The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sci-Fi

Just for fun, and my own reference – a list of science fiction films I’ve seen, based on the 1985 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies (which includes things like James Bond films and some fantasy movies etc but doesn’t include stuff like Carry on Spying, Somewhere in Time and Ghostbusters) and then wikipedia. There may be a few I've forgotten - when modern films have titles like Transcendence and Advantageous it's hard to remember what the hell they were about!)

 
1926
Metropolis
1936
Things to Come
1951
The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Man in the White Suit, The Thing, When Worlds Collide
1953
Invaders from Mars, It Came from Outer Space, War of the Worlds
1954
20,000 Leagues under the Sea
1955
This Island Earth
1956
Earth versus the Flying Saucers, Forbidden Planet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1984, Plan 9 from Outer Space
1957
The Incredible Shrinking Man
1960
The Time Machine, Village of the Damned
1961
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
1962
Doctor No
1963
The Birds, The Day of the Triffids, La Jetee
1964
Doctor Strangelove, Fire Men in the Moon, Goldfinger
1965
Alphaville, Dr Who and the Daleks, Thunderball, The War Game
1966
Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD, Fahrenheit 451, Fantastic Voyage
1967
Barbarella, Casino Royale, Quatermass and the Pit, The Terrornauts, You Only Live Twice
1968
Charly, Planet of the Apes, 2001-A Space Odyssey
1969
The Bed Sitting Room, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Zeta One
1970
The Andromeda Strain
1971
A Clockwork Orange, Diamonds are Forever, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Percy, Silent Running, Solaris
1972
Doomwatch, Slaughterhouse Five
1973
The Final Programme, Sleeper, Soylent Green, Westworld, Zardoz
1974
The Cars That Ate Paris, Dark Star, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Stepford Wives, The Terminal Man
1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rollerball
1976
At the Earth’s Core, The Big Bus, Futureworld, The Killer Bees, Logan’s Run, The Man Who Fell to Earth
1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Demon Seed, Empire of the Ants, The Glitterball, The Spy Who Loved Me, Star Wars
1978
The Boys from Brazil, Coma, A Hitch in Time, Pirahna, Superman, The Swarm
1979
Alien, The Black Hole, Mad Max, Metor, Moonraker, Star Trek, Starcrash
1980
The Apple, Battle Beyond the stars, The Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, Saturn 3, Scanners, Superman II
1981
Escape from New York, Mad Max 2, Outland, Piranha II, Time Bandits
1982
Airplane II, Blade Runner, ET, The Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Tron, Videodrome
1983
Krull, The Man With Two Brains, Never Say Never Again, Return of the Jedi, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Superman III, War Games
1984
The Brother from Another Planet, Dune, Night of the Comet, 1984, Repo Man, Search for Spock, Starman, Terminator, 2010
1985
Back to the Future, Brazil, Cocoon, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Morons from Outer Space, Weird Science
1986
Aliens, Critters, The Fly, Howard the Duck, Short Circuit, Star Trek IV
1987
Batteries Not Included, Predator, RoboCop, The Running Man, Spaceballs
1988
Akira, Moonwalker
1989
The Abyss, Back to the Future II, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V
1990
Back to the Future III, Gremlins 2, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hardware, Total Recall
1991
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Star Trek 6, Terminator 2, Wedlock
1992
Alien 3, The Lawnmower Man
1993
Jurassic Park
1994
Stargate, Star Trek Generations
1995
The City of Lost Children, Congo, GoldenEye, Judge Dredd, Screamers, 12 Monkeys
1996
Independence Day, Mars Attacks!, Star Trek: First Contact
1997
Cube, Event Horizon, The Fifth Element, Gattaca, The Lost World, Men in Black, Starship Troopers
1998
Dark City, Pi, Sphere, Star Trek: Insurrection
1999
eXistenZ, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, Muppets from Space, The Phantom Menace
2000
Pitch Black, Unbreakable
2001
AI, Donnie Darko, Jurassic Park III
2002
28 Days Later, Equilibrium, Impostor, Minority Report, Solaris, Spider-Man, Star Trek: Nemesis, Attack of the Clones, The Time Machine
2003
Paycheck, Terminator 3, Timeline
2004
The Day After Tomorrow, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Robots, Serenity, Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds
2006
A Scanner Darkly, Children of Men, The Host, Southland Tales, Superman Returns, V for Vendetta
2007
28 Weeks Later, I Am Legend, The Mist, Next, Sunshine
2008
Cloverfield, Iron Man, The Clone Wars, WALL-E
2009
2012, Avatar, District 9, Frequently Asked Question About Time Travel, Moon, Star Trek, The Time Traveler’s Wife
2010
Despicable Me, Hot Tub Time Machine, Monsters, Never Let Me Go, Tron Legacy
2011
The Adjustment Bureau, Attack the Block, Limitless, Paul, Source Code, Super 8, Thor
2012
Cloud Atlas, Dredd, The Hunger Games, John Carter, Looper, Prometheus, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
2013
Elysium, Ender’s Game Gravity, Her, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oblivion, Snowpiercer, Star Trek Into Darkness, The World’s End, Under the Skin, The Zero Theorem
2014
Coherence, Divergent, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1, Interstellar, Lucy, The Maze Runner, Mr Peabody & Sherman, Predestination, Transcendence
2015
Advantageous, Insurgent, EX Machina, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, The Force Awakens, Tomorrowland
2016
10 Cloverfield Lane, Allegiant, Arrival, Rogue One, Star Trek Beyond
2017
Blade Runner 2049, The Last Jedi
2018
Annihilation, The Cloverfield Paradox, Mortal Engines, Mute, Solo
2019:
The Wandering Earth

