Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Tenth Anniversary of Doctor Who

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who returning to TV after a 15 year hiatus. I shared my thoughts on the Ninth Doctor along with a couple Geekette bloggers.

The Daily Geekette

“Rose,” the first episode of the show produced by Russell T Davies and starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, premiered ten years ago today, on March 26th 2005.

The hype machine for the return of Doctor Who after its long hiatus was in full swing, with BBC viewers getting tastes of Doctor Who during 30 second promos.

Many of the Geekettes are fans of Doctor Who so we decided to share our thoughts on the Tenth Anniversary of nuWho.

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Fanfiction.

There’s no denying that fanfiction is legit anymore. Not when respected news magazines like Time write a piece covering the world of Harry Potter fanfiction. However this is 2012, when fandoms are much more present and mainstream.

But back in say 2004? It wasn’t nearly as legit. Sure it had come a long way since the fanzines and the first Kirk/Spock stories that Trekkies wrote and traded with like minded fans of Star Trek. But for the most part it setayed on ff.net and other archives. You had to know what you were looking for in order to find it.

In high school, I ran with a circle of friends who were very big into manga, anime and Japanese culture in general. I mean big.They started the anime club and always were reading manga magazines, like Shoen Jump. I wasn’t into it. So when they started writing their own stories based on the anime and manga series they were following I missed the boat.

When I first discovered fanfiction (through them) I have to admit my reaction was highbrow. I didn’t see the point. Why write with characters that already existed when you could create your own? It was ninth grade, and I was busy trying to take a story I had started a year early and turning into a school assignment. I had other things to do than craft my stories around other people’s characters.

Despite my friends’ – for lack of a better word- fanatism, I never did drink the same kool-aid. However I eventually came around on the idea of fanfcition. And my friends, who were busy writing their stories, did become better writers. As a group they created a blog to post their favorite fics to read.

Before I graduated from high school, I did briefly try to get into fanfiction, through the Harry Potter fandom. What interested me was taking the plot of the story (say Goblet of Fire for example) and imagining what would have happened if the plot went left instead of right. (What would changed during Order of the Phoenix if Cedric didn’t die, but only Harry could see him?) Unfortunately those musings were never flushed out into a story.

Fast forward to the moment in college where I rediscovered my Star Trek roots and fell in love with Voyager. I had finally found my fandom. Thanks to an online forum I became obsessed with fanfiction. Particularly of the Janeway/Chakotay variety. (There’s this huge subsection of those who write fanction called ‘shippers’ who write about characters in a relationship, either canon or otherwise)  Despite having no on-screen confirmation of this relationship, we were all convinced that the Captain and her First Officer were destined to be.

I lurked in the community, devouring other people’s works and making a few friends in the process before I finally worked up the courage to write my own fanfiction. I’ve only written a few pieces, one of which I posted on my blog over two years ago.

For now though, I seem to be off fanfiction again.  A year ago, before I graduated from Hofstra, I discovered Doctor Who through tumblr and while I still consider myself a Trekkie, I’m also now a Whovian. I found some well written Doctor Who fanfiction to continue the trend. But I stopped short of becoming obsessed with it, mainly because like the Voyager fanfiction I had found a few years earlier, a majority of it is focused on the relationships that seem to never get as much attention as the plots onscreen. Which is fine, but I’m not really into that right now. I’m much more interesting in examining either alternate possibilities, or what happens off screen.

Who knows? You might see some more fanficition here. But if you do, I’ll make sure to warn you.

~

Bonus Links – click if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind bad writing

My Voyager Fanficition collection

Pre-College Original Fiction, including that story I wrote for 9th grade.

 

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Time Travel: NaNoWriMo Edition

The good news I’ve resumed writing again after avoiding my mess of my novel for a few months.The bad news is I’m fighting an urge every time I open the Scrivener document to do some major editing while the plot remains unfinished!

There is a speculative fiction group that I’m a part of that started weekly writing nights. I’ve found it’s a great incentive to tell my brain, “okay it’s Tuesday night. You are going to the food court in the Transportation building and you are writing. No Internet!”  I’ve gone for a month now and have banged out at least 500 words each time . Last night I hit a thousand. (I really should try to write every day again, but baby steps)

But as I’ve gotten back into my novel I’m realizing it has a lot more problems than just an unfinished plot. It partly comes with the territory of writing in a universe where time travel can happen. My novel seems to jump all over the place. And it’s not just because of the way Scrivener’s designed!

