Monday, 27 September 2010

Teaser #3

So here it is, the last of the teasers for series 2. The series begins this Saturday, 2nd October, so I hope you'll enjoy it as much as the first one. To tide you over, here is:
The room was ornately decorated; plush carpet, opulent furnishings, the very finest in everything that could be found was right here in all its splendour.
    Seated in a finely upholsted armchair near an open fire (itself keeping the temperature of the room well above the chill outside) was the owner of the club. By the side of the chair was a small table, on which sat a manila file, open to show a thick sheaf of paper. The man had left it open on a particular page while he nursed a large glass of brandy, swilling the liquid around before taking a small sip from it.
    A second man approached, sitting in a similar chair adjacent to the first. The other man offered him a drink, but he dismissed it before it was poured.
    "So," the second man – immaculately dressed in a bespoke pin-stripe suit – began, "this is certainly interesting." He picked the top sheet of paper from the file, glancing over the information it presented.
    The first man set his glass down, stroking a stray drop of liquid from his neatly-trimmed moustache, and turned to the new arrival. "Indeed. Though I can't quite fathom why this is proving so difficult."
    The second man raised an eyebrow. "Why not? The subject has always proved particularly elusive, time and again managing to evade our best efforts."
    The moustached man nodded, waving a hand in the air. "You're right, completely right of course. What I am having trouble comprehending is the levels that we are having to go to in order to correct the mistakes that have already been made! This," he gestured to the stack of paperwork beside him, just about containing the urge to knock the whole pile to the floor, "is a travesty! I cannot allow this to continue." The urge then overcame him, the papers knocked from the table, scattering around the room, some finding their way into the fire.
    The other man clapped, very slowly. When he spoke the sarcasm was all too evident in his voice. "Bravo. What a triumph! Has that solved anything, all the problems we have?" He looked for an answer, but the question was rhetorical. "No, I know exactly what we need, and now is the time to instigate it!"
    The moustached man sat bolt upright. "Do you mean...?" The other man nodded in acknowledgement. "Then we must proceed! At once!"
    The other man pulled a briefcase up from beside him, clicking open the catches and lifting the lid almost reverentially. "Phase 2." He turned it so that the moustached man could see it, the enthusiasm evident in his eyes.
    "May I...?" The man's hand hovered over the briefcase, the other man holding his hands away from its contents.
    The other man nodded.
    The moustached man reached into the case.
     "Phase 2"
    Both men began to laugh as the room was enveloped in a blinding light. The next stage in the game was just beginning...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Andy Weston - Q & A

Nic Ford, author of the rater marvellous The Holdarnak Spiral, has very kindly posed me some questions, and here are the results! I hope you enjoy it, and just to mention that more interviews (including one with Nic) will be up soon.

So, Andy, why Consequences? What made you want to start this series?
I'd seen a lot of people who'd started fan fiction series, and I always wanted to be involved in one. I was also aware that while different series did seem to gather writers very quickly, many of them seemed -unfortunately - to amount to nothing. Also what I found particularly intriguing was that most of them seemed to be script-based, which isn't something I've ever wanted to write for other people to read. Scripts need actors to bring them to life, and personally, I don't think it's a great way of telling a story that is intended to be read by people for fun - it needs to be seen rather than read. Being a big fan of prose, and seeing virtually no prose series out there, I thought I'd give it a try. I had no idea if anyone would be interested, and was surprised and very pleased by the great response that I got. I wanted to make certain that the series didn't die, and people have been amazingly helpful in taking over slots that people seemed to have abandoned. I took on story 5 because it was the easiest way around that same problem!

The 'Consequences' idea came from an old Decalog collection, as I liked the fact that the stories all had a link that lead to the next happening in a particular way. It happens to a greater and lesser degree in series 1, and because I knew I had another two series to go, it won't now tie up all the loose ends - so you'll have to read the rest of them! Haha! The meaning of 'Consequences' will take on a slightly different focus in the next two series though...

