Thursday, 26 April 2012

Little Cheapies

Well I'm never going to get rich publishing Obverse Books, but the payment in cheapies is ongoing and constant.  On the same day that I get hold of a physical copy of a book with a story of mine alongside stories by Michael Moorcock, Paul Magrs, Mark Hodder and George Mann, the little Iris sampler I put on Amazon last week reached number 16 in the sf short story charts.  Means nothing and makes even less, but I think that's cool :)

Yopu can buy a copy for a pound here...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Fourth Doctor Adventures!

Co-incidentally, I've read two new adventures of the fourth incarnation of Doctor Who (Tom Baker, for th eperosn readin gthis who doesn't already know!) in the past few months.  One of them is a big-money, big-splash hardback adapatation of the 'classic' lost story, 'Shada' by current tv writer Gareth Roberts, based on a script by the late Douglas Adam.  The other is a Lulu published paperback (very loose) adaptation of the even more lost, Baker and Marter script 'Doctor Who Meets Scratchman' by author and blogger Nick Campbell.

I liked them both a great deal, I must say.  The Baker-era has not been brilliantly served in novel format, I think, though the high points - Steven Marley's Managra, say - have been pretty high indeed.  But both of these examples illustrate in their own way the strength of the TV show at the time they were initally conceived and which authors should use far more when writing for the Baker Doctor now.

They are very different though.

'Shada' is an big budget production, with Gareth Roberts - an able prose writer but, I think, a better dramatist - bringing both bow strings to bear on Adams' script, to generally pleasing effect.  It's a book designed to appeal to the casual Who fan, the sort of people who watch the new series on telly and who know the name 'Douglas Adams' from somewhere or other.  It's funny at times while overly obvious at others, clever but also clumsy and well-written but unsure if it's a Target novelisation or a Douglas Adams' book.  I didn't care for the gushing over the genius of Adams towards the end, which felt forced and out of place, but for all that it's a decent rendition of a certain point in TV time and very welcome amongst the bland uniformity of much of the Who prose output since the TV series lurched back onto the screens.

'Doctor Who meets Scratchman', on the other hand, reads like the fabulous but slightly scary love-child of Paul Magrs and Terrance Dicks, midwived by Barbara Euphan Todd and Rosemary Sutcliff.  It's a Cajun stew of a novel, full of peculiar textures and odd tastes, alive with an outpouring of ideas, and so obviously in love with the whole era that it's virtually palpable as you read.  From the Target style cover featuring Vincent Price as Scratchman all the way to the last page which promises the upcoming 'Dr Who Discovers the Miners', this book is a proper wallow in something actually wonderful, in the real sense of the word.  At times while readng it, lying on my bed with the rain battering on the window, I disappeared into 1975 again, with Tom striding about, cabbage companion to hand, and Sarah and Harry to the rear, the sexiest couple on TV.  I can easily picture myself slipping this book into place on the long shelf which ran above my bed when I was ten, in between 'Revenge of the Cybermen' and 'Terror of the Zygons', then mentally hugging myself as I considered the every growing rank of spines, each little adventure mine to keep and re-visit whenever I want. There's something genuinely brilliant in a book which can conjure up that kind of memory so clearly, I think.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Ninnies - Paul Magrs

Mum wouldn’t believe me when I told her Dad had been taken away by the Ninnies.

She thought he’d left us of his own accord. She thought he’d taken his bucket, ladder and chamois leather on his window round that Monday and simply never came back because he’d gone off us. Or that he’d imagined a better life somewhere else. ‘He could never stand any pressure,’ she sighed, eating another handful of Flying Saucers. ‘He was never any good with stress.’But I knew. I knew he’d never just up and leave us. Not with Squoosh, my little sister on the way. I knew what had really happened.He had been taken away by the Ninnies.Though Mum would not listen to a word of it. ‘You’re too fanciful,’ she told me, cramming another load of Flying Saucers into her mouth as she sat there at the kitchen table. ‘You get it from him. He was always dreaming. Making daft things up. All about the things he saw through people’s windows!’ I could tell that Mum herself was making stuff up as she ranted. She was making herself believe that we would be better off without him.

We both knew that wasn’t true.

A new YA fantasy novel from Paul Magrs, creator of Iris WildthymeBrenda and Effie and author of the best-selling AudioGo! Fourth Doctor adventures.  Fully illustrated throughout by Bret Herholz.

In a one time only limited edition of 100 hardback copies.  Order now for delivery in mid-May.

“A deliciously dark tale of crunchy crisps, abridged animals and merciless Mancunian monsters. When you read The Ninnies you may laugh or you may cry – but you’ll definitely sleep with the lights on…” – Tommy Donbavand, author of Scream Street

“The Ninnies whisks the reader away into the great dark stretch of some fabulous nightmare, pinned down by Paul Magrs with poetry and precision. Vivid fantasy with the warmest heart, best read by torchlight in the dark.” – Steve Cole, author of Astrosaurs

Available from

Friday, 6 April 2012

Some random thoughts regarding telly viewed from a sick bed

Siege of Golden Hill  feels almost like it goes meta-fictional at one point, as a scene where the teenagers are acting poorly in a rehearsal of a play moves into one where teenagers who can't really act pretend to be scary gang members.

My Old Man - only point in history when high rise flats were viewed as a wonderful thing.  But funny, as you'd expect from something in which Ian Le Frenais had a hand.

Game of Thrones - didn't watch it because I suspected it of having elves in it, but Sharon convinced me too (clever girl!) and it was great, and not afraid to kill off people just like real life - i.e for no reason other than that's what happens.

Not With a Bang - only lasted seven episodes, of which I think only three were shown up here, but I've wanted to see this again since the 80s, and it didn't disappoint.  With a post-apocalypse setting and a cast including Steven Rea and Ronald Pickup, that's highly surprising, though. Network replied to my emailk to say they wouldn't be doing a DVD however.  Boo!

Mrs Brown's Boys - The episodes where Mrs Brown gave herself a bikini wax, took LSD and thought she was being put in a home are, quite geneuinely, the funniest things I've seen for years.  To the extent that the latter two were effectively turned into audios due to the tears in my eyes.

Then my back got better and I went back to work, but not before I read a pile of books too, of which more later...