2010-07-15T16:31:32.290+01:00I've no idea if anyone will be interested since I've badly neglected this blog for so long (writing fiction took precedence over reviewing it), but I'm actually not writing fanfiction any more. Since February I've been writing and researching (more the latter than the former at the moment) a genre-crossing novel (Science Fiction and Crime/Detection fiction) - ie. original fiction, with characters I've - well, I was going to say created, but that'd be an exaggeration because I don't feel like I've created them, it feels more like they've sprung, fully-formed, from my head, like Athena.
2008-12-27T16:15:13.883+00:00I managed to pick up a copy of The Story of Martha this morning, and since I've been waiting eagerly to read the book since it was announced, I've raced through it.The novel's divided into 9 parts: 5 are linking chapters (more than one per part) written by Dan Abnett, the other 4 parts are stories of Martha's and Ten's adventures, as follows:"The Weeping" by David Roden "Breathing Space" by Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis "The Frozen Wastes" By Robert Shearmen "Star-Crossed" by Simon Jowett Each of these four stories is told by Martha to one or more refugees during her trek around the world, and each of them is an interesting and thought-provoking morsel of adventure in which Martha and Ten do their stuff; "The Frozen Wastes" is my favourite of the mini adventures, closely followed by "Star-Crossed".Dan Abnett's linking story begins with Martha arriving back in England at the end of her year long trek, before going back to her departure from the Valiant with the aid of Jack's vortex manipulator. We are shown how, initially, Martha's pretty clueless about what she needs to do in order to survive (in the lead up to Roden's story, Martha's spotted by a small girl because of her earrings, and a few pages later she realises running in her heels is going to give her away. The book only covers the first half of Martha's year-long journey, which she spends being chased by a man named Griffin who's a member of the Master's "Unified Containment Forces" (UCF); the Master's determined to hunt Martha down and one of his ADC's selects Griffin to head up a "kill squad" to go after her. As a whole, the book's not bad. But it doesn't make my personal canon because Abnett has Martha captured in Japan when her perception filter key fails as the result of some technology being used by a group of bioluminescent aliens called the Drast. They are attempting to get back home, having been on Earth for a decade attempting to manipulate Earth's economic infrastructure in order to take over the planet. The arrival of the Master has rendered their takeover attempt impossible so they're trying to withdraw and have shielded their centre of operations from him using their own advanced technology, which renders Earth technology useless. This leads Martha's key to fail, so she's captured and made to work (although the UCF in Japan show no interest in her per se since the Drast only care about getting home). The Drast, however, find out about Martha when she volunteers to go to the Koban plant to work, which is where the Drast centre of operations is based. They want Martha to tell them how to get rid of the Master so they can take over the world instead. Once she refuses to cooperate, they go back to concentrating on trying to get their means of escape - a Relativistic Segue, which has torn a hole in time and space, creating a doorway through which they can disappear from Earth. Unfortunately, using it will also mean the destruction of Earth. Griffin, who was captured not long after Martha was, and who also volunteered to go to the Koban camp, threatens to shoot the Segue - which would not only destroy it, but also the Drast themselves. In order to stop him, the Drast shut down the power across Japan, which leads to escape attempts and rioting in the camps - and it's in retaliation for this that the Master burns Japan: Griffin having contacted the ADC who sent him out after Martha once the Drast technology no longer interferes with human technology, and told her all about the Drast). While I've no objection to the idea of the Drast per se, I can't buy the idea of them being on Earth at the time of the Master's rule, and I definitely don't buy the idea of Martha being imprisoned during her year-long trek. It's not that I think she was too good or perfect to be captured, it's just that I can't see her ever wanting to have anything to do with the Doctor again, or her joining UNIT, if she'd had to endure weeks of imprisonment as part of her year of hardship. Plus which, it's hard enough to believe that she managed to travel the entire [...]
2008-12-12T06:46:59.631+00:00Robert Fuller Murray was born on 26 December 1863, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of John and Emmeline Murray. In 1869, his parents separated, and John took his young son to Kelso, England, and then to York. Robert was educated at grammar schools first in Ilminster, and later in Crewkerne. He attended the University of St. Andrews, where he received a BA in 1881. Owing to a lack of other opportunities, Murray became a research assistant to Professor John M. D. Meiklejohn in 1886, and published poetry in several popular journals. He had a brief career in journalism in Edinburgh in mid 1889, and in 1890 returned to St. Andrews. By this time, he was dealing with consumption. In 1891, he paid a brief visit to Egypt, and saw publication of The Scarlet Gown. Murray's health continued to deteriorate and he died in 1894 in St. Andrews. His second volume of poems, Robert F. Murray: his Poems, was published later that year, through his friend Andrew Lang.
