What More Could A Renegade Wish For? (Head Games)
I’ll Explain Later
We’ve skipped the perfectly serviceable Zamper and Toy Soldiers. Head Games is a doozy – the sequel to Conundrum as well as part of a paired release alongside the Missing Adventure Millennial Rites, also in October of 1995, which constitute Virgin Books’ attempt to deal with the Valeyard and the regeneration of the Sixth Doctor. It also has both Mel and Ace. It’s… ambitious, as we’ll see. And yet largely praised. Lars Pearson somewhat idiosyncratically calls for a beverage pairing, saying that it “leaves a lump of your throat as you down cup after cup of cafe mochas.” Dave Owen, at the time, was a beverage agnostic, and was altogether more dour, suggesting that the book was good on the matter of “the psychodrama going on in the TARDIS,” but calling it “dreary” and “dull” when talking about any other parts. It is indeed considerably less popular than Conundrum, hanging out in the mid-list in thirty-fourth place on Shannon Sullivan’s rankings with a 68.3% rating. DWRG Summary. Whoniverse Discontinuity Guide Entry.
It’s October of 1995. Simply Red are at number one with “Fairground.” The only bad consequence of skipping Toy Soldiers is that we missed the opportunity to name-check “Boombastic” by Shaggy, not because it’s good, but because it’s “Boombastic” by Shaggy. It’s at number three. In any case, in the last week of the month Coolio unseats Fairground with “Gangsta’s Paradise.” There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Pulp, and The Rembrandts also chart, while Oasis debuts at number one on the album charts with “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory,” i.e. The album of theirs that Americans have heard of.
While we were not reading books DVDs were announced, the White Earthquake struck Chile, Bermudans rejected independence, and Microsoft released Windows 95. While in the month of this book, the Million Man March, consisting of somewhere in the range of 400-800 thousand people, takes place in Washington DC. And Julie Goodyear leaves Coronation Street. Nothing else happens that month. Nothing. (Oh fine. OJ Simpson is acquitted.)
While in books, Head Games. Encyclops, commenting a few entries back, suggested jokingly a glossary of terms that are cliches in fan-analysis of Doctor Who: “romp,” for instance – an admittedly problematic term, and “gurning,” a delightful word that fills a hole in one’s life that one didn’t even know existed. And then there was the third term he proposed, “nightmare brief.” It is, indeed, a fan cliche. But a history of the term is still interesting. The term refers to those occasional stories that happen in which two or more pre-ordained events end up taking place in a single story. The archetypal nightmare brief is probably Planet of Fire, in which Peter Grimwade got to deal with Peri’s arrival, the death of the Master, squaring away Kamelion, writing out Turlough, and going to Lanzarote all in one story.
The nightmare brief is not merely an event story. Remembrance of the Daleks, for instance, is not a nightmare brief, in that seemingly every idea involved in it was always Aaronovitch’s intention.…