These extra essays are frustrating. Part of it is that there’s so many – a byproduct of the Kickstarter. Another part is that I have no commutes in my life, and so never have what I consider optimal time to listen to Big Finish stuff, and there’s a lot of audios on the list. Going to have to just knuckle down and do that, which isn’t punishment, but is still active reworking of my day. Plus many of them are just… hard in not entertaining ways. I’ve already decided book essays can make it to around 1500 because I just didn’t have much to say. I don’t want to just put in book reviews of random out of print 90s novels, and finding things to say about the period the book is about is often difficult. I regularly muse on the fact that if this essay had been a good idea, I’d have written it the first time through.
I’m quite liking the commissions, particularly the ones that pick Pop Between Realities stuff. I think I may go more in that direction starting with the Graham Williams book, leaning away from novels and audios and towards Pop Between Realities stuff and, perhaps, more commissions. I rather like commissions as a concept, and have been finding them very fun.
I had been hoping to plow through all my co-books on StoryBundle so I could talk about them this weekend. In one of those pleasant complications, however, right when I was set to start that a review copy of something else hit my inbox, and that something else was a book I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. I’ll run a very big review in a week and change. Spoiler: there’s a gas mask on the cover.
One thing that’s obvious about the Storybundle deal is that these are very different types of books. That’s fairly clear with the juxtaposition of my stuff with Dining With The Doctor. I mean, it’s a Doctor Who cookbook, which, for a fair portion of my audience, already brings a wry smile and a Gary Downie joke. There’s not a lot of inherent similarity between it and a postmodernist episode guide.
Beyond that, it’s not my style, really. I mean, it looks like a fine cookbook. I didn’t go and make any of the recipes, but, you know, they sound good and have sane ingredients. A lot of snacks, a few meals. Usually silly. “Bow Tie Pasta with Protesting Star Whale Brains” indeed. The writing style is light and jokey, clearly belonging to the new series fandom that simply doesn’t interact with the old cult approach. The sort of book that refers to “the Silents.” There’s a degree of “here’s how I came up with a recipe for every new series episode up through The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. Plus there’s an appendix on fish fingers and custard.
I’m a reasonably decent home chef, so evaluating the recipes as food… they’re often very simple, throw-together things. Celebrations of the “craft” element of food and things that might be fun with kids are common, though there’s certainly some complex recipes here and there. (Vampire Space Fish has sixteen ingredients and uses puff pastry.) It’s certainly not all for kids – several cocktails are offered. But so are hot dogs and cheese shoved in crescent rolls (The Doctor’s Hand, as it happens). Nothing I glanced at was making me run to the kitchen, but I have about five cookbooks I ever touch, and most of the time when I’m cooking it’s either an old standard I’ve made for years or my wife and I playing a game of “she picks a bottle of wine and I go to the supermarket and make a meal that pairs with it.”
In any case, Dining With the Doctor gives every appearance of being a good book of the sort it is, which is clearly a book I have as much understanding of as I imagine its audience does when confronted with the spectacle of me describing walking around London as a means of discussing a 1960s Cybermen episode for reasons apparently having to do with Marxism. Clearly it’s a sensible book – BBC America has published cute recipes like this, so there are people who like this sort of stuff, and this is clearly a pretty good incarnation of this sort of stuff. If you are one of those people, well, there you go.
Dalek I Loved You is altogether easier to get a handle on. It’s a classic example of the “personal memoir through the lens of” genre, largely in the Nick Hornby tradition. It’s funny, it’s well-written, if you like Toby Hadoke’s Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf and stuff like that, it’s right up your alley. My talking less about it is not, to be clear, me disliking it. It’s a lovely book – it’s just also one I find it easy to describe. Fever Pitch for Doctor Who. Simple enough. Whereas a Doctor Who cookbook apparently requires more explanation.
In any case, that’s half of the Storybundle books, and I suppose I’ll natter about the other half next Saturday as one last attempt to encourage you to go buy it, as it’s a lovely deal and, you know, supports me and a bunch of other indie authors. (And, apparently, the Barry Letts estate.) It’s a cool mixture of books.
Which brings us to our weekend topic: Doctor Who nonfiction. Obviously there’s a huge range of it, including critical stuff, anorak compendiums, histories, and things that are very, very, silly.
What are some of your favorites? Sucking up does not win you brownie points – the fact that you’re here suggests you like TARDIS Eruditorum. What else? And why?