Not seen as far as I can remember, but would like to see:
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them!, The Quatermass Xperiment, X The Unknown, The Abominable Snowman, Quatermass II, The Fly (original), Journey to the Centre of the Earth, On The Beach, The Little Shop of Horrors (original), The Damned, Children of the Damned, Je T’aime Je T’aime, The Forbin Project, No Blade of Grass, THX 1138, Quest for Love, It’s Alive, Phase IV, Young Frankenstein, Death Race 2000, Capricorn One, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The China Syndrome, Time After Time, Altered States, Halloween III, The Last Starfighter, Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars (1986), Innerspace, Alien Nation, Earth Girls Are Easy, Millennium, Slipstream, Naked Lunch, The Rocketeer, Timecop, Tank Girl, Waterworld, Barb Wire, Contact, I Robot, Primer, 9, Upside Down, Pacific Rim, The Anomaly, Time Lapse, Ad Astra, Io

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Man I Used To Be


Out last week, and available in a few good newsagents across the UK, the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine has a couple of articles by me in it. Firstly, there’s another instalment of The Blogs of Doom, commemorating one of the most-loved characters of 1980s Doctor Who


And secondly, I’ve written an article exploring what we know about Time Lords and ‘regeneration energy’. This all culminates in a bonkers theory which fits all the facts and will hopefully surprise and delight.


Those of you with long memories may recall that I wrote another article about regeneration for Doctor Who Magazine over ten years ago, which I’ve archived here. So when I was asked to write this new article both I and the editor were very keen that it should not cover anything covered in the previous article. Because readers would notice! Can I just say how remarkable it is for a magazine to work this way; how many other magazines would go out of their way to avoid repeating content from over ten years ago? Even when they interview people they’ve interviewed before, it’s to get new stories or updates on what they’ve been doing. Compare this to, oh, music magazines where they ask Paul McCartney questions he’s been asked a hundred times before and where he gives the same answers he’s given a hundred times before. So, anyway, before writing my new article I went through the old one to make sure I didn’t repeat myself. I even cut a line about the eighth Doctor’s regeneration giving him super-strength because I’d mentioned that in 2009. So, yes, while it could be argued, “Oh no, they’ve got Jonny to write about regeneration again”, that means they’ve picked the one person who is determined not to repeat anything Jonny has said.

After all, the whole fun of writing (and hopefully reading) these sort of articles is to take a fresh look and come up with new ideas. And, of course, since 2009 there have been however-many Doctor Who stories giving us new information about regeneration. We’ve seen the Doctor regenerate four* times since then, and we’ve seen other regenerations and learned new information about Time Lord physiology and life on Gallifrey. There’s even been some stuff in The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood which I didn’t pick up on last time. So there’s a lot of new stuff to look at, and so my article is deliberately skewed towards the last ten years, all the way up to last year’s Rosa.


In other news, I got the chance to listen to Rose Tyler: The Endless Night last week, and thought it was amazing. My writing aside, the cast were all great, the music was gorgeous, the sound design was marvellous, and everything just came together beautifully. It really recaptured the feel of the era while also feeling modern and new. Some real chills and tears in there. So all credit to the director, Helen Goldwyn. I couldn’t be more delighted and proud. Let’s hope there are many more adventures in store for Rose, Clive, Pete and Jackie!

The Rose Tyler: Dimension Cannon box set can be ordered from Big Finish here.

* Plus a recap of the first Doctor regenerating!

Monday, 9 September 2019

Infinitely Late At Night


My Rose Tyler: Dimension Cannon story, The Endless Night, has just been released by Big Finish productions. It’s the first story in a box set of four stories, concerning Rose’s adventures as she hops from parallel universe to parallel universe to locate the Doctor (leading up to her finally reaching the right universe in the TV story Partners in Crime). So in a way we know how the quest ended... but, of course, finding the right needle in an infinite haystack can’t have been straightforward, plus there is the question of how Rose came to realise that Donna Noble was of multi-dimensional significance...

