Archive for December, 2014

Hammersmith’s Apartment

Figured it might be fun to post another extract for you.

This is the moment, early in the novel, where the perpetually suicidal George Bailey (No, not that George Bailey – just Coincidence having a laugh)  has to see his Guardian Demon’s home for the first time in the 83 years of their shared destiny. See what you think.

 

The Tate Modern at night

The Tate Modern. Right at the top. And generally invisible. You are here.

Hammersmith didn’t exactly live anywhere. Or rather, the penthouse apartment in which he lived wasn’t really ‘there,’ in any sense of which a respectable non-quantum physicist would approve. It was invisible to the uninvited eye, though not exactly intangible. Anyone who happened to be strolling around the roof of the Tate Modern’s tower on a moonlit night and who wandered through the space where Hammersmith’s apartment appeared not to be, would feel a deeper, growling chill, and be instantly seized by the idea that they wanted to get the hell away from there, really really fast. That was because the apartment was built out of supercooled negative energy, which had a tendency to give off its own low-level fuck-off vibe.

They approached the apartment now, and Bailey felt the queasiness crawl up and over him like a big slow hairy spider. ‘I don’t like it here,’ he said.

‘Diddums,’ said Hammersmith. ‘’S’not like I want you here, George. If I could trust you not to practice your cordless bungee routine every time my back’s turned, I’d leave you out here. But as it stands, you’re with me. We’re not staying long in any case. Just need to pick up some supplies.’

‘Supplies?’ said Bailey.

‘Of course supplies. Don’t expect me to go up against an Original empty-handed, do you? Whaddaya take me for?’

Bailey thought of answering him. Then he thought about not answering him. That was better. He shuddered. ‘The supplies are for the plan, are they?’

‘Changed my mind. Plans are bad. You ask anyone. Any time some daft bugger’s ridden into death or glory, or decided to try and take Moscow in wintertime, you can bet your bottom they had a plan.’

‘Dollar,’ said Bailey absently, still feeling the creeping spidercrawl of the energy.

‘Hmm?’

‘Bet your bottom dollar. That’s the expression.’

‘You’ve never played poker in Hell, have you?’ Hammersmith smirked.

Bailey shuddered. ‘Why the Tate?’

‘You don’t want to get me started on that one.’

Bailey nodded, waited a second. ‘Why the Tate?’ he asked again, like a two-year-old.

Hammersmith sighed. ‘Look across the river,’ he said, as if that explained everything.

Bailey did. The impressive dome of St Paul’s Cathedral stuck up into the night sky.

‘St Paul’s?’

‘Exactly. Wren’s folly!’ Hammersmith spat. ‘Brilliant man, Christopher Wren. Brilliant man in an age of extremely brilliant men – and women too, actually. A polymath, did all sorts of things. Scientific things, amazing things. Involved in setting up the Royal Society, you know?’

‘And so you want to live opposite his greatest achievement?’

‘Greatest achievement be damned!’ Hammersmith spat again. ‘That thing,’ he snarled, pulling Bailey suddenly by the arm and pointing, ‘represents the shackling of scientific and architectural genius in the service of the Church. Everybody’s always “Oooh, isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it clever?” Hideous bloody thing. I despise everything it stands for.’

‘And so you live opposite it?’

Hammersmith shrugged, took a deep breath. ‘The Tate’s an interesting shape,’ he explained. ‘I was involved in the construction of this building. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were perfectly good solid reasons why it needed a big tower in the middle of it. But I was determined to get them to build it, whether it was necessary or not.’

‘You’re… Wait a minute, you’re giving the finger to St Paul’s Cathedral?’

Hammersmith grinned. ‘Won me some brownie points Downstairs, this tower.’ He strode back to the area of conspicuously blank space and snapped his fingers at the patch of thin air in front of them. A ripple seemed to run across a surface that was defined by not being there.

‘Show yourself, it’s me,’ he said, and another ripple went through the shape. Now though, instead of going over the invisible surface and dissipating, the wave seemed to stick wherever it touched, adding shape and substance and colour to the building. Within seconds, Hammersmith’s apartment was visible in front of them. It was large and flat-sided, like a shoebox, and equally as unprepossessing from the outside. It had a note pinned to its simple white front door. Bailey leaned in to read it.

‘Go ahead. Burgle me. I dare ya.’ Bailey rolled his eyes, and Hammersmith grinned at him again, pushed open the door.

 

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Quality Control

Grumpy cat.

No. Just no.

I’ve never been particularly sure what the ‘blog’ elements of this website should contain. Progress on the writing front, yes, but I’ve classified the posts that link to places where my non-fiction work is published as news stories, and as there is little enough news during either the writing or the rewriting phase of producing a novel, I’m not entirely sure what to fill this section with. People I know tend to fill it with interviews with other authors, or reviews of work by other authors – presumably on the understanding that they themselves will then be interviewed or featured on the other author’s blog down the line.

I am by no means above such literary mutual masturbation, and I daresay there will be instances down the line where I post interviews and the like here. But if I’m honest, I’m too much of a self-revolving egotist to do this too often. There’s a nagging kernel in my mind that says blogs on this website should be about me, me, me! So I make you this pledge before we really start: if you see an interview on this blog, it’s with an author I know, or about a work I’ve not only read, but highly rate. This site will not become click-bait for every author or book that begs for likes in return for likes – that would make the whole thing entirely meaningless, and who has the time to engage in meaningless bilge?

