Black Archive Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos Now Available!

Black Archive Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos Now Available! March 11, 2021

In an interesting convergence of timelines (to use an appropriate metaphor) I have another book that is now coming out. The topic couldn’t be more different from that of the other one I have been blogging about. This is my contribution to Obverse Books’ series The Black Archive which will eventually offer a single volume on each and every episode of Doctor Who to ever air on television. Mine, as blog readers know from my previous posts about it, is about the finale of the first season featuring the current actor Jodi Whittacre as the Doctor, “The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos.” You can order a paperback copy or get the ebook from the Obverse Books website.

Nick Joy has published the first review of the book, in which he writes:

Was ever a Doctor Who episode saddled with a more clumsy title than this? Every time I refer to it I have to check it’s been spelt correctly – I’ve got more chance of correctly typing out the home planet of the Slitheen. Author James F McGrath takes on the challenge of finding something nice to say about this season finale, and while you may not come away from this book thinking that it’s a misunderstood masterpiece, there’s a number of ideas you’ve probably not considered…

McGrath hits the nail on the head when he says ‘It provides pointers and open doors to discussions and possibilities, without forcing a resolution…’, which means that its open-ended narrative leaves room for interpretation. There’s a chapter focusing on the nature of the Ux (there’s only ever two of them – a master and an apprentice) and their religion, and evidence is offered up to challenge whether they were benevolent and just misled, naive, or plain gullible in following Tzim-Sha. Is he a false god with delusions and how is he so persuasive?

The Doctor’s flexible creeds go under the microscope – is she as non-violent as she protests? And is it really OK to destroy something provided it can be rebuilt? A significant section is devoted to Graham’s devotion to Grace and the unfinished business he had with Tzim-Sha. He needs to be the better man and is reminded by the Doctor that if he kills Sha he’ll be as bad as him? But subjecting him to his own form of eternal imprisonments might be poetic justice, but is it morally sound? McGrath again asks the questions, presents the evidence and gives his own steer while accepting that these matters are seldom black or white.

Verdict: A brave choice for a study, the author here provides some depth that you probably didn’t think existed. Still a dreadful title though. 7/10

In other words, enjoyed the book but still not so sure about the episode.

I assume that Blair Bidmead will soon have shirts, mugs, and other items for sale featuring the artwork and/or logo from the book cover. I’ll definitely be getting something of that. If nothing else it will make for a good conversation starter…

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