Linkblogging For 30/03/10

I promise there’ll be several proper posts this week (two book reviews, a comics post and probably a politics one). In particular, I’ve decided that I’m going to do at least one comics post every week from now on – I’ve been neglecting that side of things too much. But for now, some links:

Lawrence Miles (that link will almost certainly break – he takes his blog posts down after a few days) talks about his problems with the Welsh Series, many of which I share. If it’s true that Stephen Moffat thinks having a DVD of Bagpuss is ‘sad’, then that right there tells me exactly why I’ve never warmed to his work.

Zom talks about Geoff Johns as outsider artist, while Tucker’s Comics Of The Weak is a thing of beauty this week.

This Is Terrorism is “a linkblog focusing on the radical movements inside America and how their activities should be considered outright terrorism, despite the fact that our government and media seem shy about using that particular word.”

Lots of people have covered the chancellors’ debate, but Millennium has everything you need to hear on the subject.

Pillock has a new meme

And LessWrong look at the Bjelakovic meta-analyses of vitamins (trumpeted at the time as the final nail in the coffin for dietary supplements) and find that they were total nonsense ( for reasons totally unrelated to the equally valid reasons for which I’d already dismissed it).

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13 Responses to Linkblogging For 30/03/10

  1. Jennie says:

    There’s a part of me that agrees with that Miles post, but it DOES just reek of bitterness. I love that final line, though.

  2. Bill Reed says:

    Not many things on the internet raise my blood pressure these days, but Lawrence Miles certainly does.

    But I vastly prefer New Who to Old Who*, which I guess makes me the enemy.

    *The Hartnell and Pertwee eras excluded, because those two kick all sorts of ass.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      You’re certainly not *my* enemy… I accept I’m very much in the minority when it comes to the Welsh Series.

    • Digital Imbecile says:

      EVEN THOUGH I too typically prefer the new Doctor Who series to the old one,

      and EVEN THOUGH a lot of what Miles is saying seems rooted in either pseudo-intellectual justification for preferring the sort of television he grew up with or personal dislike for Stephen Moffat (can’t totally blame him on that one. If nothing else, I find Moffat to be incredibly overrated),

      I can’t help but think that a Doctor Who series (or any other series) helmed by Miles would be utterly marvellous. It’d rapidly fall apart under the weight of its own SOMETHING, but it’d be pretty great while it lasted.

      • Bill Reed says:

        I did read that one Who screenplay he “tossed off… just to see if he could do it” or somesuch BS reasoning, but… yes. It was pretty good. If he wasn’t such an angry, paranoid fellow, he could bring goodness to Who.

  3. Colin Smith says:

    Have done my homework, followed the links, learnt alot, laughed alot. Thanks!

    BUT. But. This Miles bloke. He’s off my radar, know nothing of him, except that you rate him highly, Andrew. Am I wrong in thinking that he’s a damn bright bloke carrying, could it be, a really big box containing a very large amount of frogs?

    Could anyone point me to a “get started quickly” page I could trust on Mr Miles, so I can see how far I can trust Mr Miles? I saw much that interested me in what he wrote, but I’d quite lost my bearings half-way through.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      “a damn bright bloke carrying, could it be, a really big box containing a very large amount of frogs?”
      That sums him up pretty well – he’s generally considered the best of the people who wrote Doctor Who novels in the 90s and ’00s by quite a long way. He also has some mental health problems, as he’s stated on his blog. He’s nicknamed ‘Mad Larry’ in fandom, but I don’t like that kind of labelling myself.
      Generally speaking, I find his opinions to be more or less valid, but his way of expressing them to be… tactless at best. He seems genuinely not to understand that some of his opinions cause emotional reactions in others, even while reacting emotionally to things others can brush off.
      The closest comparison is probably Grant Morrison in the early 90s – deliberately ‘provocative’ to an unpleasant extent, but with the talent to back it up. But for Miles it *appears* not to be a pose, unlike for Morrison.
      (Others who comment here have met him or been fans of his longer, so they know better).