2008-12-05T10:17:53.875+00:00Oh look, it's Friday and I'm posting poetry! I've been AWOL again the last few weeks - no excuse except tiredness and extreme busyness. Anyway, this week I've got a short Keats poem for you (said to be his last).
2008-10-30T20:39:43.065+00:00If you received an email (or two) purporting to come from me about an electronics firm, I apologise. Sometime between midday and 1.15pm today my Gmail account was hacked and hundreds of spam messages were sent out. Although I can access my email account still, the hack took my account up to its daily limit with the result I cannot send emails from Gmail (although I can still receive).
2008-10-24T08:00:46.012+01:00This week I bring you another poet named William, William Wordsworth, and part of his poem The Nightingale, a Conversational Poem:
2008-10-17T08:41:02.794+01:00I don't know about anywhere else, but after a burst of unseasonable warmth last weekend (that saw me wearing t-shirt and shorts), it's been perishing cold here the last two mornings, so I thought I'd bring you an appropriate sonnet by Shakespeare:
2008-10-14T09:09:06.514+01:00Apologies to anyone who cares for being MiA the last couple of Fridays for Poetry Friday. I was seriously stressing out about having to move next week.
2008-09-26T06:35:58.346+01:00For this week's Poetry Friday offering, I bring you a small part of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (it's far too long to quote it all):
2008-09-22T09:05:30.561+01:00Be warned, spoilers abound!Ghosts of India - Mark MorrisMark Morris' Ghosts of India is set in India in 1947 at a time when the country is in the grip of chaos, as it's torn apart by internal strife. When the Doctor and Donna arrive in Calcutta, they are instantly caught up in a riot and parted from each other. Barely escaping with their lives, they soon discover that the city is rife with tales of 'half-made men' who roam the streets at night and steal people away. It is said that these creatures are as white as salt and have only shadows where their eyes should be. With help from India's great spiritual leader, Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi, the Doctor and Donna set out to investigate these rumours. What is the real truth behind the 'half-made men'? Why is Gandhi's role in history under threat? And has an ancient, all-powerful god of destruction really come back to wreak his vengeance upon the Earth? Well no. It's actually an alien who's capturing India's poor and using them to create its half-made men - but it takes 5 human beings to create one half-made man. To make matters worse, the alien's spaceship is leaking radiation and infecting the populace, causing horrible growths on man and beast alike, and turning any living creature that's affected by the radiation into a psychotic killer. This story's quite interesting - not least for using Ghandi as a secondary character, but Morris really hasn't captured Donna or her relationship with the Doctor very well. And most of the other minor characters are only sketched in, relying on the reader's knowledge of the "British family in India" stereotypes.The Doctor Trap - Simon MassinghamIn The Doctor Trap, Simon Messingham does a better job of capturing Donna's voice, but this story has a desperately complicated plot that includes a surgically altered double of the Doctor with whom he keeps switching places, a hell of a lot of robots, and a group of 12 hunters known as the Endangered Dangerous Species Society: they make it their business to hunt down the last examples of any species that's about to become extinct in order to make sure the species is wiped out. And now they're on Planet 1 hunting the Last of the Time Lords. Planet 1 is the creation of Sebastiene, who may look like a 19th century nobleman but most assuredly is not. He is determined to add the Doctor to the collection in his Trophy Room, but the Doctor is equally determined not to be added.Shining Darkness - Mark MichalowskiMark Michalowski was responsible for one of my favourite Ten & Martha novels (Wetworld), and it turns out he's also written my favourite Ten & Donna novel: Shining Darkness. Michalowski has Donna's voice down perfectly, and he also captures their relationship beautifully.For Donna Noble, the Andromeda galaxy is a long, long way from home. But even two and a half million light years from Earth, there's danger lurking around every corner, and a visit to an art gallery turns into a mad race across space to uncover the secret behind a shadowy organisation known as The Cult of Shining Darkness. From the desert world of Karris to the interplanetary scrapyard of Junk, the Doctor and Donna discover that appearances can be deceiving, that enemies are lurking around every corner - and that the centuries-long peace between humans and machines may be about to come to an end. It's clear to me that Mark Michalowski really likes Donna - at one point she takes on the mantle of The Ginger Goddess to a race of aliens who hold an artefact that the people she's with want to get back - just as he really liked Martha, and that really added to my enjoyment of the book. He captures Donna's willingness to learn from her travels and her ability to change her mind beautifully - this is the Donna who begged the Doctor to save jus[...]