What do you see as the main responsibilities of the series runner in something like Consequences?
Personally, it's been a fair bit of effort on my part. The hardest element to begin with is undoubtedly getting people interested in writing for the series. That said, even prior to that was the setting up of all the links for inclusion. Some were settings, others smaller, but all needed to be thought out. After that, the reading and 'editing' of the stories, which was fairly small in all cases (handily for me!) for content and ensuring the links were consistent.

Other than that, if people dropped out, it was up to me to find replacements. While no-one 'dropped out' as such, three authors were not responding to my attempts to contact them, so I had to make a decision as to whether to wait it out or try to find replacements. The latter was my eventual choice, and it has panned out very well (though I'd rather not have had to write one of them myself!). So, in essence, it's my role to make sure it all runs smoothly, ensure continuity is maintained, and make it as easy for the authors as I possibly can. I hope I've succeeded!

Why Who? What is it about this series that makes it such a rich source of fiction ideas?
I've been a fan of Doctor Who since I was a child, and I think what appealed to me then is also true now. The breadth of ideas and the whole 'magic' of the series reaches out to that child inside us all, no matter what age we are. To able to step into a box with a strange yet wonderful man and turn up anywhere and do anything...there's no limit to where the Doctor can go and what he can do! The very fact that both time and space are not obstacles but the means by which these things happen allows an infinite possibility of ideas. I think because of this, the fact there are no rules and nothing is off limits, means that ideas can keep flowing. The use of time as a central conceit hasn't been used to anywhere near its full extent, though Steven Moffat has certainly done more to bring this back than anyone else. Paradoxes, time loops, all sorts of wonderful notions and ideas that mean that stories can be more inventive than ever!

What's your background? Why do you write, and what's the day job if not writing?
My background is very much in English, having studied it at university, and my day job is teaching. It's great to see how children can write so well from a young age and how much so many of them enjoy reading. I'm glad that we're encouraging kids to enjoy reading and writing more; a cliché I know, but they're the future - some of them the future of Doctor Who!

I write because I love it, though I've had huge chunks of my life where I've not done any. I've only properly gotten back into it in the last few months, but the Doctor Who fiction is really firing me up, and will springboard me back into writing my own original fiction once again. I've got some things on the go already, and I hope after the third series of 'Consequences' is over I can devote a bit more time to it. However, with a new baby on the way, I'll have to see where I can fit it in!

How did you first come across Who? Were you immediately a fan?
My earliest memory (though a little hazy) of Doctor Who comes from when I was about 7, and a vague recollection of part of Terror of the Vervoids. When I saw it properly for the first time (in '93), my brain clicked into gear and I realised what it was that I'd seen all those years ago. It was the Vervoids talking and/or lurking - they did that a lot! After that though, my first clear memory is watching the last part of Time and the Rani and Paradise Towers. As a child, I was completely hooked, and always made sure I watched it every week after that! Having seen them again recently, they aren't the best examples of Who, but they certainly drew me in at the age of 8! McCoy was my Doctor, and I saw all the rest of his tenure when it was airing. I even started getting DWM when Season 25 was starting, and did so for the next couple of years. But then, when it went off air, I drifted away until about '93 (that year again!), when I suddenly got back into it in a big way! I met one of my best friends through a mutual appreciation of the show, and that's what drew me back in again. Around 2001 I began to drift away again (Uni, girls, life - the usual things that cause one to move on!), but just as the new series started my interest came back with a vengeance, and I've never looked back.

Why do you want to write Who fiction? What's the pull to write fanfic in general, and Whofic in particular?
Who fiction is something I've always done on and off since about the mid-Nineties (though more off than on admittedly), and the reason I want to write it is because there are so many stories than can be told with the tools available. It's like being in a toyshop and having completely free reign! You can literally do anything with it, and that's where the appeal lies for me. Nothing is too fantastical, and you already have an in-built mythology to use as you see fit. In some ways that makes it easier to write than other fiction, though in others it can be more difficult.

I think people's desire to write fanfic stems for the genuine love and admiration that people have for programmes like Doctor Who. I'm sure if Sydney Newman were alive and knew of the massive appeal that the show still had he'd be truly gobsmacked! It's all bourne out of love for the show and attempting to imitate and broaden the ideas that it presents. In general terms this is true across all sorts of shows, though I think science fiction certainly has the edge as there aren't so many limitations. As regards Doctor Who specifically they are even fewer limitations, and I can see why that holds a huge amount of appeal.

