Monday, June 27, 2011

The Impassable Sky

As every child knows, The Gunfighters was the last Doctor Who story to have individual episodes until The Five Doctors, A Fix With Sontarans, Doctor Who (also known as the TV movie) and then Rose onwards.

On that basis, my Companion Chronicles squeezed into gaps before The Gunfighters have all had individual episode titles, at least on the scripts. I got asked online what the titles were for my latest effort, The Cold Equations, and a clever chap called Chris of Fenric then went and made this, which I like.

Doctor Who and the Impassable Sky

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The awkward age

I was in Copenhagen at the weekend. The Dr had been there for a week shadowing a new Egyptology exhibition and I joined her for the last couple of nights.

On Saturday, with my birthday hoving into view, we trained out to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, with five different kinds of longship on display and lots of other cool stuff.

I liked how much they used the Bayeaux tapestry to show how these people once lived: gleaning from the comic-strip history vital clues about colours, tools and shapes, even the haircuts of different groups of people.

A panel on the history of the Vikings describes them getting over their 'awkward age' (i.e. marauding round other countries, raping and pillaging) in time to lead the Europeans on their crusades (i.e. marauding round other countries, rapings and pillaging).

But it also gave the lie to the Vikings as burly savages, showing the sophistication of their work. The ships were made from flexible, bendy planks, and then expanded over the fire to make them longer and lighter. That made strong, flexible and nippy crafty, ideal for stealth operations. But larger ships could carry plenty of cargo, and (as in Jonathan Clements' Brief History of the Vikings) there was a lot of emphasis on the friendly trade that was much more the norm than the pillaging.

Having read the Sagas of the Icelanders last year, it was good to see lots on the multicultural mixing of the time. As I explained to the Dr, the history of the Vikings is inextricably mixed up with the history of the UK.

As well as the original ships, expertly preserved, there was also a lot on the experimental archaeological project to rebuild a longship and sail it across the North Sea and circumnavigate the UK. This meant lots of footage and panels about sea-sickness, which at best disrupted watches and basic ship duties and at worst took out a third of the crew. Watching the crowded boat sitting so low in stormy and dark water, I got a sense of why the Vikings might not have been in the best moods when they arrived anywhere.

In the drizzle outside the museum there were tourists in horned helmets (though the Vikings didn't wear horns) rowing for themselves, and various beardie people at stalls selling hand-crafted Vikingish tat. I settled for a chicken sandwich - and was delighted to discover that the Danish word for chicken is 'kylling'. And just by the museum is a small fast-food place: Viking Pizza.

The Dr also took me round the prehistoric bits of the National Museum, and had clearly had a lovely week exploring other museums in the week. Copenhagen's a friendly, bustling city crammed full of people on bikes. I had a lovely time and only saw a small fraction, so am hoping to go back again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AAAGH! goes to war

AAAGH! goes to war with Chris Moyles
Another AAAGH! from issue #221 of Doctor Who Adventures - which stopped being on sale yesterday. Written by me, art by Brian Williamson, edited by Paul Lang (who insisted on pink Krotons) and Natalie Barnes - and posted here by kind permission.

It's my mid-season finale (because I don't have any more AAAGH!s in the pipeline as yet). So I'll have to fill this blog with something else.

Oh, I am going to Copenhagen tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AAAGH! at Eurovision

AAAGH! from Doctor Who Adventures at Eurovision
Here's another AAAGH! by me, this one from issue #217 of Doctor Who Adventures, on sale two days before the Eurovision final. Art by Brian Williamson, edited by Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes and posted here by kind permission.

Tomorrow: A good AAAGH! goes to war!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AAAGH! v the Silence

AAAGH! from Doctor Who Adventures 216, featuring the Silence
Here's the AAAGH! from issue #216 of Doctor Who Adventures, the week after Day of the Moon was broadcast. It was written by me, drawn by Brian Williamson and edited by Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes - who gave kind permission to post it here.

Tomorrow: AAAGH! at Eurovision.

Monday, June 13, 2011

AAAGH! at Easter

AAAGH! Doctor Who Adventures comic strip at Easter with Abzorbaloff
Another AAAGH! comic strip, this from issue #215 of Doctor Who Adventures, published the week after Easter. Written by me, art by Brian Williamson and edited by Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes - who kindly gave permission to post it here. Next time: AAAGH! meets the Silence.

Friday, June 10, 2011

AAAGH! meets the Doctor

Another AAAGH!, this time from Doctor Who Adventures #213 earlier this year. You might like to know that AAAGH! goes to war in the current issue out in shops now, in a strip featuring the Krotons, a Slitheen and Chris Moyles.

