Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Complete Wildthyme IV: "In the Sixties"

In the Sixties ('Walking in Eternity', Faction Fiction Press)

In finest Comic Book Guy style, I can safely say that this is the Best Who Story Ever. Anyone who cares to argue better be prepared to back up their erroneous and delusional opinions with a description of the Alternative Universe in which they live.

In fact, I'd go further and say that this is one of the best pieces of short fiction I've ever read. Rather self-evidently, it's a story about the sixties - but not the actual sixties, where it was frequently overcast and dirty and where many people led boring lives in much the same as they do now. Instead, this is a story about the author imagining a specific time at the end of the sixties in which Peter Cushing was Dr Who in very bright colours and made friends with all sorts of the great and the cool who lived nearby.

I'm not even going to attempt to sum up the plot, because there isn't even the glimmer of one. It's just a story about people being people in a specific time and place, part fictional and part real - and it doesn't matter which is which.

The Master's in it, posing as a hippy mystic; Jamie, Joe Orton and a Cyberman consider a threesome at one point; and Iris makes a fleeting appearance wrapped round Robin (which is enough to justify this review). Other than that, characters from the real and fictional worlds pop up and discuss literature, politics and the state of the nation. And it ends with the birth of the author during a rain-storm (he's a little shy of a fortnight younger than me, seemingly).

Which, reading back what I've written, utterly fails to do the story justice.

So, try again. The writing is wonderful - where else do you get people 'moving in a kind of bleeding elastic tango of compulsive need' and a Black Mass where 'there was this awful stink of goat's cheese and boiled eggs' in the space of a few lines? The imagery is magical - it starts 'were there really Quarks and Krotons queuing peacefully on the platform at King's Cross?' and gets better from there. Best of all, 'In the Sixties' manages to make the Cushing Doctor seem like a legitimate 60s icon, rather than just a quick knock-off thrown together in order to cash in on Dalkemania.

But I'm still not giving 'In the Sixties' the write-up it deserves. Why not just go and read it - it may well be the best thing Paul Magrs has ever written.

In the Sixties is available online, so you have no excuse for missing it...
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