Paul Cornell's Blog, page 7

October 31, 2013

The ebook version of the Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide by myself, Martin Day and Keith Topping is now available from all good e-stores, including Amazon!  You can go get one for £4.99 here.

Or how about our Avengers Dossier, New Trek Programme Guide or X-Treme Possibilities all at the same price?

If you'd like to buy the Guide in the USA, go here.  (And you can find the other ebooks there too.)

And on 28th November, added to those will be The Classic British Telefantasy Guide , which, like all the others, will be in a lovely Gollancz yellowback cover.  It's an expanded edition of a section from our Guinness Book of Classic British TV.

I commend them all to you in a hearty manner.  Cheerio!
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Published on October 31, 2013 03:00 • 109 views

October 29, 2013

I'm delighted to say that my short story from The Book of the Dead (see my last blog post for details), 'Ramesses on the Frontier', has been put online by Tor.com, with some lovely Garen Ewing artwork.  You can read it for free here.

This Saturday, while I'm at the World Fantasy Convention, Caroline will be delivering the keynote speech at the University of Manchester's Religion and Doctor Who Day. It's sold out, and there's a long waiting list, but if you want to put yourself on it I guess there's a slight chance you might get in.  I mention it chiefly because I'm very proud of her.  I'm told advance copies of her book, The Vicar's FAQ will be available on the day.

I hope to see some of you tonight at the Book of the Dead launch at the Phoenix Artists' Club in London.  Until then, Cheerio!
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Published on October 29, 2013 04:03 • 82 views

October 25, 2013

It's a great pleasure to have my story 'Ramesses on the Frontier' in the forthcoming anthology The Book of the Dead, edited by Jared Shurin, which is, I'm told the first ever anthology of original mummy fiction.  (There have been anthologies of reprints.)  Here's a list of the contents and more info.

The book goes on sale on 29th October.  Here's the gorgeous limited edition hardcover:



It's almost sold out, but you can still pre-order one (and listen to Den Patrick's story from the book 'All is Dust' on free audio download) from Spacewitch, here.

And here's the paperback:


You can order that from Amazon in both the UK and the US, and all editions (including an e-book, the links to which will appear on those pages on the 29th) will also be available on Kobo and Spacewitch.

And Unearthed is Jared's associated anthology of reprint mummy fiction, out on the same day.


But what I'm here to do today is invite all of you to the launch party for this lovely item, a perfect warm-up for the World Fantasy Convention, which is being held at the Phoenix Artist's Club in London on Tuesday 29th October at 7pm.  Here's a link to the event on Facebook, and here's how to find the Phoenix.  Loads of people involved with the book will be there, including a number of Egyptologists.  Do come along if you can.

Tonight we're off to Bristolcon, a lovely SF gathering where, among other things, I'll be interviewing the Guest of Honour, Fables artist Mark Buckingham.  I popped along to Orbital Comics last night (after dropping in to see Mary Robinette Kowal signing at FP, with puppet show), for the opening of his exhibition of art from that comic, which is truly spectacular.  If you're in London, do take a look.


I hope to see some of you at one of the above events.  Until then, Cheerio!
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Published on October 25, 2013 01:00 • 125 views

October 18, 2013

It's been an extraordinary work week, in which I delivered the second draft of a novel, then had second thoughts, rewrote the ending, and delivered it again, sent in an important Wolverine script, attended to a quite lengthy lettering draft on another, and submitted some plots for an exciting TV project.  All while looking after Tom for half the day and being ill.  Tom's first birthday party is on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to it, and seeing it as the finishing line for the week.

While all that was going on, I left my inbox unattended to, and failed to share with you a number of different exciting things.

First of all, there's my wife's new book, The Vicar's FAQ , which is out in November. I'll be blogging about it  at length nearer the time, but for now let me say that I think it's a excellent guide to the basics of what Caroline does, what all the words (like curate, priest, deacon, etc) mean, and what the underlying concepts of her belief system are.  Apart from anything else, it'll be a useful tool for writers.