2008-09-19T08:46:21.435+01:00It was on September 19, 1819 that John Keats wrote the last of his odes, "To Autumn":
2008-09-12T08:38:31.737+01:00They started up experiments with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN this week (deep under the Swiss/French border in the Alps). Radio 4 commemorated this amazing experiment with a day of radio programmes, including a one-off radio episode of Torchwood - the more "adult" Doctor Who spin-off, Lost Souls written by Joseph Lidster. It was a mixture of pseudo-science (this IS the Whoniverse after all!) and philosophical musings on life-after-death, but the story ended with two of the characters quoting lines from a poem by Alfred Tennyson (this is what I love about the Whoniverse - the wild mixture of serious and silly, and of "low" and "high" culture).
2008-09-06T20:52:29.466+01:00(I missed yesterday's Poetry Friday - which is rounded up here at Wild Rose Reader - owing to being out of town, so this is a Shakespeare Saturday post instead!)In which your reviewer attempts to stay coherent and calm, but may flail on occasion!OK. First things first - I've never seen "Hamlet" live before (I've read it about 6 times (including 3 times while I was doing it for my English degree a few years ago), I've seen the Gibson film (yeah, I know, but I couldn't get hold of the Brannagh version), and I've no real idea about how to talk about directing decisions, so please bear with me!So. Having never seen "Hamlet" live before, I picked a performance with two of my favourite actors in the lead roles - David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, I'm looking at you. And boy was that a GOOD choice. These two men are bloody brilliant as Hamlet and Claudius - I don't tend to use the word "genius" of living people because it's a hard word to live up to, but these two men are genius actors. The play had me spellbound and I barely noticed the 3.5 hours passing by.The stage and the back wall behind it are both mirrored (I don't know if that's the norm for the Courtyard Theatre - this was also my first production at the RSC in Stratford - talk about a whole heap of firsts!) – and the director (Greg Doran) makes excellent use of it in the opening scenes with the watchmen on the tower seeing old Hamlet's ghost – they carried torches which they occasionally shone onto the floor, reflecting the light and making the whole scene incredibly spooky – just what you need to introduce a ghost!David's first scene is when everyone arrives on stage following the wedding of Hamlet's uncle Claudius to his brother's wife/Hamlet's mother Gertrude. He came on and stood in a corner of the stage (actually about 6 – 8 feet from where I was sitting in the stalls). He had his hair slicked back and was wearing a dark suit (this is a modern dress performance), and I was immediately reminded of David's role as Barty Crouch Jr – there was the same stillness about him, plus a slight air of menace and controlled purpose. (I'm not saying he was recreating Barty Jr – just that the look and the stillness reminded me of the HP character. Yes, I am going to reference other roles I've seen him in, just so you know!)Hamlet's stillness and dark clothes are in strong contrast to the rest of the wedding party, so he drew my eye and I found myself keeping half an eye on him even as I watched the other characters interacting.Patrick Stewart, as Claudius, wore a 3-piece suit throughout (I think – bear with me – I had about 2 hours sleep last night and I'm feeling a bit fuzzy-headed now!), and wire-framed glasses which give him a wise and respectable air (which is, of course, completely at odds with him being old Hamlet's murderer).This was a great ensemble cast. The descent of Ophelia (Mariah Gale) into madness was beautifully acted and quite unnerving. Rosencrantz (Sam Alexander) and Guildernstern (Tom Davey) were really rather stupid. Laertes (Edward Bennett) didn't really work for me in the latter part of the play: when he's threatening Claudius, he was unconvincing – like a teenager, who'd been watching too many gangster movies, and his death didn't really bother me. Gertrude (Penny Downie) was excellent – particularly during the dumbshow (which was very OTT and funny) which precedes the play-within-the-play – I saw her fidgeting uneasily throughout and her hands were never still – and during the closet scene in which she confronts Hamlet about his behaviour and he accuses her of incest, he says:You cannot call it love; for at your age The hey-day in the blood is tame, it'[...]
