March 3rd, 2014


Trial of the Valeyard, by Alan Barnes and Mike Maddox

Way way behind with book- and audio-blogging. A quieter week or two ahead, I hope, so I may be able to catch up.

As I've said before, I'm really not a huge fan of the Trial of a Time Lord season of classic Who; but as I've said on Manother occasion recently, Big Finish have proved capable of mining the rubble for jewels, and this is an excellent coda to the season, 27 years on: Colin Baker, Michael Jayston and Lynda Bellingham are renited as the Sixth Doctor, the Valeyard and the Prosecutor for a trial drama that picks up the rather tangled threads of Time Lord lore and the Valeyard's own intricate relationshp with the Doctor, and weaves them into something new. My favourite moment was quite near the beginning, when the Doctor, initially somewhat disinclined to act as the Valeyard's defence counsel in a rigged trial, becomes sufficiently outraged by the Time Lords' conduct of proceedings to take on the challenge. In general, there are three seasoned performers here, particularly Jayston, who slip back into their previous parts with a real injection of adrenalin. Much better than I expected, even with the more than reliable Alan Barnes as co-author.

February Books 10) Empire of the Sun, by J.G. Ballard

This is a tremendous novel, based of course on real life, about the experiences of a boy surviving Shanghai during the Japanese occupation if the Second World War. It's brutal and awful, yet the protagonist's innocence gives the whole narrative a vivid foundation, slightly distanced from the awful world of the adults, yet focused on important details like how many maggots you can eat to remain healthy. The descriptions are vivid and visceral, and the human interactions in desperate circumstances all too plausible.

Long, long ago, I saw the Spielberg film of the book (and have almost completely forgotten it), and much more recently I read the author's autobiography which covers much of the same ground (with the important difference that he actually spent his period of internment with his parents rather than separated from them). I seem to have been reading a fair bit about Shanghai recently, including the first good Tintin book, set a few years earlier. Must try and go there some time.