|Doctor Who Magazine 544|
Also in the issue is a short interview with me about my forthcoming Doctor Who audio story, The Home Guard.
A blog for Simon Guerrier
|Doctor Who Magazine 544|
"There is something about having your legs over your head that makes you need to pee. This makes it into none of the press releases, but every single astronaut talks about it." (p. 493)But the book is also excellent on the social detail: the drama of this post-meteorite world is overshadowed by inherent sexism and racism, our Jewish heroine not immune to her own prejudice. Elma also suffers from anxiety and there's lots on the shame and secrecy surrounding mental illness. Characters are well drawn, and Elma must learn to work alongside people she doesn't necessarily like, managing rivalries and her own privilege, for all she is discriminated against. Each chapter opens with a quote from a newspaper filling in more of the background detail of this world, and full of telling turns of phrase. It all makes for a rich and real version of history, a compelling world in which this adventure takes place.
"I'm not sure anyone's death is a reason to celebrate. But what America got that night was a moment of release, a chance to feel its own resilience." (p. 364)For all Obama says she's "not sure" about celebrating his death, she has no doubts about the killing itself. Elsewhere, she is open about her uncertainties - whether Barack should stand in the first place, what being in office has done to their children's lives. I was struck by her frankness about fertility treatment, the grim practicalities of Clomid and IVF. There's the slips in her speeches, seized upon by her critics. There's the time when she can't face the grieving community after yet another shooting. And then there's this extraordinary, awful acknowledgement - guilt - that the rise of the right in America is in some ways directly personal.
"For more than six years now, Barack and I had lived with an awareness that we ourselves were a provocation ... Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others. The hatred was old and deep and as dangerous as ever." (p. 397)Yet she remains optimistic, even to the end. Becoming challenges the reader to step up and make a difference, and offers fascinating insight into the practicalities of public office. We learn how she managed her image and needed lessons in smiling, how she decided what she and her children would wear on stage, how she created her own role as First Lady. There's the difficulty of having a date night when your husband is president, or the strange feeling of addressing a huge crowd from behind a shield of bullet-proof glass.
"I usually figured out that Barack had arrived home from a trip not by the sound of his helicopter but rather by the smell of its fuel, which somehow manage to permeate." (p. 398)
"What links the 4000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh to the children's book Mr Nosey? According to Will Storr's The Science of Storytelling, they provide “the same tribal function” by showing a character shed a flawed worldview and antisocial habits, then be rewarded with connection and status..." Simon Guerrier, "Flaw Plans", The Lancet Psychiatry volume 6, issue 10, pe. 25, 1 October 2019I posted a little more about the book here earlier in the year. There's also an index of my pieces for the Lancet.
"It has headled something in me." (p. 167)And why not - because he's just as much the obsessive, anxious fan as the rest of us.