As always, the above strip is by me, illustrated by Brian Williamson and edited by the splendid Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes, and posted up here with permission. Paul's also posted up one of his AAAGH!s - in which Nervil and Mrs Tinkle meet the EastEnders.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Blam! Blam! Blam!

CLeaning Up starring Mark Gatiss, Louise Jameson and Anton Romaine Thompson
Feast your eyes on Stuart Manning's brilliant poster for Cleaning Up, a short film starring Mark Gatiss, Louise Jameson and Anton Romaine Thompson. It's directed by Thomas Guerrier and - by some staggering coincidence - written by me.

We're in the final stages of post-production and are already elbows deep in submissions to film festivals and whatnot. I'll be hollering on a lot more when there's more to be hollered, but in the mean time you can join the Cleaning Up Facebook massive and the official Cleaning Up Twitter experience.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Ordeal

It’s 20 years since I took my first GCSEs - four of them, a year early, what with going to posh school. Tomorrow morning, me and Nimbos and a motley gang of heroes sit GCSE Astronomy, which we’ve been studying at the ROG since September.

It’s been a really interesting course. I’ve looked through a telescope for the first time, ordered a robotic telescope in Las Palmas to take pictures of galaxies for me, and had some nice nights out in the pub. But there’s a massive amount to keep all in my head and I’d forgotten my keen terror of exams.

It doesn’t help that exams are so entirely counter-intuitive to a hack like me. I spend a lot of my life having to write authoritatively about complicated subjects, which means reading up on them quickly, distilling that simply and then doing check upon check. I try to use at least two reliable sources and then get someone expert to read it over anyway.

This very process got me on to the course. I asked television’s Marek Kukula to read over my first draft of Doctor Who and the Cold Equations. With great tact he explained my grasp of the complex stuff was quite good, but my basic maths and physics was appalling.

Too often as I’ve revised my scrawling notes and gone through past papers my first thought has been, ‘I know where to find the answer to that’. I know exactly which book has the best looking Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, which photocopies unpick the Equation of Time and which magazine details all the things the Huygens probe found out about Titan.

The freelance skill, hard learned over years, is to know where to check these things and not to rely on my memory. Or that’s what I’m telling myself as I jangle in terror at the coming ordeal.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

AAAGH! and the Atraxi

Another AAAGH!, this time from issue #209 and featuring the Atraxi and a Weeping Angel. As before, script by me, art by Brian Williamson, edited by Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes, and posted up here with the kind permission of the lovely Doctor Who Adventures.

Monday, June 06, 2011

AAAGH! and the Racnoss

Putting up my AAAGH! meets Idris comic strip went down well so I've permission from my splendid bosses at Doctor Who Adventures magazine (every Thursday, with free gifts and mayhem) to put up more.

Each week, young Nervil and his robot Mrs Tinkle, find jobs for old Doctor Who monsters. This is my first one, from issue 207 in February. It features the Empress of the Racnoss (from The Runaway Bride), and a joke in the last panel which I came up with when I was little.

Written by me, illustrated by clever Brian Williamson, edited by Paul Lang and Natalie Barnes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Two plays

I have two new plays out this month. Sorry.

First there's Dark Shadows - The Creeping Fog, Click the link for trailer, more details and to buy the damnable thing. The story, set in a London museum during the Second World War, stars David Selby (he's in The Social Network, you know) and Matthew Waterhouse. Thrillingly, it's Matthew's Big Finish debut (but he's not playing Adric. Or is he? Is he?!? No he isn't.)

Producers James Goss and Joseph Lidster commissioned me because I didn't know too much about Dark Shadows. They wanted a standalone, spooky story that would appeal to old-skool fans of Dark Shadows but also to a broader audience. So this is, clearly, the perfect thing to buy now so that you're all set for the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie next year. Yes it is. Quiet at the back.

Lots more about Dark Shadows at the Collinwood site, run by clever Stuart Manning who also did the cover for my story.

Then there's Doctor Who and the Cold Equations, starring Peter Purves and Tom Allen. Click the link for a trailer, more details and to buy yourself six copies. It's an exciting space adventure which has already earned 10/10 from the nice Doc Oho. Following on from The Adventure of the Perpetual Bond, the first Doctor Who and his friends Steven and Oliver find themselves on a spaceship... and things then go a bit wonky with aliens and stuff.

The lovely cover is by Simon Holub. Tom is interviewed in the new, free issue of Vortex magazine (issue 28). We recorded a third Steven and Oliver story last week.