Friday, October 23, 2009

Fantasy Genre Scorn and lack of Marketing Support.

About two months ago I walked past window stickers and and promotional stand ups of the new Dan Brown book to get into my local Books a Million. I was going in for a specific purpose. I asked the clerk, if there were going to be any special pre-order for the new Wheel of Time Book, A Gathering Storm. She didn't know off of the top of her head and then looked it up for me, with a "well there is no in stor promotion. Let me ask the Manege" So she did and he gave a similar answer but with a kind of twinge to his lip when he said, "Yeah its written by someone else because Robert Jordan Died."

Now I say all of this to ask a simple question, why do books by authors like Dan Brown get this special treatment, while The Wheel of Time, who has been a best seller multiple times, is set off and regarded as mere fantasy.

You may say, because the other books appeal to the general public, but I want you to ask your self a question: Why? If the books stores and publishers push a book on windows and stand ups then they are wanting it to be successful. I am saying that these Genres are not as popular because they are not wanted to be popular. In my mind there is no reason for an author who has consistently been on best seller lists, and consistently sales great, and has a huge community of readers should not have release events just like Dan Brown, and more interestingly JK Rowlings.

Now this is all opinion, and I would like to point out that there are release parties and bookstore support for this book around the country, but my problem comes with it not being supported here. I am very upset about this lack of support here in my local community.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Explore Big Finish

I loke the big finish audios. They are a good way to get a doctor who story fairly quickly with pacing very similar to the old show. Since Big Finish has allowed Download purchases of their line I have been trying to catch up slowly but surley.

they great thing about the audio adventures is that they can side step into things that you have always wanted to see, like spin off series with the daleks, cubermen, and unit. These series are all very neat and come from a different angel. You get to hear secret origens that you haven't gotten before. There are some great adventures.

So for those of you who arn't familiar with the line here is my guide to some very good stories (or seires)

Holy Terror: Written by Rob Sherman (the writer of "Dalek") this story takes the doctor to an unusaul midieval style kingdom, but who is really the ruler. This story also puts the 6th Doctor with Frobisher his shape shifting companion from the DWM Comic strip.

Spare Parts: This is a origin story for the cybermen. This is the fifth Doctor pitted against the original style cybermen. Nick Brigs does some great voice work here.

Dalek Empire: There are four series of this (each with atlest 4 disks). This is a story about the daleks. No Doctor. Just the daleks conquring. It is s a throw back to the old TV Century 21 comic strips of the 60s. Written by Nick Briggs who also voices the daleks in all of the audios AND on the TV series.

This is where I sugeset to start. These are some of my favorites, but there are many others. It is such an extensive line that you really need to jump in and see what you like, but here are some starting places.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts on Hornet's Nest: The Stuff of Nightmares

You know, Doctor Who fandom is an interesting thing. You see sometimes we are intrigued by the old. We want to see the old actors in the new series, we like the big finish audios, and many of us yearn to see Tom Baker in the role again at any cost.

Well, We have gotten that chance, and I must say the cost was high.

Hornet's Nest: The Stuff of Nightmares brings Tom Baker back to the role of the Doctor, after many years. It was billed as a full cast audio, but instead we get some kind of awkward story told from the changing perspective of Mike Yates (reprized by Richard Franklin) and the Fourth Doctor. The story itself revolves around Taxidermied animals that come back to life and attack the doctor. The story is told by the doctor as he relays it to a now retired Captain Yates.

I have to say that this story felt less like a Fourth Doctor Story and more of an adventure with Tom Baker. The Tom Baker of now. You see the Doctor is living in a country English Cottage, drinking a bit, and hitting on his house keeper. I had a hard time picturing the teeth, curles, and scarf of the doctor that so many of us grew up with, but instead pictured the modern day tom baker that was recently interviewed in Doctor Who Magazine.

