Friday 2 October 2015

There, up in the sky!

It seems like everything interesting in the sky is red these days. Not only has Pluto turned out be considerably ruddier and more interesting than first anticipated, but this past week we've had a blood moon eclipse and some exciting news about the planet Mars. I didn't deliberately wake myself for the eclipse, considering how disappointing space phenomena can be when shrouded by English weather, but it's been beautifully clear the last few days and I generally wake up between three and five anyway, so I got up and wandered out around four a.m. I didn't see the total eclipse but I caught a beautiful view of the waning umbra, with the Moon split into a glowing white crescent and a hazy umber shadow. It was an astonishingly clear night, too, even with the street lights that are part and parcel of living in a town centre. Orion and the Pleiades dominated the central sky, while Venus positively blazed above the eastern horizon.

Just a few days after this, we received news that compelling evidence of liquid water has been found on Mars. NASA have, irritatingly, gone down the "announcement for an announcement" route that's so popular with TV and movie studios these days, but still, it was worth waiting for. Where there's water, there's hope of life. Off to seek the Yip Yips.

In news more terrestrial in origin but interplanetary in imagination, Obverse Books has just released their eighth Iris Wildthyme collection, The Perennial Miss Wildthyme. I'm not in this one, which means there's space for only really excellent authors and not cheeky upstarts. It's edited by Paul Dale Smith, who wrote such brilliant bookages as Doctor Who: Heritage and "The League of Extraterrestrial Gentlemen" for Shelf Life. The hardback run is nearly sold out, though, so get £15 out and head to the Obverse.

My old comrade Mr E.G. Wolverson has written a joint review of the third and fourth Red Dwarf novels, Last Human by Doug Naylor and Backwards by Rob Grant. The original two novels were written by both authors under the pseudonym Grant Naylor, before they parted ways and went on to start their own projects. I devoured these books as a teen, and have read all four of them at least six times (along with the Hitchhikers "trilogy," they were my favourite books as a developing geek). For my money, Backwards was the best of the lot, although I'm hard pressed to argue with Wolvie's view of its conclusion.

The great Who-head Neil Perryman and his good wife Sue are now raising funds for the third volume of their book series The Wife in Space, following on from their popular blog. These books always make tremendously fun reading, and given Sue's less-than-positive views on Pertwee as he takes over, The Pompous Tory should be a treat. They've already hit their target so the book is definitely going ahead, but funding through the Kickstarter campaign is the most cost-effective way of getting the book. It's a fiver for the ebook and £18 for the paperback, and there are lots of extra bits and bobs that can be purchased exclusively through the campaign as well. I'm going for the Sapphire & Steel book as an extra, myself.

Dan Freeman, one of the prime movers behind the acclaimed audio series The Minister of Chance, has a new production in the works. An audio movie like its predecessor, The Light of September is a science fiction epic with a truly impressive cast, that includes such luminaries as Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, InnerSpace), Tuppence Middleton (Sense8, Jupiter Ascending), Tamsin Greig (Black Books, The Archers) and Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor and Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit). At time of writing it's 60% funded, so more backers are needed to assure its production. If it's anything as good as The Minister of Chance it'll be something to look forward to. There also appears to be a picture of me being foolish on the main page.

Other than this, what's new? It's the beginning of the new TV season in the States, which means Agents of SHIELD, Supergirl, The Flash and Gotham, so my torrent will be torrenting torrentially over the next few weeks. (Plus Fear the Walking Dead for my zombie enthusiast of a flatmate). The Beeb has just announced a new spin-off for Doctor Who, entitled Class, which will arrive next year. It's a dreadfully dull title, but the prospect of kids investigating alien activity in Coal Hill School sounds appealing, like a cross between Grange Hill and The Sarah Jane Adventures. I won't be happy unless Ian Chesterton appears, though. Plus, I've been busy with my best friend indoctrinating her children into the world of Doctor Who, starting with "Rose" and "The End of the World." Skipping those episodes we consider too scary, though. One of them is only three, the middle one is especially sensitive when it comes to movies and TV and the eldest is terrified of living statues, so we'll have to be careful.

Finally, another friend just messaged me to say she'd been "facefucked by a cobweb." I adore my friends, such a way with words.

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