His Dark Materials (BBC)

I was aware of this story and the books, but had never really thought about reading them. So when the BBC announced their new series I decided to give it a go. I have to admit that I had low expectations as they’d not exactly done a great job with War of the Worlds.

But, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually very good indeed. I watched all of the episodes, and, whilst I can’t say it was a story that I found totally gripping or interesting, it was actually good.

I think they’re making more of this too. I would definitely watch more if they do. If nothing else I expect it’ll be diverting.

The other thing it’s made me do is to get the first of the audio books. I haven’t started listening to it as yet, but I’ll get to it eventually.

Useful ideas and things from Ableton

Just a quick post following an email I got today. Ableton have put up a very handy page with a bunch of useful things for Ableton users and also non users too. You can find the page here.

In particular you should check out the excellent book Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers, which is available in multiple formats. I’ve read this more than once and it is very handy indeed.

I thought you should know.

Revisiting Survivors

Survivors is a relatively little known TV show from the 1970s. It was about a virus that killed off almost the entire population of the planet. The people who were left were the ‘Survivors’. This is of course the subject of quite a lot of TV shows and films these days, but back then I think it was quite ground breaking.

It only got 3 seasons on TV, but, a few years ago, Big Finish, a company that makes some of my favourite audiobooks brought it back, with the three lead actors as well. Big Finish produced 9 seasons of it, each with 4 hour long episodes. It was brilliant. In fact, so much so that I’m revisiting the whole thing this year. Starting with the TV series. Which, in my opinion, stands the test of time, and is actually better than a lot of TV these days.

Survivors from the 1970s took a slow approach to storytelling. Or maybe that was the norm back then? Either way, it took its time in each episode. It had a natural feel too that somehow made it more believable.

I’ve enjoyed watching this again, and remembering the characters, the story and the where it took us.

Now that I’ve finished watching it I’m going to move on to listening to all of the audio stories that Big Finish Productions created. There are 9 box sets of these, so that will probably take me a while to get through I should think. When I do, I think I might post a summary of my thoughts on the whole thing.

Space 1999 (Big Finish Audio)

A new version of Space 1999 from Big Finish

I’ve been a fan of Space 1999 since I was a kid. I just loved it. The idea was awesome, the show was awesome, but it only got two seasons, which was a shame really.

I’d hoped for a long time that Big Finish would bring it back, and they did. Releasing the first story “Breakaway” on the 13th of September last year. The date was significant. In the series the 13th of September was the date that the moon left earth’s orbit. Of course, that was back in 1999, so Big Finish releasing it on the 13th of September 2019 marked 20 years since the original story’s event.

The new version is excellent. It keeps to the original story but brings in a few new elements. I’ve listened to it twice now and it’s simply excellent.

Blake’s 7: Liberator Chronicles 8 – Spoils

I updated my Blake’s 7 library after Christmas as Big Finish was having a sale on a range of titles. One that I bought was the Liberator Chronicles 8. As a collection of four stories it was fine. Nothing bad in there, nothing amazing. That is until the last story in the collection. The last story in this collection is called ‘Spoils’.

I’m not going to spoil the story in case you plan to listen to it, but, I have to say it was probably one of the most interesting and unusual stories in the Blake’s 7 range I’ve ever heard.

I’ll leave it there. If you do listen to it, I think you’ll be surprised.

Happy Birthday Tom!

I can’t believe that Tom Baker is 85. It’s amazing he is just as good as when he was (in my opinion) the best Doctor Who we’ve ever had. It’s fantastic that he’s still doing audio stories with Big Finish, and I’m very much looking forward to giving the latest season a listen.

The Black Hole

Disney’s film “The Black Hole” was their response to “Star Wars”. I can remember going to the cinema to see it, and the memory of it has always stayed with me. So much so that I found a copy of the film on eBay a few years ago and watched it again.

More recently I thought I’d get hold of a copy of the book, or rather, the novelisation of the film and try that. I finished reading it just the other day, and, on the whole, it is a fairly true reflection of the film itself. However, just as in the film, the ending, leaves quite a lot to be desired.

But the most confusing thing was the ending. The end sequence of the film seems to suggest that there is somewhere inside the black hole, and that’s where Dr Reinhardt and his evil robot Maximilian appear to be merged. It pretty much looks like hell though. The ending also seems to suggest that the crew of the Palomino make it through the black hole (can you go through a black hole?) and come out the other side.

One of the things that was a bit odd about the story were several references to how much things cost. This was in the film and the book. On a series of occasions characters referred to how much the Cygnus (the huge spaceship in the picture above) cost the tax payer. I felt that this was a bit strange and kind of out of place.

Although the book suggests that they have some kind of merged consciousness by the time they come through it.

All parts of this ending are pretty much unsatisfactory though. Even as a kid I wasn’t happy with this, and I’m still not happy with it. I felt like it required something more in terms of an outcome that could be comprehended. Of course, there will never be a remake now, or at least that’s very unlikely I would think. Depending on which source you check the remake was being considered in 2006 or 2009, but by 2016 was ruled out.

It’s a shame, it’s a missed opportunity I think, but never mind. The music was awesome.

Robots and not-so robots of The Black Hole

Honk, Conk and Squacket

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I’ve been reading this book very slowly, mainly because it is in many ways just a dictionary, albeit a fantastic dictionary. Honk is a dictionary of ‘sound-words’, which is now something of a forgotten art. What need to we have any more of describing a sound when we can just hear it online somewhere within seconds.

Sound-words are fantastic though, they’re fantastical awesome constructions to help you imagine a sound.

The book brings together words from around the UK and the world for that matter. The words come from all ages too. So, if you enjoy sounds and have an interest in words too, this book may well be for you. I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Laurie Andrerson, Nothing in my Pockets

Laurie Anderson Nothing in my pockets

I was given this book as a present a while ago. I hadn’t heard about the book, or the recordings before this, so it was a very nice surprise.

I’ve just finished reading the book. It’s short. Very short, but very readable, and very engaging indeed. Bits of it made really me smile, and I can thoroughly recommend it if you’re a fan of Laurie Anderson, or if you appreciate her style of music and performance.

It made me think about what an audio diary or audio journal would be, or indeed should be. It raised some interesting questions about what constitutes meaningful and engaging sound. These are all good questions. I don’t have any answers as yet, but they’re definitely on my mind, and, as and when I do have some answers, I’ll let you know.

The Sons of Kaldor

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One of my all time favourite 4th Doctor episodes is “The Robots of Death”. It’s a great story and has some truly fantastic lines. It has been followed up a couple of times as far as I’m aware. One of the follow ups was “Corpse Marker“, a BBC audio book which I was really excited about, but fundamentally didn’t deliver on its promise and was, in the end, a real disappointment.

The next one I’m away of is “Robophobia”, which is a 7th Doctor story from Big Finish. I’m not a big 7th Doctor fan and so I haven’t heard this one. Perhaps I should give it a listen.

Now there’s “Sons of Kaldor”, the first story in the latest season of the 4th Doctor from Big Finish. I was a bit nervous about this story. I didn’t want to face the same disappointment as I had with “Corpse Market“. I didn’t need to worry about that. “Sons of Kaldor” has a very similar tone and pace to the original Robots of Death, it’s been carefully thought through and at its core it’s a good story.

The most important thing is that I really enjoyed it, and it’s a good start to volume one of this season. I’ve now listened to all of the stories and they’re a good bunch, and well worth listening to.