Just when you think Doctor Who can’t get any better, it does. Here we are with the penultimate episode of the new series, and things are building up to a seriously big climax.
The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack have been transported to a bizarre TV studio, where they find themselves having to take part in deadly versions of reality TV shows. The Doctor has to force himself out of a Big Brother house, where eviction is a little more final than in current versions. Meanwhile, Rose is faced with the rather aggressive Anne Droid on The Weakest Link and Captain Jack narrowly avoids an extreme makeover from a pair of fashion guru robots.
After only a little mayhem, the Tardis crew stop the TV shows, and discover some disturbing information:
- The TV studios are on the same space station the Doctor visited in The Long Game earlier in the series. A century has passed, and something has gone wrong. The Doctor thought he’d set history back on its proper path, but it seems his actions created the present situation. He realises that someone or something has been manipulating human history, and his life.
- It turns out that the people apparently being killed in the reality TV shows are in fact being sent somewhere by matter transmitter. This is good news for the Doctor, because it means Rose has not, after all, been killed by Anne Droid.
- And finally, after blocking the cloaking transmission that was the real purpose of the space station, the Doctor discovers what’s really been going on. Out at the edge of the Solar System are two hundred spaceships. Dalek spaceships, each with over 2,000 Daleks aboard. And no prizes for guessing where Rose has ended up.
The Daleks tell the Doctor to surrender, or they will kill Rose. He refuses, and tells them that he’s coming to rescue Rose, save the Earth from their invasion, and finally destroy them all.
Next week’s series closer looks like being a lot of fun indeed. Thousands of Daleks, loads of mayhem, and we’ll find out just how the Daleks survived the Time War. The trailer gave a bit of a hint, and we’ve been warned that an old adversary would be returning. So who is the Bad Wolf? As far as I can see, it’s one of two possibilities: Davros or The Master. As the Master was supposedly killed off in the TV movie, I’m betting on Davros…
 Voiced by the actual Anne Robinson
 Voiced by some people known as Trinny and Susannah, who I’ve managed to avoid so far
 Creator of the Daleks, barking mad, really doesn’t like the Doctor very much
 Renegade Time Lord, barking mad, really doesn’t like the Doctor very much
This morning’s weight was back up to 202.0 pounds (14 stone 6 pounds, 91.6kg), which is not bad at all for the morning after a nice bottle of wine.
And having watched yet another great Doctor Who episode, I felt motivated enough to get on the exercise bike again. I did the now traditional 10km, with a peak heart rate of 131. Well, I think that was the peak reading, but I think I need a new battery in the chest strap thingy, as at first the watch didn’t pick up any reading at all, and for a few seconds half way through the session, it read 199, which seemed a bit higher than reality.
 Report to follow
 So either the battery is going, or I’m one of the undead.
Yes, it’s Alastair Reynolds again. But not another big novel this time. Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days is a much smaller book containing two previously published shorter works set in the same universe as Revelation Space, Chasm City and Redemption Ark.
Diamond Dogs involves a group who explore an alien structure dubbed Blood Spire, which rather in the manner of an adventure game, involves solving mathematical puzzles to open doors. While solving the puzzles would be enough of a problem, Blood Spire punishes failure with extreme force. As the group progresses through the many rooms, the survivors have to modify themselves in order to pass through as each door is slightly smaller than the last. Nasty things happen, deceptions are uncovered, and some changes are more permanent than expected. As Reynolds acknowledges on his website, this was inspired by the Algis Budrys classic Rogue Moon. And a nod to David Bowie for the title, of course.
Turquoise Days, which I’ve read before, possibly in an anthology, but I can’t remember when, gives more insight into the Pattern Jugglers, aquatic aliens mentioned indirectly in the novels. The work of researchers on Turquoise, an isolated water planet, is disrupted by unexpected visitors with a hidden agenda. (There’s a lot of those in Reynolds’ books).
You know, the first few times I listened to Coldplay‘s third album, I wasn’t all that impressed. My initial impression was of an overall wash of sound with very little in the way of actual songs. But it was a pleasant enough sound, so I left it on repeat play for my walks to and from work, and slowly it began to grow on me. And yes, there are some songs in there.
Chris Martin’s lyrics are often a little on the oblique side – it’s not at all obvious what, if anything, the songs are “about”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – each listener can take the words to mean whatever they want to. Their previous album, A Rush of Blood to the Head did very well, partly thanks to the use of Clocks in more TV shows, trailers and who knows what else than almost any other song I can think of in recent years. Still, it was a rather good album, and there are a couple of songs on it that got into my head and stayed there. Is the follow-up going to do the same? Probably.
So, taking a few tracks in no particular order:
X&Y is a lot better than it seemed to me on first listening. Coldplay are now a very big band indeed, and this can only make them bigger.