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?
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
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.
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