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Messing About in Boats

Divine Wind, Chapter Six: Four Views

Japan really must be a spectacular country, and, in the best traditions of Ian Fleming, I'm attempting to give anyone reading this story a tour of some of the coastal highlights of the place. Today's destination is Matsushima Bay but to find out why that's so special, you'll have to read the fic. I don't know if it matches up to Fleming's descriptions of Jamaica - where he lived - or Istanbul - where he worked for several years - but I do the best I can with Wiki and Google Earth. That being said, you can do a hell of a lot with Google Earth if you put your mind to it and I dearly wish more fanficcers would realise this.


I Ship It

Being a dyed-in-the-wool Doctor Who fan - see my earlier ramblings on the subject - I followed it's spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures with intermittent interest, mainly because good sci-fi is good sci-fi even if it's nominally aimed at children and, in reference to the previous point, I can still happily watch kid's TV. And this was very, very good kid's TV. An investigative journalist and a group of school children thwart alien invasions from an attic in North London. Only on the BBC.

I don't intend to dwell on the tragedy of Elizabeth Sladen's death last year, or the hole left by her loss and, by extension, the loss of the character she was so famous for playing. This is about a part of that tragedy, the fact that without her, we have lost her show too. With that loss comes a loss of closure, and we may never see the end to a very sweet, slow burning teen romance between Rani and Clyde, two of Sarah Jane's young friends. So, because I've never been able to resist a good love story, I couldn't help but speculate.

An Ealing Comedy
Rani and Clyde, and the steps they take together.

This isn't so much one story as five connected ficlets, because this sort of thing usually takes time and simply rushing it would lose a lot of the fun and subtlety. It's a story composed of snapshots between adventures, taking them from just after what I suspect is their first serious awareness of what they are together while single-handedly saving the world - an episode which features Clyde kissing Rani on the cheek, after which she's startled enough to temporarily forget she's supposed to be running away from an alien robot - to a hypothetical resolution which I felt gelled best with their characters. I also endeavoured to tell this story as subtly as possible, though only time will tell whether that worked or whether anybody actually picks up on it.

I also did my best to use the story to touch on several other issues that they'd probably have been facing at around the same time - university applications, looming A-levels and the enduring emotional effects of some of their adventures - and how those affected them and their relationship. The only slight problem with that is that the relationship with the SJA and the school year - and indeed the character's own ages - is a bit confused, since despite apparently being in their final year of school, no mention is ever made of this and we get no clue when Seasons 4 and 5 (the ones I'm trying to deal with) are actually set. At any rate, I've set all but the first of these stories in the autumn and winter of Upper Sixth, and if the timings don't fully make sense, I can always blame it on the fact this still all takes place in the Doctor Who universe, where all of space-time explodes with worrying regularity these days, so there are bound to be some side effects.


A Winter's Tale

I meant it about this new old fandom of mine. I had a lot of ideas for different Doctor Who stories, but so far only really one of them worth actually writing down. Oddly, when I first thought of this, it didn't seem really worth the effort, but a few months ago I suddenly realised what it was missing and everything else fell into place. Not to give too much away, that something was the setting: the final part of Season 5. Giving the fic that position and the character dynamics that come with it, as a good friend of mine put it, really made it sing.

Ghosts of Peladon
A mysterious invitation brings the Doctor and Amy to the planet Peladon, hundreds of years since his last visit. But all is not well in the royal castle; people are starting see ghosts... even the Doctor. Contains dark themes.

Peladon, as my author's notes point out, featured in two Jon Pertwee Doctor Who stories from the early seventies. What my author's notes don't mention is that neither of those stories was very good. One was a bad allegory for Britain joining the EU and the other one was a bad allegory for the miner's strike. Neither of them was very interesting.

As a result of all of this, I ditched pretty much all that stuff and focussed instead on the fact - oddly ignored by the series at the time - that a dark, psudo-medieval castle with alien guests as par for the course and a network of creepy passagways that usually have a monster in them would be a hell of a place to set a ghost story. And, like all the best ghost stories, this one's more about the things on the inside that haunt you.

The final detail of this story, part of the original inspiration, is that all the chapter titles are lines from Hamlet. In a story about a haunted king, it seemed appropriate. They aren't, however, just there to make me look clever, I put a lot of effort into making the quotes fit with the chapter content. I suspect anyone who knows the play will be able to guess at certain details of what's going on before the narrative catches up.