A number of interviews with me from the Dublin International Comics Expo have gone up, including this one at Agents of Geek, and this one at Following the Nerd, and Kieron Gillen has put up the whole panel that he did with me, Jordie Bellaire, Becky Cloonan, Declan Shavley and Emma Vieceli, where we talked about diversity and ended up having a rather life-affirming time.  Jordie especially keeps amazing me on this subject.


On a similar subject, Graphic Scotland and Illicit Ink have released the video of me and Emma's appearance (with many other talented folk) onstage at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, with Emma drawing live to my writerly instructions. We come on right at the end, but all the acts are worth your time.



The new ebook edition of The Discontinuity Guide is released on October 31st, and, thanks to pre-orders, has already reached Number One on Amazon's Doctor Who book chart, but on the same day, and from the same publisher, another DW book is coming up, and this one's for charity.  The expanded edition of Behind the Sofa , edited by Steve Berry, includes more than 40 new entries from various celebrities (and me) about their memories of the series.  All royalties are going to Alzheimer's research.  The first edition was great, this looks to be even better, and you'll find Neil Gaiman's entry if you hit the link.

Just like last year, the great fantasy artist John Picacio is using Kickstarter to fund a calendar of his work.  I've bought one, because last year's was an excellent professional product which arrived on time and still delights Thomas every morning.  The art is once again lovely.

Talking of Picacio, on November 5th, Tor.com will be releasing a free ebook anthology of some of the best stories they published in 2013, and included is my Wild Cards effort, 'The Elephant in the Room', for which he provided the art. There's a very flattering blog post about the individual stories here, and you can pre-order the anthology here.

And finally, talking of Wild Cards, the first ebook in the latest series, Inside Straight, is, if you live in the US, just $2.99. It's a great jumping-on point.  The offer ends on November 1st.

So now you know why I was so exhausted during that Radio Free Skaro interview.  I may give myself a couple of days off soon.  In the meantime, Cheerio!

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Published on October 18, 2013 03:31 • 64 views

October 14, 2013

I'm very pleased to announce that four of the reference books I wrote with my friends Martin Day and Keith Topping are coming out in ebook form, and in a very special format.

On October 31st, The Discontinuity Guide, our guidebook to classic Doctor Who, first published in 1995, will appear, along with its three stable mates, as part of the Gollancz ebook range, sharing the iconic (virtual) yellow dust jacket with an enormous number of classic titles.  Those striking covers to what continues to be a vital line of modern SF and fantasy led me to so much wonder as a child, so it's a particular honour to be part of that list.


The Guide hasn't been updated, apart from pruning a handful of typos.  It includes the introductions from both physical editions, by Terrance Dicks and Lou Anders.

Our other books coming out on the same day are: The Avengers Dossier (John Steed and all his partners); The New Trek Programme Guide (all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the first two seasons of Deep Space Nine) and X-Treme Possibilities (our insanely detailed attempt to make sense of the first five seasons of The X-Files).

They're all quite eccentric books, with a lot of opinion and spice.  They're often credited with starting the modern wave of episode guides, and our style, of dividing episodes into recurring concepts using headings, was much copied.  I also like to think that The Discontinuity Guide, or perhaps arguing with it, set off a wave of commentaries that took a new look at Doctor Who which continues to this day.

Our lovely editor, Marcus Gipps, talks about the books here.  That, being part of Gollancz's Gateway ebook site, is also where you'll be able to buy the titles on the day (or at any good ebook store), and browse the publisher's stunning back catalogue of classic SF in ebook form.

This release is one of three things I talk about (the other two being Scream of the Shalka and The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who) on this week's edition of the Doctor Who podcast Radio Free Skaro.  It was a pleasure to give them an exclusive.  I was exhausted when I recorded the interview, and I think I come over as a bit of a gibbering wreck, but I was expertly guided through it.

