Saturday, November 21, 2009

"I'm writing the new Doctor Who"

Michael Moorcock has an article over on the Guardian website going into detail about how he decided to write the new Dr. Who novel. Well worth reading both by Whovians and travelers of the Moonbeam Roads. The New York Times has it's moments, but The Guardian proves once again to be the only major newspaper giving the genre serious attention.

About the only real science fiction I've written since the 1960s was The Dancers at the End of Time stories, all done in the 70s. They're comedies set in the distant future with a nod to the fin-de-si├Ęcle of Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, Ernest Dowson and The Yellow Book. Both comedy and SF depend on compression and exaggeration and are very often entertaining when combined. There's a long tradition of it: even Wodehouse wrote a funny, futuristic story early in his career (The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England). In the SF magazines, writers such as Henry Kuttner, Robert Sheckley and L Sprague de Camp were best loved for their comedy. Douglas Adams, of course, hit the jackpot in the 1970s with The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Davies and his writers realised this when the Doctor made his comeback some five years ago with Christopher Eccleston and then David Tennant in the role. Both actors have a talent for comedy and melodrama. The plots became increasingly complex, playing with ideas of time and space, and I became an addict again.

Of course the paradox of TV sf is that Dr. Who, a show premised on time travel, seldom employs the tropes of the traditional time travel story, whereas Star Trek, a show premised on space exploration, not only turned the Enterprise into a flying time machine but involved so much time travel that they eventually had to introduce the Department of Temporal Investigations into the U. F. P. bureaucracy. So as I see it, MM is under no constraints to write a time travel story as such. And I can't wait to see what he does with the Who mythos.


Robert Saint John said...

I've often been frustrated as to how Doctor Who (my favorite show in the world for 31 years, btw!) tends to use Time as more of a setting device than an element, especially in the classic series. I don't think it's a coincidence that my favorite new series stories are "Blink", "Silence in the Library" and "The Girl in the Fireplace", where the flow of Time is integral (or maybe it's Moffat, heh!). It's also key in the latest story, "The Waters of Mars", which would have been pretty but pedestrian without the questions it raised about History. Having said that, I'd love to see Moorcock (how wonderful this development!) use the conept of Time in a just as integral fashion, but I'm not counting on it. More important is that he do something wholly new, the kind of thing that can't be done on the screen (something that very few DW novelists do). Otherwise, what's the point?

Jerry Cornelius said...

The new series has been doing a much better job of exploring the fourth dimension, hasn't it? MM may be hinting at going in that direction given the way he referenced his DatEoT books. And given the similarities between the Doctor and MM's figure of the Eternal Champion he's going to be right at home with the subject matter.