2008-08-29T19:28:41.050+01:00This time next week I shall, all being well, be sitting in the Courtyard Theatre at Stratford upon Avon, listening to the immortal words of the Bard and watching a barefoot David Tennant thrill the audience.
2008-08-22T14:02:15.827+01:00I recently read Laura Lippman's In A Strange City, a murder mystery novel in which a strange little man attempts to hire PI Tess Monaghan in order to unmask the Visitor (also known as the Poe Toaster), who has been visiting the Baltimore grave of Edgar Allan Poe every year on 19 January for the past fifty years. On each visit s/he leaves three red roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac. Since the Visitor is committing no crime Tess refuses the assignment, but she worries that a less scrupulous PI may take it on, so she goes to the 19 January vigil as an observer. She watches as two cloaked figures approach the grave, appear to embrace and then part, but as they walk off in different directions, there's a gunshot and one of them is killed. Tess quickly learns that the dead man is not the regular Visitor. So who is he? And why was he there? When it turns out that Tess's would-be client had given her a fake name, she knows she must try to find him. And when an old friend from her past surfaces, claiming that the shooting was a homophobic hate crime, things only get more complicated... This was a fascinating novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It also gave me a taste for reading Poe's poetry, so this week I'm sharing this poem:Annabel LeeIt was many and many a year ago,In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may knowBy the name of Annabel Lee;And this maiden she lived with no other thoughtThan to love and be loved by me.I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea:But we loved with a love that was more than love —I and my Annabel Lee;With a love that the winged seraphs of heavenCoveted her and me.And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea,A wind blew out of a cloud, chillingMy beautiful Annabel Lee;So that her highborn kinsman cameAnd bore her away from me,To shut her up in a sepulchreIn this kingdom by the sea.The angels, not half so happy in heaven,Went envying her and me —Yes! — that was the reason (as all men know,In this kingdom by the sea)That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.But our love it was stronger by far than the loveOf those who were older than we —Of many far wiser than we —And neither the angels in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea,Can ever dissever my soul from the soulOf the beautiful Annabel Lee:For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreamsOf the beautiful Annabel Lee;And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyesOf the beautiful Annabel Lee;And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the sideOf my darling — my darling — my life and my bride,In her sepulchre there by the sea,In her tomb by the sounding sea.Today is the birthday of Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, Edgar Allan Poe's first cousin whom he married in 1835 (despite being only 13 years old, and there being a 14 year age gap between them. Virginia contracted tuberculosis when she was 19, and when she died in 1847, Poe was devastated and started drinking heavily. It is possible that she was the inspiration for this poem.This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at Read. Imagine. Talk!.[...]
2008-08-15T08:55:50.238+01:00In three weeks time, I shall be seeing this for myself:
2008-08-08T11:10:55.089+01:00Given the weather we've been having this week, this poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley seems apt! The CloudI bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers, From the seas and the streams; I bear light shade for the leaves when laid In their noonday dreams. From my wings are shaken the dews that waken The sweet buds every one, When rocked to rest on their mother's breast, As she dances about the sun. I wield the flail of the lashing hail, And whiten the green plains under, And then again I dissolve it in rain, And laugh as I pass in thunder.I sift the snow on the mountains below, And their great pines groan aghast; And all the night 'tis my pillow white, While I sleep in the arms of the blast. Sublime on the towers of my skyey bowers, Lightning, my pilot, sits; In a cavern under is fettered the thunder, It struggles and howls at fits;Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion, This pilot is guiding me, Lured by the love of the genii that move In the depths of the purple sea; Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills, Over the lakes and the plains, Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream, The Spirit he loves remains; And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile, Whilst he is dissolving in rains.The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes, And his burning plumes outspread, Leaps on the back of my sailing rack, When the morning star shines dead; As on the jag of a mountain crag, Which an earthquake rocks and swings, An eagle alit one moment may sit In the light of its golden wings. And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath, Its ardors of rest and of love,And the crimson pall of eve may fall From the depth of Heaven above, With wings folded I rest, on mine aery nest, As still as a brooding dove.That orbed maiden with white fire laden, Whom mortals call the Moon, Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor, By the midnight breezes strewn; And wherever the beat of her unseen feet, Which only the angels hear, May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof, The stars peep behind her and peer; And I laugh to see them whirl and flee, Like a swarm of golden bees, When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas, Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high, Are each paved with the moon and these.I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone, And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl; The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl. From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape, Over a torrent sea, Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,-- The mountains its columns be. The triumphal arch through which I march With hurricane, fire, and snow, When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair, Is the million-colored bow; The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove, While the moist Earth was laughing below.I am the daughter of Earth and Water, And the nursling of the Sky; I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; I change, but I cannot die. For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise a[...]
