Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bostin books

Santa’s been and gone and I hope he has left everyone something they wanted, particularly in books. As usual, the old fellow has come up with the literary goods for me, as well as delivering some surprises. Biggest surprise of all has been a signed copy of Michael Moorcock’s Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles. I never saw this one coming!

The only TV spin off novels I’ve ever read were about Stingray when I was a child; it’s not a genre I’ve ever explored as an adult. The rather ugly name for books based on stories that first appear in film or TV form is “novelisation”. According to the BBC’s h2g2 site, Doctor Who is the most novelised programme in history, with only five episodes not transformed to book form. Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks alone wrote over 60 of them. Other famous novelisations are Star Trek, Blake’s 7 and the original Battlestar Galactica (I am currently rewatching the superb remake with Edward James Olmos). Comments the author of the h2g2 entry, “Novelisations are often looked down on as a literary form, being considered commercial rather than art”.

I’ll confess that if you’d asked me to read a novelisation before I got this book I would have turned my nose up at it, so it will be interesting to see just how fair the judgement is, at least in relation to The Coming of the Terraphiles. It won’t be the first Michael Moorcock book I’ve read: I read some of his books many years ago and remember enjoying them (though I can’t now, alas, remember what they were). At least I know he can write!

Small connections: The Coming of the Terraphiles features a pirate called Captain Cornelius, who shares his name with Moorcock’s character Jerry Cornelius. M John Harrison wrote a number of stories about Jerry Cornelius which were published in Moorcock’s The New Nature of the Catastrophe. I’m currently reading M John Harrison’s unspeakably brilliant Viriconium stories in the Orion Fantasy Masterworks edition. In one of the stories Harrison refers to places called “Shifnal” and “the Wergs”. This made me laugh. Only someone from the Black Country could have heard of the Wergs, I thought. I looked Harrison up and discovered he was born in Rugby, Warwicks. Close enough! Then I came across this verse: “We are the Barley brothers./Ousted out of Birmingham and Wolverhampton”. I was born and brought up in Wolves, and I’m still chuckling at the thought of the town finding its way into any literary creation, let alone one as exotic as Viriconium. It’s just bostin’.


Science Fiction Novelisations, http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A65947909

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