28 August, 2006

Remembering TSV 38

It's been a few weeks since I've posted anything here, so apologies to the lurkers (yes, you!) who've been missing my missives.

TSV 38 (March 1994) has just joined the TSV online archive. Whilst I was re-editing this issue for online publication it dawned on me that I do not have as much recollection of this period as I do of other points in TSV's history. I put this down to the fact that 1994 was really not a good time for me, and without ever consciously intending to, I seem to have erased a lot of the details from my memory of that time. I went through a lot of personal ups and downs over the course of that year and having TSV to keep me occupied undoubtedly assisted in getting through a difficult patch in my life.

The 1994 issues saw more interviews in TSV than ever before, and issue 38 has two - with director Michael Hayes and writer Gareth Roberts. Hayes was at the time one of a few Doctor Who directors that Doctor Who Magazine had never managed to interview. Through a close family connection, TSV regular contributor Graham Howard managed to track him down and secure an interview. Not long after this issue saw print, DWM conducted their own interview with Hayes. Because of this timing I've always suspected (though never confirmed), that it was the TSV interview which tipped off the DWM guys as to Hayes' whereabouts.

In an earlier issue of TSV I had promoted a local supplier who had contacted me seeking to selling off his stock of Sevans Dalek model kits. These were rather good. I bought one myself and we gave away another in a short story competition. TSV reader Stephen Pritchard bought one of these kits and built his own remote controlled Dalek, many years before it was possible to buy such a thing ready-made. Stephen's article about the construction of his Dalek appeared in this issue. I got to see Stephen's Dalek in operation sometime after the article appeared, and it really was a thing of beauty. Stephen's still around in science fiction fandom - he's one of the organisers of Conspiracy 2, next year's SF convention in Wellington.

Jon Preddle had by this time documented missing scenes for a few stories in TSV, but this issue (featuring Dragonfire) saw the beginning of a concentrated two-year run of regular pieces from him, each looking at cut scenes from a single story, mostly from the McCoy era. This series of very detailed articles were later used in a cut-down form by the well respected fan journal In-Vision.

Signifying Nothing was a story I'd written the previous year as a Brief Encounters submission for Doctor Who Magazine. I'm pretty sure I never sent the story into the magazine. I think I got disheartened after reading that DWM already had a large pile of Brief Encounters still to publish. So I dusted off my story and printed it in TSV instead. I used to write a lot of Doctor Who short stories, but around this time I decided to focus on writing articles and leave the fiction to others much better at it than myself. Various novelisations aside, Signifying Nothing remains to this day my last piece of published Doctor Who fiction.

The last of my Novelisations articles saw print this issue, this time covering the Troughton era Target books. To this day I've yet to get around to covering the Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Doctor books. At the time I still held out faint hope that the unpublished stories from these eras might one day appear under the Target logo (there were rumours circulating at the time that the two remaining Dalek stories would soon be novelised), so that was why I initially held off writing the rest of the articles. By the time it was finally evident that the novelisations would never be published the moment had long since passed. I have been thinking though that if there's sufficient interest from readers, that I might write the articles to complete the set, for online publication.

Mentioning the novelisations brings me to well-known Doctor Who cover artist Alister Pearson, who has contributed to this online edition of TSV 38. Alister emailed me out of the blue earlier this year to correct a few small errors in my novelisations articles about his cover artwork. Alister was very complimentary about the articles, and when I got to this issue I contacted him again to get his feedback on Jon Preddle's Doctor's Dilemma article, which had attempted to answer a question abnout the cryptic initials that had appeared in many of Alister's paintings. Jon had speculated about many of the initials in his original piece and I wanted to replace the speculation with answers from the artist himself. Alister responded enthusiastically to my request, delivering a fairly comprehensive list, which you can see in the article, and has since emailed me few more times as the origins of other initials have occurred to him.

