Chicks Unravel Time Readings & Signings in Worcester, MA & New York City

Chicks Unravel Time Readings & Signings in Worcester, MA & New York City

Chicks Unravel Time comes out in just a few days! Eee! I’m very excited. This book is bound to be really special. I’ve already had a sneak peek at a couple of the essays and I will predict that Doctor Who lovers will enjoy every page.

Some related events surrounding that. First, to get the bad news out of the way: I will not be attending Chicago TARDIS this year. I know, very sad! But family obligations + lack of money = no Tempest at the con. However, there will be a panel and signing and all of that with the fabulous editors, Deborah Stanish and L. M. Myles, plus many of the contributors. So if you can get to the con, go check it out!

Good news is that I will be at two more local reading/signing events!

The first is in Massachusetts near Boston, the second right here in my hometown of NYC. Details:

On Saturday, November 17th, Annie’s Bookstop of Worcester is holding an all-day Chicks Unravel Time event. I’ll be there alongside Jennifer Pelland, another of the book’s contributors, plus Katy Shuttleworth, cover artist extraordinaire. We’ll be reading, signing books, and hosting a roundtable discussion/Q&A. The store has promised us some surprises as well, and there will be tons of Doctor Who merchandise besides the book to peruse. So please do come!

Location: 65 James Street Worcester MA 01603

Time: 11/17 1PM – 6PM (come early for the reading/signings)

Next up: NYC Doctor Who shenanigans!

The Doctor Who NY group is hosting a reading/signing/book launch event at The Churchill, a pub that appears to be very fancy. This event is going to be loads of fun since both Deborah and Liz will be in town. Then Liz goes back to Scotland and we all cry.

There will also be copies and discussion of a couple of other recently published Doctor Who books that night as well. So overall it will be a big one for NYC Doctor Who fans.

Location: 45 East 28th St (near Park Avenue), New York, NY

Time: 11/28 6:30pm

Here’s a Facebook page for the event if you’d like to RSVP there.

Can’t come to either of these events? Sadness! But you know what you can do? You can pre-order your copy of Chicks Unravel Time. Yes, you can!

 

I’m A Chick Who Likes To Unravel Time

Chicks Unravel Time cover

click me for a bigger version

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!

10 Better Choices For The Next Doctor Who Companion

10 Better Choices For The Next Doctor Who Companion

Yesterday the Doctor Who crew announced that they’d chosen the new Doctor Who companion that will take over from Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill: Jenna-Louise Coleman. Moffat has heaped much praise upon Miss Coleman and said that her energy matches and even exceeds that of Matt Smith, so we should all rejoice.

Yet my first thought upon seeing her was: another young, white female? Really? That’s the best we can do?

I know nothing about Coleman and I have no reason to believe she’s not a good actress. So, nothing against her personally and all. This is more about the general banality of choice here. I shouldn’t expect much from Mr. Moffat given his track record — he did choose Matt Smith, after all — but is it so much to ask that a TV show about an 1100 year old time traveling alien be more than just the same old tired stuff all TV is about? Do we really need another young, white cis woman to compliment the young, white cis man at the center of the show?

Say what you will about Russell T. Davies (and I have said plenty in my time), he at least had the balls to change it up a bit when it came to companions. There were two companions of color on his watch, plus an omnisexual man, plus a woman with some years and experience on her.

Given the show’s penchant for picking actors and actresses from past episodes, I can think of 10 really good choices for companion that each bring things to the table we haven’t seen in a while and break the young, white, human female mold in different and interesting ways.

Madame Vastra and Jenny

Madame Vastra and Jenny

I’m starting with these two because I know so many people will agree. Moffat introduced them in “A Good Man Goes To War” and I’m pretty sure the entire fandom went nuts for them right away. They’re clearly lesbian, clearly in love, and would clearly bring some welcome snark and spark to the TARDIS. Especially because Vastra is all about not putting up with the Doctor’s bullshit. Yes, Jenny is a young, white female, I know. But this combo works so well. Plus she’s from our past and it’s been a while since the Doctor pulled a companion from sometime other than contemporary Earth. Vastra is non-human; again, something the show used to do and hasn’t yet since it came back. And with the whole lesbian thing we can finally leave behind the whole Girl Moons Over Doctor thing.

