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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: 11/22/63, abraham lincoln vampire hunter, all american girl, american queen, american wife, , , , , , , dolley, eighteen acres, ellen feldman, eugene burdock, executive orders, failsafe, frost/nixon, , harvey wheeler, , it can’t happen here, jailbird, , jenn marie thorne, joe klein, , kurt vonnegut, leader of the free world, , lucy, , , mount vernon love story, mrs. President, nicole wallace, peter morgan, , primary colors, , seth grahams-smith, sierra simone, sinclair lewis, stephen carter, , , the impeachment of abraham lincoln, , the plot against america, , the wrong side of right, , wide awake   

    25 Fictional Presidents 

    President’s Day is around the corner, so we compiled a list of 25 fictional presidents for you to read about! If watching the news bums you out, but political intrigue does not, these books are for you.

    Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
    This haunting novel centers around the true story of Lincoln’s son, who died during his Presidency. While President Lincoln visits the gravesite of his son, the ghosts who have clung to life narrate a deeply moving, complex thread of tales.

    11/22/63, by Stephen King
    This political sci-fi is about a man who travels back in time with one goal—to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While the President does not “officially” appear in the story, the entire plot centers around Jake Epping managing to stop Lee Harvey Oswald…but will his actions have the opposite impact on American history than he hopes?

    American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Loosely based on Laura Bush, this novel stars Alice, a small-town girl who grows up to marry a future President. Follow Alice in her courtship by a dazzling Republican man she finds herself unable to stay away from…but once they enter the White House, she realizes she disagrees with in ways they may be unable to reconcile.

    Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut
    Watergate gets even more insidious in this story, told from the perspective of a fictional co-conspirator in the Nixon Administration cover-up. Wry and humorous, but also dark and revealing of the jagged edges of human nature, Vonnegut’s anti-hero shares the story from his perspective years later, after serving his time for the crime.

    Dolley, by Rita Mae Brown
    Dolley Madison was the fourth first lady in American history, and this novel explores her fictional diary. Being the wife of one of America’s founders was both glamorous, full of fashion and parties…and horrendous, as her husband ushers the country into war.

    Primary Colors, by Joe Klein
    Originally published anonymously, this novel takes readers behind the political curtain of presidential campaigns. Based on Bill Clinton’s rise to the presidency, told from the perspective of a lower-level aide, every moment is rife with drama on the verge of scandal.

    Eighteen Acres, by Nicolle Wallace
    Nicole Wallace is a former Communications Director of the White House (and current political pundit) and wrote a novel imagining the first woman president as she weathers a re-election campaign, an infidelity scandal, and an international blunder.

    American Queen, by Sierra Simone
    Now for a very different kind of novel, this erotic romance imagines a completely fictional scenario in which a girl finds herself in love with two men: they just happen to be the President of the United States…and the Vice President of the United States. Confused? Once you meet Greer, Embry and Maxen in this reimagining of Camelot, you’ll be in love.

    The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    This book isn’t even available yet, but it’s totally pre-order worthy…because it’s the first novel written by a former President! Bill Clinton teamed up with James Patterson to write a political thriller about what happens when a President vanishes without a trace.

    Failsafe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
    Published in 1962, when tensions between Russia and the US were at an all-time high, this speculative novel imagines a scenario in which American bombers take control of the nuclear weapons and decide to put an end to the conflict once and for all…and the President must act before Russia engages them in all-out war.

    The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
    Stephen King returns to the list with this bestselling speculative novel about a man who wakes up from a coma with the mysterious ability to see people’s futures. But this becomes a problem when he has a vision of a man running for President…and it’s disastrous. Does he intervene to prevent it from coming true?

    Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy
    The worst has occurred: the President, the cabinet, and most of congress is dead. That leaves the VP, Jack Ryan, in charge. President Ryan must govern without a government all the while trying to figure out who is responsible. Riveting and with twists that will leave you breathless, fans of Designated Survivor will love this novel.

    The Inner Circle, by Brad Meltzer
    An adventure of presidential proportions begins when an archivist and his one-time crush find a mysterious dictionary that belonged to the first president, George Washington. They must race against the clock to decipher the meaning of the dictionary, and, once a man ends up dead, hope they don’t end up suffering the same fate.

