This instalment of the Dalek Game is for the late, wonderful Eva Ibbotson’s The Secret of Platform 13. I went to King’s Cross Station in 2000, at the end of a two month course in Germany. There were several Harry Potter books out by then, but I don’t recall even thinking about Platform 9 3/4 – it was the proximity to Platform 13 and its gump which thrilled me.
The point of similarity between the books has been much-noted (Platform 13 is earlier than Harry Potter), but is hardly surprising. Railway stations as places of arrival and departure, as jumping-off points, as portals, as doors to other places, lives, worlds – this is a very natural progression in children’s novels (their use in adult literature is rather different). You can catch trains to Hogwarts, cross to the Island, be pulled to another island where Cair Paravel stands in ruins, go back or forward in time, meet small Peruvian bears… Heh, I just looked back at the bibliography to my honour’s thesis (in which I appear to have referred to Ibbotson’s little-known sequel, The Secret of Platform 23, and am remembering how much fun I had, even though my supervisor made me use “liminal” and “quotidian”. I can’t remember how I convinced her that the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer was relevant to railways.
In other news: I recently designed a wedding invitation for friends with certain fannish tendencies. It has hit the streets and I will put an image up as soon all the hard-copy recipients have spotted the Doctor Who references.