Canton Everett Delaware III

Canton Everett Delaware III

Any excuse to allow Mark Sheppard to take up more screen time on my TV is a good one, right? Beyond that, it seemed clear to me that when older Canton shows up in “The Impossible Astronaut” he had been through many more adventures with the Doctor than we saw. Why not add him to the TARDIS crew for a season? Let him bring the man he loves along (a gay black man from the 50’s in space? YES. Call Idris Elba).

Amara Karan

Amara Karan

When “The God Complex” first aired I remember a bunch of people said that they wished Rita hadn’t died because she’d make a fantastic companion. I wholeheartedly agreed. Just because Rita is dead doesn’t mean that Amara Karan can’t be a companion. It’s what happened with Freema, after all. She’s such a fantastic actress, just give her another great character and she’d be fabulous. Plus, she’s a woman of color. Honestly, the show needs to prove that Martha wasn’t just a token by being a little less white for no good reason.

Alonso Frame / Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey

Since we’ve seen Alonso twice now, I think he’s a good candidate to be a companion, but I’m not wedded to the character from “Voyage of the Damned”. Russell has a nice wide range and does crazy flustered really well. Maybe even better than Matt Smith. I don’t think he’d make a good solo companion, but perhaps teamed up with Amara or Lenora in a non-romantic way it could work. He’d also make a great alien with those big ears.

Lenora Crichlow

Lenora Crichlow

Ever since I saw Lenora in “Gridlock” I have loved her. I definitely don’t want to see her play the character from that episode as a companion, but someone new. As a Being Human fan it would give me no end of squeezing to see her and Russell Tovey as companions together, but that might just be too Brit-TV incestuous. Pair her up with Canton, maybe? Then you have a nice triad. An older guy to be sort of steady and reasonable, Matt being all muppety, and a younger woman to be the balance between them. Though, honestly, I’d love to see Lenora play someone 180 degrees from the roles I’ve seen her in so far.

Naoko Mori

Naoko Mori

I’ll say this up front: there’s no good reason why Torchwood’s Toshiko Sato is dead. Though I wouldn’t be down with them bringing that character back for Doctor Who, Naoko Mori should definitely get another chance at the Whoniverse. She’ll be the first Asian companion since the dude in the American movie. My only fear with her is that, once again, the writers will go for the easy stereotypes – shy, good at maths, bad at interpersonal relationships, computer wiz. Ugh. Naoko is so much better than all of that, as the show should be.

Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony)

Clyde Langer

Bringing in someone from The Sarah Jane Adventures would tie the Whoniverse together even more. I like Luke, though I don’t think the whole innocent super genius thing would work all that well on Who, especially up against 11. Clyde is a different sort of person, and his personality would compliment Matt’s manicness well, I think. Plus you get the benefit of a person of color and someone who won’t be over-wowed by all the strangeness yet remain grounded.

Dichen Lachman

Dichen Lachman

Dichen slips in as a Whoniverse alum just barely since she had a small part in Torchwood: Miracle Day. However, my recommendation is not based on that. I had to watch every episode of Dollhouse so I could write about it. Despite the absolute torture of such a thing, I did notice that Dichen outdid most of her co-stars on a regular. One of the few good things about Dollhouse was watching her and Enver Gjokaj school everyone on how the whole new character every episode/scene thing was done. Not that most of them learned. I see her as a companion with a lot of mad energy. Or maybe even a Time Lady. Let’s rescue Romana from E-Space and revive her as a mixed-race woman of color!

Gina Torres

Gina Torres

This entrant right here is just some wish fulfillment. I’ve watched Gina Torres be a badass awesome lady through many a TV show, both good and bad. I say let’s bring that to the TARDIS’ doorstep and see what comes of it. She’s a woman comfortably above tweenage with some gravitas to her, has the body to do all the running necessary, won’t let the Doctor walk all over her or fall in love with him, and is probably comfortable destroying whole galaxies if you get in her way.

