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M. Clarke "fundamentalist1981"
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Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham
Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham
by Andrew Burnham and Aidan Nichols
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.25

5.0 out of 5 stars The Prayer Book for Catholics, 6 Dec 2014
The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham provides a daily office of morning, evening and night prayer for those Catholics who have come from Anglicanism. It adapts the order of the Book of Common Prayer for use in a Catholic context, for instance the Litany incorporates prayer to Mary and saints and a prayer for the Pope is added to morning and evening prayer. Collects are provided for both Latin-rite Catholic feasts and feasts that are of particular significance for English Catholics and ex-Anglicans. This is an invaluable resource for Catholics who love the Book of Common Prayer and want to retain it in their private devotion, or corporate devotion in the Ordinariate.

The grandeur of Prayer Book English is mostly retained, yet occasionally concessions weaken this. For instance, Holy Ghost is changed to Holy Spirit, which having an extra syllable, does not roll off the tongue with the same dignity. Passages from Scripture are also taken from the RSV and not the King James Bible. If the KJV was unacceptable to Catholics, could the Douay-Rheims not have been used?

The page markers are useful and I like the short lectionary at the back, which is useful if one does not want to disrupt daily prayer by searching in one's Bible for passages.

This is an elegant volume and very well bound. It is sturdy enough to last many years.


Sol Austan, Mani Vestan
Sol Austan, Mani Vestan
Price: £16.31

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unearthly, 4 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Sol Austan, Mani Vestan (Audio CD)
I had been rather disappointed with the previous Burzum album, Umskiptar. It very much felt like Varg had left the musical territory that he was comfortable with in branching out into melodic folk metal. With this album, he returns to ambient noise, a genre in which he is far more familiar and he does a great job with it.

I am really disappointed that so many fans are moaning about Burzum doing an ambient album. This stuff is really good. He has improved considerably from his earlier ambient efforts.

This music just feels so unearthly. It takes one to an whole new world. Like the best Burzum tracks, it awakens parts of the mind one does not normally use and unlocks forgotten dreams.

There are hints of Vinterriket here as well as Delerium.


TARDIS Eruditorum - An Unofficial Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 3: Jon Pertwee
TARDIS Eruditorum - An Unofficial Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 3: Jon Pertwee
by Philip Sandifer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.05

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Fascinating Volume, 20 July 2013
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Once again we review the most recent volume of Phil Sandifer's fascinating psychochronography of Doctor Who. As ever we ask, why buy it when you can read the blog for free? Firstly, the quality of the writing is so much better in the book than on the blog. Secondly, we get bonus essays on Torchwood, the mechanics of the TARDIS and a guest essay from Anna Wiggins.

From the outset, Sandifer admits that the Pertwee era is his least favorite period of Doctor Who. This is something I have in common with him, though my reasons for liking the Pertwee stuff are less political than his. This critical stance toward these episodes enables him to write on them with a very evident creative and reflective tension. His concluding essay on Jon Pertwee's tenure is delightfully nuanced, yet for all that he is able to celebrate those things about the character, the actor and the era that are enjoyable.

The book begins with a very interesting essay on Monty Python's Flying Circus. Phil points out that Monty Python had a sketch entitled Science Fiction Sketch, which comes across very much as an absurd parody of the Third Doctor and UNIT. However, remarkably this was broadcast before Spearhead from Space! Thus, the Pertwee era had been effectively lampooned before it had even begun. This observation sets the theme for much of the book, with Sadifer viewing Pertwee-Who as a sort of unintentional parody of itself.

Phil's leftist politics come out in his strong criticism of the Doctor's involvement with UNIT. He makes two criticisms, firstly that the Doctor so quickly becomes involved with a military organisation. Secondly, that the Doctor remains involved with UNIT after the Brigadier's actions at the end of Dr Who and the Silurians. He feels the Doctor's relationship with UNIT ought to have ended then and any criticism in that story is muted by this failure to disengage. He is also uncomfortable with the patrician demeanor adopted by Pertwee.

The essay on The Ambassadors of Death is primarily about David Whitaker, being his last story. It is an affectionate tribute to one of the most fundamental creators of the show. Phil is much more critical of Inferno, a story that gets a lot of undeserved praise from fans. I very much agree with Phil's preference for the former story.

