SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR WHAT THE FANS THINK
Updated: May 20, 2022 @ 8:50 am PT
Unapologetic and critical fan reviews and assessments.
WHAT THE FANS THINK is Pencil Tip’s series of books where the fans review and assess their favourite television series. Fan opinion can be extremely critical, often harsher than that of the meanest television critic. But when the fans love something, you know it. Praises are heaped in droves.
Each volume will concentrate on a specific series and will feature original reviews, essays and analysis of every episode of that particular series. The fans will have their say on what they think are the best, worst and merely average, episodes of a series. You just might be surprised by what they have to say.
To date we have published four books in the series covering Blake’s 7, Torchwood, UFO and Sarah Jane Adventures with further editions planned for future publication.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for reviews of series episodes, articles of interest & essays examining various aspects of the series, artwork and more. Material that reflects the fans opinion of the series.
1. From the episode list below, choose which story you’d like to write a review of.
2. Review the episode list to make sure that the episode is still available to review (those stories that are not available will appear emboldened either in red).
3. If the episode you wish to review is still available, send us an email at: email@example.com outlining your choice of episode to review. (Episodes will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.) Please also include your full name, contact email, age, and indicate where you live (e.g. Sally Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 28, Suffolk, UK).
4. Once we receive your email, we will then assign the story to you for review and update the list below. (Your name will then appear on the list against your story choice and you will receive an email confirmation providing further instructions.)
5. You will be given 30 days to write and submit your review to us. Completed reviews should be emailed to us at email@example.com. When you submit your completed review, please include the following statement which will allow us to use your review in the publication:
I, [insert full name] (the Author), dated this [insert date], grants Pencil Tip Publishing (the Publisher) the right to publish the Work (the Review), for the life of the publication (the Book), in English and throughout the world. The Author shall not sell or publish the Work in any form for two (2) years from the books date of publication but is thereafter free to market the Work and effectively execute copyright.
Please note that completed reviews are to be submitted in Word (.doc/.docx) format and attached to the body of your email. Please also remember to include your full name, contact email, age, and indicate where you live (e.g. Sally Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 28, Suffolk, UK).
6. Once we receive your review, we will cross this story off the list indicating that we have received a first draft version for review and editing. (At this point we will make any editorial changes to your review and return them to you for revisions.)
If we do not receive your review at the end of the 30 days, we will assign this story to another contributor.
Reviews should be in the 1000-1750 word range.
Essays can be up to, but no more than, 3000 words.
Below you will find a sample review to help guide you in what we are looking for in submissions.
Terror of the Autons: Review
by Michael Wisher
“Terror of the Autons” is a story of firsts. It’s the first serial of season eight, the first sequel of the Pertwee years, and it marks the first appearances of Jo Grant, Mike Yates, and the Master. Not all of this can be attributed to Robert Holmes. Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks created these concepts, gifting the Doctor with a new companion, a new archenemy, and a new soldier to shout at. It was Holmes, though, who made the concepts into characters before Katy Manning, Roger Delgado, and Richard Franklin brought them to life.
This is where Holmes’ skill for erudite and witty dialogue reaches its heights, winning his place as perhaps the greatest character writer in Doctor Who’s history. Jo Grant isn’t a silly girl; she’s “a ham-fisted bun-vendor!” Scientists make cracks about hydrogen emission lines (ah, the quiet sophistication of the fart joke). The Doctor’s exchange with a bowler-hatted Time Lord agent says everything you need to know about his relationship with his people and the Master. Pertwee is particularly aloof and arrogant in this story, but he’s also fragile and easily cowed. He sheepishly defends himself as the Time Lord points out the Master’s superior academic record, and he hasn’t the guts to tell Jo to get packing. The relish both he and the Master display when confronting each other sets out their rivalry from the off, beginning forty-six years and counting of clashes between the two time-travellers.
Bringing back the Autons is a clever choice. The Master’s alliance with the Nestene Consciousness makes the danger he poses clear, and the use of an established monster—fresh in the memory at the time of broadcast—streamlines the storytelling. Nonetheless, Holmes explores the Autons’ affinity for plastic in new ways, exploring the concept through more interesting means than in “Spearhead from Space” (1970). Indeed, “Rose” (2005), broadcast over thirty years later, draws more on this second Auton adventure than the first in many regards, both stories taking the idea of living plastic to its logical conclusions. Both stories display a grim sense of humour, but Holmes’ is the more disturbing of the two. Combined with Letts’ (uncredited) direction, Holmes’ script creates some memorably disturbing moments. A man is swallowed by an inflatable chair composed from some tar-like polymer; daffodils spray a suffocating film into the faces of their victims; a telephone cord makes a valiant attempt to take out the series’ star.
The Autons themselves are even creepier than in their debut, although quite why they wear those hideous clown masks over their heads isn’t clear—why aren’t they simply molded like that? Still, whenever a clown or human mask is removed, the Auton’s face is even blanker and more inhuman than before. They’re the best example of the many emotionless, subhuman creatures in the series, more disquieting even than Cybermen or gas-masked zombies. Pushing this even further is some of the best stunt work in the series’ history, from Terry Walsh, who is mowed down by Yates’ car and knocked over a cliff only to get back to his feet and relentlessly continue his pursuit.
It’s unarguable that “Terror of the Autons” is visually arresting, albeit not always for the right reasons. Letts goes a bit CSO mad in this serial, using the yellow screen technique for absolutely everything he can, whether or not it makes any sense. Still, this does allow for such images as the floating Time Lord, the shrunken scientist and the tiny, hideous Auton doll (hardly the most market-friendly ploy since no one in their right mind would want to take that thing home). Much of the story takes place in a circus, certainly an imaginative setting, albeit on the very fringes of one so that nothing costs more money than is absolutely necessary. (It’s surprising really that they didn’t just CSO in some stock footage of a big top show.)
For all its visual strangeness and unsettling monsters, “Terror of the Autons” lives on its characters, from the adorably enthusiastic Jo to Michael Wisher’s obsequious Rex Farrell. Its most significant contribution to Doctor Who’s rich cast of characters, though, is the Master. Master of hypnotism. Master of elaborate traps. Master of disguise (presumably he got himself that lifelike mask technology from the Nestene). Master of forming alliances with aliens who will double-cross him at the earliest opportunity. Delgado is villainous charm personified, and like the Doctor, we can’t help but look forward to the next time we see him.
Below you will find a sample of how submissions should be submitted. Please ensure that documents are formatted as follows:
- 8.5 x 11 inch size page
- Page Margins: 1-inch top bottom left & right sides
- Headers: Your name, email address, title and page number
- Font: Times New Roman 10 or 12 pt
- Spacing: Double spaced
- Word Count
- Document: Word (.doc or .docx format)
First Time Contributors
If you have never participated in any of our (Pencil Tip) past projects, and this is your first time working with us, please feel free to send us details of any writing experience you may have already had, and/or feel free to include samples of your writing. (Samples should be attached to your email in Word format.)
Contributors will receive a contributors copy of the book upon publication.
PLEASE NOTE: A portion from the sale of each book will be donated to a chosen British Columbia based charity.