The Red Lines Page

January 20, 2011

Built-in obsolescence

Filed under: drwho,Kursaal,Mirror Signal Manoeuvre,writing — Peter A @ 12:16 am

This is another drabble that I wrote about twenty years ago and recently rediscovered. Now that I look at it, I note that it’s early evidence of how I would subsequently treat K-9 in my short story “Moving On” in the Doctor Who short story collection Decalog 3: Consequences.

It started as an in-joke about my then-job as a technical author, and by the time you know it I’m dismantling a robot dog in my Big Finish audio play Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. See what you think.

Built-in obsolescence

Five months later, the novelty had worn off. A journalist knows the currency of a recent story, and the transience of human interest.

She should have guessed when the gears first started to crunch and the print-out was exhausted. Now, crouched by the side of the machine, so was she.

Brendan honked. “Again?”

She withered him with a glance. “The problem with self-diagnostics is what to do when they go wrong.”

“Sounds recursive.” Brendan munched, disinterested. “First year Psychology. Logic.” Crumbs bounced.

She slapped the side of the computer, piqued. “So typical of the Doctor to forget the instruction book.”

At the 1997 BBC Books launch party for their new Doctor Who range of novels, one of the other authors cornered me. I can’t remember who it was (I was new, it was dark, there was wine). It may have been Jim Mortimore or Lawrence Miles. Anyway, whoever it was said “Did you write that K-9 story?” I confessed that I did. “Well, you must write a novel,” he insisted. I thanked my mystery admirer for his enthusiasm, and promised I’d see what I could do. As I’d already been commissioned to write Kursaal at that stage, I felt confident enough this wasn’t too optimistic a thing to say at the time.


  1. It was probably Jimbo: I don’t think LM was there. I know Jim was as I ended up talking to him.

    Comment by Mags — January 20, 2011 @ 10:19 am | Reply

    • I’ll have to take your word for it. I don’t think I could pick either of them out of a line-up even today. I need to get out more. Or maybe they do!

      Comment by Peter A — January 27, 2011 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

  2. Ah, it’s OK… I’ve found a photo reference:

    Comment by Peter A — January 27, 2011 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

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