Reviews: Wiffle Lever To Full by Bob Fischer
Review by Brian Watson.
The book was prompted by the author, broadcaster Bob Fischer, finding a short science fiction story that was written by him when aged 8. As a working journalist, Bob turned his talents to investigating fandom as it existed in Britain in 2007/8 and presenting his various experiences and conclusions in this book.
Although, to research his subject, he also attends conventions and events that are themed for non-sci-fi programmes, Bob's main interest seems to lie with futuristic series such as Dr Who, Star Trek, Blake's 7 and - most relevant to The Unmutual Website - The Prisoner. The story he wrote as a child makes a handy reference point along the way.
I attended one of the events described by Bob in the book, and I am happy to confirm that he faithfully records what happened and the general ambience of the convention. What he adds are his personal impressions so this is not dry objective journalism, nor does it purport to be. It is throughout a personal record of a personal line of enquiry. I have read several books that use The Prisoner as an excuse to talk about the book's author, but Bob walks that difficult line well and manages to make us care about his responses to what could easily seem to be obsessive, slightly mad, communities of enthusiasts. Fundamentally, this is because he obviously likes people and he wants us to like these people too, even those with whom we might not have an existing affinity.
He writes well and each section is similarly ordered, so it is possible to dip into, say, The Prisoner section and read about the specific event visited or just Bob's relationship with the programme before, during and after the specific event described.
Another pleasure is that this is a properly created book that is published by Hodder & Stoughton with good paper, a clear choice of fonts, and a binding that survives frequent openings. The sum of the parts is an absolute pleasure to read and revisit and it has accompanied me on many holidays and other stays away from home. It will be very many more years before my own copy will be passed on to a charity shop for someone else to enjoy the book as much as I have.
© Brian Watson, 2013. Reproduced with permission.
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