    The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter
    This fascinating novel imagines a world where Lincoln did not die, and instead lived to face the consequences of the Civil War…namely, an impeachment trial for a breach of executive powers. When one of Lincoln’s lawyers is murdered, a young black woman working for his defense team must unravel the mystery.

    Mount Vernon Love Story, by Mary Higgins Clark
    Mystery master Mary Higgins Clark wrote an historical novel about George Washington! Did you know that many people believe Washington, despite being married to Martha, was in love with someone else? Higgins Clark is not one of them; she writes the love story between America’s FIRST first-couple as one of mutual respect, admiration, and affection.

    Lucy, by Ellen Feldman
    In contrast, this novel is about a president who was in love with someone who wasn’t his wife. Before he was President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Lucy Mercer…Eleanor’s social secretary. Through polio, a world war, and two presidential terms, despite his promises to Eleanor, Franklin and Lucy remain connected. Heartbreaking, romantic, and beautiful.

    Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith
    Presidents go paranormal in this fun novel that reveals the true story behind our 16th President. Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter, hell-bent on vengeance against the creatures responsible for his mother’s death.

    Mr. President, by Katy Evans
    Matt and Charlotte have known one another since they were kids. He was the son of a President, and vowed never to follow in his father’s footsteps…except now he has, bringing Charlotte along for the ride. The problem? Charlotte loves him, but knows she can never love a President. This erotic romance novel sizzles with political steam.

    The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth
    An Alternative history where FDR loses the 1940 election to isolationist Charles Lindbergh…who strikes a deal with Hitler to stay out of his way. But tensions rise, along with anti-Semintism, and the consequences are seen through the eyes of one boy.

    It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis
    This book was written during the Great Depression, but the subject matter is still relevant today. Featuring another character who unseats Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the Presidency, this novel details the dangers of populist rhetoric with a President who halts progress on all fronts and holds his enemies captive.

    Frost/Nixon, by Peter Morgan
    This play dramatizes the epic showdown between journalist David Frost and President Nixon, in which the former tries to get the latter to confess to his crimes. (You can watch the movie, too!)

    Crooked, by Austin Grossman
    Grossman’s reinvention of Tricky Dick as the inheritor of a presidency imbued with magical powers—a man consistently distrusted and marginalized by the people who could have prepared him for the battles to come—is thoroughly enjoyable. Most importantly, it offers up an idea of a president who has more than a veto up his or her sleeves. Certainly a little black magic would be very welcome in today’s unsettled world.

    All American Girl, by Meg Cabot
    One of my favorite YA novels featuring regular-girl Sam Madison, who saves the president from an assassination attempt. Sam is in love with her older sister’s boyfriend, but as she spends more time with the President’s son—the only person who seems to understand the downsides to her newfound fame—she starts to question both her choice, and whether she could love the kid who lives in the White House.

    The Wrong Side of Right, by Jenn Marie Thorne
    Kate has never known her father, but when her mother dies, he reveals himself: a powerful politician vying for the White House. Suddenly, Kate is embroiled in the world of politics, a new family, and a dangerous first-love…all the while grieving for her mom, and the life she once loved.

    Wide Awake, by David Levithan
    This speculative novel stars the first gay, Jewish President…whose election is promptly declared invalid by a governor of a crucial state. Jimmy and Duncan, a teen couple, decide to lend their support by joining the protests to support him.

    What novels featuring fictionalized presidents do you love?

    The post 25 Fictional Presidents appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 9:04 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , inspiration, kurt vonnegut, , , , ,   

    Get Ready for National Novel Writing Month with 5 Fictional Authors 

    It’s that time of year again, the magical, horrible month when authors, aspiring and otherwise, attempt to write an entire novel in 3o days. Some do NaNoWriMo for the challenge, some do it to finally check write novel off of their bucket lists, and some do it just for the experience. Whatever your reasons, it’s always one of the most difficult and most rewarding writing exercises of the year.

    NaNoWriMo is like a marathon: it requires a lot of inspiration to get you over the finish line. This can come in many forms, but every writer knows that fiction itself is the most nourishing thing a writer can take in. Here are five novels about fictional authors that have something to teach anyone trying to crank out a novel-length story between now and November 30.

