almost every genre. His stories defy narrow categorisation. They combine elements of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Crime and Humour, seasoned with a few pages from literary criticism and grammar text books. If I have overlooked a genre, it’s probably there anyway, like a familiar spice that you recognise in a meal but can’t quite isolate and identify.

complete article here:


That was written over seven years ago and it’s been a number of years since I’ve read any Jasper Fforde.

It might be time to revisit him, but I have so many other books to get through first.

The Silent invasion by James Bradley

Silent InvasionThe Silent Invasion is the first part of “The Change Trilogy”, set in the near future after the earth has been infected by extra-terrestrial spores that initiate changes in the metabolism of plant and animal life.

Infection leads to both physiological and personality changes, radically altering a victim’s identity and their relationship with others. Attempting to hold back the spread of the change, the infected are taken away from their families and society, by a government Quarantine department, never to be seen again by their families.

When sixteen year old Callie finds that Gracie, her young sister has started to change, she defies her family and community law, and attempts to escape to the Zone, a wild exclusion area in the north of Australia where “the change” has become established.

The story has some similarities to Jack Finney’s 1950s story Invasion of the Body Snatchers (probably better known through film adaptations) in which people on earth are replaced by emotionless duplicates after coming into contact with plant spores (or pods) originating from space. While Finney’s story portrays the unaffected as potential victims trying to escape those dehumanised by the “pods”, Bradley’s book turns things around and those affected by the change become the potential victims, trying to escape from a fearful “unchanged” society.

It was the page-turner I needed to read after tackling a few heavy going (though rewarding books) in the preceding two months. I read it in one day, barely putting it down. Fortunately, before I started I knew it was only the first part of a trilogy so was prepared for a mostly unresolved ending to set the reader up for the next instalment

Space Patrol: a blast from the past.

This is a show I watched as a small child, and one that I’d forgotten completely until I came across the following a few minutes ago.
I was surprised how much of it brought back memories – the music, the voices, the sound effects and visuals, the character names…

It’s amazing how much the memory can store, locked away, apparently forgotten, ready to be restored given the right key.

The Dreamwalker’s Child, Steve Voake

dwcI took another short break from my reading about WWI. This time I wanted something not related to warfare and the military, so I turned to a fantasy novel for children that I could get through reasonably quickly.

However my escape from war and weaponry  wasn’t quite successful. because the story climaxed with a military attack, although the hardware in The Dreamwalker’s Child has an interesting difference to that in the histories I’ve been reading.

Regaining consciousness after a cycling accident Sam Palmer finds himself in an unfamiliar landscape where he is pursued caught and imprisoned. He is befriended by Skipper, a young girl in the next cell and together they face a conspirators determined to wipe humans from the face of the earth.

Sam discovers he is no longer in the world he knows but has somehow been transferred to Aurobon, whose inhabitants have the ability to move between worlds and have adopted the role of keeping the earth’s ecosystems in balance.

The book’s villain the evocatively named Odoursin has discovered a prophecy that he interprets as foretelling the destruction of mankind on earth, and he believes he is the one who can help bring about its fulfilment; leaving him as the heir and beneficiary of all of earth’s resources. However, the prophecy requires the involvement of the Dreamwalker’s child, assumed to be Sam, who Odoursin arranges to snatch from earth to Aurobon to facilitate the prophecies fulfilment.

For a while I thought The Dreamwalker’s Child had hints of Christian references, but before too much could be made of them, the author drew the story into a philosophical mix of environmental ideas and green “spirituality” that occasionally (with subtlety) questioned the Christian viewpoint.


Beyond the TV Whoniverse

 At the end of my previous post I noted an apparent discrepancy related to the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. While 2013 may have marked 50 years since the broadcast of the first Doctor Who episode, it is clear that there was a significant period of those 50 years when no new episodes of Doctor Who were being made for TV.

I think most people (myself included) gave little thought to the show during that period, assuming that like so many other once popular shows, this one had also been committed to history and occasional re-runs.

But not all people are “most people”, and there were enough who weren’t ready to allow the Doctor to fade away. Disappointed fans of the show did what they could to keep their connection to Doctor Who going. There were avenues beyond TV through which stories could be created and enjoyed. Some of those avenues were already being explored and exploited during the show’s successful years, with novelizations of TV stories and audio productions. (I recall reading Doctor Who and the Zarbi during my teens and recognising it as being based on an episode I’d seen as a child, which I later found was The Web Planet from the show’s second season.)

DWMThere was also the continuing popularity of Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), which started in 1979 and is still being published today. After the cancellation of the TV show, the magazine provided an outlet of new Doctor Who stories through comic strips.

Other publishers gained the rights to release novels of new Doctor Who stories. Both the comics and novels continued from where the TV show left off. Through these the seventh doctor, (played by Sylvester McCoy on TV) was given new life and adventures for several more years until an attempted reviving of the TV show introduced the next regeneration of the Doctor.

In a made-for-TV movie that failed to generate enough interest to commission a continuing series, Sylvester McCoy handed over the role to the 8th Doctor played by Paul McGann, and while a new TV series didn’t eventuate, McGann’s Doctor was kept alive in DWM’s ongoing comic strips, along with new companions to share his journeys.

As well as the authorised stories in various media, creative fans produced their own Doctor Who tales including the “Audio Visuals” a series of audio dramas made in the 1980s and 90s starting even before the TV show was cancelled. Although the Audio Visuals were unlicensed and technically illegal, the fans involved were never challenged by the BBC, who held the copyright, and many of them have since worked on authorised Doctor Who productions.

Big FinishSome of those involved with the Audio Visuals went on to work with Big Finish, a company that started with audio stories adapted from the New Adventures range of books published by Virgin. Initially denied the opportunity to record Doctor Who related stories, Big Finish started with adaptations of a series of Who spin-off books.

Virgin New Adventures had introduced Bernice Summerfield as a new companion for the Doctor and later gave her a series of her own. Big Finish obtained the rights to adapt the Summerfield books and the quality of the resulting recordings helped to convince the BBC to issue the Doctor Who rights.

Big Finish has now released well over 200 Doctor Who stories, most of which feature original actors from the TV show and TV movie, including Doctors played by Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann; and several original companions.

As well as this link to the past, Big Finish also has links to the new Doctor Who series. Big Finish director, writer and actor Nick Briggs has been the voice of the Daleks, Cybermen and several other aliens from 2005 through to the present.


So while the Doctor had a 15 year screen absence, he never really went away, making last year’s half century celebrations fully justified