I write things and am nominally in charge here. Below are my most recent posts.

The bulk of my work is in a style I have, in an act of mild narcissism, named psychochronography. Psychochronography, an offshoot of the artistic concept of psychogeography. Psychogeography is a practice originally developed by the Situationist International as part of their efforts to forcibly dismantle the established social order. Psychogeography is the study of how physical spaces impact social, cultural, and personal lives. Its central technique is what is called the derivé, or drift, in which one wanders through an urban area according to some idiosyncratic logic that causes one to cut against the usual lines and paths traced.

Psychochronography applies this notion to our internal landscape. Taking seriously Alan Moore's notion of ideaspace, psychochronography suggests that we can wander through history and ideas just as easily as we can physical spaces, and that by observing the course of such a conceptual exploration we can discover new things about our world. Topics I've applied this approach to include Doctor Who, British comic books, and Super Nintendo games.

Demons of the Punjab Review

In any previous season, this would have been a minor gem; in this context, it feels like a cool drink of water in the desert. After five episodes that repeatedly struggled at the task of being about things where the one that seemed to know what it was doing had its own deep problems, here we get an episode of admirable clarity and focus that deftly balances the broad historical and intimate personal scales. There’s nothing save for the agonizingly overdue engagement with India that makes the story extraordinary, but there’s also a refreshing lack of any significant flaws, and all in all this feels like the most developed idea of what Doctor Who should be in 2018 that we’ve had to date.

Let’s start with the politics. There are obvious fallings short; the clangingly bad line about the Doctor forwarding Prem’s complaints on to Mountbatten next time she sees him being the worst. And more broadly, there’s a milquetoast tendency throughout to place responsibility for the violence of partition on the masses instead of on the British empire, which finds itself blamed more for the carelessness of partition than for the exploitation that preceded it. None of this was ...

Eruditorum Presscast: The Tsuranga Connundrum

This week I'm joined by Beth Axford of Doctor Who Magazine's Time Team and the delightful blog The Time Ladies to talk about The Tsuranga Conundrum, which we gradually find is very hard to say out loud and decide to rename. To what? Listen and find out.

This podcast also features the "classic" version of the Eruditorum Presscast theme, because elections make me cranky. As usual, it's by my good friend Alex via his band Seeming, which you can and should check out here.

The Tsuranga Conundrum Review

If the Chibnall era is, as theorized last week, a latter-day Pertwee era, this is the equivalent of The Sea Devils. Not so much flawless as without any major issues, at several points veering into fascinating but still basically uninspiring, and an all around good showing for the period. As is clearly usual for Chibnall’s solo scripts, it is simply unconcerned with the idea that it should be “about” something. Instead it is a jumble of elements being juxtaposed purposelessly, with all the unexpected pleasures and awkward dissonance that implies, although at some point one has to admit that the consistency with which the balance trends towards the former implies some sort of underlying aesthetic sense.

At its heart, of course, it’s a fairly unreconstructed base under siege. As is often the case with Chibnall, however, the reduction to influences doesn’t quite work as an explanation. The convention of base under sieges, especially in the modern era, is to use the support cast as a supply of potential deaths to be drawn from when things are getting a bit dry. There’s typically at least some effort to give them characterization so that these resulting deaths have some emotional resonance, but ...

Die Review

Doctor Who review won't be up until Tuesday at the earliest, as I spent most of Sunday running my Werewolf: The Apocalypse game and didn't watch it until late. But speaking of my gaming habit, I got a chance to read the first issue of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans's forthcoming comic Die, so I can at least tell you all sorts of interesting stuff about that. Well, sort of. This is my first time in the weird realm of embargos and "spoiler-free" reviews. So I have to tell you how awesome this thing is without actually telling you anything about it that hasn't already been spilled in interviews already.

Let's start with the obvious. This thing is awesome. It's a fascinating book that has all the signs of being a major statement on the nature of fantasy and escapism. You should definitely pre-order it; if you buy physical comics, call your local shop. If you're into digital or haven't really bought many comics and just want an easy way to do the thing, you can pre-order it on Comixology. Pre-ordering is massively important with comics because it is an insane industry where nothing ...

10,000 Dawns: Poor Man's Illiad

This is a sponsored post by James Wylder. If you're interested in having your project featured on Eruditorum Press, you can e-mail me at snowspinner at gmail dot com. 

 

 

History can be fascinating, you just need the right storytellers.

One thing that always frustrated me growing up as I read science-fiction and fantasy was the tendency for there to be massive detailed backstories to some of my favorite universes that could only be read in summary. The stories that hung at the edges of another story, propping it up but forever remaining elusive. Of course, getting older, I began to realize why telling those stories often wasn’t a good idea: they were often piecemeal, a series of interlinked events that couldn’t easily be formed into something good. Trying to shove them into a traditional narrative was a recipe for disaster. As my friends and I started working on our own series of sci-fi books we called “10,000 Dawns”, I began to wonder...what if we could find a way to tell those stories?

After some playing around, I came up with the idea for my new anthology, “10,000 Dawns: Poor Man’s ...

Eruditorum Presscast: Arachnids in the UK

What has eight leggs and is guest-starring Holy Boson?

This week's Eruditorum Presscast about Arachnids in the UK.

Why does a podcast have legs?

Erm. Yeah, you've got me there.

Arachnids in the UK Review

I am reminded of the way in which late-era Gatiss stories landed with a sense of pleasurable relief. Not in the high stakes way of Rosa or The Woman Who Fell to Earth where being crap would have had disastrous consequences, but in the way that you’re relieved when you brace yourself for pain that never comes. “Attack of the giant spiders written by Chris Chibnall” is as far from a straightforwardly promising premise as it is possible to get. And yet this is surprisingly good. It’s not a classic in the all-time best sense, but in the well-worn and vintage sense; it’s Doctor Who doing what Doctor Who does, and doing it well.

It’s fair to ask why. If you rifle through the back catalog for an obvious analogue, after all, the closest thing you get is probably The Lazarus Experiment, which is an outright failure of an episode. They’re both “return to Earth” episodes in which the Doctor finds a non-alien threat around the family life of one of someone who goes from being a temporary companion to a permanent fixture. Neither offers a particularly compelling premise or a searing sense of ambition. Indeed, there’s not necessarily an ...

Eruditorum Presscast: Rosa

I'm joined this week by the legendary Kate Orman (along with two cute but really annoying dogs and an intermittent drilling sound that crash the party, though both mercifully say in the background) to talk about Rosa. 

Check it out here.

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