    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    Lesson: Fiction is Powerful Stuff

    Spoilers ahead!
    McEwan’s twisty novel tells the tale of Briony Tallis, bestelling author. As a child, Briony commits a terrible act that impacts those around her in awful ways. As time goes by, however, the victims of her immature mistakes recover and go on to live their lives, although they refuse to forgive Briony even as she declares her intentions to do what she can to make things right. The final, devastating twist reveals that Briony has been writing the story all along, and rewriting history to make it happier—in real life her victims never recovered and died young, unfulfilled. The lesson in Briony’s deception is dark and powerful: your experiences are just the inspiration for your stories. Dark or not, the things that inspire you to write don’t have to be rendered accurately. As a writer, you can change everything to suit your purpose, so don’t hesitate to embellish, deceive, and omit.

    Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
    Lesson: Novels Change Lives
    Kurt Vonnegut was a writer who somehow combined not taking himself seriously with powerful writing that still sparks arguments to this day. In Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut’s alter-ego, writer Kilgore Trout (who appears in many of Vonnegut’s stories), travels to a low-rent convention in Ohio, where he’s destined to meet an insane fan who believes Trout’s speculative fiction is real. Vonnegut uses this premise, as always, to explore free will and existence in various absurd and darkly humorous ways, but the takeaway for anyone who finds themselves depressed and frustrated on, say, day thirteen of NaNoWiMo, is simple: what you write is like wild magic. Once it’s released into the world, you have no control over how it will affect other people. That sort of crackling, electric possibility should inspire anyone to finish what they’ve started.

    The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth
    Lesson: Think Before You Write

    Nathan Zuckerman may be Roth’s greatest creation, an author avatar who remains fascinating throughout nine novels. In the first of the Zuckerman Opus, Nathan struggles with something all writers should think about: balancing honesty with artistry. As Nathan struggles with the fallout from writing about his own Jewish community in a negative way (prompting questions of his responsibility to not fan the flames of anti-Jewish sentiment versus his need to be honest in his writing), every author working on a NaNoWriMo book should take the hint and ask themselves some honest questions about their inspiration, motivation, and how their work might affect their intimates and the community around them.

    The Dark Half, by Stephen King
    Lesson: Don’t Shy Away from Darkness

    Writing is confessional. In fact, the more you attempt to obscure the personal demons and angels that inspire your work, the more artificial it will seem to readers. King’s horror novel is, on the one hand, the story of a writer whose public works don’t sell well, but whose trashy crime novels written under a pseudonym sell like hotcakes. When he “kills off” his pseudonym, however, his dark half seems to come to life and launch a violent killing spree. You’ll have to read the book to find out if he’s crazy or if there’s some other explanation, but the takeaway for a NaNoWriMo writer is this: don’t fight your true muse. If there’s daylight between the books you think you should be writing and the books you’re actually inspired to write, use this month to indulge your id and just write whatever your Dark Half wants to write. You’ll be amazed how easy writing suddenly becomes.

    Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon
    Lesson: Just Finish It

    Chabon, inspired by his own out-of-control manuscript, offers up Grady Tripp, a writer who has been working on his second novel for seven years, amassing more than 2,500 manuscript pages. That Grady Tripp should be the patron saint of NaNoWriMo might not be obvious; after all, the point of this month is to finish a novel. But reading about Grady’s increasingly disorganized and hectic life is precisely the sort of inspiration you need, because in a sense that unfinished novel is the cause of all of Tripp’s problems. Reading Wonder Boys right before NaNoWriMo will offer up all the inspiration you need to ensure that on Day 30, you’ll be typing THE END instead of allowing your novel to spiral off into a madness of endless revisions.

    The post Get Ready for National Novel Writing Month with 5 Fictional Authors appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 9:00 pm on 2016/05/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , kurt vonnegut, , , , , , ,   

    6 Authors who Turned Uninspiring Careers into Grist for Their Stories 

    Anyone who has tried to make a living as a writer knows it’s hardly an easy road, and one piece of advice has held true since “working on that novel” became a thing: don’t quit your day job—even if you hate it. In addition to keeping you housed and fed, that day job hate can actually be a good thing—some famous novelists’ disastrous pre-fame careers directly informed their best work. Does this mean all aspiring novelists should seek out the worst jobs they can? Actually, maybe. As these six stories demonstrate, there’s gold to be mined from misery.