I'll be blogging again tomorrow with all sorts of other stuff, and a bit more about the above.  But I thought it was important to get this out there.  Until then, Cheerio!

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Published on October 14, 2013 09:18 • 118 views

October 4, 2013

Tomorrow (October 5th), between 11am and 2pm, I'll be signing Wolverine (or anything else) at Axion Comics in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.  It's a lovely example of a local comic shop, and supports a thriving fan community.  If you're able to come along, do.

Speaking of Wolverine, #10 is out next Wednesday (the 9th) and you can see the first three pages of finished Alan Davis art here.

I really enjoyed the Dublin International Comics Expo last weekend.  The organisers seemed to do everything right, both for the attendees and the guests.  It was such a relaxation to end up in a pile of comickers in a bar late at night, as on so many occasions back in the old days.  Sometimes I need reminding that not every convention I go to is going to feel like enemy territory.  A fantastic panel about diversity in comics was a highlight, with Jordie Bellaire making me spontaneously applaud as always.  Here's a video montage that'll give you a sense of the convention...



It's been rumoured lately that the BBC astronomy series The Sky at Night is in danger of cancellation.  Now, this annoys me, not just because it's one of my favourite shows, but because for it to be in danger displays a worrying attitude at the BBC.  They might be thinking that the show was mostly a vehicle for a character presenter, in the form of Sir Patrick Moore, and that now he's gone, so has the point of it.  But what the show actually is is a public service, a touchstone for the amateur astronomy community, and a recruiting drive for professional astronomers.  By all means give it a spring clean and spruce it up (though I do enjoy current presenters Chris Lintott and Dr. Lucie Green), but please recognise that the audience want to keep it around not out of nostalgia for a past era, but as something useful and vital.  I've signed this petition to try to head off any threat to the show, and I hope you will too.

Sanford Greene is a comic artist I've had the pleasure of sitting beside at conventions, and I'm a great fan of his work.  He's got a Kickstarter going for the latest in his art book series, Deadlines #4, and he's nearly at his target.  Do take a look.

And finally, the latest SF Squeecast is out. Episode 28 was recorded live at Worldcon, and features, along with all the regulars, guest Howard Tayler.  I get to talk about my love for Fortean Times.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow.  Until then, Cheerio!
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Published on October 04, 2013 07:53 • 78 views

September 18, 2013

I'm very pleased to be part of the forthcoming anthology from Jurassic London entitled The Book of the Dead . It's a collection of stories about Egyptian mummies, featuring such luminaries as Gail Carriger, Adam Roberts, Lou Morgan, Maria Dahvana Headley, Will Hill and Maurice Broaddus.  It features illustrations by the wonderful Garen Ewing, and is published in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK's oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork in Egypt.


At the moment, pre-orders are being taken for a truly lavish 370 page hardback edition, limited to 100 books, with gold embossed titles on midnight blue buckram and dark cream endpapers, bound in cloth and sealed in wax, impressed with the seal of the Egypt Exploration Society, and with an exclusive illustration by Garen Ewing that will not appear in any other edition.  (Purchasers of the limited edition will also receive a copy of the ebook for free.)  That lovely item, and the more traditional paperback and ebook editions, will be out on October 29th.  That's also the date of the launch at the Phoenix Artist Club in London, the details of which those of you on Facebook can access here.  It's wonderful to be part of something that's been assembled with such loving care.  And I'm very proud of my story, 'Ramesses on the Frontier'.

It's also a good thing that the book's being sold via Spacewitch, an online retailer that aims to give indie publishers, particularly genre ones, a better deal.  Do check out their handsome site.

In other news, to celebrate the release of Neil Gaiman's new children's book, Fortunately the Milk..., his publisher, Bloomsbury, got a number of us together to comment on the book and toast him with a glass of the white stuff.



