April 19th, 2008

doctor who

April Books 20) Doctor Who - The Power of the Daleks

20) Doctor Who - The Power of the Daleks, by John Peel

John Peel continues his run of excellent Who books with this, the first story of Patrick Troughton's incarnation of Doctor Who. It is a favourite of mine anyway - I cannot understand why fannish opinion generally prefers the later Evil of the Daleks - but Peel, equipped with David Whitaker's original scripts (retrieved, apparently, from his ex-wife's attic) and benefiting from some editorial decision to give him 250 rather than 125 pages to tell the story, has done an excellent job.

On reflection, it's also because this is a relatively unusual Dalek story, presenting them not as a rival galactic empire to us humans but as in some way a dark reflection of our own desires about ourselves. The only other televised story that comes close to doing that is Robert Shearman's Ninth Doctor story.

Anyway, Peel turns a good TV story (as far as we can judge, since it is one of the lost ones) into a good novel. An encouraging start to my reading up on the Second Doctor.
earthsea

April Books 21) Understanding English Place-Names

21) Understanding English Place-Names, by (Sir) William Addison

Picked this somewhat randomly off the shelves this morning. It does exactly what it says on the tin, breaking England down into regions and looking at the place names as a whole and particular individual cases of interest. It brought home to me how little of England I know despite my five years in Cambridge. It is interesting that so few English place names are Celtic in origin, apart from the obvious parts of the west and a few pockets farther east; also surprising that the Normans did not leave a heavier footprint on toponymy. I remain puzzled by the way that the Danelaw failed to really translate into later political divisions, but the book assured me that the pattern of Norse settlement based on place names is very visible. Anyway, an absorbing, quick read.