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review 2018-08-16 12:53
Crossing the high bar of authenticity
Doctor Who: The Time Travellers - Simon Guerrier

I don't envy authors who write novels for established media franchises, as doing so poses challenges that they don't face when writing their own original creations. For such works to succeed, they must capture a certain tone of the series in a way that is true to the source material while broad enough to acknowledge their readers' often differing interpretation of it. This is especially true in terms of characterization without the filtering role that an actor or actress plays by taking scripts from multiple authors and filter them into their performance. Without this standardizing step, authors risk writing characters that can seem false to their source, even before having to address how an audience already familiar with these characters regards them.

 

For these reasons, writing such a book means crossing a high bar of authenticity in order to succeed, one that is even more challenging for the Doctor Who franchise, with its shifting tone over the decades and often outdated elements, Yet Simon Guerrier manages the feat successfully. His novel goes back to the beginnings of the franchise itself, offering a story in which the first Doctor and his original group of companions — his granddaughter Susan and teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright — arrive in London in 2006 after the TARDIS encounters a man while traveling inside of time and space. The crew finds themselves in a future in which the city is under attack from an unknown power, with a team of scientists developing a primitive form of time travel in the hope that it might prove the key to victory. As the Doctor and his companions discover, though, the experiments have resulted instead in a mounting series of problems, all of which must be solved amidst an impending invasion and while dealing with a hidden agenda.


Working as he does with the very first group of travelers Guerrier tackles attitudes and outlooks that are increasingly dated to his readers. Yet he manages to portray them in a way that is respectful while making it work for a story very different from the ones written by the writers of the day. His characters find themselves in a nightmarish world ingeniously constructed by Guerrier out of other stories from the show, imagining the world that would have resulted had not the Doctor defeated the threats that faced it. While the result is a world traumatized and grim, the genius of his approach is that because this is happening so early in the Doctor's travels he and his companions are unable to recognize the situation for what it is: an alternate future shaped by the evil the Doctor would go on to avert. None of them appreciate that the broader setting is wrong; for them it is simply is a future that is far darker than they imagined it could be.

 

In this respect what Guerrier has accomplished is much more than simple fan service, as he has drawn from nearly a half-dozen serials from the original series to develop his plot. And while the logic of the story does not hold as well as it might, overall the book is a remarkable feat: a novel that entertains on multiple levels while remaining true to its original source material. It is a book that every Doctor Who fan should read, ideally after having seen the episodes from which Guerrier draws the elements that serve as the source material for his novel so as to better appreciate the extent of his success with it.

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text 2018-08-15 16:01
Reading progress update: I've read 160 out of 288 pages.
Doctor Who: The Time Travellers - Simon Guerrier

I am enjoying this book enormously, as it hits that sweet spot of providing an alternate history of a science fiction franchise for which I feel enormous affection. What makes it so interesting is that Simon Guerrier envisions an alternate history constructed around events that the characters haven' experienced yet, as they occurred in later seasons. This requires a degree of deft writing, and so far Guerrier seems to be pulling it off nicely.

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review 2016-12-30 00:12
Well researched, detailed and offering great insights into an emblematic city.
Berlin: A Literary Guide for Travellers (Literary Guides for Travellers) - Marcel Krueger,Paul Sullivan Thanks to NetGalley and to I.B.Tauris for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily choose to review. This is a book that does what it says on the tin, and much more. The authors share a great wealth of research that they divide by neighbourhoods, not only of the writers born in Berlin but also of those who emigrated to the city or visited and produced some significant piece of work inspired by their stay or travels. Providing a detailed historical background into the birth and development of the city, it also describes the most important buildings in each area, and their significance to culture, be it official culture or underground and resistance. The book contains brief biographies of the authors it discusses, from the Grimm Brothers, Mark Twain, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, to writers published within the last five years. It illustrates the city with quotes and extracts from a variety of works, from poems, songs, novels… I’ve personally discovered fascinating stories of parks housing suicidal literary lovers, of breweries that became hubbubs of culture and neighbourhood life through the centuries, of resistance on both sides of the wall, of writers who continued to create no matter how dire their circumstances, of heroics and controversies, and of a city that has suffered and endured as much as its citizens. Destroyed and rebuilt, fragmented and reunited, it has provided fertile ground for literature and artistic creation through its history and this guide offers the reader a taster that is sure to encourage further exploration. I haven’t visited Berlin personally, but I finished the book with an urgency to go, and with the feeling that anybody who visits Berlin taking this guide with them will see it through a myriad of perspectives and live an unforgettable experience. I hope to read more of these literary guides and to be able to take them with me on future trips. Highly recommended to lovers of travel and literature alike.
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review 2015-12-14 23:27
The Seven Poor Travellers by Charles Dickens
The Seven Poor Travellers - Charles Dickens,Wilkie Collins,Adelaide Anne Proctor,Eliza Lynn Linton
bookshelves: published-1854, victorian, under-500-ratings, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, gutenberg-project, e-book, britain-england, dec-2015-free-for-all, winter-20152016, eng-kent-rochester
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Teresa
Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from December 13 to 14, 2015

 



https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1392

Opening: CHAPTER I—IN THE OLD CITY OF ROCHESTER: Strictly speaking, there were only six Poor Travellers; but, being a Traveller myself, though an idle one, and being withal as poor as I hope to be, I brought the number up to seven. This word of explanation is due at once, for what says the inscription over the quaint old door?
RICHARD WATTS, Esq.
by his Will, dated 22 Aug. 1579,
founded this Charity
for Six poor Travellers,
who not being ROGUES, or PROCTORS,
May receive gratis for one Night,
Lodging, Entertainment,
and Fourpence each.


A tale best read on a Christmas Eve.
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review 2015-07-10 18:02
Time Travelers Strictly Cash / Spider Robinson
Time Travellers Strictly Cash - Spider Robinson

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that my sensibilities just do not mesh with those of author Spider Robinson. I think he is strong on writing skills, but his sense of humour and mine miss by a mile. He punning skills are high (and there is lots of it in his Callahan’s stories), but I find them more of a mental puzzle to figure out, rather than amusing. But that’s just me.

This little volume of stories has only 4 actual Callahan’s tales in it. The rest is filler—and much of it is now dated. One section became Chapter 2 of his novel Mindkiller (which I read earlier this year and was very “meh” about). There were a couple of speeches which were passably interesting, but a bit dated (hard to avoid that with thirty year old opinion pieces).

For those of you who are die-hard Callahan fans, don’t miss these stories. They were the best part of the collection. Those of you seeking time-travel tales may be somewhat disappointed—there is only one tale involving a time traveler who shows up at Callahan’s.

Robinson is a very good writer and I wish I could appreciate him more.

Book number 180 of my SF&F reading project.

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