    Franz Kafka
    Job:
    Insurance clerk
    Book: The Trial
    Franz Kafka was clearly not the world’s happiest person, and it’s easy to imagine part of that unhappiness had to do with his need to earn money, generally through a litany of depressing, uninspiring jobs. Kafka thought he could work as a clerk at an insurance company during the day and then have time to write at night—the fever dream of writers to this day—but slowly, the job took over his life, demanding more and more of his time. The Trial offers so many clear connections to the drudgery of endless bureaucracy, it’s clear we’ve all benefited from Kafka’s unhappy career.

    Kurt Vonnegut
    Job:
    Managing a car dealership (badly)
    Book: Breakfast of Champions
    Kurt Vonnegut liked to joke that the reason he never received a Nobel Prize was due to his early, disastrous career managing the first Saab dealership in the United States. Under Vonnegut’s not so steady hand, the business came and went in less than 12 months, and it was years before Saab could mount a comeback effort. Of course, those early Saabs were much different (and much, much worse) than the modern models, so it might not have been entirely Vonnegut’s fault—but there’s no doubt much of his miserable experience at the dealership inspired parts of Breakfast of Champions and its deranged car dealer protagonist, Dwayne Hoover, offering a clear glimpse of day-job disaster being spun into gold.

    Roald Dahl
    Job:
    Taste-testing chocolates
    Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    There really are candies called gobstoppers, and they’ve been around since the late 19th century. Given that, it’s no surprise Dahl’s famous Everlasting Gobstopper is based on a favorite candy from his childhood. It is a little more surprising to learn Dahl worked as a taste-tester for Cadbury while he was at school, gobbling down chocolates and reporting his impressions. This led him to become a bit obsessed with the Cadbury factory, and he often imagined the “inventing room” where all the new candies were developed. It’s a short leap from a vague stomachache to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Okay, so maybe “child chocolate taste-tester” isn’t so much a failed career as an awesome career.

    Mitch Albom
    Job:
    Musician and songwriter
    Book: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
    Mitch Albom has succeeded first as a sports columnist and later as a novelist, but his first passion, and his first attempts at a career, were in the music industry. Now, “failure” is a strong term for a guy who has had a few songs recorded and even included in film soundtracks, but Albom himself is pretty frank about how his hopes for a career in music never came close to true success. He turned to writing instead, and his most recent novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, draws on his experience and knowledge of music in pretty obvious ways. It’s a book that probably wouldn’t exist if Albom hadn’t tried to make it as a musician—and failed.

    Stephen King
    Job:
    High school janitor
    Book: Carrie
    It has been a long time since Stephen King needed to work for a living, but back in the mid-1970s, he was just like everyone else, struggling to get by with whatever jobs he could land. He worked as a janitor in a local high school, and while there’s no reason to think he wasn’t a fantastic custodial worker, his work mopping up after the kids obviously inspired his first published novel, Carrie. King’s on record about how his access to the girls’ showers inspired the opening scene of the novel—a book he almost threw away after it garnered a stack of rejections. We can thank his wife and (we assume) the fact that he hated working as a janitor for his decision to revise it one last time, with historic results.

    William Faulkner
    Job:
    Postmaster
    Book: Soldier’s Pay
    William Faulkner is one of our greatest novelists, but before he published his first book, Soldier’s Pay, he landed a gig as postmaster at the University of Mississippi, where he was famously terrible at his job. He was known to show up at odd hours, work on his novel while on the clock, and even purposely throw away mail. In 1924, he was forced to resign from his position, and penned a terse resignation letter that lives on in infamy, closing with the epic mic-drop: “I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” His debut novel, about the drudgery of a veteran’s return to daily life, includes a memorable passage snidely commenting on the folks who would show up to check if they had received mail, despite having no cause to think they had (this was before junk mail, obviously).