Interspersed with these genuine recommendations, interviews or recommendations, there will, going forward, be the usual progress reports on the process of writing, seeking representation, failing, trying again, failing better, and ideally, eventually, the business of getting an agent, getting a publisher and becoming that shining, potential thing – a published author (one way or another). There will also be other things. Snippets of blogs I’ve written in other venues, going back some years and going forward from here. And possibly – rather inspired by watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, reading some Thurber, and being gently kicked in the shins by my wife, stories from my life. I know, I know, we all have stories from our lives. You want to share yours, get a blog of your own. You want to read mine, for whatever reasons you decide upon – they’ll be here.

So if this post has been about anything, it’s been about refocusing the blogging element of the site, setting new parameters of quality control, making new promises, and generally giving a state of the website address about what you can expect going forward.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled web-viewing. Oh look, a cat. Wonder if it’s going to do something hilarious in a minute…

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Big Finish – The Second Doctor

Cover of The Queen of Time story.

The Second Doctor on Big Finish spans a great range of styles.

The Second Doctor poses a particular problem of course because two of his main companion – Jamie and Zoe – are supposed to have no memory of ever travelling with him. In both cases, when the Companion Chronicles have needed a way around that, the way has been found.

Continuing his handy guide to ‘jump on board’ stories, Tony explores some of the best Second Doctor stories in the Big Finish range.

Read the piece here.

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Paddington

Poster for the new Paddington movie

The new Paddington movie: Hit or miss?

Whether you like the new movie rather depends on whether you’re open to new interpretations of classic children’s programmes, or whether any attempt, however well-intentioned, to update and modernise said classics equates in your mind to raping your childhood and should be consigned to a pestilential dungeon for the rest of time.

 

Tony went to see the reinvention of a classic little hero.

Read what he made of the new Paddington movie here.

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Jo Grant – WarpedFactor

Katy Manning as Jo Grant

Jo Grant – trainee spy, loyal friend, the Doctor’s Watson and Earth Mother.

The story of Jo Grant is very much the story of a conscious decision by showrunners to steer away from challenge and back to loyalty of the Susan, or more like the Jamie kind – brave, frequently out of their depth, but always absolutely sure the Doctor was a good man, and ready to die to protect him should the need arise.

Jo Grant is one of the Doctor’s all-time classic Doctor Who companions – not what would these days be called feisty, but loyal to the point of death and beyond. Tony examined her role in the series.

 

Read the piece here.

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The First Doctor on Big Finish audio

The First Doctor and Susan

Where to start with the First Doctor on Big Finish audio? Why, start at the very beginning of course.

Before we begin, a disclaimer. I haven’t heard all the Big Finish range. It’s been putting out stories now for fifteen years, at roughly the rate of at least one a month, across a sometimes-bewildering galaxy of ranges – there have been many whole companion-lives lives, died, occasionally lived again just like in the TV show. They’ve added depth to characters from the show, they’ve redeemed monsters that looked a bit naff on screen or were given no backstory. They’ve added prequels or sequels to many favourite monsters…so where do you start?

The Doctor Who universe is now almost impossibly broad – both on screen but more particularly in the audio work of Big Finish Productions, a company which has been producing audio adventures for classic Doctors for the last fifteen years. With such a bewildering range of stories to choose from, many people don’t know where to start, so Tony and WarpedFactor.com decided to offer some primers – a handful of stories from each of the classic Doctors that will allow people to jump in confidently and get their feet wet before exploring the rest of the range.

 

The journey starts here, with a handful of episodes from the First Doctor on Big Finish audio.

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Remembering The Almighty Johnsons

The Almighty Johnsons

The Johnsons – it’s not easy being a god.

Original ideas these days are eaten up and regurgitated by a faintly cynical US sci-fi and fantasy production machine, and often the results are staggeringly similar from show for show. Vampires and zombies and werewolves, oh my! Gods and fairies and succubi and incubi and witches and so…very…yawn.

Tony looked back on a much-missed and fabulous New Zealand export – The Almighty Johnsons.

 

Read the piece here.

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The Sun Makers – Project Torchwood

A collage of images from The Sun Makers.

The Sun Makers – one of Robert Holmes’ finest.

The Sun Makers is a thing of satirical beauty, inspired by Holmes’s running foul of the Inland Revenue and that most invidious of social necessities – the system of taxation. Beauty, wit, deliciously waspish humour, but never let it be said that The Sun Makers is a thing in which subtlety or multiplicity of viewpoint ever raise their grubby storytelling heads.

Tony takes a look at Robert Holmes classic story, The Sun Makers.


Read the piece here.

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The Invasion – Project Torchwood

A Cyberman from 1969 with St Paul's Cathedral in the background.

The Cybermen invade London – old school style.

When viewed with a cold, objective eye, The Invasion is at least a couple of episodes too long.

In the light of the recent head-nods to the story in Series 8, Tony took a longer, deeper look at The Invasion – the first time the Cybermen took St Paul’s.

Read the piece on Project Torchwood here.

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Master Class, Part 4 – Missy – Project Torchwood

A collage of images of Michelle Gomez as the Mistress.

The Mistress – a collage.

What are we to make of the latest on screen Master to blaze a trail of destruction across the Doctor’s life? What of Michelle Gomez’s Mistress? What does she add to the mythos and the legend of this unique character in Doctor Who history?

Tony added a new critique to his comprehensive look at the character of the Master on the Project Torchwood site, in light of Michelle Gomez’s debut as Missy, or the Mistress.

 

Read the piece here.

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