Sandifer does not view Season 7 as a distinct era of Doctor Who, as some fans do. He does, however, make a distinction between 'Action Pertwee' and 'Glam Rock Pertwee.' The former is basically a straightforward action thriller styled science fiction story. The Mind of Evil is perhaps the best example of this. Phil is very critical of this kind of story and seems to feel it is too great a departure from the ethos of Doctor Who, as well as tending towards a dangerous moral simplicity. 'Glam Rock Pertwee' is a rather more complex beast. It is a kind of colourful composition of action and exotica that is absolutely serious, yet somehow feels like a pastiche. Sandifer views The Claws of Axos as the defining example of this genre, with each character playing a clearly defined role that on the surface appears absurd.

I was glad to see that Phil finds things to like about The Time Monster. It's a terrible story, yet he recognises that it has a fascinating combination of Platonism and Buddhism. His essay on the mechanics of the TARDIS also explores the alchemical properties of the Doctor's ship. I found the essay on David Bowie's music and it's thematic similarities to Pertwee-Who very enlightening, particularly as I have never been a Bowie fan.

Phil's essay on The Three Doctors is a marvel. He refers to Doctor Who characters by names taken from William Blake's mythological works. It's beautifully written, but I'm not sure I understand it. I do wish Phil would write a more straightforward essay about Blakean themes in Doctor Who for the benefit of more matter of fact people like me. Anna Wiggins, adds a little clarity to what Phil is trying to do, but her piece is not aided by her unfamiliarity with Blake. I would love to have a better understanding of what Phil is trying to say in his comparison of Blake and Doctor Who.

Unsurprisingly, Carnival of Monsters gets a lot of praise from Phil. It is definitely his favorite story of the period. It is of course, completely different anything else in its era. I would suggest that it feels more like a Season 24 story. Phil seems impressed with Frontier in Space, despite the problem of the Doctor spending much of the story in various jail cells. He comes up with an interesting redemptive reading of the underwhelming and rather tedious Planet of the Daleks. He points out that Terry Nation does not really capture the Third Doctor's usual persona:

"So Pertwee does not get to run around and be ostentatiously imperious as he prefers. Nor does he get to be ignored and occasionally tortured, as he's best at. Instead he stands around and gives speeches about the meaning of courage. Pertwee certainly isn't bad at this, but it's neither in his wheelhouse nor something he visibly enjoys."

Sandifer suggests that Planet of the Daleks is the kind of old fashioned space adventure that the Doctor has outgrown. Now that he is capable of dealing with more complex stories, he can take a back seat and just make speeches about courage and leave the heroism to others.

I was glad to see that The Green Death came in for some criticism. This story tends to get let off easily by fans, despite its shortcomings. While praising The Time Warrior, Phil savages it for its sexism. He finds little to praise and much to criticize in the (in my opinion barely watchable) Season 11.

I am a bit puzzled by Sandifer's handling of Jo Grant. He attacks the sexism of Terrance Dicks which led to her creation. However, he seems to offer some sort of redemptive reading, describing her as 'alchemical' and claiming that she subverts the narrative structure of the stories. I'm not quite sure what he is talking about. This seems to be an example of our author getting lost in his nether-world of radical literary theory and losing the rest of us. That said, this volume is yet another interesting read from Phil and I must say I can't wait for the Tom Baker volume.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2013 7:33 PM BST


The Comic Strip Companion: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who in Comics: 1964 - 1979
The Comic Strip Companion: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who in Comics: 1964 - 1979
by Paul Scoones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.46

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful for Fans, 14 July 2013
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The Doctor Who comics, particularly the early comics, have often tended to be a bit neglected by fandom. Yet they are an important part of the history of the franchise and were of great importance to young fans in the era before Doctor Who novels and audios.

The Comic Strip Companion provides a useful reference tool for the first phase of Doctor Who comics, that is those before the Doctor Who Weekly. This volume includes entries for all the Doctor Who TV Comic strips, the Countdown and TV Action strips, the World Distributors annual strips up to 1979, as well as the TV Century 21 Dalek strips and other strips in Terry Nation's various Dalek spin-off material. Sadly, the book includes no reproductions of strips.

