1) Licence Denied: Rumblings from the Doctor Who Underground, by Paul Cornell
Published ten years ago, this is a compilation of the author’s choice of interesting or remarkable writing from Doctor Who fanzines, mostly from the period between the show’s cancellation in 1989 and the TV movie in 1996, with a few bits from before and after – most notably the infamous panning of The Deadly Assassin by the then president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society from 1976. There is a certain amount of linking narrative from Paul himself – and having spent much of this weekend talking to him it’s impossible not to hear his voice in my head as I read the words (even if it’s ten years since he wrote them) – expressing his love for the programme and for fanzines as a genre. There are some lovely pieces – a great Tom Baker interview, a meditation on the place of tea and other hot beverages in the Whoniverse, some of the early analysis by Tat Wood that has culminated in the About Time books. There are some other bits I could happily leave, but that is fanzine writing for you.
I was a bit surprised that there was no discussion at all of fan fiction, which even in my limited teenage excursions into Doctor Who fanzines was clearly a large part of the subculture, and almost no mention of the internet – Kate Orman, daringly, gives a web address. Fandom was very definitely on-line by this date – indeed, it didn’t take much googling to find a usenet discussion of a review of this very book – and while I appreciate that the best bits of the written record were certainly still in hard copy fanzine, it’s odd to find the internet so absent from the discussion.
Anyway, it’s a book of its time, and will be of interest to people concerned with the changing (and unchanging) nature of fandom.