June 22nd, 2008


June Books 33) The Doctor Who Storybook 2007, 34) The Doctor Who Storybook 2008

33) The Doctor Who Storybook 2007, edited by Clayton Hickman
34) The Doctor Who Storybook 2008, edited by Clayton Hickman

Great fun for the Who fan of any age. Each of these features seven lavishly illustrated text stories and a comic strip, perhaps particularly aimed at the 9-13 age group; authors in both books include Gareth Roberts, Tom MacRae, Robert Shearman, Nicholas Briggs, Justin Richards and Jonathan Morris, with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss in the 2007 volume and Paul Magrs and Nicholas Pegg in the 2008 one. The 2007 volume features Rose in all the stories, the 2008 volume has Martha in most of them.

The two best stories are the top and tail of the 2007 volume, by Gatiss and Moffat respectively. The first is a standard enough plot of the child central character getting involved in the Doctor's adventure, but Gatiss has given Jason a convincing narrative voice in his diary. The other is a particularly creepy Moffat tale told ostensibly as an IM conversation, with a twist at the end which raises it to a higher level.

Two minor points that grated a little with both books. First, several of the stories, as noted above, feature a child getting involved with the Doctor for the duration of the story. The child is always a boy. I know that this is not invariably the case, as with Sally Sparrow from the 2006 book (which I haven't otherwise read), and of course you have Martha or Rose as senior kickass females, but it just struck me. Second, the artwork is sometimes a little wobbly - particularly Billie Piper's features seem difficult to capture. On the other hand Brian Williamson's art is particularly good, as in this illustration from Robert Shearman's 2007 story, "Untitled".

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2008 Films 2) The 7th Dawn

2) The 7th Dawn

Yes, I have watched my second film this year - and June isn't even over yet!

This is a 1964 film starring William Holden, Capucine, the Japanese actor Tetsuro Tamba and a young Susannah York, directed by Lewis Gilbert (whose next two films were Alfie and You Only Live Twice). It is set during the Malayan insurgency of the early 1950s, with Tamba playing the insurgent leader, Holden the maverick American, Capucine the woman who has (by implication) been the lover of both, and York as the daughter of the newly arrived British governor. Given that somewhat clichéd setup, it does what it does rather well. I was struck that for a film of the Cold War era about an overtly Communist insurgency it was notably unsympathetic to the British colonial administration; also both female leads play sexually confident characters who are frankly more interesting than the men. The music, by otherwise mediocre composer Riz Ortolani, is rather good the first couple of times you hear it (though suffers from too much repetition).

I actually bought it because I had seen in my grandmother's memoirs that my late aunt was an extra in some of the British colonial crowd scenes; I didn't actually spot her, but I'm bad at faces (and anyway this was several years before I was born).