January 2021 Reads

I read 56 books in 2020. Let’s see how I fare in 2021. Here’s the books I read in January….

Nightshade by Mark Gatiss

This took me back. I remember getting this out of the library (Sutton Library, RIP: closed in the late 90s, not long after I did my work experience there. A beautiful listed Victorian building which the council decided to tear the roof off, deem unsafe and demolish to make way for flats – cheers New Labour!) in the early 90s. I think it was the first New Adventure that I ever properly read. Quite fitting for a Doctor Who novel, reading it felt like time travel. However it has set me on course to revisit more old New Adventures and Who novels as you will see. Now, I wonder what became of this fella Gatiss?

Rating: 3/5

Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch’s 1990 novelisation of his own screenplay for the 1988 season twenty-five Who serial takes something of Comrade Malcolm Hulke’s approach to writing Who adaptations for Target and, in turn, single-handedly creates the template for Virgin’s New Adventures range – and arguably NuWho in general. It’s just a beautifully written example of world building.

Rating 4/5 (but for a Who book, it’s 5/5)

This Artistic Life by Barry Hines

The final published work of the Kes author Barry Hines is a rich collection of short stories, essays and poetry from across his career. It was published by Pomona Books which led me to my next read

Rating 4/5

The Richard Matthewman Stories by Ian McMillan and Martyn Wiley

I read an Ian McMillan book last year and listened to the BBC series he co-wrote with Wiley for Radio 4 in the early 90s The Blackburn Files so I was ready to have some more of his work in my life and from Pomona too. These are really sweet semi-autobiographical tales of growing up in, and moving away from, Yorkshire. Like The Blackburn Files, I believe they were originally written for radio, where they were also performed by Blackburn star, Fine Time Fonteyne. The BBC should definitely release those too.

Rating 4/5

Timewyrm: Revelation by Paul Cornell

Another one I remember from Sutton Library, where it was shelved in the small ‘Horror and Macabre’ section on one far wall. Reading this one at the time freaked me a little. At just eleven, I was too young for this basically. This really was a New Adventure – “too broad and too deep for the small screen” the mission statement on the blurb used to say – with its sentient church transported to the lunar surface of the moon where the Doctor dances in Death’s arms and, in an alternate timeline, an eight-year-old Ace being killed when her school bully stove her head in with a brick. Revelation is a book for a twenty-something in the early ’90s. Written by fans and for fans, in the best possible way. Now of course I absolutely love it, especially for it’s nostalgia; the references to the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, the Cure and Billy Bragg. Who for grown-ups – as Russell T Davies himself said; “Paul bloody Cornell gave us Doctor Who, but he made it real. I mean, real people, laid bare, exposing all their anger, passion and, damn it, nobility”

Now the problem with returning to these old New Adventures is that a lot of them are so bloody expensive! I saw one of these going for £100 so I was made up to bag a mint condition one for just £20.

Rating 4/5 (but for a Who book it’s 5/5)

Number of books read in 2021 so far: 5

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