I’m A Chick Who Likes To Unravel Time

Chicks Unravel Time cover

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I’ve dropped hints about this for a while, but now it’s official and on the record! I have an essay in the forthcoming Chicks Unravel Time, a follow up to the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords. Woot! This is my last essay for books from Mad Norwegian Press, so I’m really glad it will be in such an awesome book.

This one is different to the first in that editors Deborah Stanish and L M Myles asked each contributor to consider a specific series of Doctor Who and to explore it in any way we liked. So, not every essay could be classed as “a celebration”, but they’re all written by women who clearly love Doctor Who and who have intelligent and deep thoughts on the show.

Also, the cover art is awesome! Katy Shuttleworth once again being all badass.

Here’s the full table of contents so you can get a taste of what everyone is talking about:

  • Regeneration – Shaping the Road Ahead by Barbara Hambly
  • The Doctor’s Balls by Diana Gabaldon
  • A Dance With Drashigs by Emma Nichols
  • No Competition by Una McCormack
  • Identity Crisis by L.M. Myles
  • The Still Point by Anna Bratton
  • For the Love of Tom by Sarah Lotz
  • Donna Noble Saves the Universe by Martha Wells
  • I’m From the TARDIS, and I’m Here to Help You: Barbara Wright and the Limits of Intervention by Joan Frances Turner
  • I Robot, You Sarah Jane: Sexual Politics in Robot by Kaite Welsh
  • Between Now and Now by Juliet E. McKenna
  • What Would Romana Do? by Lara J. Scott
  • The Women We Don’t See by K. Tempest Bradford
  • The Ultimate Sixth by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • Maids and Masters: The Distribution of Power in Doctor Who Series Three by Courtney Stoker
  • Robots, Orientalism and Yellowface: Minorities in the Fourteenth Season of Doctor Who by Aliette de Bodard
  • David Tennant’s Bum by Laura Mead
  • Superficial Depth?: Spirituality in Season Eleven by Caroline Symcox
  • The Problem With Peri by Jennifer Pelland
  • All of Gallifrey’s a Stage: The Doctor in Adolescence by Teresa Jusino
  • All the Way Out to the Stars by Iona Sharma
  • Build High for Happiness! by Lynne M. Thomas
  • Nimons are Forever by Liz Barr
  • Ace Through the Looking Glass by Elisabeth Bolton-Gabrielsen
  • Hey, You Got Science in My Fiction! by Laura McCullough
  • Seven to Doomsday: The Non-Domestication  of Earthbound Doctor Who in Season Seven by Mags Halliday
  • Harking Back and Moving On by Jenni Hughes
  • Anything Goes by Deborah Stanish
  • How the Cold War Killed the Fifth Doctor by Erica McGillivray
  • Waiting for the Doctor: The Women of Series Five by Seanan McGuire
  • Timing Malfunction: Television Movie + the BBC Eighth Doctor Novels = A Respectable Series by Kelly Hale
  • Guten Tag, Hitler by Rachel Swirsky
  • Reversing Polarities: The Doctor, the Master and False Binaries in Season Eight by Amal El-Mohtar

There’s one essay for each series of the show, classic and current, plus the TV movie.

My essay is about Series 13. When Deb first asked me to be in the book and told me the premise, I loved the idea right away. I let her pick a series for me since I’m not very familiar with classic Who and she hoped to get some fresh perspectives on the older stuff.

At the time, the series I would have chosen for myself is #3 of the modern era. Deb rightly pointed out that my CDTL essay was pretty much an exploration of Series 3 through the lens of my love for Martha. The only other series I have many FEELS about is #4. After that my ability to deal with Doctor Who flies out the window.

The choice of Season 13 ended up being a good one. Tom Baker’s Doctor is the only one of the classics I’m familiar with. I’ve seen some of Series 12 and a few of his adventures with Romana. But I came into #13 fresh.

I won’t spoil the essay for you, but I will say that I was a little surprised at some of the things I found there, despite knowing in advance that I would see some problematic stuff. What I found very interesting, and only touched on a bit in the essay, was how much of new Doctor Who I saw in those old episodes. I can tell that some writers have been influenced by those episodes for good and for bad.

I now also have a full appreciation for how eye-roll worthy it is that the Doctor’s race is called the Time Lords, as if there are only men running around on Gallifrey. This plays out in interesting way during this series.

Chicks Unravel Time is out on November 13th, and you’d better believe that I’m going to remind you several times before the actual day. I should also note here that it’s almost a 100% done deal that I’m attending Chicago TARDIS over Thanksgiving weekend so I can take part in the panel about the book! I’m just waiting to see if I can get a press pass.