I'm delighted to have my Jonathan Hamilton story 'One of Our Bastards is Missing' selected for inclusion in the new anthology from David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 21st Century Science Fiction

On 26th September comes the release of The Doctor: His Lives and Times by James Goss and Steve Tribe, to which I've contributed a couple of bits, notably John Smith's diaries from 'Human Nature'.


And Geek Syndicate Magazine #7 out now and free to download, features, amongst lots of lovely stuff (notably a debate about who was the best Doctor), my opinions on what music to listen to while working.

Finally, I said I'd give a mention to any high-quality fanwork inspired by 'The Scream of the Shalka', so check out this brilliant Richard E. Grant customised action figure.

I hope I'll see some of you at Birmingham's new feminist SF convention Andromeda One this Saturday. Until then, Cheerio!
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Published on September 18, 2013 03:10 • 131 views

September 16, 2013

It's a great pleasure to be able to say that my animated Doctor Who story, 'The Scream of the Shalka' is now available on DVD.





At the time it was made (2003), we thought it was going to be the official continuation of the series.  Now that pressure is off it, I think it stands up pretty well.  I'm proud of the back story we hinted at.  I'm also proud of the number of decisions we made that the live action show also went with when it returned, notably a weary, post-traumatic Doctor who finds salvation in a working class human companion.  The story of how we made 'Shalka', how tough it all got, and how everything fell apart after one adventure, also makes for what I think is an excellent set of DVD extras.  (Including a commentary I recorded with Toby Hadoke.)

To go alongside the release, I thought I'd dedicate a blog post to pointing you towards a few items of interest that aren't on the DVD.

Here's the original website with wallpapers, music, trailers and cast interviews.  You can see the episodes there too, of course, but why go for a small window on your computer when you can get a lovely DVD with all the extras?

An extract from my novelisation, published by BBC Books, can be found here.

The only officially published sequel, Cavan Scott and Mark Wright's 'The Feast of the Stone' is here. (With downloadable wallpaper of this lovely Daryl Joyce art showing a photo-realistic 'Shalka' Doctor.)


Simon Clark, who wrote the never-produced second animation, 'Blood of the Robots', tells the story of that adventure here.

And Paul Scoones, who wrote the production subtitles for the release talks about that process here.

As mentioned in this episode of the Verity podcast, there's a little group of fan fiction writers who've decided to enlarge upon the hints we made in 'Shalka' about the nature of the Doctor's situation, and continue his story. 'An Irksome Word and Task' is a nice example of what they do.

I'd welcome more cosplay such as this from Praedestinatio and 1ucifer, as featured on Aimee Major's site.


The very talented Paul Hanley and Shawn Van Briesen produced this gorgeous sequel comic strip, albeit mostly in script form.

This chap's Doctor Who tapestry has a 'Shalka' section...


And here's DeviantART's page of 'Shalka' fan art.  I particularly like 'Shalka' Doctor Whooves.

If you know of any 'Shalka'-related fan creativity, let me know, and I'll feature it in a future blog post.



If this is the first time you've encountered 'Shalka', I hope you'll forgive the animation (which won awards in its time for what it achieved within some very specific parameters), and enjoy the story.  I'm glad we got live action Doctor Who back, and I wish that clunking line about Pachelbel wasn't in there (among other moments when I wince a bit), but all in all, I'm mightily glad we did it, and especially pleased that it can finally take its place on my DVD shelf.  Do let me know what you think.  Cheerio!
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Published on September 16, 2013 03:03 • 328 views

September 15, 2013

Just a quick blog post before tomorrow's big 'Shalka'-related blog to mention that I'm rather pleased with this interview with me about the current 'Killable' story arc in Wolverine.

