December 6th, 2011

tardis

December Books 3) Theatre of War, by Justin Richards

When I first read this three years ago, I wrote:
A fairly standard New Adventure, introducing the sinister character of Irving Braxiatel, renegade Time Lord and cultural collector, with lots of fun archaeology for Benny and combat for Ace. The actual plot is a rather ludicrous Sekrit Plan involving the overthow of a warmongering dictatorial regime by means of an electronic theatre and a long-lost play, so it makes as much sense as many Who stories.
Having decided to include those New Adventures (and EDAs) which I had already read in my sequence, I have now reached a stage where the next few will be rereads. Theatre of War is a little deeper than I gave it credit for at the time, with some interrogation of how we know things to be true, and the politics surrounding the Sekrit Plan quite well depicted. There's also some material for my planned mini-project on Doctor Who and Shakespeare. But the Sekrit Plan itself remains ludicrous.
train, tintin, leuven

December Books 4) Kuifje in Afrika / Tintin in the Congo, by Hergé

F borrowed this from the local library out of curiosity, and we both read it pretty quickly. It is just as bad as I feared: the Africans encountered here are stupid, illiterate, desperately aping civilisation and pathetically grateful for rule by white men; by the end of the book they are worshipping idols of Tintin and Snowy. Even more startling is Tintin's casual slaughter of large amounts of African wildlife, often as the punchline of a joke. The book's most effective single frame is a huge and enraged elephant pursuing our heroes; unfortunately the elephant gets killed off on the next page. The plot, such as it is, is supplied by a rather inefficient hitman sent after Tintin by none other than Al Capone (who appears in person in the next book). One can see the elements here that Hergé would use for his much better future work - the deadpan humour, the ligne claire style, even the bearded naval personnel - but it comes with some very unpleasant baggage here. Aren't you glad I've read it, so you don't have to?