Neil Gaiman (2003)

Okay, this isn’t an interview, it’s choice quotes from a foreword to Paul McCauley’s novella ‘Eye of the Tyger’, but it’s relevant to ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s a good read. I’ve only quoted a few highlights, to read the full thing (and if you haven’t, I’d very much recommend it), you can either go and find a copy of the novella or you can read the full foreword at Neil Gaiman’s blog.

“The complaint about Dr Who from adults was always, when I was small, that it was too frightening. This missed, I think, the much more dangerous effect of Dr Who: that it was viral.

“Of course it was frightening. More or less. I watched the good bits from behind the sofa, and was always angry and cheated and creeped out by the cliffhanger in the final moments. But that had, as far as I can tell, no effect on me at all, as I grew, the fear. The real complaint, the thing that the adults should have been afraid of and complaining about was what it did to the inside of my head. How it painted my interior landscape.

“The shape of reality – the way I perceive the world – exists only because of Dr Who. Specifically, from The War Games in 1969, the multipart series that was to be Patrick Troughton’s swan song. The Doctor and his assistants find themselves in a place where armies fight: an interminable World War One battlefield, in which armies from the whole of time have been stolen from their original spatio-temporal location and made to fight each other. Strange mists divide the armies and the time zones. Travel between the time zones is possible, using a white, boxlike structure approximately the same size and shape as a smallish lift, or, even more prosaically, a public toilet: you get in in 1970, you come out in Troy or Mons or Waterloo.

“These days, as a middle-aged and respectable author, I still feel a sense of indeterminate but infinite possibility on entering a lift, particularly a small one with white walls. That to date the doors that have opened have always done so in the same time, and world, and even the same building in which I started out seems merely fortuitous – evidence only of a lack of imagination on the part of the rest of the universe”.

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