18 February, 2006

TSV Regenerates

The baton has been passed. After 15 years of editing and layout for 50-odd issues (plus specials), there's a new TSV issue out for which I've done neither of these tasks. There's a new guy, Adam McGechan, in charge.

TSV itself regenerated and now has a bold new look. The somewhat antiquated Sylvester McCoy era-inspired logo has been retired after 15 years faithful service and a stylish new masthead takes its place.

It's a slightly weird feeling to be a TSV reader, experiencing each article for the first time already laid up on the page. Not having had to solicit the piece from a writer, gently remind him of a looming (or past) deadline, not having to polish the spelling and grammar. Not having to try and fit it into a set number of pages, to try and find some illustrations that fit the subject matter. It's all been done by someone else now.

Here's the publicity blurb:

In TSV 72 (February 2006), Adam McGechan talks to John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Corey Johnson (Henry van Statten), and Dalek voicemaster Nick Briggs in a set of exclusive new series interviews; Chris Skerrow begins his retrospective look at the BBC Past Doctor Adventures; Paul Scoones examines deleted scenes from the 2005 series; David Ronayne weaves a Ninth Doctor tale with Night of the Butterfly; as well as the latest news on series two and reviews of the latest toys, audios, DVDs, book and magazines. All packed into 100 pages, TSV 72 is available now.

Further details can be found at http://www.doctorwho.org.nz.

16 February, 2006

It's all about the droid

At a science fiction convention I attended a few years back I hosted a Star Wars discussion group. In fact this was the last convention I went to before I swore off these things (15 conventions is more than enough for the novelty to have well and truly worn off...). At the time Attack of the Clones was still reasonably recent and nothing as yet was known about Episode 3. The topic I came up with for the discussion was that armed with the knowledge of what occurs in Episodes 1, 2 and 4-6, it should be possible to make a fairly educated guess at the events of Episode 3.

A lively brainstorming session ensued. I think from memory that most of what we predicted was proved correct when Revenge of the Sith came out, and I was particularly pleased that my own prediction that very last shot of the film would be Obi Wan handing over the baby Luke to Own and Beru outside the Lars homestead on Tattooine was pretty much bang on.

One day I intend to watch all six movies in order to appreciate just how well the saga works as a cohesive narrative. Apparently watching A New Hope directly after Revenge of the Sith casts Darth Vader in an entirely new light as a more tragic than truly evil figure. For my money though it's R2D2 who is revealed to be a key player in events.

Crucially R2's memory is not wiped (though C3PO's is), so throughout episode 4-6 this little droid is working with the full awareness of what happened in the first three movies - and armed with this knowledge most likely helps to move things in the right direction. R2 knows full well who Obi Wan is, and probably knows about Luke and Leia's parentage too.

I've discovered a great article which speculates on this very theory, and even more interestingly credits another secondary character with a much greater role in events than hitherto had been suspected. Read the article here.

05 February, 2006

TSV issue 34 now online

TSV 34 is the latest issue to be added to the online archive. This issue was published in July 1993, and happens by accident rather than any degree of foresight to capture that all too brief time in 1993 when it really did look like a new Doctor Who story was going to be made by the BBC.

The Dark Dimension, a ninety minute special featuring all the surviving Doctors, was announced and then cancelled within a few short weeks. TSV 34 happened to be published within that time, and therefore, perhaps tempting fate, the cover boldly featured a diagonal flash stating "It's Back!". Almost as soon as the issue was mailed out, it wasn't.

Working on these old issues of TSV for their new lease of life on the Internet brings back memories. The issue features an article called Creating the Kandy Man by Rochelle Thickpenny. Until that time I only knew of Rochelle as a club member who often sent me drawings for publication in TSV. I was at the DefCon 93 convention in Wellington where she wore her Kandy Man costume and won an award for it. After the judging I ran into Rochelle in the corridor and asked her to write the article that appeared in issue 34. Rochelle later told me that me asking her to write that article made a big impression on her. I think it certainly marked the beginning of our friendship. That friendship later developed into a relationship - and this year we'll celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. You could say that it all started with that article.

TSV 34 also featured the results of a short story competition. The winner was an Auckland fan called Nicholas Withers, whose story, Remembrance, I think was the first thing he wrote for TSV. I delivered his prize (a kitset model Dalek) to his house in person. I think that was the first time we met. What's significant about this is that a few years later, Nick became my co-editor on TSV.

Nick's contribution to TSV cannot be underestimated. It was Nick who opened my eyes to a better way to put the magazine together. In early 1996 he dragged me away kicking and screaming from my electric typewriter, gluesticks and dot matrix printer and introduced me to the wonders of PC desktop publishing. I learned to use Microsoft Publisher by peering over his shoulder as he deftly laid up page after page of TSV on his computer. It was Nick who advised me about buying my own desktop PC and it was Nick who showed me how to get connected online, how to email and how to use the Internet. Given where those skills have taken me in my career, I owe Nick a debt of thanks. If you're reading this Nick, thanks mate.

... Which brings me to a sudden and surprising realisation - that about now marks the tenth anniversary of me getting my first internet connection!

03 February, 2006

Even Better than the Real Thing

I have tickets to U2. Finally.

If you'd asked me a week ago if I was going to see U2, when they play Auckland next month, I'd have shook my head and muttered something bitterly about queuing for four hours in vain, about overloaded websites and phone lines and ridiculously ineffecient ticket booking syststems.

U2 have been my favourite music group for many years. I first discovered them in the mid-1980s, around the time of The Unforgettable Fire. I loved The Joshua Tree; Rattle and Hum not so much. The group took a long break after that album and I took an even longer break from U2, but not before seeing them play live at Western Springs stadium in Auckland in January 1990.

I rediscovered U2 around 1996 when, on an impulse, I purchased a copy of the Achtung, Baby album. I still consider this to be the finest album they've ever made. The driving, industrial edge to their reinvented sound and the provocative lyrics are just perfect. Achtung Baby isn't just music, it's art.

I missed out on seeing U2 when they played Auckland in the mid-1990s. I was broke and simply could not afford to go.

In recent years I've built up a collection of every U2 CD and every DVD I can lay my hands on. I've even filled in the gaps in their back catalogue of CD singles through some vigilant shopping around on ebay. I even bought the U2 iPod when it was first released.

So when the band announced they were coming to Auckland on their Vertigo tour, there was no question - I had to go. Getting tickets however proved harder than I imagined. The website selling tickets crashed and their phone sales line overloaded. Despite this inability to buy online or over the phone, tickets to their Saturday concert somehow sold out within a couple of hours. A second concert for thre Friday night was announced. This time I joined a queue at dawn outside Real Groovy Records, a music store in central Auckland that would be selling tickets. I queued for four and a half hours. I was ten people from the front of the line when the concert sold out.

That was in early December. Over the days and weeks that followed, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be going to either concert. I spoke to many people who had also tried for tickets and lucked out. I even found myself listening to U2 less and less. It wasn't that I blamed the band for my disppointment, it was just that listening to their CDs and watching their DVDs became a painful reminder that even though I had all their music and had listened to them for years, I wouldn't be able to see them live in concert.

A couple of days ago a friend at work told me that there were still tickets available through a US tour company. Pricier than they had been if I'd managed to get them when they first went on sale, but cheaper than the ludicrous prices on NZ auction site TradeMe. The package includes a pre-concert party and travel to the concert venue as part of the price, so that's good.

Most importantly I now have tickets and we're going to the Saturday night, St Patrick's day U2 concert.

Last night I played the Vertigo - Live from Chicago DVD on the big screen and turned it up loud. I love this group.