Hmm, I'm a bit vexed at having a blog post that tiny.  Ah, yes.  Tom just got his third tooth!  There we go. Until tomorrow, Cheerio!
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Published on September 15, 2013 08:07 • 58 views

September 8, 2013

In the last couple of days I've received emails and Facebook messages from a few people who were offended by my Hugo Awards routine about 'Smofs' and Smurfs.  (Basically, I compared them in ways unflattering to 'Smofs' in terms of diversity, then used the term Smof as an expletive, like the Smurfs use their name.  To repeat the jokes here would be to repeat the offence.)

I initially reacted by thinking 'a comedy routine has to stand alone, I can't offer notes and caveats', but swiftly realised that wasn't good enough.  Then I moved to explaining on Twitter how much I hate the  *word* (or acronym) Smof.  It stands for 'Secret Master of Fandom' and is used as a synonym for 'con runner' or 'Hugo organiser'.  It's right up there with 'mundane' as one of those ancient SF fandom terms that's actually offensive.  (It was always meant to be a joke, but it could only really be one if those concerned were immensely public in their doings and at the bottom of the social order.)  I told myself that that was what that part of my routine had been about, the word, not the people who identify with that word.  I did indeed begin that section of my speech by saying 'Smofs' did 'lovely' work for the genre community.

But I think after that point I went astray.  I think I broke two rules which I hold other people to, and it's taken me days of searching my conscience to realise that.

Firstly, I always say that when someone tells you they're offended, they're not lying.  One has to deal with the offence one has caused as real, and not regard such complaints as ill-conceived or somehow 'wrong'. Many 'smofs' have written to me in support, saying they felt gently teased, that it was all in good fun, but the ones for whom it felt like a personal insult don't deserve to have their feelings ignored.  One reaction is as 'true' as the other.

Secondly, while I'm sure there are those among the ranks of 'Smofs' who deserve a little satire, I'm also sure there are those who absolutely do not.  My error was to tar them all with the same brush, to not be precise, but instead to hurt a range of people through the term they identify with.  'Things are complicated' as our heroes said in Knight and Squire.  I don't like it when other groups are made into folk devils, but there I was doing it.  It's terrifyingly easy and tempting to follow the crowd and go for that sort of laugh.  It's also a very bad thing to do.

One might say that most groups turned into folk devils are at the bottom of their systems of social power, and that here I was attacking upwards, as one might mock the government or the local council.  But I don't like it, and have said so, when the folk devil thing happens even there.  I go on about 'Tories', but I really shouldn't, not in general, when I have friends on the right as well as on the left.  I don't like to hear 'bankers' as a general insult, even when I think that many within that group have ruined my country and others, because I think we all know that that term also must include some wonderful people.  (I'm only comparing 'Smofs' to these groups in terms of them being wielders of social power in their subcultures, not in terms of ethics.)

Most awful to me was the realisation, yesterday, that among those I'd offended were some of my hosts at LoneStarCon 3.  I regard this as shameful on my part.  They didn't reveal how they felt at the time because I was their guest, and they were continuing the immense hospitality they'd offered me throughout.  They only told me about their feelings when I asked them.  I can't underline enough how devastated I was to hear that.  As I said at their closing ceremony, it was this convention that restored some of my faith in the Worldcon movement, that reminded me of all that I liked about it.  Their care for me was wonderful, and I so desperately don't want to have repaid that by hurting them.  It never occurred to me that they'd see themselves as included in what I was satirising.  That they did is a failure on my part, not theirs.

So, I'd like to offer an unreserved public apology to those who were offended.  I'm not using those modern weasel words 'if any offence was caused'.  I understand what I did to you, I know the offence was real, and I apologise utterly.  I should have taken a lot more care.  I'm terribly sorry.

(While we're at it, on a completely different topic, I really should have included Genevieve Valentine in the list of 'writers, editors, bloggers and activists' that I mentioned during the ceremony.  In that case I simply forgot.  Again I'm very sorry for the lack of care.)

My aim for that evening was that everyone would leave the auditorium happy.  I failed in that at the same moment as I failed to live up to my own ethical standards.
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Published on September 08, 2013 20:24 • 211 views