Until then, pre-order and spread the news!

Let’s Talk About Human Nature

Let's Talk About Human Nature

Specifically, the Doctor Who series 3 episodes “Human Nature/The Family of Blood”.

Those of you who read my Chicks Dig Time Lords essay know a bit about how I feel about this episode, specifically Martha in this episode, but I’ll give a small bit of explanation and background for those who don’t.

In this two-parter, the Doctor runs away from the Family because they want to capture him and feed off of his Time Lord essence. So he hides the Time Lord bit of him in a watch (aided by the TARDIS) and hen goes to live as a normal human for a bit so that they can’t find him. The species the Family belongs to apparently have a short lifespan, so the Doctor knows if he can just wait them out in hiding, they will eventually die.

So the Doctor becomes human and hides out in pre-WWI Britain as a teacher in a rich boys school. Martha is his companion, so she has to hide out, too. So she gets to be his maid. Since he brought her along with him to this job as a teacher (I think the explanation was that she was his family’s maid) she focuses most of her energy on caring for him, but is also made to do work around the school. At one point we see her cleaning floors with another maid she’s become friends with.

Then, of course, the Family shows up, stuff happens, big adventure[1].

I have a lot of problems with this episode.

  • For a long time I wondered what possible justification the Doctor had for taking Martha to this time period and this place on earth when he had, oh all of time and space to choose from?
  • People have pointed out that the Doctor did not choose the time and place, the TARDIS dd. Well, TARDIS: wtf? Still not okay[2].
  • It’s yet another example in a long list of examples where Martha is put into the Mammy role. I might have let it slide except it happens so often it’s a damn theme, and that’s really problematic.

There are a lot of different strings tying this all together. To start, this episode was based on a Doctor Who novel written by the dude who also wrote the script: Paul Cornell. Apparently RTD liked the book so much he asked Cornell to make an episode of it. But the book was written some time ago starring a different incarnation of the Doctor with a different (white) companion. And thus the companion’s role was very different in the book.

By doing this episode during season 3 Cornell and the creative team introduced a tricky element that wasn’t in the original. They did address race more than once, and that’s good. But they only addressed race in the more surface, basic ways while letting other deeper issues stand.

This is more complicated by the fact that I really like the episode overall. It’s well-written and the story itself is interesting and the dilemma the Doctor faces in the end is crunchy and thought-provoking. I’ve found myself wishing many times since watching it that they’d done this episode with a different companion, because obviously there just wasn’t enough deep thought about race to do it the way they did without being super problematic. Or, that’s the way it seems from the result.

So what precipitated this post? Over on Tumblr I reblogged something from Karnythia about this ep where people expressed their frustration with it. It’s the part where the nurse that the Human!Doctor has fallen in love with is talking to Martha, who reveals she is a (medical) doctor. The woman then says: “Women might train to be doctors, but hardly a scivvy and hardly one of your colour.”  Karnythia points out:

“Black women had been training to be doctors in the UK & the US for almost 40 years at this point. Were there a lot of them? No. But there was a lot of coverage of the ones who did succeed. If she knew women were training to be doctors, then she knew some of them were women of color.”

Perhaps she would have, but the writer and the creative team apparently did not[3].

That gives me a whole other reason to be mad at this episode.

As I said in my Chicks piece, I don’t think anyone was being intentionally racist here and it’s clear that some thought was given to race when they decided to do these episodes with Martha. That’s a good thing. But when you’re dealing with something as thorny as this, you can’t just put some thought into race. And as many people have pointed out, there is all kinds of just on the surface or just under the surface problems with race in the new Doctor Who[4].

These episodes are a source of great rage because of the lack of deep thought about race. For me, the rage is informed by that and by the knowledge that it could be such a good episode if not for this stuff.

And it all makes me realize I need top hop on getting this book started with Karnythia.

Footnotes

  1. If you want a full synopsis, check Wikipedia.[]
  2. In the world of the show that is bad enough. But I find it to be handwavy and bull on the part of the writer/creators/whoever came up with this idea. It looks like they’re trying to absolve the Doctor of responsibility here, and that’s a dick way to do so. Plus, it doesn’t fly for the TARDIS, either, as it’s been well established by this point that it has a consciousness, too.[]
  3. Or there’s another explanation. I think we may find out.[]
  4. The classic episodes, too, of course.[]

And Now For Something Completely Awesome

And Now For Something Completely Awesome

Hugo Award nominations were announced yesterday and this shiny book got a nod in the Best Related Work Category:

That’s right! Chicks Dig Time Lords is a Hugo nominated work! I am so incredibly happy, yay!

