Thursday, 14 November 2013

DOCTOR WHO – THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR


I am stunned, absolutely stunned by what I've just watched (twice). As well as being an incredible taster for what is to come with the 50th anniversary story THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR, this mini episode feels like a gift to all of us old fans who weathered the wilderness years before Doctor Who came back to our screens in 2005. My friends, those were some dark times, when we clung onto our Doctor Who fandom while the world had left it for dead.

Seeing a certain someone back in the role of the Doctor is a fanboy dream come true, and I am thrilled that he was able to prove how glorious he is as The Doctor even for five minutes in a teaser for the next special.

As a story in its own right it works well, cramming basically an entire episode (and several years of exposition) into just a few minutes. It looks gorgeous (that vista was beautiful!), resembling a big budget feature film rather than a TV project, but that goes with the forthcoming special's massive importance to the franchise and indeed the BBC itself.

The nod to the Big Finish audios was a beautiful touch, but a small issue for me was the lack of a mention for Fitz or Anji, or even Sam or Compassion, which would have been a lovely nod to those of us who devotedly bought every single eighth Doctor BBC novel and loved pretty much all of them.

The Night of The Doctor is a brilliant entry in the Doctor Who mythos and a beautiful lead-in for the 50th anniversary spectacular. So yeah, this is one almost-lapsed fan who is very, very excited for what is to come. Check the episode out for yourself right now!

Watch DOCOR WHO: THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR over at the BBC iPlayer!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Why I Couldn't Cross Gaiman's Ocean

Note: This article was originally being considered by a couple of writing sites, but ultimately I figured as it was so personal, it belonged here. Thanks for stopping by. 

As a struggling writer and devoted reader, a dilemma has been eating at me of late, a most unique problem which applies solely to me and you, my fellow restless creative types. Recently I started to read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, the highly acclaimed novel by Neil Gaiman, a personal hero of mine and arguably the most important writer of fantastical fiction of our age. It is a beautifully realised work of dreamlike fiction in every way, but as I hit the halfway point of the book I couldn't go on. I couldn't even look at it.

A realisation had struck me. I'd read the book before, and what's more, I had written it myself.

Well, not that book, but a story very, very much like it. In 2010 I sold a short story entitled Beneath An Orange Sky to an anthology called Explorers Beyond The Horizon (published by Positronic Creations in conjunction with the Dead Robots Society podcast), which eventually came out in print and ebook formats in the middle of 2012. That story's central premise, central character and several elements of it echoed in my head as I read Gaiman's exemplary book, which came out a good long while after my story had been published.

Of course, I would never entertain the thought that me of all people had been plagiarised by the greatest writer of the era. What bugged me was that his massively popular book had essentially made my story, which was released way before it, seem like a rip-off. This was difficult to deal with, as Beneath An Orange Sky was my first semi-professional fiction sale outside of my other writing, and as the copyright had reverted back to me I was hoping I could place it elsewhere and get a little more longevity out of it. Now, that is impossible as it would be seen as a Gaiman copy.

This created an odd dilemma - should I be upset that one of the biggest writers around had basically done the same thing and killed my story, or should I be pleased that I had written something that a giant of modern literature had also had a similar idea to?

I find myself somewhere between the two. Ideas are common, and much of the power of a story comes from its individual execution, but the thing that hurt deeply was the sheer number of similarities. Even certain phrases and places were similar. I doubt very, very much that Neil has even heard of my short story, so it's just irksome that they are coincidentally so similar in many ways.

What can I learn from this as a writer? My wife pointed out that if I have had fiction published which was like something Neil Gaiman would write, then I'm evidently doing something right. She has a point. I may not be able to place Beneath An Orange Sky in another publication due to its similarities to The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, at least I know I have tapped into a creative vein in which there is certainly public interest.

Disheartening as it may be to find out that a hugely successful writer has had the same idea as yourself, you owe it to yourself as a creative individual to take these things in your stride and move on to the next idea. Yes, it'd be nice for the story you wrote to gain some more recognition and help you to further your career, but try to see it as a good thing. Something to help to continue shaping you as a writer.

As all struggling writers must do, I must carry on and write the next story. And the next. And the next, and not stop until I can create something that people will love as much as a Gaiman book. That may never happen, but as writers, we must try. I might even finish his book sometime once I've had another sale, as I would rather like to cross Gaiman's ocean soon.

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Andrew Hawnt is a rock magazine journalist and popular culture columnist as well as fiction author. He lives in Nottingham with his wife, his son and enough books to build a castle with.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Yeah, that kinda night.

This is our world right now. We exist simultaneously in the distant past and the far future. These days are the stories future historians will ponder and that our ancestors dared not even dream of. Our advances are both astounding and primeval, depending on the viewpoint. We are both barbaric yet civilised, ignorant and illuminated. As a people we are just children, no matter our knowledge or experience. It is our duty to learn, to grow, to educate and to leave behind something greater than what was here when we took our first breath. Create. Experience. Live. Be. Or be forgotten.

It's late. Can you tell?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

WOLVERINE GETS ANOTHER MOVIE


So it seems that X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST won't be Hugh Jackman's last outing as the Snikt-happy Canuck after all. Hugh and THE WOLVERINE director James Mangold are reportedly teaming up once again for another Wolverine big screen outing, following on from that film surprising a lot of people (and boring the hell out of others) and raking in more cash than a lot of people expected it to.

So where next for Wolvie and his tortured existence? Another film would have to be very different from THE WOLVERINE and its schizophrenic predecessor, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, for a start.

Personally I would like to see a Wolverine/Jubilee teamup movie in the vein of the mid 1990s comics, a hugely underrated run of low-key stories which were a fantastic character showcase for both Logan and Jubes.

Wolverine is at his best when he has someone at his side with whom he can exchange some quality dialogue and snarky comments, and the dynamic between him and Jubilee has always been fantastic.

That is, until Marvel turned her into a vampire in the middle of the Big Two going completely insane over the past few years. Comics got weird, and not in a good way. That's why I've been checking out more indie books of late.

Anyway. That aside, a Wolverine movie featuring a proper Jubilee (not the glimpsed Jubilee from X-Men 2 and 3) and featuring a straightforward story, basically a superhero buddy movie, would inject some humour and energy into a subset of comic films which are thus far somewhat bleak.