     
  • Melissa Albert 6:30 pm on 2014/11/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , habits, , , honore de balzac, , kurt vonnegut, , , , , , writers, ,   

    Try These Famous Authors’ Tricks to Slay Your NaNo Novel! 

    Henry Miller on WritingWe’re about to enter the second weekend of National Novel Writing Month! Are you, the eager NaNo novelist:

    a. Looking forward to continuing your dedicated 1,667-word-a-day writing
    b. Looking forward to catching up on missed word count from the past week
    c. Drowning your low word count sorrows in other people’s novels, which make it look so. damn. easy.

    Whether you’re rounding the bend on 15,000 words or barely scraping your way toward 1,000, it’s not too late to hit the 50,000-word mark. Take a page out of these famous authors’ books (heh), with tips ranging from the truly helpful to the possibly insane. Happy noveling!

    Coffee, coffee, coffee. When that fails, coffee. Proust tossed back espresso, L. Frank Baum started every day with a slew of cream-and-sugared cups, and Honoré de Balzac devoted an entire essay to the “pleasures and pains” of the magical beverage—though claims that he drank 50 cups a day are difficult to substantiate.

    Eat apples. Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, and F. Scott Fitzgerald can’t be wrong. Christie liked to eat them in the bathtub while she brainstormed, Dickens preferred them baked, and Fitzgerald paired his with canned meat. Maybe better for the brainstorming side of things, so your hands will be free to type.

    Stick like glue to your promised word count. We all know it takes just 1,667 words a day to hit your NaNo goal, but take too many days off and that count starts climbing. Make like Arthur Conan Doyle and write 3,000 words a day, every day. You’ll hit your goal on November 17, and can spend the next 13 days drinking Mai Tais and online shopping. Or, you know, writing even more.

    Imprison yourself. “It’s so easy to say ‘stick to your word count,'” you’re thinking, “but it’s a lot harder to do it.” Unless you’re Victor Hugo, who forced himself to stay inside his writing room by literally hiding all his public-appropriate clothes so he had no decent way to leave the house. Alternately, you could take a page out of Roman orator Demosthenes’ book: he would shave half his head, thus embarrassing himself into staying at home writing till it grew back. But this is Boss Level writer-shaming, and not entirely recommended. We suggest grabbing your laptop, turning off the internet, and getting reeeeally cozy under a million blankets on the couch. You won’t want to move, and will have nothing to do but write.

    Write, rest, repeat. If you’re one of those lucky few who can bend their schedule to fit in writing at the same time and place every day, do it. It works for Haruki Murakami, whose writing days start at 4 a.m., and who compares writing a novel to “survival training.” If you can face your alarm going off even an hour earlier, you’ll find you have a magical pocket of untapped typing time every morning.

    Write in crayon! It was good enough for James Joyce, who worked on parts of Finnegan’s Wake in Crayola. Word is out on whether he wrote any part of it at a Shoney’s diner table.

    Exercise! Murakami swims and runs, Kurt Vonnegut did pushups. And if half the NaNo novelists on my Twitter feed are to be believed, plenty of people take NaNo-related dance breaks. It can only help.

    Know what’s coming next. Hemingway liked to stop when he still knew where exactly the story was going, so he could pick up the next morning typing at a rapid clip. We know it’s hard to cut yourself off in the middle of a scene, but it’ll keep your brain and fingers nimble the next time you sit down.

    And, finally, some perfectly NaNo-suited writing “commandments” from Henry Miller:
    Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
    When you can’t create you can work.
    Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

     
  • Ryan Britt 3:30 pm on 2014/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , fantastic voyage, howard pyle, , kurt vonnegut, , paycheck, , , sir arthur conan doyle, , the merry adventures of robin hood, , , whovians   

    A Reading List for the New Season of Doctor Who 

    doctorwholitinspirationsOverwhelmingly, fans of Doctor Who have strong opinions about Doctor Who. Do we love Peter Capaldi’s no-hugging grumpier Doctor, or are we having a hard time understanding his accent? Does everyone miss Matt Smith already? Are the new episodes too confusing, or not confusing enough?

    Perhaps we need to put our quibbles aside and start reading. Because if you take a look at this season’s plot lines, you might notice the show is drawing heavily on books, books you should probably read right now.