I look forward to finding out how this one's received. I've never written something quite so character-focussed before, at least, not something of this length. In some ways, it's also the saddest story I've written. It may not be as pure an exploration of tragedy as the Bard managed, but I'm pleased with it none the less.

Because I'm Just One Man

All I can say is that this looked like fun. So here are six works-in-progress, although in several cases 'progress' - or even 'work' - might be stretching the definition a bit. I don't actually have that many in comparison to others. Possibly it's because I tend to be rather less ambitious with my writing these days and my stories are usually quite short. Or possibly I just don't let myself get too distracted - for the most part - until I've got something complete. Or that though I have a ludicrous number of story ideas, the majority never even make it out of my head onto a page.

So at any rate, even if some of these fics stay stuck till the end of time, at least someone will have seen something of them. Suggestions as to which ones I should actually try to finish are always welcome.

Five Weiss and One OtherCollapse )

The Voyage Continues

Divine Wind, Chapter 5: Business and Pleasure

The days are short, the nights have drawn in and it's getting closer to Christmas. Possibly this means it actually is a great time to post another chapter of a story set on the Pacific in the summer. At least this'll provide everyone with a mental trip to warmer climes even if they can't manage a physical one.

This chapter also moves on a bit from the Fleming-esque surroundings - although there is still a bit of that - and we get started on the mission aspect of this mission fic.


Honour Thy Father

My father’s name is Michael John Vincent [surname withheld just in case]. He’s seventy, but I don’t think he looks it, he’s overweight and has less hair than he used to and some of it’s pretty grey. He looks like a pretty ordinary businessman, like he might work in the city, except he doesn’t; he works for British Aerospace, a defence firm. He still wears a suit to work, though occasionally with one of the amusing ties my sisters bought him for his birthday when they were younger.

Thing is, though, my dad has done some quite extraordinary things in his life. He’s been a civil servant for his entire career and to me everything he did was as just stuff my dad did, often before I was born. But I described him to some friends of mine a year or so ago and they thought he sounded like – in Laila’s words – an International Man of Mystery. So… because they seem more interesting if you think about them, and because he’s my dad and I’m his son, here are some of the things my dad's done in his life that I think are worth mentioning.

In roughly chronological order...Collapse )

It’s certainly not everything he’s ever done, but it’s certainly the more interesting stuff. I feel I should point out that I haven’t made any of this up – Laila’s heard most of these stories herself – and if there’s any hyperbole then it comes from him not me. The only way I’ve twisted it is to leave off the context for some of them, but most of the time it wouldn’t make it sound any less odd anyway.

I should point out for the sake of fairness that my mother and her family are no less interesting. My sisters and I have also had a fair few adventures of our own over the years too. But I hope one day I have as many stories to tell as my dad. After all – to borrow a quote from Marlon Brando – the son becomes the father, and the father the son.

In the Beginning

It’s suddenly occurred to me that after several years of talking about almost nothing but florist assassins on this journal, the sudden swerve into Doctor Who might seem to have come out of left field. It hasn’t. Anyone who’s met me in person could tell you that. But, since very few people reading this journal have, and since it’s mine and I can do what I like, I figure it’s time for a story. This isn’t so much a story about Doctor Who so much as how a TV series can affect someone. What this all says about me... is probably best not speculated upon.

So... once upon a time there was a small boy in London with very messy hair and an obsession with space stuff. For a burgeoning geek, it’s easy to see how you’d go from astronomy to sci-fi, but I can’t exactly remember the point it all started. It’s too far back for me. To put it simply, some of my earliest memories are of Peter Davidson turning into Colin Baker, Jon Pertwee being attacked by Morris Men, William Hartnell arguing with a Dalek and some unknown secondary character being chased through a wood by an Egyptian mummy. Looking back, this must all have been in the very early nineties (by which point Doctor Who already been cancelled), when the BBC still repeated its own shows, so I’d probably have been somewhere between five and eight at the time. There has never been a point in my life I can remember where I didn’t know who the Doctor was, what Daleks did and that sometimes you got phone boxes that were bigger on the inside. To be honest, the idea of people who don’t know all of this is... frankly weird.

Since the show itself was off the air – forever, or so it seemed at the time – I had to make do with whatever I could get. It started with books. There exist – somewhere out there – two fantastic novelisations of the stories Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks. Both these actual episodes have been lost, which is a tragedy because they’re fantastic and feature the Second Doctor at his best, I think. There may have been other books, but those are the ones I remember. At the time, Virgin were releasing The New Adventures, which I didn’t read at the time and, looking back, that’s probably for the best.