There you go: 10 awesome choices that aren’t the same old banal young, white female we’ve already been there and done.

Who would you add to the list?

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.[]

Doctor Who Debate: Davies vs. Moffat

Doctor Who Debate: Davies vs. Moffat

At Dragon*Con last weekend I went to a panel called Doctor Who: Davies vs. Moffat in the Brit track so as to cover it for the Daily Dragon. The panel discussion was… less than robust, I would say. But then, this topic could have people going on for hours and we only had one. I wrote it up for the DD here, if you care to read.

Coming away from the panel I felt that I’d like to continue the conversation in a venue better suited to deep conversation. And here we are.

The basic idea behind the panel was to examine Doctor Who and debate which “era” of the show — the one headed by Davies or the current one by Moffat — is better overall. Of course, with both showrunners there’s a lot to pick apart and examine and for some there may not be a better overall choice. It’s completely legitimate to point out the areas where either of them excel or falter. And, of course, there will be some pitting the various Doctors against each other.

To back up your arguments, you may mention any episode that’s been aired but don’t reveal any spoilers from unaired stuff. By aired I mean aired in the UK. If you really, really don’t want spoilers for the most recent stuff, you should probably skip this one.

To start the debate, I’ll ask of folks: who do you think is the better plotter? On an episode by episode basis I would have said Moffat until season 5. On an overall arc basis, I’m saying Davies. So far The Silence just makes me roll my eyes, and I wanted to stab the Pandorica thing from the word go. Season 3’s arc was much more satisfying and well constructed… until the Tinkerbell bit.

What say you?

The Unblinking Eye [Part 1, rough]

The Unblinking Eye [Part 1, rough]

The cold open of my TNG/Doctor Who fanfic is done, so I thought I would share it with you all. I also came up with a tentative title. It will likely change.

Okay kids, keep in mind that this is a first draft. Like a really, really first draft. Have fun.

The Unblinking Eye

Captain’s Log, Stardate 46389.2. We’ve just entered the Davien system and commander LaForge informs me that the test of the new subspace field generator will commence within the hour. If successful, the new engine will increase dilithium efficiency three-fold.

“All right, Data. Activate the field.” Goerdi LaForge swept his rolling chair between consoles, keeping track of half a dozen monitors at once. This first test was going to be tricky, and he didn’t want to give the engineering core back at Starfleet Headquarters any reasons to shut him down before he could prove this new engine scheme would work.

“Subspace field activated.” Data stood at Engineering’s central console while the rest of the crew moved between the warp vestibule and their consoles, keeping almost as diligent an eye on the outputs as their boss.

All signs were good, and Geordi was about to give the order to go to warp 1 when a sharp, rushing sound interrupted the normal thrumthrum of the room. It lasted only seconds, hardly enough time for panic to well up in his chest at what might be going wrong. And when it was over a body lay sprawled on the floor.

“What–”

“Intruder alert,” the computer announced in her faux alarmed tone.  [Read more...]

Doctor Who Marathon This Saturday

Doctor Who Marathon This Saturday

I have a bunch of things I need to post about but very little time today. I wanted to alert my NYC peeps and those in nearby areas that I’m going to have a Doctor Who marathon this Saturday at my place. We’re going to watch the best episodes of the new series — as many as we can get through before we pass out. The following Saturday I think a Jem & the Holograms marathon is in order.

If you live in NYC and want in, click over to my website and let me know via the contact form if you want directions.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth

Torchwood: Children of the Earth

It’s hard, sometimes, being a Torchwood fan. It’s hard loving a show that has such obvious flaws. That suffers so many episodes with a good or halfway decent premise to fall apart in the last 5 – 15 minutes. That suffers some more than occasional bouts of bad acting. That suffers Burn Gorman to be presented as a desirable sexual partner for either men or women.

It’s hard being a Torchwood fan.

