June 10th, 2014

tardis

June Books 1) Queers Dig Time Lords, eds Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas

I've been a cheerleader for the series of books on Who produced by Mad Norwegian Press, but I did wonder if there was really room for an entire book on LGBTQ takes on the series. I fear my concerns were well founded; sure, the narrative of coming-out as non-straight is linked with their love of Who for an awful lot of people, and it's an important and emotionally freighted story for all concerned - and a lot of these stories are moving, empowering, cheering and sometimes appalling. But this seemed to me more a source of primary material for further research than a great set of pieces in itself, even though some of the authors are pretty significant people in the Whoniverse (Paul Magrs, David Llewellyn, Nigel Fairs, Gary Russell) or more widely in the genre (Amal El-Mohtar, Rachel Swirsky). John and Carole Barrowman contribute a foreword.

There is some very interesting stuff too - obviously it's rather difficult to miss the lesbian subtext in The Stones of Blood, but Julia Rios goes into it in convincing depth. (The only point she misses is that Christopher Isherwood dedicated Goodbye to Berlin to Beatrix Lehmann and her brother.) Naamen Gobert Tilahun provides the best analysis I have read of the role of Mickey in new Who (and there are several other chapters concentrating on particular characters). None of the pieces is actually bad, and that's a decent strike rate in itself. Still, I am not sure that this will go to the top of my Best Related Work ballot.

buzz

June Books 2) Orbitsville, by Bob Shaw

One of the classic Big Dumb Object novels of the 1970s, which won the BSFA Award for 1975 (other nominees not recorded; also got third place in the 1976 John W Campbell Award, Silverberg's The Stochastic Man coming second and no award made for the top spot; this was the year that The Forever War won Hugo and Nebula). It's rather of its time, which is to say that the evil ruler is all the more evil because she is a woman, and the hero's wife doesn't get to do much more than be his wife (he bravely fends off sexual advances from one of his own crew in a moment of crisis). In fairness, Shaw was good at portraying troubled marriages (always from the male partner's point of view) in his fiction, and this is another case in point. Orbitsville itself is a Dyson sphere, totally enclosing a star at earth-orbit distance, which our hero stumbles upon after fleeing the evil ruler; I felt a bit short-changed in that Shaw concentrates on the human politics of his story and devotes much less time to describing it than Niven does Ringworld or Clarke does Rama, and we end up in the climactic section of the book just doing a long aircraft trip across relatively featureless landscape. Perhaps the sequel has more stuff that I would like in it.