The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Swami (Plus Strings)

Have you bought Doctor Who: Voyage To Venus from Big Finish yet? If not, I urge you to do so. Not only is it an excellent story, featuring the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, facing the fearsome fauna of an alien jungle, not only does it feature Professor George Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, portrayed by Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin, not only does it guest-star Juliet Aubrey out of Primeval, and not only did I write it, but – until the end of the year – it’s available for only £1 for download or £5 for the download and a physical CD. Any cheaper and Big Finish would be paying you to take it off their hands.  It’s part of a sort of market-test, to see if lowering prices will reduce internet piracy and increase sales; so if you want Big Finish to do more low-priced releases, then you should buy this one to show support. And then buy Doctor Who: Voyage To The New World too.

Reading the preview for it in Doctor Who Magazine, Matthew Sweet, the writer of Voyage To The New World, comments that both the stories play on ideas of colonialism, which struck me as being typically astute of him. As I wrote Voyage To Venus so long ago* I’d actually forgotten this aspect of it, but it was a conscious theme; having our heroes consider laying a claim to Venus under a union jack; the relationship with the ‘colonial’ Venusians and the native Thraskins (used as servants, or ‘Wallahs’); the way that hunting treats an environment as a place of entertainment for a governing elite, with the collection of trophies; the visit to the native swami. This also draws on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, where Mars and Venus are exotic climes which are basically analogues of Africa, telling Boy’s Own adventure stories with an obvious colonial mindset.

As I recall, around the time I was writing it I read CS Lewis’ Out Of The Silent Planet, which bored me rigid and so was not a great influence, and Olaf Stapledon’s Last And First Men, which I enjoyed greatly and found very inspiring. I also had in mind HG Wells’ The Time Machine, and the idea of humanity evolving into two distinct species along class lines, the Eloi and the Morlocks. In Voyage To Venus, a race has (artificially) evolved along lines of gender, which felt like an original idea when it occurred to me, even if it’s been done before. There’s also some Jules Verne in there, as well as some Proper Science.

Of course, the story also has the normal thrills and spills you’d expect from a Doctor Who story, and various in-jokes, including an allusion to a memorable cover of Doctor Who Weekly. This sort of thing amuses me greatly so hopefully it will amuse you too. It's also a bit of a 'Christmas Special'. So, please, download today, without delay!

(I previously blogged about Voyage To Venus earlier, here)

* The story was first mooted in September 2010, with David Richardson requesting something ‘Jules Verne-ish. A bit First Men In The Moon.’ This was just after I’d delivered Tales From The Vault. I sent off a synopsis on the 17th, and wrote the play over a couple of weeks in October/November (so over two years before it was released!). It was then recorded on January 13th 2011 (save for the opening and closing scenes which I didn’t write and which were recorded at a later date, I think).

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