2008-08-01T07:02:06.953+01:00Life has quietened back down again for me this week (and the weather's cooling down too, thank goodness) after last week's laptop crash, etc.
2008-07-27T20:08:47.492+01:00So I went to the Prom today and managed NOT to explode from squee and glee (or melt in the heat!)I met a couple of friends from LJ - although not until after the Prom was over.I also spoke to Phil Collinson (outgoing Exec Producer) - poor bloke must have wondered who the hell the over-excited loony was who accosted him outside the RAH just after he and his party exited. I thanked him for his work on Who - because I know he's worked very hard on it. And he immediately diverted me into discussing the concert so I babbled like the fool I am and then wished him luck for the future.I also saw Russell T Davies (Who's chief writer and producer) but he was up in a balcony seat (with Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) beside him) so I didn't speak to him. I did wave and shout at Catherine and she saw me and waved back!Anywho, onto the concert proper:It opened with a concert prologue sung by Melanie Pappenheim (she of the ethereal voice who does the Doomsday music).Then they showed a short clip sequence featuring all the New Who companions (including Mickey and Jackie) but not Sarah Jane Smith (my first companion) which was followed by Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" - which I thought was a lovely choice (and I adore that piece of music anyway!)Then Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) came out to introduce it and we had "All the Strange, Strange Creatures" - and it was fantastic to hear it live! There were 2 Sontarans (one helmeted, one not), 2 Judoon (ditto) and 3 Cybermen milling around during this piece. The helmeted Judoon was at the end of my row of seats (I was about 6 - 8 seats in from the aisle) and I saw it scanning some of the kids.This was followed by Mark-Anthony Turnage's "The Torino Scale" having its UK premiere. It was a very loud, dramatic piece with lots of odd noises from the orchestra (deliberately odd, I hasten to add!)Then one of my long time favourites - Holst's "Jupiter" from "The Planets" - during which three Ood appeared in three of the aisles.Next was "The Doctor Forever" - which sounded quite different live compared to the CD version I'm used to hearing. Then came music for Rose, followed by Martha vs The Master (with clips from "Sound of Drums" and "The Last of the Time Lords"). Freema came out afterwards and admitted to being biased and liking that!Then we had the "TARDIS cutaway" scene "Music of the Spheres" with the Doctor and the Graske (again) - which was aimed squarely at the children, but rather amusing too. At one point the Doctor started talking to us directly, then he threw some music he'd written through the "spatial anomaly" (I can't remember what technobabble name RTD gave it) and suddenly sheets of paper flew out over the orchestra who then played what the Doctor had supposedly just written (a raucous noise!). RTD says of this segment (in the programme notes) that the Tenth Doctor "hadn't yet shown any aptitude for music" (after listing the various musical interests of the previous nine incarnations) - which just goes to show how little notice he takes of his own show since Ten sang bits of "I could have danced all night" (from "My Fair Lady") in Girl in the Fireplace and he tries to take Rose to an Elvis concert in "The Idiot's Lantern" - he also mentions Ian Drury at one stage too...We then had an interval and the second part started with Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyrie" (without the cannons, alas!).Then Noel (Mickey Smith) and Camille (Jackie Tyler) came out and introduced Murray's music for t[...]
2008-07-25T17:24:01.692+01:00It's been a helluva week here... On Tuesday I picked up my reading glasses, and the arm fell off. But instead of the screw having fallen out, the arm had actually broken. A replacement pair will cost me £67!
2008-07-22T21:10:00.974+01:00Just thought I'd share this with you - it's written by a Live Journal friend of mine who's a very thoughtful, caring mom.