Now, we’ve tried to keep it pretty quiet, and not make a fuss, but you may have heard a rumour that Scott Lynch has a new book out. We can confirm that this is true – The Republic of Thieves is out now for your enjoyment, and we reckon it’s pretty flippin’ good. But did you also know that Scott is a big Doctor Who fan? So much so, that he is a contributor in Behind the Sofa, a selection of Dr Who memories from some top celebrities, now with a foreword from Terry Pratchett. The proceeds from the book go to Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is a great cause.
We’re sharing Scott Lynch’s entry into Behind the Sofa here. Enjoy!
Author and volunteer firefighter
Formally announced the disposal of his collection of off-air VHS Doctor Who recordings in a tweet dated March 22nd 2012
“A licence to print money was a very tedious thing to have cluttering up the place.”
I first experienced a sort of parallel-universe version of Doctor Who, in that I came to it entirely through a set of creased and dog-eared paperback novelisations at the local library. From these, and from a few Peter Haining reference books I dug out of the hoary cellars of the Dewey Decimal 700s, I constructed an elaborate and wildly erroneous mental impression of what Doctor Who must look and sound like. This private sensory vocabulary of the series naturally crumbled the instant it made contact with the genuine article!
It was 1989. I was 11, and American, and I had absolutely no idea that the show I was falling in love with by proxy in my own imagination was almost at that very minute being cancelled by a BBC that had grown strangely tired of having a lucrative international success on its hands. I can only imagine that someone thought a licence to print money was a very tedious thing to have cluttering up the place.
Anyhow, I didn’t get to properly glimpse televised Doctor Who until the autumn of 1990, when my local PBS affiliate began one of its periodic re-runs, commencing with Tom Baker’s debut serial Robot (known to me from paperback as Doctor Who and the Giant Robot). I was thoroughly bewildered by the look of the videography and the devolution of scale; what had been an epic battle with a cast of thousands in my head had somehow turned into half-a-dozen people flopping about in dark corridors while a CSO robot menaced toy trucks. All set to the music of what I presumed was a single creepy and disgruntled bassoonist!
How bewilderment rapidly became love, I don’t quite know. Perhaps it was that genuine Doctor Who was as singular and strange as my imaginary Doctor Who. It looked and sounded like nothing on American television and the rest of my family found it (like my enthusiasm for it) incomprehensible, so they generously left the television entirely at my disposal for that glorious mid- Sunday hour when PBS would unroll two more episodes. I was left alone to appreciate it, and so even as Who ceased to be a private mental vision for me it remained a private experience, a sort of meditative nerd idyll in which I could ponder the show free of judgment or distraction. I soon found myself paging through my astronomy books as I watched, imagining a TARDIS behind every wispy nebula and hurtling across every galactic disk.
Nothing that has happened to the show since, or ever will happen to it, can steal my memories of a time when grainy video and pop-gun special effects would routinely transmute to glorious cosmic vistas behind my eyes. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still happen from time to time. How can you ever get over something as magical as that? Why would you want to?