austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I woke up in a Soho doorway

It must have been to inspire genial giggling but the BBC released some documents about the original planning and production for Doctor Who. I think the most amusing point --- in the spirit of the Our Dumb Century teaser Earth Under Attack By Papier-Machê Aliens; World Pleaders Plead, `Save Us, Doctor Who' --- was that some early ideas were that the Doctor's time-travel machine would maybe not be some expensive prop like, say, a prop, and would instead be maybe a visual effect of a ``zone of nothingness'' or what if it's simply covered in invisible paint? I weirdly love this idea.

Other early rules laid down were ``no bug-eyed monsters'' and no tin robots, which certainly have been reliable principles for the series. One of the memos also notes that they're writing for fourteen-year-olds, ``the most difficult, critical, even sophisticated audience there is'' for television. It's like they knew that someday there would be an Internet filled with annoyed fans.

Trivia: In 1886, two-thirds of Japan's yarn was imported. By 1902 almost all of it was home-produced. Source: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

Currently Reading: How The World Was One: Beyond The Global Village, Arthur C Clarke.

I must have before run across the information that Arthur C Clarke's mother was a telegraph operator and his father a General Post Office engineer (apparently, he courted her in Morse Code, which seems to be a common habit of the telegraphically minded in those days), but it wasn't something I had registered before. It's too 1950s-drama-anthology to suppose that a personality can be explained by one or two relevant facts, but it does seem like it bears on his long-running fascination with communications technology and consistent presentation that In The Future we will all spend most of the day chatting with people way to far away to visit. (There was a time that this was a bold prediction for The Future.) Of course he may also have been inspired by his cosmopolitan jet-setting in the 1950s and living alternately between Ceylon and London.

I also notice that if this book --- all about the growth of telecommunications --- wasn't heavily relied on by James Steele Gordon for A Thread Across The Ocean then it should have been. Of course, you can't quibble over both books including astounding statistics like the transmission capacity of the 1858 trans-Atlantic cable, and the chronological telling of a historical construction event has a compelling natural shape.

Also, there's likely an amusing alternate history to be made in which the Overland (trans-Siberian) telegraph cable is up and running before the trans-Atlantic one is, and therefore Victorian Britain and the Gilded Age United States have keen interests in the stability of Russian society.

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