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August Books 1) Licence Denied

1) Licence Denied: Rumblings from the Doctor Who Underground, by Paul Cornell

Published ten years ago, this is a compilation of the author's choice of interesting or remarkable writing from Doctor Who fanzines, mostly from the period between the show's cancellation in 1989 and the TV movie in 1996, with a few bits from before and after - most notably the infamous panning of The Deadly Assassin by the then president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society from 1976. There is a certain amount of linking narrative from Paul himself - and having spent much of this weekend talking to him it's impossible not to hear his voice in my head as I read the words (even if it's ten years since he wrote them) - expressing his love for the programme and for fanzines as a genre. There are some lovely pieces - a great Tom Baker interview, a meditation on the place of tea and other hot beverages in the Whoniverse, some of the early analysis by Tat Wood that has culminated in the About Time books. There are some other bits I could happily leave, but that is fanzine writing for you.

I was a bit surprised that there was no discussion at all of fan fiction, which even in my limited teenage excursions into Doctor Who fanzines was clearly a large part of the subculture, and almost no mention of the internet - Kate Orman, daringly, gives a web address. Fandom was very definitely on-line by this date - indeed, it didn't take much googling to find a usenet discussion of a review of this very book - and while I appreciate that the best bits of the written record were certainly still in hard copy fanzine, it's odd to find the internet so absent from the discussion.

Anyway, it's a book of its time, and will be of interest to people concerned with the changing (and unchanging) nature of fandom.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
The absence of online fandom from the discussion and the selection places Licence Denied as a farewell to the hard copy era; certainly, after Circus (I think the last fanzine, chronologically, to be cited), no new titles in what I think of as the grand tradition of Doctor Who fandom's print culture emerged, though the DWAS still publish Celestial Toyroom and John Connors, once of Top and Faze, still releases This Way Up, though that is far more a general pop culture fanzine with fluctuating Doctor Who content.

I think that there was always a lobby that has found fan fiction ghettoized, and I certainly didn't feel it was quite part of the mainstream during the 1980s at least. I wrote something about the contrast between modern fandom and the priorities of the Doctor Who fandom of my youth earlier this year.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 6th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, DW fanzinedom does seem to be stronger outside the UK. I've subscribed on and off to Enlightenment and bought the odd issue of Whotopia, and also the New Zealand DWFC's TSV, though I think the latter is now edited in Britain though produced and distributed from New Zealand.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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