Resolutions

I didn’t complete last year’s resolution.

I almost did. I was trying to get twenty rejections for submitted stories. I ended up getting eighteen. As I didn’t reach my goal I’ll have to settle for the consolation prize:

I sent out more stories than I’ve ever sent out before.

I completed more stories than I’ve ever completed before.

I wrote and published loads of very short stories in 101words.

I was paid actual money for a story

I was asked to contribute a story to an anthology

In short, in 2017 I became more of a writer. I did things I hadn’t done and hadn’t dared to do. And a lot of that was because of my resolution. So, I’m going to try it again with a twist:

1) I will complete editing a novel to a standard where I would be happy sending it to a publisher, complete with summary, pitch, and other information

2) I will complete four short stories to the standard where I would be happy sending them to magazines

3) I will receive twenty rejections from agents, editors and publishers.

2017 was good for me as a writer. 2018 can be better.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Eighth Doctor to War Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

It’s strange to say of someone who was only the on-screen Doctor on two occasions, neither of them a traditional television episode, but the Eighth Doctor is one of my favourites. This is largely down to the utterly sublime audio work done by Paul McGann at Big Finish. Eight never got a TV series, but he adventured with the Brigadier, crossed to new universes, had chronologically inconsistent companions long before River Song was on the scene, saved the universe more times than I can mention, saw the Time War begin to break out…

…and failed. Failed beautifully. Failed while trying to be a good man. Failed because the universe stopped being a place for good men. Night Of The Doctor is a remarkable story because in the space of a few minutes, Eight becomes as real and as important as any other Doctor. He’s the Doctor who gives in, the one who stepped aside for a warrior. The story has passion, eccentricity, heart, and a dark despair at its core. The perfect Eighth Doctor story, in other words.

Check out his audios. They’re amazing. As are those, coincidentally, of our next stop, the War Doctor.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Seventh Doctor to Eighth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

There’s a string of Doctors, starting with Six and ending with Nine, who have something odd about their regeneration. Six didn’t film his own regeneration, and regenerated at the start of a series instead of the end. Seven did film his own, but it was odd for various other reasons. Let’s start with Seven’s last story.

Survival is one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. The script is stellar. Seven is in full Cryptic Megalomaniac Mode. Anthony Ainley is glorious as the Master, but the heart of the story is without question Ace.

This is a story about a girl who tried to go home and found she had changed too much. This is a story about not recognising old friends any more. This is a story about the cost of being different. Ace is amazing in it, as is everyone else.

And then there’s the Doctor Who movie, recorded seven years later, where Seven becomes Eight. I like this more than most fans. It has flaws, but it shows the potential of a nineties Doctor Who show. Sadly the show did not appear, meaning that for the next regeneration we have to time travel…

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Sixth Doctor to Seventh Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

This is an odd one. Colin Baker was for a long time unique in Doctor Who for being the only Doctor not to have recorded his own regeneration. Six HAD a regeneration, but it happened at the start of a story that Colin Baker refused to appear in, having been fired between seasons. Rather than just jump straight to that story, I decided to review Colin Baker’s last story. And as that was the last part of a season long arc, I rewatched the whole of Trial Of A Time Lord.

It holds up very well, actually. Six took a while to settle into his role, but once he stopped being a rude bully and starts being a goodhearted pompous paladin he became very watchable indeed. This suite of stories where the Doctor’s actions and intentions are examined plant some seeds that pay off well in the new series.

The regeneration story itself, Time And The Rani, also holds up better than I feared. It’s not a fan favourite, and some is very silly, but the energy of Sylvester McCoy is undeniable. The different takes on the Doctor are what makes the show always new.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Fifth Doctor to Sixth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

The Caves Of Androzani is frustrating. It’s a decently made story by all accounts and doesn’t suffer from two much of the mid eighties feel that marred a lot of the Fifth and Sixth Doctors’ runs. It is, from what I remember, well scripted with decent characterisation, and the “something for the dads” costuming and characterisation of Peri Brown wasn’t too distracting.

And yet…

And yet without going and checking the Wikipedia page, I couldn’t give you a particularly detailed breakdown of what the story was about. Something about big evil corporations and miners and androids. I confess this was my first viewing of this particular story, but I was hoping I’d retain more than this.

It’s a shame because I really like the Fifth Doctor. Especially in the audios, he’s one of my favourite Doctors. Less pompous than Six. Less portentous than Four. Less scheming than Seven. Five is supportive, positive, a cheerful house master of a crowded Tardis, which makes him and his adventures a lot of fun. I think I just wanted a more memorable send-off.

The first words said by Six, on the other hand, now THAT’s really something really interesting…

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Fourth Doctor to Fifth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

I’m a slight oddity amongst Doctor Who fans because, and I try not to shout this all that loudly, I don’t actually like the Fourth Doctor all that much. I mean, he did some perfectly watchable episodes, but he sort of hangs over the rest of the series in a really unhelpful way. He was so popular for so long, especially with Media Types Of A Certain Generation that he became the go-to Doctor for jokes about the show. This, combined with Adric as a companion should make me dislike Logopolis.

Except I don’t. It’s a good story: Tom Baker gives it decent portent and weariness, Anthony Ainley’s Master is a delight, and the Fate Of The Universe stakes are well played by script and cast alike. It looks a bit 80s, but it was recorded in, well, the 80s. It also has enough confidence in its audience to let the story rest on real (if fancifully misapplied) science by invoking entropy.

A fun final appearance for Baker, who gave it enough momentum that the next chap could hit the ground running with his own Doctor.

The next chap? We’ll hear more of him later.

Revisiting Regeneration in 200 Words: Third Doctor to Fourth Doctor

[This is part of a short ongoing series looking at the regenerations of The Doctor in advance of the Christmas special which will introduce Jodie Whittaker.  Each reviews the story leading up to the regeneration in 200 words.]

After The War Games, the regeneration of the Third Doctor is almost an anticlimax. Actually, this is unfair. Planet Of The Spiders is a solid well told tale which works beginning to end and uses both existing and new characters well. The Brigadier has rarely been more Brigadierish, Sarah Jane manages to be smart and plucky in the right ways, and the story’s human and nonhuman villains show intelligent self interest that helps the story twist and turn all the way to its end. It’s just…

…The First Doctor’s regeneration was a milestone, it expanded the show beyond its lead and gave hints of a weirder universe. The Second Doctor’s regeneration brought so many new elements into play and led to a regeneration of the show itself. The Third Doctor’s regeneration led to… the fourth doctor. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was a new actor in the same story rather than a new story. Planet Of The Spiders did not require the Doctor to die in the way that The War Games did.

So, a good story. Possibly even a great story. But not world changing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.