June 12th, 2010


Lightning strikes twice

I've got to the stage in life where I routinely scan the British honours lists when they come out twice a year to see if anyone I know has got anything. This was sparked nine years ago when the bloke who I lived next to in my third year as an undergraduate got an OBE for work in East Timor. Now I discover that the quiet medic who I lived next to in my second year as an undergraduate has picked up an OBE for her work fighting diabetes in the United Arab Emirates. By coincidence, the new British ambassador there is the same guy who got his gong in 2001.

Thinking this through, my next-door neighbours from my first year need to be on the lookout for letters from Buckingham Palace; one is an ophthalmologist in Manchester, the other a veterinary epidemiologist in Atlanta. (Unfortunately the bloke who I lived next door to as a postgrad died three years ago.)

June Books 8) The Betrothal of Sontar, edited by Clayton Hickman

I borrowed this inaugural set of Tenth Doctor comics from young F after discovering that tonight's TV episode is based on one of the stories, and much enjoyed the whole collection - somehow more sure of its ground than the collected Ninth Doctor which I read a while back, and surprisingly grownup in places. The title story, The Betrothal of Sontar, by John Tomlinson and Nick Abadzis, is an interesting retake on Colony in Space with Sontarans instead of human colonists; of the two protagonists, one is nasty even by Sontaran standards, the other somewhat unrealistically nice. Gareth Roberts' The Lodger, on which tonight's broadcast episode is rather loosely based, is a nice nine-page vignette of the Doctor turning up alone on Mickey Smith's doorstep and irritating the hell out of him (so who will be the Mickey character tonight?). F.A.Q., by the excellent Tony Lee, is a surprisingly dark tale of adolescent fantasies and repressed memories spinning out of control. The Futurists, by Mike Collins who is also the penciller for this and the three previous stories, combines some excellent one-liners with a thrilling combination of the Milan of 1925, Roman Britain, and sinister time-travelling jellyfish. Jonathan Morris has a space-opera pop group on its last legs in Interstellar Overdrive (the title doesn't quite say it all but does say most of it). He returns to music in the rather slight Opera of Doom, featuring aliens which absorb and also transmit musical talent. This is followed by an equally lightweight story, The Green-Eyed Monster by Nev Fountain, in which the Doctor snogs Jackie to save Rose's life (in Rose's last regular strip appearance). We finish with Alan Barnes bringing back the Brigadier in The War-Keeper's Crown - not one of Barnes' best efforts but since he is one of the best contemporary Who writers that is still pretty decent. All in all, strongly recommended.