Favourite Doctor? Why?
A very very hard question. Ask my ten year old self and he'd say Sylvester McCoy, and quite rightly as he was my Doctor. Ask me now and it's a much trickier question to answer. I've always said my two absolute favourites are Davision and Troughton. What I love about Davison is that he was the first to portray the 'old-man-in-a-young-man's-body', and he does so brilliantly. He cares a great deal for the welfare of his companions, yet is constantly - though not intentionally - putting them in danger! I know the same could be said for all Doctors, but how many lose a companion in such a tragic manner? Added to that he's full of energy and enthusiasm, and the viewer gets completely caught up in it! This is also true of Troughton's Doctor, but what appeals about him is the wonderfully excitable persona he has, though balancing humour and seriousness perfectly. In addition, he and Jamie have one of the best relationships of any Doctor and companion.

Now, this is where it gets tricky. I've been watching a lot of Hartnell recently, and he is absolutely brilliant. He may make mistakes (such was the nature of production back then), but he can seem truly alien at times and is completely mesmerising. Watching The Aztecs, or listening to The Massacre and his justifications for not preventing deaths are such that you can see why his companions are often at odds with him. Yet, he can be truly touching. Witness the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth and the start of The Rescue where he is caught up in thought about Susan's departure; or when Ian and Barbara leave at the end of The Chase - initially he's very angry, but only because he cares; or when Steven storms out of the TARDIS at the end of The Massacre, the Doctor coming to terms with being alone and musing on returning home. Not only that, but he can do comedy (The Romans, The Myth Makers, The Gunfighters) and drama (The Aztecs, The Crusade, The Savages) in equal measure. The original, and one of the best. Maybe the best!

I love Pertwee, as he's a complete change to Troughton - a man of action, and given a perfect foil in the Brigadier. Add to that the very touching relationship between him and Jo and you've another classic pairing.
So much has been said about Baker, and he does have distinct periods. I love the melancholic final season, the man almost knowing he's lived this life too long, change just around the corner. Then again, early Baker has yet another fantastic partnership with Sarah-Jane, so there's much to love there too!

Colin Baker is still much underrated, and were this a 'favourite audio Doctor' he'd win hands down. Big Finish have done so much with the character and made him truer to Colin's original wish to portray him that he's like a different person. Truly brilliant!

I still love McCoy. Manipulator that the 7th Doctor was, he had more mystery about him than the others, and this truly helped to make his incarnation special. He also has - in my opinion - some of the finest stories in the whole series.

McGann is great - the best thing about the TVM. His audios are very, very good too, but I've not heard enough to truly make him a favourite of mine. Eccleston was good but brief, Tennant was superb (just a shame about his finale...) and I'm loving Matt Smith so far (he's a potential front-runner too!).

So, in conclusion....I'm not sure! But, to not wimp out, right now I'm going to pick Hartnell (though it'll probably change by tomorrow!).

Favourite companion? Why?
Hopefully this won't be so long-winded! Sarah-Jane will always be up there, just because of the fantastic partnership she had with the Doctor. For similar reasons I have to nominate Donna too, as her and Ten made a fantastic team - such a shame it was cut short! I've been really enjoying Amy too - very feisty and firey, harking back to Sarah-Jane actually! Even though she's not technically a companion (or is she?), I love, love, LOVE River Song! The idea of someone the Doctor meets, out of sequence, and who has this mysterious back-story is intriguing and exciting, and she's another strong female character. Gotta love 'em!

As for the fellas, Ian and Steven are both very strong characters, and revisiting them recently shows just how good they are. I've got to mention Jamie too, for what would the Second Doctor's era be without him?

