January 27th, 2011

tardis

January Books 15) The Scarlet Empress, by Paul Magrs

This is the first of Magrs' Doctor Who novels, and also the first to feature the peculiar Iris Wildthyme, who claims to be a the Doctor's girlfriend from the old days in Gallifrey, driving around in a Tardis in the shape of a double-decker London bus. I find Magrs a bit variable but this was a good start to his Who career, a quest narrative set on the peculiar magical planet of Hyspero, with everyone looking for their own particular goals, including a couple of additional companions picked up on the way. The Doctor/Sam relationship is back on form, and the Doctor's dynamic with Iris - combined irritation and affection - works rather well. Having said which, as with all quest narratives, it's a bit episodic and the end doesn't quite flow from the middle. But after a couple of less impressive Eighth Doctor adventures I feel the series was getting back on form here.
tardis

Demon Quest, Parts 2 and 3

More Paul Magrs: I managed to listen to the second and third parts of his latest series of audios staring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor before setting off for Moldova last weekend and forgetting my MP3 player, and now that the January Big Finish releases are out I shall listen to them before I finish the Demon Quest sequence.

I rather liked The Demon of Paris, set in 1894 in the world of Toulouse-Lautrec, with Baker's Doctor and Susan Jameson's excellent Mrs Wibbsey investigating both why the Doctor's face appears on the famous Aristide Bruant poster (which of course partially inspired the BBC to give Baker his Doctor's costume in the first place) and also a series of unsolved disappearances. It's pretty obvious how things are likely to unfold but a fun ride.

I was less impressed by A Shard of Ice the third of the series set in a German snowstorm in 1847. The fundamentals are basically there, with the Doctor meeting a writer before he has become famous and avoiding the paradox of revealing his future while also telling him his own past adventures and defeating the 'ideous monster. But I'm not a fan of Richard Franklin's Mike Yates, who is the companion in this pay, and I also felt the story lost contextual weight by using a fictional writer as its central character, where the first two in the series had the Emperor Claudius and Toulouse-Lautrec and his circle.

Still, I'll listen to the other two, just not right away.
politics

Delicious LiveJournal Links for 1-27-2011

  • My old friend Tim Waters: "the real danger to peace is not peoples’ desire to form new states. It is the willingness of the present powers in this world to resist that desire with violence. Chaos and death are not consequences of opening Pandora’s box – they *are* the box. We have stumbled onto that truth in Sudan, after 40 years and Niles of blood. We should not have to learn it all over again, in every war, and every generation."
    (tags: sudan)
  • Latest on the bizarre case of the Israeli academic using the French courts to sue the American editor who published a German professor's book review in an online law journal. Verdict expected in March.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would have to review two weeks' worth of procedure after determining it had mistakenly based its last three rulings on a copy of the Belgian constitution left in the justices' chambers. "When I presented my case on legal citizenship status under proposed changes to immigration law, I wondered why they said my argument was in direct opposition to the parliamentary rights of the Walloons," said lawyer Hector Martinez, who argued before the court last week. "In light of this information, I think their denying my case based on a precedent set by the Duke of Beaufort in 1782 is null and void." Martinez has appealed his case, but is still awaiting confirmation of his audience with His Majesty Albert II.
    (tags: belgium usa funny)