The superbly talented Warwick Gray returned to the front cover after a long absence with a terrific illustration depicting The Evil of the Daleks. I've always thought it's a shame that DWM readers don't get to appreciate that as well as being a knock-out comic strip writer, Scott Gray (as he calls himself these days) is also a great artist. Warwick had sent me the artwork as a full-page piece intended for use elsewhere in the issue, but I thought it was just too good to pass up using on the front cover. I did have to trim a section off the top of the artwork to make it fit below the TSV logo, as due to the colour separation, I couldn't simply lay the logo over the top as I'd done with many of Warwick's previous front cover compositions. When I dug out the print masters for this issue, I was delighted to discover that I still had the full illustration, so it's seen complete for the first time here.

Last but by no means least, issue 38 is also significant for featuring the first ever TSV contribution by long-time TSV regular writer and artist, Peter Adamson, another hugely talented individual whom I feel honoured to have worked with on TSV for so long. Peter's full-page Lesser-Known Who-Gear! cartoon in this issue was just the beginning of an unbroken run of contributions for 34 issues over twelve years. Lately Peter's been devoting his time to his own fanzine, Zeus Plug.

So after all that commentary, it seems I recall more about this issue than I thought! Click the link to read TSV 38.

04 August, 2006

Nightmare, With Angel

I collect books by British thriller writer Stephen Gallagher. He has an extraordinarily compelling prose style and his novels are simply gripping. I own a complete collection of his books and buy each new title soon after it comes out.

Stephen Gallagher was once an author whose works could commonly be found in bookstores, but like other horror/thriller authors, he has somwhat fallen out of fashion with mainstream book publishers over the last decade, apparently due to the declining popularity of this particular genre of novels. These days Gallagher's books are published in relatively small quantities as signed, limited edition hardbacks.

Several years ago I was sorting out my overladen bookshelves and discovered to my annoyance that I was missing one of the books from my Gallagher collection, a 1992 novel called Nightmare, With Angel. I used to own this book. I remember buying it in paperback in 1993, so I suspect that I either loaned it to someone and it was never returned, or it got misplaced during several changes of residence in the mid-1990s.

No matter, I thought; I'd just pick up a replacement copy the next time I saw it in a bookstore. Of course I could have purchased one from Amazon or Ebay, but I didn't want to go to this expense for something I should be able to find relatively easily and cheaply in person. Or so I thought.

I browse new and secondhand bookshops fairly frequently, so over the last four or five years I've been looking for this Stephen Gallagher book I must have made hundreds of visits to various bookshops, always glancing over the 'G' section of the fiction range, and checking out the horror/thriller titles, if the shop happened to have a separate section. But I simply couldn't find the book anywhere. I'm not just talking about Auckland either; in that time I've been into bookshops in Wellington, Christchurch, Brisbane, Sydney, London, Blackpool, even the world-famous bookshop town Hay-on-Wye. I've seen various other Gallagher novels on the shelves - Oktober, Follower, Valley of Lights, Rain and Down River all crop up with depressing frequency, but no Nightmare, With Angel.

There was a moment early this year when I thought my quest was at an end. I visited a secondhand bookshop in Kaikoura which had a copy of the book in paperback but - cruel fate - it was in such shockingly poor condition (the bottom half of the back cover and last few pages had been torn off) that I simply couldn't bring myself to buy it. So the hunt went on.

Finally, last weekend my luck changed. Rochelle persuaded me to get up early on Saturday morning to go with her to the Variety Club book sale, a massive collection of secondhand books held each year at the Alexandra Park raceway in Epsom. I trawled through the sale, picking up a few books that interested me and was just about to finish looking when I glanced below one of the tables to one of the overflow boxes and there it was - a copy of Nightmare, With Angel, and a first edition hardback, no less. Honestly, after years of searching, time stood still for me for a moment. I simply couldn't believe my eyes. The book was in excellent condition, and what's more, when I took it up to the counter it cost me a grand total of 50 cents which hardly seemed right after all the years I’d been looking for this elusive novel.

My Stephen Gallagher collection is complete once more and my next challenge will be to kick the long ingrained habit of looking under 'G' in bookshops!