Which brings me to an interesting thought. Years ago Tom said that he had not came back to doctor who because he had not been presented with any decent material. He has said that scripts that big finish had presented him were sub par. If I'm not mistaken "The Holy Terror" was presented to him, and that story was NOT sub par. I think this also reflects some of the other non doctor who roles he has turned down over the past few years lets have a look at some of these.

He was offered the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings, and Dubledore in the Harry Potter Series, and turned them both down. Lets look at what he did choose to take on though. The Elf King in the Dungeons and Dragons movie.

So this latest project is really not surprising.

So, Will I listen to the others of the series. Yes. It wasn't a bad story, I just think you need to listen to it with an open mind. It is still Tom Baker doing new Who, and as I said in the beginning that is what all who fans crave!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

M10 a Magic: the Gathering revival?

I have never been a huge Magic: the gathering fan. at most I am a very casual player. I have never been able to wrap my head around Collectable card games. . . never been able to make this card work with that card. . . never been able to deck build. . . I'm just not good at it. I do keep up with it though, just so I can know what is going on in that side of fandom.

Wizards is releasing the newest core set (called Magic 2010 or M10) tomorrow, and strangely I am excited about it. You see its the theme that is pulling me in. It feels like magic felt years ago. I don't feel so lost in the years and years of meta plot, they have striped it and went back to its roots so to speak. It feels like a fantasy card game about wizards casting spells at each other. I'm actually excited about it.

Another thing Wizards has done is considerably change the rules in an attempt to defeat bloat, and make the game more accessible to new or casual players. I think this is a step in the right direction.

Interestingly this is not the first time Wizards has taken this approach to one of its flag ship products. Just over a year ago Wizards of the coast released Dungeons and dragons 4th edition. It was a major upgrade, and while players are still debating if it was necessary or if it was actually an improvement, it made an impact on the market. At the same time there was a decision made to scale back their setting centric products (still in D&D) and strip away 30 years of meta plot from them to make them more approachable. It seems that this is the chosen thought process at wizards of the coast at the moment, and I think it may actually be a viable business plan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fandom in a different time of my life

Usually when I refer to fandom I am meaning "Nerd Culture". . . Star Wars. . . Doctor Who . . . etc. . . But when I was younger - I'm talking about 10 years ago- I was more into subcultures than fandom. I was into the music scene. I listened to music played music. . . I think it was safe to say I breathed music. . . If I didn't have my tunes I was useless. I wore a chain on my wallet, and like my music loud.

Now I don't understand. I think I was making a statement. Maybe I've just gotten old. I think that's a just thought. Today I saw a girl walking through campus she was in the scene (not the scene I was in mind you but a scene none the less. . . I could tell. She was against the status quo just like I was. . . She wore bright red puffy converse style converse that screamed look at me. Now I appriciate this, like I said this was me 10 years ago and I've become a fudy dud (yes I did just say that) I'm cool with that, I have nothing left to prove I feel I've paid my dues to the rebels of the world.

Now that said, I still like to walk to my own drummers beat. I still have ways to show my oddness I just don't desire to do it in such obvious ways. I try to make my fandoms speak for me. :)

Now that I've said that I would like to say that I had a great time when I was younger. It was great fun listening to music and playing in the bands I played it. . . not to mention the friends I made and still have. I regret nothing but it is funny to think of myself then. . . sometimes I miss it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jumping into the Stargate

Last night I sat down and watched the pilot movie for Stargate SG-1 "Children of the Gods"
Let me give you some background. I love the Stargate movie. I saw it when it first came out and thought it was great. I have seen bits or SG-1 over the years but never really sat down to devote much time to it. Nonetheless I have been interested in it, so I figured I should spend some time and catch up.

I picked up the first seson and began watching last night.

This show was originally produced for showtime, so I think it orobably feels a bit different than what showed up on Sci-fi, what with nudity and such. This movie picks up a year after the original stargate movie. The main actors have changed but I din't notice so much (of course that could have been because I am actually more used to seeing the new actors than the original) but it is clear that it is the same story and the same universe. The technology looks the same and it seems to be a good starting place for a series. There are one or two supporting actors that were actualy from the original movie so it was a nice touch.