It follows the pattern of so many episode guides, giving a synopsis of each story, as well as continuity details and goofs as well as a critique. Information about these stories can be found online, however, Scoones offers much more detail than has previously been available. What particularly stands out is the wealth of historiographical materail that Scoones collects, providing a clear picture of the publication history of the comics. Regarding the critiques, it can be tedious reading the author's continual laments about the quality of the strips, particularly the Sixties TV Comic strips. I might have liked him to show a little more enthusiasm for his chosen subject matter. On the other hand, I would have liked to have seen some acknowledgement of the racial stereotyping that can be seen in the TV Century 21 Dalek strips (Power Play and Menance of the Monstrons).

The author makes the assumption that the comics are set in an alternate universe and therefore makes no attempt to reconcile them with Doctor Who television continuity. I was very disappointed and consider the alternate universe view a rather lazy assumption. To my mind, a major appeal to the comics is the idea that the Doctor had more adventures than can be seen on television. It would have been so much more interesting had the author attempted to suggest ways to fit these stories in to the wider Doctor Who mythos.

This is definitely a useful book for fans to buy, but it is not the comic companion I would have liked to have read.


TARDIS Eruditorum - An Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 2: Patrick Troughton
TARDIS Eruditorum - An Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 2: Patrick Troughton
by Philip Sandifer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some really interesting ideas here, 11 May 2013
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I hope you have enjoyed reading Dr. Phil Sandifer's fascinating Doctor Who blog, because I certainly have. When it comes to buying his second volume on the Troughton era, the question is, why buy the book when you can read the blog for free? As with the previous volume, there is plenty of extra material to justify the purchase. Sandifer offers essays on several spin-off products that are not covered on the blog, such as Baxter's Wheel of Ice. He also provides bonus essays on topics such as UNIT dating and the unfortunate presence of mute black strong men in some stories.

The Troughton era is not my favorite period in the history of the show. I like Season 4 and find some of Season 6 fun, but I find Season 5 monotonous. As ever with Sandifer, sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I disagree with him. Thankfully, this we haven't got to the Thatcher era in the books yet, so his left-wing politics come across as a little less obnoxious than they have been on the blog.

A key paradigm in Sandifer's discussion of the Second Doctor is the notion of his 'Mercuriality,' that is his connection with the mystical properties of metals within the alchemical tradition. This concept is vital in making sense of The Wheel in Space.

As regards the last true Doctor Who historical (leaving aside Black Orchid, which is barely an historical), Sandifer argues that the story is primarily about convincing viewers that the Hartnell era was over and the new regime was going to be a lot more fun. The Highlanders is thus a wicked send-up of the Spooner historicals. I was pleased to see that Sandifer has some positive things to say about the undeservedly despised Underwater Menace. On Moonbase, he argues that this story is about the Doctor facing up to the evil that destroyed his previous incarnation.

Sandifer seems unable to praise Evil of the Daleks highly enough. I'm not sure I agree with his assesment. This story feels somewhat overlong and tedious to me. Given the absence of so many episodes, I'd rather reserve judgment on it. He argues that this was the first Steampunk story. If so, it deserves a lot of blame for originating this tedious and overused genre.

Sandifer is negative in his assessment of Tomb of the Cybermen. I have praised that story myself, but I have largely come to agree with his view of it. His essay on that story is preceded by an interesting piece on race in Troughton era Doctor Who. A lot of readers may feel that he is a little too forgiving toward Evil of the Daleks and Web of Fear, despite their use of racial stereotypes. He is uncomfortable, however, with The Abominable Snowman on account of its Orientalism.

As with Evil of the Daleks, Sandifer cannot stop praising The Enemy of the World. He makes some strong points that incline me to be favorable to it, though it's hard to evaluate a lost story like this one. He looks at The Web of Fear primarily in terms of its role in shaping fan expectations of what Doctor Who should be about.

Sandifer is very harsh in his criticism of The Dominators, which he views as an 'attack on the ethical foundations of Doctor Who.' I was disappointed because I rather like that story. I don't know what that says about me. His next essay on The Mind Robber is quite fascinating. He offers the remarkable theory that the Doctor is from the Land of Fiction and its creators are his own people. I don't find this theory altogether convincing and it seems a distraction from the fact that The Mind Robber is poorly conceived and tedious story. His take on The War Games is particularly fascinating. He views it as a kind of narrative critique of the entire Troughton era, which makes it an appropriate conclusion to that period of the show.