At the time it was a simple, gentle interest, competing for my attention with a few other adventurous cartoons (Mighty Max and Back to the Future: The Series are the only ones I can call to mind after all this time). But it was there, and it had potential, and when I was eleven, everything changed, because that was the year the TV movie came out. Now, looking back on it, that aborted effort had a lot of problems, but Paul McGann made a fantastic Doctor and the steampunk cathedral TARDIS is still one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on screen. After that, I was lost.

Next Stop: EverywhereCollapse )

Still a Hopeless Romantic

Between the Idea and the Reality
Just because something's inevitable, doesn't make it easy. Amy and Rory in the week between the penny and the Macarena.

As far as this particular pairing goes, the events following the flashback scene in the episode Let's Kill Hitler where Amy Pond finally discovers that Rory Williams is not only not gay but very likely hopelessly in love with her have got to be the most popular in terms of material for fanfics. I'm not exactly surprised by this. What does actually surprise me is that I decided to add a fic on the subject to the growing pile.

So why bother? Not to sound insulting, because many of these fics are very good, but I can't help but think that they make it a bit too easy. None of these fics seem to go into much detail about the massive amount of mental readjustment that would have to have gone to go from 'childhood friend' to 'romantic partner'. And this would have had to happen to both Amy and Rory; just because he's fancied her for years doesn't make the prospect of actually kissing her in the real world any less confusing and scary.

This is, in some ways, an incredibly personal story. I had to pour an awful lot of myself into it to make it work properly. Enough that it scares me a little that I put it down on paper at all.

In some ways, it isn't even a Doctor Who story. It's not about aliens or time machines or saving the universe. It's about two people realising - slowly and painfully - what they really mean to each other. And that's always a story worth telling.

Ave Centurio!

My Hero
Two reflections on Rory Williams and why he's Amy Pond's hero. Set at the opening of 'A Good Man Goes to War'.

I really, really need to organise a Doctor Who icon one of these days.

Anyway, I wrote this fanfic because I am an incurable romantic. That's the honest reason. One of the reasons I like Amy and Rory so much as a pair is that it's honestly a more mature view of love than the companions with the schoolgirl crushes on the Tenth Doctor. Amy, given the choice between the mad, impossible magician in his blue box and the boring, patient boy next door, eventually makes the sensible choice of the man who genuinely loves her.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the man in question can carve his way through a fleet of Cybermen without breaking a sweat.

That's kinda the other reason I wrote this fic. It's about how Rory sees himself as much as how Amy sees him. Over the years, this show has provided us with so many moments when an ordinary person steps up and decides to be a hero, but Rory has got to be one of the finest. He's even got a snappy outfit and a nickname to go with it. The first part of this story didn't exactly the way I thought it would precisely because I realised the implications of the new outfit and particularly the red cloak that comes with it. The psychological effects of having a costume must have been hinted at in various media before but they never really hit me until I started writing about it.

And, in case anyone's wondering, I think the reason for Rory's popularity is as follows. The Doctor is a nine hundred (probably plus) alien time traveller. Rory is a nurse who spends most of his time being bossed around by his wife. It is far, far more impressive and interesting to watch someone ordinary being extraordinary than watching someone doing something spectacular if they're already pretty extraordinary anyway. And if, after 25 years, Doctor Who has taught me nothing else, it's that everyone can be extraordinary.

Everybody Comes to Rick's

The Setting of the Sun, Chapter 3: Anything Goes

I feel like I've gone far too long without updating this fanfic, especially since I left it just when things were starting to get interesting. For one thing this chapter introduces a few other supporting characters and a location I had a great deal of fun creating.

Unfortunately for me, the fun of this fic: the descriptions, the AU versions of the characters and the twisty plot, also mean that it's rather harder going than my other stuff. Hence the reason so much time has passed in between updates.

Another note on this chapter is that it features the arrival of the Americans. I never intended this story to get political, despite occuring a mere two years after the end of World War II, but the tension between the Japanese and the occupying US forces was something I didn't feel I could ignore, especially in a story narrated by a former military officer. By way of an excuse, this same tension is hinted at - fifty years later - in the OAVs. Perhaps it wouldn't be the case if there were no canon American supporting characters, but the war and its aftermath is having a much larger effect on the story and everyone in it than I originally anticipated. The irony of all this is that if you read the Chandler novels, the ones set during the war hardly mention it.

For these and more exciting developments from post war noir Tokyo - which I am still working on - stay tuned.