I am looking forward to dive into the resto of this 1st season of this show, but at the same time a bit intimidated. SG-1 ran for 10 seasons and is about to start its second spin off series, So I think it is going to be a daunting task to catch up, but I think it will be enjoyable.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wii Virtual Console and Video Game Nostalgia

For me fandom encompasses many things, but most often things that make me nostalgic. Last week I got a Wii for my birthday, and other than bowling a few times I have yet to do much with it. . . That is until I finally broke down and bought a virtual console game.
Simply browsing what the Wii has to offer in the line of virtual console game takes me back. I can see different stages of my young life. NES, SNES, Genesis, and all the systems I never had like Turbo Graphics 16, they are all there. I remember saving my money for moths for a new NES game as a kid and when you got it. It was a great feeling to open that package and look at the manuals and put the cartridge in the system. The Package is gone, but you can still play the game with the virtual console. I picked up Mario 3 for a few reasons. 1) Its the game My wife requested (and I liked it too) 2) I could play it using the wiimote, and still sit on the couch.

What amazes me is that I remember all of the little secrets of the game. You know. . . Fly above the ceiling, get the flute, crack the rock, get the flute. I even remembered that one level needed you to use the P wing for a secret. I can't believe I remember this stuff.

All that said I recommend the Virtual console. It is a good way to relive the old games from your childhood on a new system, and often at the price of renting a game. It was also nice not being tied by a wire to the system.

The Wii also offers new games that can be bought in an on demand fashion. These games range in genre from RPG to puzzle to action etc. . . many of these games are smaller games but very good, some of them are new takes on old games like Adventure Island and Bubble Bobble I haven't played these yet, but I am confident that most of them will be very good.

If your not sure about a Wii because of the game choices take a look at what it has to offer on the virtual console or wii ware, and you may realise that it IS worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

R.I.P Outpost Gallifrey

Yesterday, Outpost Gallifrey announced it was closing the News and forums sections of their website. The Outpost has been a major influence on Doctor Who fandom over the last several years. It has united a fanbase that is spread all around the world. It has united people with common interests. For me it was my first exposure to other people who knew and loved doctor who.
It taught me about being a fan. I know that probably sounds a bit ridiculous, but it is true. I learned that there were other people like me. Other people whon knew far more than I did, and that I was a part of their community. I could interact with the "major" fans and even the authors of (at the time) the Doctor who books that were being published. . . even Steven Moffat, who is now the producer of the show. It created comunity.

Now, let me say that I respect the decision of Shaun Lyon, the founder of the site, of steping back. I have to say I have to question why he doesn't just hand it off, I supose there is a true (and rightfully so) sense of ownership and that it would be hard to see some one else running things, but the Outpost is a HUGE community.

Shaun maintains that other communities will rise up, I agree. My concern is in the word "Communities." This is Plural, meaning multiple. Fandom will split. Its hard enough to maintain fandom as it is (which is alrady split) but now taking a huge group of fans and saying "ok go find somewhere else to comune, you can's stay here anymore" and then not helping them find a place.

I am sure communities will grow out of this. Really good communities, but I think there will be several really good communities and the comradery that has been had in the Outpost, will be lost. I am comfidant that something GREAT will come out of this, but at the same time I am sad because of the nastalgia that the Outpost has for me. I have had a great time, and will remember that time fondly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Timegate 09

Three days until Timegate. I am a big fan of this convention. Its small, and you can actually meet people. Doesn't mean I will but the chance is there. You see time gate is what I call a focused convention. It focuses on two of fandoms: Doctor Who and Stargate. I find that there is a good overlap in the fans of these two franchises. It is a very friendly convention people like to talk to you (guests and other attendees alike) its small and it is generally just a really good time.