    Here’s a rundown of Doctor Who’s new season so far, with the great books that inspired each episode.

    “Deep Breath”
    The debut of Capldai’s furious-eyebrowed Doctor began in a Victorian setting, a departure from the past several modern-day Doctor regenerations. This gaslight atmosphere was for more than just mood, as elements of the plot were taken from the heavy-hitters of Victorian literature: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. In the episode, a rogue dinosaur spontaneously combusts, leading the Doctor to play detective in order to determine if there have been similar mysterious occurrences (of spontaneous combustion…presumably there was just the one rogue dinosaur). His deduction—that the dinosaur blowing up was murder—is totally in line with a Sherlock Holmes leap of logic, and the idea of an apparent accident concealing a planned murder is a big part of the classic Holmes mystery “The Bruce-Partington Plans.” Madame Vastra and Jenny’s presence in this episode also continues their Holmesian relationship with Scotland Yard. Despite the fact that characters like Robin Hood are often “real” in the Doctor Who universe, it appears Sherlock Holmes is still “fictional.”

    This one also has a little bit of a The Picture of Dorian Gray thing going on, insofar as the blowing up of the dinosaur (and all the other deaths in the episode) is part of a master plan to conceal all the evidence. Dorian Gray, too, has a friend totally dissolve the corpse of an artist in order to dispose of some evidence.

    “Into the Dalek”
    The premise of this one is a science fiction oldie-but-goodie. In order to perform surgery on a Dalek, the Doctor, Clara, and a group of soldiers have to be shrunken down to super-tiny size. When the Doctor gets wind of this, the first thing he says is “Fantastic idea for a movie,” a nod to the film Fantastic Voyage, the novelization of which was written by prolific sci-fi author Isaac Asimov. (This would be like John Scalzi or recent Hugo winner Ann Leckie writing the novelization of Transformers: Age of Extinction.) Asimov did eventually write an original “sequel,” Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain. Guess what part of the body the miniature people have to enter.

    “Robots of Sherwood”
    The title makes this one fairly easy to spot; clearly, the episode was taken from the legends of Robin Hood. Ah, but which Robin Hood legends? This Who adventure posits that the fictional Robin Hood was actually a real person, yet not all the events we see correspond to those super old ballads (where he’s sometimes called Robyn Hode), instead relying mostly on Howard Pyle’s 1883 novel The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, which in turn heavily influenced the famous Errol Flynn and Disney films. To put it another way, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood is a novelization of a ballad of an oft-told story, meaning a lot of what’s in there was invented for the book. Still, it’s a great read.

    “Listen”
    In this episode, the Doctor gets really interested in ghosts, and, in particular, the familiar fear of someone grabbing your foot from under the bed. Through topsy-turvy, timey-wimey shenanigans, we learn the ghost under the Doctor’s childhood bed was actually a time-traveling Clara. This episode might not have an obvious literary ancestor, but the repetition of the word “Listen” is a big tip-off to a possible inspiration. The second chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, begins: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” The subject of Slaughterhouse-Five obviously concerns how time travel makes one feel about life, and Vonnegut also employs the word “listen,” both in this book and in other works and speeches, as a sort of signal for kindness. In this excellent Doctor Who episode, it’s the same: at first “listen” seems ominous, but later, it becomes a word of kindness for the Doctor, and comfort, too. Vonnegut probably would have loved it.

    “Time Heist”
    This one is all Philip K. Dick. When the Doctor and Clara find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery with no memory as to how they got there or why they’re the ones robbing the bank, the first story that comes to mind should be “Paycheck.” In this classic Dick tale, a man named Jennings has his memory erased after doing a job for which he expected to be paid handsomely. Now unable to remember what the job entailed, the man is stunned when, instead of a paycheck, he’s bizarrely given a strange bag containing all sorts of stuff, stuff he eventually ends up needing very badly. As in the Doctor Who episode, breaking the law is involved, and, of course, the future benefactor who’s the big helper in “Paycheck” turns out to be a time-traveling version of Jennings himself. A character like Jennings can be forgiven for not figuring this out right away, but an experienced time traveler like the Doctor? No way.

    What are some of your favorite Doctor Who literary mash-ups?

     
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