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Speaker – David Bishop, 26th Feb 2014

photo(1)Guest speaker David Bishop with Wilma, Jennifer and Dorothy.

Upward and onwards we go, plus vampires, time lords, doctors and more, to the realms science fiction and phantasy. Fast-talking and enthusiastic David Bishop encouraged us to enter his orbit, where he took us on a humorous voyage of his career.

In the beginning, he was a daily newspaper hack back in his native New Zealand.   From there it was onto a round of weekly Sci-Fi journals and comics.   Then it was all the way to London, the BBC, Dr Who and twenty novels (written in a short space of time). After an interesting mini biography, a recipe for success on a pet subject was shared. It was no surprise to be told the necessity of reading existing literature for preparation. With catchy titles like ‘Judge Dread’, ‘ Danny’s Toys’, and ‘Nina and the Neurons’, this would not seem to be an onerous task. Apart from an eye catching title, three basic ingredients for well-constructed work are:

1: Use a popular narrative form.

2: A touch of scientific fact.

3: A decent amount of social consequence.

 Other elements to be added are conflict and drama. If these last two are in short supply, plenty of change will juice things up to give purpose. Crime is not essential but when added is tasty and spicy. When it all looks like coming together, it is well to check:

1: What is the purpose beyond meeting the brief?

2: What is the shape? (You can even make a sketch on paper of what you think it might look like.)

3: How does time operate? (Over what span)

No good recipe is complete without some ‘Did You Knows’.
In this case, they are –
did you know that Dr Who stories were published by a firm that dealt mainly in erotica and romance, that the whole genre blossomed in the twenties and thirties, that feminist sci-fi was a force in the seventies (however did the whole axis survive before that?), and that a mark of a horror story is when men cross their legs?

As Rhona wisely said, there is now no excuse for not being fired up to write a cracking good sci –fi piece or comic strip, even though you may not have been a fan of the subject, before the talk. Speaking as one who was not, I certainly feel inspired, in spite of finding out that, though David listened to ‘The Archers’ on his way to the club, he is not an ‘Archers’ follower.

Thank you David, for a highly amusing and informative evening. Thank you Dorothy and Wilma for amassing such an eclectic programme of speakers for this season.

Simon Kekewich

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