This year Terrance Dicks is going to be there and for me that is exciting. As a child I saw Terrance's name on so many doctor who books and episodes there was a time that I thought he was the one who created doctor who, now while I know he didn't create doctor who I do know that he helped shape the franchise and much of what we have today is because of him or at least because of his involvement. We can thank him for most of the things that came out of the Pertwee era due to his involvement as script editor. Though he didn't create monsters like the Sontarans outright, he did have a hand in their creation. Later he would go on to write a few stories for the show including Robot, Horror of Fang Rock, and later the Five Doctors. Sometimes his stories were not the best but you knew you were watching doctor who when you watched them.

If you never caught His name on the TV show you were pretty sure to catch a peak of it if you saw the Target novelisations of the stories. Terrance wrote a large number of these books. The scripts he wrote as well as scripts he didn't write. For me his name belongs with doctor who, and I am very excited about meeting him. I have questions to ask him, about stories and style, as well as about just working on the program, and his thoughts and memories about that. This is another one of my childhood fanboy dreams.

Of course Tarrence Dicks isn't the only guest of interest for me at this con. Marry Tamm who played Romanna 1 in the key to time series will also be there. She is another character that is fascinating to me. She portrayed the first gallifreyan companion. She was elegant, and always tried to undermine the doctor's hands on knowledge as opposed to her book smarts, in the end the Doctor's Experience usually won through. Though I alwayspreferred Lalla Ward as Ramona Marry Tamm is still Ramona and I am excited to meet her.

All in all I expect the con to be a very good time. I am looking froward to meeting friends (new and old) and just generally being around people who have this shared fandom. Cons for me is a time to be around people who are, in some ways, like me. And it is always good to have that from time to time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disney Adventure at its hight

Generally I am not a fan of Disney movies. I just don't get them and usually they are boring to me. But there are a couple of them that I like, and one of them is Robin Hood. This is a movie that I think is generally overlooked in the Disney archive, but I think it is by far one of the best.

This movie was probably one of the first adventure movies I was exposed to as a child. It has all of the elements you want, a cocky likable hero, a sidekick, people in need, a love interest, Sword fights, Bows and arrows, a singing rooster that narrates the story (voiced by Roger Miller), and of course a bumbling bad guy with equally bumbling lackeys. Not to mention a very likable soundtrack (much of which is performed by Roger Miller) which I will be singing for years to come.

This was my first taste. . . my gateway drug if you will. . . of adventure fiction. Of course from there I discovered star wars and science fiction and fantasy, but somewhere in the back of my mind there is always Robin Hood (a fox) and Little John (a bear) walking through the forest, that defines adventure for me, and in a way I think most of what I watch now is probably judged next to that movie.

I suppose I have said all of that to say this: "I don't think that Disney's Robin Hood gets the love it deserves." I think it is an incredible movie with superb animation and is a point to judge al other adventure movies by. Of course this is MY opinion so make your own. This movie is a must see if you haven't and a must watch again if you have. So take some time out and watch this great adventure movie especially if you have kids that really NEED an adventure movie, because it is a GREAT movie.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where Pop Music and Science Fiction Colide

On occasion people involved in one form of media branches out into something else. I am posting here two people who branched out (kind of) from their acting jobs to try their hands at music. First off We have Jon Pertwee who was the third Doctor:

Next We get to see Leonard Nimoy singing about Bilbo Baggins:

If its not bad enough that these actors branch out it amazes me when I find fictional characters branching out into the pop music scene:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reference Books

As I have already stated I have been a Doctor Who fan since before I can remember. Growing up in the United States in the 80s loving a show like Doctor Who was hard. I watched Doctor who on a PBS station out of Georgia and waited with bated breath each Saturday night at 10:00 when it finally came on. Saturday night was Doctor Who night. We recorded every story we could so we could watch them again and again. The problem was that we were limited to what we knew by what we saw on the screen which at that time would have been the Pertwee, Baker, Davison eras and later the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy Eras. There were a lot of assumptions being made.