Long ago I had to admit that I love Torchwood the way lots of people love fanfiction. After all, the show is essentially Doctor Who fanfiction (spinoff is such a polite term). And, like fanfiction, I’m willing to put up with a lot of crap as long as my kink is massaged. My kink is, of course, Captain Jack Harkness.

Over time I also became quite a fan of Miss Toshiko Sato, though her character was badly used through the whole of her two series. And Ianto, of course — mainly because he was snogging Jack.

As long as any one episode contained Jack, Jack snogging Ianto, and Toshiko being awesome, I was mostly happy. But man, oh man, I wished for more. I wished for plots that held together and deep emotional impact and for Gwen not to suck so much donkey balls and for the show in general to just really take chances and change the game.

I clapped very hard for this. Harder than I clapped for Tinkerbell. And my wish came true.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth is so good, so phenomenal, and so crunchy that it truly transcends its fanfiction/spinoff standing and becomes one of the best television events I’ve witnessed in the past several years.

It’s sad that we only got five episodes this series, but Russel T. Davies utilized them well, delivering a plot arc that kept the tension up without resorting to cheap tricks. In “Day One”, children all over the world freeze at the exact same moment. Just freeze. Then, a few minutes later, continue on as if nothing’s happened. That afternoon it happens again, but this time the children all speak in unison: “We Are Coming.” It’s terrifying in its simplicity and in the delivery. All children everywhere saying the same thing at the same time.

Of course the Torchwood team goes into action trying to figure it all out. But they quickly discover that their biggest obstacle and most immediate threat isn’t the aliens, it’s the British government. We find out exactly why over the course of the first three days.

I won’t go spoilerific on you yet (I have much analysis and questions, but I’ll save that for after the final episode has been aired in the US), but I will say that the tension, mystery, excitement and stuff that makes you cry is very well-balanced throughout the series.

One note I will make is that I was pleasantly surprised to discover about halfway through “Day Two” that I wasn’t as annoyed and chafed by Gwen or Rhys as I usually am. In fact, I thought Gwen was really awesome in this series. She didn’t once make me wish she had died instead of Tosh. I didn’t once want to throw her out of the airlock whenever there was a scene with her and Jack or her and Jack and Rhys all together. This is a major accomplishment for Torchwood, I think. And I’m not sure who to attribute the credit to.

I could be Eve Myles, who is a fine actress, and who is not at fault for Gwen horridness in Series 1 and 2. It could be Russel T. Davies, who just might have a better handle on writing the character than Chris Chibnall ever did. He wasn’t responsible for all of Torchwood’s previous episodes, but he was in charge of the series, and thus the writers probably took his cues more often than not. Maybe it was just that there was no time in this series for the usual stupid love triangle crap someone shoehorned into previous series. That’s fine with me. Series 4 writers please take note: this is the Gwen we should have had all along. Let’s keep her, please.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth is the best series to date. I hope its true that we’ll get a Series 4 someday, because if the show keeps going in this vein it may surpass the one that birthed it. Fanfiction rules!

Babbling About Doctor Who

Babbling About Doctor Who

For those of you who’ve seen the season finale of Doctor Who, I have a column up at Fantasy about the Doctor:

This year at WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention, I was on a panel called Martha Jones: Made of Awesome or Disappointing Stereotype? I had hoped we would explore the different fan reactions to the way the writers handled Martha’s character, story arcs, and race. The panel didn’t turn out as I expected, but something Chris Hill said sparked a thought. He mentioned feeling that the Doctor’s character was uneven–sometimes he’s incredibly cruel and judgmental and other times he’s compassionate and reluctant to do harm. My response was that I didn’t see this as unevenness, I saw it as purposeful part of his character. I truly feel… that the writers want us to think that the Doctor is a complicated and deeply flawed person. He is, to be blunt, a jerk.

Read the rest here (again, only if you’ve seen the final episodes).

I know a bunch of you are more active in Who fandom than I am and hang out in fan communities and such.  I’d appreciate it if you spread the link around, as I am anxious to get other people’s take on my theory.