I’ve previously blogged about the story here. The process of writing it has already half-faded into the mists of time, which is lovely for me because it means that when I listen to it, it will be like listening to something new and I’ll get to laugh at my own jokes all over again.

My main memory is that I tied myself in geographical knots trying to make it all work, as Russell T Davies’s decision to put Clive’s house in Stoke Newington in the novelisation of Rose had a kind of knock-on effect for everything in my story. There was a lot of ‘Well, if x lives there, then y will have to live there, so that they will have to pass through z’ and so on. Important to get these things right!

There are all sorts of other subtle references and little nods to things in there. I was particularly proud to include an international TV News montage, as no Russell T Davies story is complete without one!

As you might expect, I’m desperately excited to hear the finished product (the trailer here is all clips taken from my story). My story, and the others in the box set, appear to have gone down extremely well so far. So please give it alisten, and if you enjoy it, please ascend to your nearest rooftop and shout it out.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Paperback Writer

In memory of Terrance Dicks. The following is an excerpt from an article written in 2016  for a charity book that has yet to see the light of day. If the book ever gets a release date, I'll delete this article. Consider it a sneak preview.


About a dozen years ago I was at a party somewhere in London, celebrating something to do with Doctor Who. I can’t remember precisely what it was but I celebrated it heartily, drinking until I was very much in that state where the interval between ‘thinking of things to say’ and ‘saying them’ is no interval at all. I remember that Paul Cornell was there with the legendary Terrance Dicks, and he was asking people to talk to Terrance because he was feeling a bit left out. The problem was, everyone was far too intimidated to approach him because although Terrance is a very approachable person he is also, to a generation of Doctor Who fans, something of a God. When somebody is responsible for making you fall in love with literature, of turning you into a voracious bookworm, it’s quite hard to think of what to say to them. When you’re a small child, the names of authors on book covers are burned into the core of your being, you don’t imagine them ever being real people you might get to meet in a pub. Terrance Dicks is one such name, up there with Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and CS Lewis. His name just transports me back to childhood when I would sit absorbed in his books for hours, re-reading them again and again, my imagination running wild, filling my mind with the stories. Taking them into my heart.

But there Terrance Dicks was, an embodiment of the contradiction in terms that is a ‘living legend’, and he was feeling a bit left out. And so, emboldened by alcohol, I approached him with some other fans – we may have formed a ‘throng’ – and struggled to think of anything to say. For all of us it was a very awkward social situation to be in – and these are people for whom any social situation is very awkward – because all the normal conversational gambits, ‘Hello’, ‘So what do you do?’ ‘How do you know Tom?’ all seem absurd, because this is Terrance Dicks you’re talking to, the name from your childhood, not a stranger.

So instead – this is why I mentioned the alcohol earlier – we just asked him questions about Doctor Who. He took it in good spirits, he knew we were all fans, we all knew he was Terrance bloody Dicks, there was no point in dancing around it and trying to be grown-up and professional. I think, actually, he found it rather flattering. And when it came to my turn, so I asked him the question I have always wanted to ask him, which was; “You know the bit with the chessboard in The Five Doctors, where the secret to how to cross it has something to do with pi? Well – how does that work, exactly?”

His reply was typically concise, consisting of five words: “I”, “have”, “no”, a word that I’m sure you will be able to fill in yourself, and “idea”. He went on to explain that he’d just made it up as a puzzle that the Doctor and the Master would be able to work out, and that it was probably too complicated for mere mortals to understand.

Anyway, having broken the conversational ice, I suddenly found myself talking to Terrance Dicks. Or at least, he was staring at me, as though to say “Is that it or do you have any more?” So I had to rack my brains for another thing to ask him. My brains came back empty, which is how I ended up asking him:

“You know, Terrance, when you were writing the Doctor Who books in the late 70s, do you ever wish that you had been given more time to do them?”

“No, not really, I felt I always had enough time -”

“No, I mean, that you were limited, in the number of pages that you had to tell the story, that you couldn’t do a better job –”

Terrance was now looking at me with great amusement. “A better job?”

“I mean, no, the books were still great, but with say, Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, don’t you wish that if you’d had more pages you could’ve done more with it –“

“You know,” said Terrance. “Nobody ever mentions Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl. I remember thinking I did a really good job with that, that it was one of my best ones.”

“No, I mean, I enjoyed it too, but -” And then I ground to a halt. The other fans in the throng – which may have included Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat, amongst others – were shaking with laughter as they had watched me break the conversational ice and plunge into the frozen lake below. 

“I think maybe you should stop digging,” said Paul, throwing me a lifebelt. 

And that is the story of the first time I met Terrance Dicks.

I’m sorry if I was rude to you, Terrance. But on other hand, you gave me something that you’ve given countless readers over the past forty years. You gave me a good story.