Top 5 Doctor Who stories? Why do you like them?
Why did I say 5? Oh well, I'll have a go! In no particular order then:
Nightshade. I love this story to pieces. It was the first New Adventure I read, and I was completely blown away by how good it was. If any other novels are remade for the show, this would be number one for me.
Spare Parts. Davison is fantastic, as is Sarah Sutton. The story is gripping yet horrifying, and you're always hoping the inevitable won't happy, but it does. Truly brilliant.
Warriors' Gate. So unlike any other Doctor Who story (aside from, perhaps The Mind Robber, but only superficially), it looks gorgeous, it has humour, drama, and some great perfomances. Beautiful.
Terror of the Zygons. The greatest monsters never to return (yet!). I don't care about the Skarasen - it's got shape-changing aliens in an organic spaceship!
Blink. Terrifying. Truly and utterly jump-out-of-your-seat Doctor Who. Without much Doctor in it! That Steven Moffat's a clever chap, maybe he should be in charge! Oh....

Favourite author/s? Favourite book/s? (don't have to be Who-related)
Graham Greene is a perennial favourite, Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory being two of my favourite novels. I love the crime author Elmore Leonard for his use of authentic sounding dialogue, a favourite novel he's written being either Touch or Out of Sight. I enjoy Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke and James Ellroy too. Aside from crime fiction, I enjoy the work of Dickens and Wells, and David Lodge (whom I need to read more of). Oh, and Stephen Fry, particularly Making History.

What do you like about Doctor Who? What keeps you hooked?
The sheer variety of it. There's nothing quite like it, and the only limitations placed on it are those of the writers. It appeals to young and old, and it will continue to do so as it can constantly change and evolve.

What would be your top writing tip?
One that I've heard more than once, but I'm going to echo it: always have a notebook handy. Many's the time I've had ideas and had nothing to write them in and completely forgotten them later on. Always have something you can jot things down in - you never know when inspiration will strike!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Teaser #2

Another little teaser here – as promised – and this one is more of a direct lead-in to the first story of series 2 than the last one. Hope you enjoy it, and there should be another for your delectation next week...
The Warning
Dr Pallister looked out of the old-fashioned porthole, marvelling at the stars that swam in the blackness of space. He smiled, remembering the times that he and his late wife had stood in a quiet spot on one of their trips to the countryside (what was left of it in the 2470s) and stared up at the night sky. He remembered resting a hand on her swollen tummy, feeling their unborn child kicking as he held her tightly to him.
    "We'll be out there, a new life on a new planet circling another star. All three of us." He had smiled at her, she resting her chin on his shoulder, he stroking her hair affectionately.
    A sudden jolt of the ship broke him free of his memories, and he suddenly remembered where he was, and why his wife was no longer with him. An accident, they'd said, their daughter little more than five years old. He didn't fully believe it to be the truth, and he'd said as much to their child. Not at the time though; then it was hard enough explaining to a little girl that her mummy wasn't coming back, that they'd never see her again. He'd thought about Gene-Rep, but it wasn't the same. He'd never have her back, not his Jennifer.
    He felt a tear trickle down his face as he tried to suppress the memories, if only for a short while. He wiped it away with his shirt sleeve, his mind returning to work once more.
    The meagre laboratory he'd been afforded on the UK-201 wasn't much, but it gave him the basics with which to conduct his research. He headed back the way he'd come, though before long found his way blocked by a figure he recognised.
    "What are you doing here? Surely you're confined to quarters after the incident?" Pallister looked puzzled, and felt slightly afraid, but did his best to hide it.
    "The guard and I came to an...agreement." The larger of the two men smiled, his sadistic nature apparent in even the smallest of gestures. In his hand he held a blade, the artificial light glinting off the metallic surface. "It's very bad luck that you've run into me, doctor."
    Pallister drew himself up to his full height, which wasn't much past the other man's nose. "Listen Bennett, I'm not afraid of you. But I can help you, though why I should bother is beyond...."
    He didn't finish his sentence, a fuzzy sensation filling his head. He looked down to see the handle of the knife sticking out of his chest, Bennett merely smirking at what he'd done. The doctor fell to his knees, his last words unintelligible save for his last – "Vicki" – before he slumped to the floor.
    Bennett wiped the handle of the knife with his clothing and began to drag the body away towards the airlock, tossing the weapon aside now the only connection to him had been erased. The body was heavier than he thought it would be, but within moments, the inner airlock door was open, the body placed in and the door sealed once more.
    He pressed the button to activate the outer door, watching with a grim satisfaction as the body floated off into the unknown.
    He walked away from the door, busying himself with cleaning up the mess he'd left on the floor. The area clean and sterile once more, he hurried away from the scene of his crime, into the labyrinth of corridors that networked the ship.
    The only sign that any activity had taken place in the area were two words that appeared to be etched into the wall facing the airlock. The weapon that had killed Pallister lay on the floor beneath the writing, seemingly used to carve it into existence. It read:

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A little something extra

As promised, here is a little something to whet the appetite before series 2 comes around. I'm hoping I can do something similar each week in the lead up to the start of series 2, just as a little taste of things to come. It may not make the most sense at the moment, but come the end of the series it'll all be a lot clearer, trust me! Hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to comment back on gallifreybase (or here if you're so inclined!).

Dalek Cutaway

From the outside, it seemed limited. Space flowed around it, making it appear even smaller than it was. A tiny pinprick of light in the blackness.

    Stars began to appear; few at first, then more with each passing moment, as if it were solidifying into reality. Gradually it became corporeal, sitting at the heart of what once was nothingness, but what now was to them a new born universe.

    Though those that dwelt within were from a far distant place, a world still alive in another dimension, teeming with hostile life. They were at the bidding of others, not something they were used to, nor something they knew they had any choice in.

    For once, they were powerless.

    The confined space allowed for restrictive movement, each of them assigned to a specific area to avoid any destruction in the area they inhabited.

    The scanner screen was active, a radar of sorts attempting to discern the location of those they'd been following. A small dot had appeared briefly, then vanished just as fast.

    The first creature turned its top section to its immediate comrade, its eye a metallic stalk affixed to its 'head'.    


    The Dalek next to it pressed a button, an image of the Doctor appearing on the screen. "THE DOC-TOR IS IN THIS BOD-Y AT THE PRE-SENT TIME. WE ARE TO EX-TER-MIN-ATE HIM BE-FORE HE ES-CAPES BACK TO OUR U-NI-VERSE."

    The normally steady beat in the background was silenced, as another light on the control section lit up, indicating an incoming message. The scanner screen lit up once more, the three Daleks all turning their eyestalks in its direction.

    The image on the screen was familiar to them; their 'employer' as they were forced to term the creature. Not an idea that sat well with them, but since it held them in its power and could easily dispatch them if it so wished they had little choice.

    The vocal communication channel was opened, the voice soft yet authoritative. "We sent you here to retrieve the Time Lord. If this is beyond your capabilities, it leaves us in somewhat of a quandary."


    The voice came through once again, a harsher tone to it. "You are supposed to be the most feared beings throughout the galaxy. Does that not extend to other universes?" A pause, the image flickering for a moment. The 'employer' waved a kind, as if to dismiss such thoughts. "We were told that you were the best, the most capable of your species, and within moments you have breached your contract."

    From behind the third Dalek, smoke had begun to spread forwards through the small craft.


    The figure on the screen began to laugh, a gentle chuckle at first erupting into a full-throated howl. "You had already failed. Call this a mercy killing." The screen clicked off, then back on again. "Oh by the way, there's a lovely planet to cushion your fall. I believe the locals call it Alfava Metraxis."

    The Daleks looked to the controls, though was little they could do to prevent the inevitable. "INI-TI-ATE EMER-GENCY PRO-CED-URE. PLA-NET FALL IN THIR-TY RELS."

    Several buttons were activated, all the while the laughter echoing in their auditory circuits. The image on the screen was now a planet, rushing into view, the velocity of the ship propelling it through the stratosphere.

    Through the cloud formations.




    Then silence.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Thank you!

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, commented, voted and above all enjoyed the stories in this series. A huge thank you to the writers too, as without them, there'd be very little here!

Series 2 begins on 2nd October, and I'll be slowing them down this time; just one a week to give people time to read and enjoy before the next one comes around. I'll be posting more updates and other little bits and pieces in the lead up to series 2, so it won't be a completely fallow month!

Thank you again, and please do come back for series 2 - you ain't seen nothin' yet!