On the Season 6B question, he is rather dismissive of the idea, viewing it as an example of ludicrous continuity obsession. May he be forgiven. He also unfortunately favours dating the UNIT stories to the period when they were broadcast.

I don't think one can argue with his assertion that Prison in Space was a piece of appalling sexism that should never have been revisited by Big Finish.

I would highly recommend TARDIS Eruditorum vol.2 to all Doctor Who fans.


TARDIS Eruditorum - A Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 1: William Hartnell
TARDIS Eruditorum - A Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 1: William Hartnell
by Philip Sandifer
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, even if you have read the blog, 5 April 2013
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You may have enjoyed reading TARDIS Eruditorum, the blog of Dr Phil Sandifer. The first two volumes of his blog archives are now available in print, covering the First Doctor and Second Doctor eras respectively. We may hope that the next volumes will soon find themselves in print.

TARDIS Eruditorum attempts to chart the development of Doctor Who as a cultural text from An Unearthly Child to the BBC Wales series. I did wonder at one time whether this project was really worthwhile after the very exhaustive About Time, by Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles. However, Sandifer offers analysis of the Doctor Who stories that is a good deal more thoughtful and rather less hurried than that of the About Time books.

Sandifer began his Doctor Who project after graduating with his PhD and finding that job opportunities in his chosen field were rather scarce. I can identify with Sandifer, as I also gained a PhD and then found it to have limited currency in the employment market. Thankfully, I found an alternative career working with drug users and alcoholics.

The blog is written in a somewhat intellectual style. Occasionally, Sandifer loses me, but this tends to be when he gets into discussion with fellow intellectuals in the comment section. He also writes from a strongly left of centre position. Sometimes his socialism can be irritating, but I'm happy to read writers who don't share my conservatism.

That you can read the TARDIS Eruditorum blog for free rather raises the question of why one would want to buy a printed copy. I have no regrets about buying the book and plan to buy future volumes. The book contains some great bonus material, including fascinating essays and some reviews of spin-off material not covered on the blog.

In dealing with the Hartnell material, Sandifer charts the appearance in the show of those things that make the series Doctor Who as we know it- the Doctor's need for companions and his discovery that there are monsters that must be fought. He has a lot to say about what he calls the 'Problem of Susan' (named from the interesting but problematic short story by Neil Gaiman). By this he means textual difficulties inherent in Susan's character which ultimately resulted in her complete disappearance from the show. This ties into wider difficulties connected to the sexuality of female companions in Doctor Who.

Sandifer makes a powerful case that there are no pre-Unearthly Child adventures. He argues that the character we see in that first serial is utterly unequipped to be the Doctor. It is only his interaction with Ian and Barbara that make him into the heroic figure we see in later stories. This was argued on the blog, but is given further exploration in an essay on the Doctor's travels before Totters Lane. I tend to agree with Sandifer on this, though this is problematic for me because I view The Infinity Doctors as a pre-Unearthly Child story (and not an Unbound story). I think Sandifer's thesis of an unheroic older Hartnell is not incompatible with him being a bit more adventurous in the days when he was the younger Hartnell Doctor that I believe we see in The Infinity Doctors. Sandifer has not yet covered The Infinity Doctors, so we shall have to wait to see his view of how that story fits into the Doctor Who mythos.

I very much enjoyed Sandifer's discussion of The Web Planet, seeing it not as a disaster, but as one of the high points of the show. He sees in that serial a delightful exploration of just how weird and unearthly Doctor Who can get. He also joins the chorus of those of us who love the much maligned The Gunfighters. He finds much value in the Dalek spin-off material of the Sixties, arguing that it enables us to imagine the grandeur of the Doctor Who universe beyond the confines of the screen.

In an interesting bonus essay, Sandifer considers the question of whether William Hartnell was a bigot. He condemns two stories in particular for their racial subtext, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker. It's hard to argue with Sandifer's condemnation of the racism of The Celestial Toymaker. He is appalled that the Celestial Toymaker has been re-used several times by Big Finish. I understand his anger, but I also understand why the character has returned. There is a such a strong sense of nostalgia about Michael Gough's Toymaker. He also cuts a very striking visual image. Yes, it might be racist to have a baddie looking like a Chinese Mandarin, but it is an undeniably impressive costume choice.