And, if I am allowed to say: well deserved! Lynne and Tara put together a really solid lineup and the fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. I hope that remains the case as Hugo voting commences :)

On equally happy notes, I see a lot of friends scattered throughout the nominations, but I wanted to give a special shout out to fellow Altered Fluidians N. K. Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed. Ms. Jemisin’s first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, is on the best novel list and Mr. Ahmed is up for the Not A Hugo Campbell award for best new writer.

I posted the whole list over on the ABW and noted that there are quite a few women on the list, more POC than I’m used to seeing, and many “new” or young writers, which is an achievement for the Hugos. Can’t wait to see how the winners balance out on these fronts.

WisCon by the Twitters: Chicks Dig Time Lords

These are the tweets I could find associated with Friday’s Chicks Dig Time Lords panel at WisCon 34. It was a lot of fun talking about Doctor Who with such fine people, and Twitter can only capture part of it:

@tinytempest “I was seduced into Doctor Who fandom by a really cute boy” says @lynnemthomas

@rhiannonrevolts Asking me who my Doctor is…hard. Ten IS me, but I love others.

@rhiannonrevolts Really agreeing with @tinytempest about companions. Martha Jones saves the world!

@yamainu “Our fandom is bigger on the inside.” heard at Doctor Who panel.

@rhiannonrevolts RTD is going to get smacked by @tinytempest and I will laugh.

@charliejane i wanna watch! RT @rhiannonrevolts: RTD is going to get smacked by @tinytempest and I will laugh.

@rhiannonrevolts Martha Jones’ feelings for the Doctor were handled wrong, says @lynnemthomas and I agree.

@tinytempest “What’s the Tom Baker episode where he fellates an alien?”

@rhiannonrevolts RTD and teh Moff really have issues with women.

5 Links Make Up for Radio Silence

5 Links Make Up for Radio Silence

I know you all think I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth. Maybe what I need to do is promise a post a day with interesting links. That would at least be something.

  1. Today at Tor.com you can see the latest installment of Tech News For Nerds, a weekly thing I’m doing over that way. This one is all about cell phones and wireless technologies. Netbook fans should take special note of the smartbook section.
  2. My dear friend John Klima is raising money for a new genre magazine showcasing underrepresented cultures. Go vote for his idea and help him win $25K to get started. (Yes, you need money to start a magazine, people. And John is good at it.) It’s a great way to stick it to Norman Spinrad.
  3. Did you know that I’m in an ultra-cool non-fic anthology called Chicks Dig Time Lords? I so am. It’s such an amazing book and filled with all kinds of smart writers and fans and actors and Doctor Who goodness. Women talking about their fan experience across time (and space) and being very smart about what they love and don’t love about the show and fandom. I, of course, wrote a controversial essay on Martha Jones. I know Paul Cornell has the book, I just hope he doesn’t hate me for what I said about Human Nature. Go buy Chicks Dig Time Lords right now and then go listen to the podcast of Hour of the Wolf featuring several contributors and read about our shenanigans the night before.
  4. Speaking of books, remember the list of eReaders I said people should be on the lookout for? Several of them now have full reviews, including the Alex eReader, which is my favorite. If anyone asked me right now which eReader they should buy, I would say the Alex without hesitation. The list of other eReaders is on Tor.com as well.
  5. This weekend I watched the BBC miniseries Lost in Austen and have the following things to say about it: (a) When did it become okay to present fanfic as legitimate television? (b) Does the BBC have only 20 actors? Because I have seen a third of this cast on every show I’ve watched. (c) After the clusterfuck that was Hex, Jemima Rooper and Christina Cole shouldn’t be allowed on screen together again nor should they be allowed psuedo-lesbian encounters because they wouldn’t give them to us on that horrendous show. (d) Jemima is awfully hot. (e) Judging from the 700+ comments for this movie on Netflix, I’d have to say that it’s successful insofaras it’s made people feel strongly that it’s the best thing ever or a piece of crap. (f) Where can I get a job writing badfic for money?

Now back to my regularly scheduled seclusion.

Calling Everyone Who Digs Time Lords

chicksdigI know, I KNOW. I am horrendously late informing you of this event. I cannot explain myself except to say that I have been horrendously busy and thought I’d done at least some of this promotion before now. I suck.

But you’re not doing anything important on Friday night, so please come:

The Chicks Dig Time Lords anthology is a celebration of Doctor Who from the perspective of female fans. Join us as we read our essays, talk smack about the Doctors we love (and hate), the compaions we cheer for (and hate), and the Whoniverse we adore.

Contributors Catherynne M Valente, Franesca Coppa, Deborah Standish, and K. Tempest Bradford will be there along with cover artist and Torchwood Babiez co-creator Katy Shuttleworth.