  4. Colin Smith says:

    OK. So I don’t feel quite so comfortable jesting about someone being so left of center now. In fact, I feel it was wrong for me to be so flippant. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the last few comments here after my first should be deleted. I thought I saw eccentricity and willfullness. I have no desire to be cruel about any significant psy problems Miles has struggled with. Nope. Don’t feel comfortable with myself at all. As with you, that labelling jars with me.

    I’d like it if you would recommend a title or two of his that you value that I should check out. I think that’s the best way for me to go now. Perhaps the next comment after Bill Reed’s last comment might now begin with you saying I ought to check out “x” or “y”?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      It didn’t come across as cruel to me *at all* (and I’m someone who is *very* sensitive on mental health issues, for a variety of reasons including having spent several years working on a psychiatric ward and having lost people who were close to me to mental-illness-induced suicide). I’ll delete the comment (or edit out the offending sentence for you) should you wish, but I think the comment was perfectly within reason, and not offensive in the slightest. Certainly nothing you should be ashamed of.

      As for Miles’ books, his Doctor Who novels are all out of print. He’s done three novels in the “Faction Paradox” line.
      I reviewed Dead Romance here –
      The Book Of The War, which he edited and co-wrote, is a primer to the Faction Paradox universe (which spins off from Miles’ Doctor Who books) and is absolutely extraordinary – somewhere between a short story collection and an RPG sourcebook, but with more great ideas in it than any five other SF novels I’ve read in years. Richard Flowers wrote about this one in PEP! 1, in part.
      And I’ll be reviewing This Town Will Never Let Us Go over the weekend, but very briefly it’s a dark, slightly surreal, novel, very keyed into the politics and culture of its time (2002) so dated now, but with a Philip K Dick feel (with a little Pynchon and Orwell in there).

      Of the three, The Book Of The War is by far the best, with Dead Romance being most interesting as a narrative.

      He also co-authored with Tat Wood four of the six volumes of the About Time series of guidebooks to Doctor Who, which I think you might like a lot, judging from your PEP article, though I don’t know how big a fan of Who you are. They’re the Doctor Who equivalent to Revolution In The Head – critical discussion combined with social history, so you get articles on how Hancock’s Half Hour was the first show to introduce videotape editing or the OPEC-induced economic slump of the mid-70s, as well as ones on continuity problems in the Cyberman timeline… Miles’ novels might be an acquired taste, but if you’re interested enough in ‘classic’ Doctor Who to want any books at all on the subject, I couldn’t recommend those highly enough (even the two Miles didn’t co-write).

  5. colsmi says:

    Thanks for saying that. If it’s OK, then it should stand.

    I love the enthusiasm by which you talk about the About Time books. I shall start there, I think.

    Well, I shan’t quite start there. I’ve just spent a few minutes in the dark and deep “books to read” cupboard and there in the science fiction pile from a W H Smith’s sale some time many years ago is a novel called “Alien Bodies”. All that kipple, and yet occasionally not kipple at all. I shall begin tonight.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      That’s actually a good one to start with if you’ve got it – I’ve only read it as a PDF, but it’s the first of the BBC Eighth Doctor novels that Miles wrote, and it’s the one where he seeds all the ideas that he uses in the later books (both the Doctor Who ones and the Faction Paradox ones).
      It’s far from his best work, though – it’s clearly an early work, and it’s tied into ‘novel continuity’ – so don’t be put off if you don’t enjoy it. But it’s head-and-shoulders above, say, The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks or something…

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      (Miles himself regards Alien Bodies as a sort of crowd-pleasing potboiler – not his best work, but his most popular and accessible…)

  6. colsmi says:

    PDF? Andrew, I can’t barely raise the technical know-how to turn a computer on. But here it is, BBC books, tiny little thing actually, all red and black & something that looks like bloodwork on the front. You know, I’m actually looking forward to it. I like popular and accessible. Thanks again for a road-map. I’ll drop off the intranetwebthing now & let you know later in a lone pithy sentence how I found it.

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