Maybe it's because I'm a right-wing bastard, but The Ark is very dear to me. I do think that The Ark can be defended against Sandifer's Post-Colonialist criticisms. Sandifer's reading rests upon the assumption that the Monoid's negative qualities are inherent in their nature and are not a result of their treatment by the humans. I think the Monoid tyranny can be seen as generated by the intolerance and stupidity of the Guardians, an hypothesis that the Doctor seems to allude to in that story. Like it or not, The Ark seems to reflect reality to some degree, as colonialism was often replaced by hideously corrupt and brutal dictatorships. I have heard people who once condemned Ian Smith as a racist bigot admit that in hindsight his opposition to majority rule in Rhodesia made sense.

Sandifer feels so strongly about The Celestial Toymaker and The Ark that he wants to exclude them from the canon of Doctor Who stories. This is unsurprising, as he has argued on his blog against the idea of a 'Whoniverse,' that is, a single unified fictional universe in which all Doctor Who stories take place. He seems to favour instead a canon in the artistic sense of an anthology of recognised texts. This is not my philosophy. Seeing Doctor Who as a unified fictional universe is an important part of how I consume and enjoy Doctor Who. I prefer a canon that is inclusive of as many texts as possible, including more problematic material like that of the Sixties TV Comic. This raises the question of what I would do with Doctor Who stories that contain racism or sexism. For me the answer to that is to regard such texts as unrealiable narrations of the events. Every story is true, but the details may not be accurate. Racially problematic materials can be seen in the same way as zips on the Silurian costumes or Ace remembering Paradise Towers.

For me, the most welcome addition in the book was the essay on whether Doctor Who is the name of the titular character. Yet I was irritated by one statement. Sandifer says "The problem is that there are no dedicated fans advocating for his name being Doctor Who." I am a dedicated fan and I have argued on my blog that his name really is Doctor Who.

His glorious essay on The Chase has to be read to be believed. Who could imagine that this silly story was about deconstructing the narrative essence of Doctor Who? That's much more interesting than saying it's 'silly but fun.'

I would heartily recommend Doctor Who fans to buy this book and also the second volume that is now available.


Return to the Web Planet (Doctor Who)
Return to the Web Planet (Doctor Who)
by Daniel O'Mahoney
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming of insects and strange unearthly forests..., 2 Jun 2010
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I am among the minority of Doctor Who fans that love the original Web Planet.

This audio story creates a somewhat different atmosphere to the original with its ethereal celestial desert and acid pools. Instead, we have a strange forest landscape, though the noise of Zarbu evokes the original. Both stories have a dreamy feel.

The story is interesting enough, though oen struggles to get one's head around the concept revealed at the story's conclusion.

I think the two Menoptera voices ought to sound just a little bit more alien than they do.

Probably the best part of this audio is the amazing musical score, which is included as an isolated music track at the end of the CD.


Age of Ra
Age of Ra
by James Lovegrove
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Story, 1 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Age of Ra (Paperback)
This was a really interesting sci-fi twist on Egyptian mythology.

Rather than take the cliched route of making the Egyptian gods aliens, they are treated as real cosmic deities and they play a very colourful role in the story. Lovegrove really brings the gods to life.


Doré's Illustrations for "Paradise Lost" (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)
Doré's Illustrations for "Paradise Lost" (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)
by Gustave Doré
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.49

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dore's best stuff, 5 Jan 2008
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This is the greatest of Dore's work. He makes Paradise Lost come to life.

Nobody could draw angels en masse as Dore did. Dore's image of an handsome Satan is quite distinct.


Urkraft
Urkraft

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vikings go Prog, 8 Dec 2007
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This review is from: Urkraft (Audio CD)
Some fans dislike this album because of its more progressive sound. I think that is a shame. It has all of Thyrfing's energy and aggression, even if it is not Valda Galga.

The clean vocals are incredibly strong and passionate and the progressive keyboard sound is very enjoyeable to listen to.


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