At some point my dad had stumbled across a book called Doctor Who Illustrated A-Z by Lesley Standring and My brother and I would pour over the illustrations of the characters and try to piece things together. Each entry had a list of episodes the monsters or characters had appeared in. This book was my first indication that doctor who was bigger than what was on the screen every Saturday night.

Fast forward into the 90s I was now aware that there was Doctor who magazine and would try to get that when I could, but I still wanted more. I wanted to find out every thing I could about this show. Then I began to find Reference books like The Program Guide By Jean-Marc Lofficeir which gave a very good description of all the stories, and some background about what went into making the stories, such as people who wrote, produced etc. . . This was my initiation into the back end of Doctor Who, my first realisation about what went on to create any TV show.

as the years progressed I began to acquire Doctor Who stories on VHS as a store that carried them opened up in a near by city, so I would save my money and buy a second or first doctor story when I could. It was at that same store where I first stumbled across another great reference book. The Handbook: The Third Doctor by David Howe and Stephen James Walker is the book that really taught me about the behind the scenes goings on of Doctor Who. I read the book for hours, intrigued by the processes of television production. I was beginning to get a hold on the characters. . . not the character from the show but the characters that created the show. In the case of the third doctor it was Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts who were Script Editor and Producer respectively. I have said before that this is the book that made me want to go into Television production.

As I went on and began to find used copies of older books I found many of Peter Haining's books such as Doctor Who: A Celebration which were all great resources of information. I still wanted more. By this time the Virgin New adventures were out and the canon was becoming hard for me to keep up with. even with the advent of the Internet it was hard to keep up with things. I had been eying several books that I wanted, but could never seem to find, so I broke down and ordered what turned into one of my all time favorite Doctor Who reference books "Doctor Who: A History of the Universe" by Lance Parkin. This book was a timeline of almost every adventure the doctor had to date. It was incredible. I read the entries on Gallifrey history, loving every word of it. I tried to piece together the Dalek's Timeline. The book was an adventure in its self. This book has been updated in a new edition . I highly recommend it if you are the least bit interested in the long history of doctor who.

These are just a few of the books that got me through my exploration of Doctor Who since I was very young. Doctor Who reference books still hold a soft spot in my heart and I usually pick them up if I find them. There are still very good books coming out in regards to the new series, and even books for the old series. If you are interested in Doctor Who or any other Sci-Fi series give the reference books that are published for them a try, I think you will find them helpful.


"Doctor Who Illustrated A-Z" by Lesley Standring
"The Program Guide" By Jean-Marc Lofficeir
"The Handbook: The Third Doctor" by David Howe and Stephen James
"Doctor Who: A Celebration" by Peter Haining
"Doctor Who: A History of the Universe" by Lance Parkin

Further Reading
"Doctor Who: A History" by Lance Parkin and Lars Pearson
The About Time series by Tat Wood Lars Pearson and Lawrence Miles
"Doctor Who Encyclopedia" By Gary Russell
Justin Richard's Monster Guides

Why I want to do this!

I am a fan of many things. I am especially fond of Science Fiction and fantasy, and with that many of the off shoots that often come with that, like Gaming etc. . .

I have been intrigued by these fringe fictions/ TV shows/ Movies for as long as I can remember. I have been told that I have watched Doctor Who regularly since I was two years old. I honestly can't remember not knowing what Doctor Who was. I was raised on a steady diet of Adventure and Science fiction movies and TV, from Masters of the Universe and Star Wars, to the occasional (I never really caught the Star Trek Bug) Star Trek episode or movie etc. I have Been a raging Fanboy for as long as I can remember.

This blog is two things for me. First I want it to be a memoir of my experiences of being a fan, thoughts about what I experienced mostly focusing on being a young doctor who fan in the US during the 80s. Second I will talk about my fandom now, and how I feel about fandom, as well as Genre fiction, TV, movies, and anything else that I think may be interesting and relevant.

This is my thoughts on the little things I love.