I’m still excited about this project so that’s a very good sign. If I had forced myself to keep writing after November 30th  I might have  burned out for good. Now that I have work settled I can get a schedule down that balances writing, gym, and free time. Oh and blogging of course!

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On the Doctor and His Companions

Even though it’s nine months away, there is already intense speculation about the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Hump day became a little more manageable as early Wednesday morning the official Twitter feed for Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) released several tweets regarding the show’s seventh season. Most contained spoilers, especially one credited to show runner Steven Moffatt describing the current companions’, Amy and Rory Pond, departure. The tweet that made the biggest splash was the revelation of who would take Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill’s spot as the next TARDIS dweller. The news was picked up quickly and widely with even general entertainment sites like The Hollywood Reporter reporting that Jenna-Louise Coleman cast as the next companion.

I had to look her up. I didn’t know who she was. Because I really am only familiar with British actors by watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. I hadn’t heard of Matt Smith or Karen Gillan or Arthur Darvill until I started season five of the show. I had never heard of Benedict Cumberbatch until I saw the first episode of BBC’s Sherlock. So I’m not too ashamed that I had to look her up.

Despite trying not to think of the Pond’s departure and Coleman’s arrival, it is kind of hard not to. However I’ve been able distract myself by thinking of how attractive Coleman looks.

No, really.

Which does bring up a bit of a problem. Since the reboot (or continuation) of the classic sci-fi series in 2005, there have been four female companions. (Coleman will be the fifth.) Of the four, three have been young and attractive both as actresses and as characters. And of the four three have also been white. Coleman very obviously continues both of these trends. Although interestingly the Doctor Who team failed to release a name for Coleman’s character. She might buck the trend since the beginning of the new series by having nearly every major companion come from present day Earth. Hopefully she’s an alien.

Her attractiveness together with her ready made chemistry with Matt Smith complicate things further. Will we have yet another companion who falls for the Doctor? Once again more companions that not had a crush on the Time Lord at least in the beginning of their TARDIS travels. Only Donna, who is the only one not in her early twenties, refused to imagine herself with the Doctor.

I do have to wonder what the Doctor Who team have in store for season 7, at least the first half. (There will be six episodes aired including the Christmas Special for the rest of 2012, and eight slotted for 2013) It seemed that Amy and Rory had left the TARDIS near the end of season 6, only to return for more adventures. The Doctor Who crew just finished filming an episode set in the old west on location in Spain and Karen and Arthur were there. Also the Doctor intended to travel on the down-low as he had gotten “too big, too noisy.” Wonder how long that will last or if Coleman’s character will tie into that.

Can’t wait for season 7, as if that wasn’t obvious after 500 words on Doctor Who.

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Life of an English Major: Post College Edition

Question: What does an English Major read after graduation?

Answer: Whatever she wants.

I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed my reading life post college. Until I go back to grad school, I don’t have to deal with any assigned reading. And in the last seven months I haven’t necessarily gone out of my way to read stimulating intellectual books.

Some highlights of what I’ve read recently:

  • The Hunger Games (Book 1 of the Trilogy) Yes, I did just read it because of the upcoming movie. But I loved the dystopian world that was painted. It was an exciting read. I look forward to the movie in March. I have the next two as kindle files on my iPhone so I’ll probably read them soon.
  • The Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. This novel is what the movie the Town is based on. The movie was exciting, especially as a resident of Charlestown, but I found the book to be better. There were more characters fleshed out than in the film, and for the main characters – Doug and FBI Agent Fawley- they were deeper.  Another interesting difference is that the novel, though it was published in 2004, is set in 1996. The snapshot of the Town, even only 15 years earlier, is very different from today. There is a lot more Townie/Toonie friction in the novel that doesn’t show up as much in the film. And of course the ending is different. I will not say exactly what happens to avoid spoiling both the novel and the film, but one was realistic and the other Hollywoodized. I’ll let you figure out which one is which.
  • The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska by John Green. Okay time to admit it, I watch the vlogbrothers videos. I guess you could say I’m a nerdfighter (so DFTBA). I picked up John Green’s first book (Looking for Alaska) his summer and really enjoyed it. Green is a YA writer who writes well. You can’t tell from his writing style alone that he’s a YA writer. After watching John struggle to sign 150,000 sheets for his new book, The Fault in Our Stars, and enjoying his first book so much I pre-ordered his latest book, ensuring one of those signed sheets would be put in my own copy. TFIOS as it’s known on the interwebs is beautiful. Well written with an engaging protagonist (or two), it’s a very sad read that will still make you smile and laugh at times.
  • Good Omens Absolutely hilarious and enjoyable. This should be on a list of must read books.
  • I’ve also continued to read science fiction. There was a trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer (author of Flashforward) that was very good. Though I might be a little biased because a) it was my first foray into non-media-tie-in SF and b) the teenage protagonist spelled her name the same way I did. That was primarily the reason why I picked the book up over a year ago. (The premise of an emerging consciousness on the internet seemed interesting as well) But I didn’t crack the book open until sometime after graduation. By the time I finished the second book, the last one was out, but in hardcover. I weighed the cost of the hardcover against the suspense of waiting for either the paperback release or one to turn up in the library. Of course the second book had a cliffhanger ending so I bought the last book at a science fiction bookstore I found in central square.
  • And finally I’ve read a couple of Doctor Who novels that were great. I haven’t gotten back to any of the Star Trek novels (which is annoying since I bought a quartet and stopped mid way through the second book) but I did start reading the Doctor Who ones. They’re a lot shorter, and probably geared to a younger audience, but enjoyable reads. You don’t need to read them in order (unlike the Star Trek novels) but it does help to be familiar with the show since these books are supposed to be taking place in-between the episodes.  I was most impressed with Dead of Winter by James Goss, which was told primarily through letters a minor character wrote, and then Borrowed Time which was just an enjoyable romp that barely took two days to finish.

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The Luther Paradox

Or the story that finally breaks my writing drought after three months.

I was sitting in my History of Christian Churches classes last year, learning about the Reformation, when a story idea came to me. What if Martin Luther had been prevented from posting his 95 Thesis? What if there was a time travel element – if the person who stopped Luther was from the future… if he was a time traveling mercenary?  I played with the first draft during National Novel Writing Month in November and got to about 20,000 words before I realized my story wasn’t going anywhere plot wise. I had focused far too much on my protagonist, giving him a back story that was quickly turning him into a Mary Sue character. There is a reason why I never bothered posting anything I wrote back then.

I decided to reboot my own story and start again, playing around with the plot until I picked a starting point that would just jump right in. I don’t want to give too much away in case of spoilers but I’m hoping to weave a tale that combines religion – the Catholic Church specifically – and Time Travel.

Finally writing again after the summer drought feels good, but my confidence is shaky (actually, that’s nothing new). I have decided to post the first two thousand words for feedback.

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The Outcast

This week I have watched a lot of Star Trek and for a show that’s supposed to be evolved, there isn’t much mention of LGBTQ issues at all. You can spin it in a way that in the 24th century, those issues don’t matter anymore, but the reality of it was that Star Trek always had to tread carefully with the networks and it’s audience. Even though the show was supposed to be futuristic, it still had to deal with present conceptions. (Star Trek was the first television show to have an inter-racial kiss back in the late sixties. Thankfully they didn’t receive negative mail.)

It wasn’t until The Next Generation in the late eighties and early nineties that the show brushed upon LGBTQ and gender identity issues. In the style of Star Trek, the main cast never dealt with these issues directly, but only with aliens (out side the Federation) who had these issues. In one episode called “The Outcast” Commander Riker falls in love with a member of an androgynous race who secretly and illegally identifies as female. The climax of the episode is when she is put on “trial” for her identity. She gives this impassioned plea:

I am tired of lies. I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings, those longings, all of my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding and your compassion. We have not injured you in any way. And yet, we are scorned and attacked. And all because we are different. What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh. We complain about work and we wonder about growing old. We talk about our families, and we worry about the future. And we cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All of the loving things that you do with each other, that is what we do. And for that we are called misfits and deviants and criminals. What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?

When I watched this scene, I realized how easily it would be to switch out female and put in lesbian. The wording and the emphasis are the same. So even though this episode is supposed to be about gender identity, I definitely saw a homosexual subtext.

Later on in the episode, Riker comes to rescue Soren from the treatment she must undergo because of her gender identity. But he is too late, as she refuses to go with him. She tells him that she “was sick and had terrible feelings and urges.” The treatment has already begun because she has accepted she was “sick” even though only a few scenes earlier she gave her impassioned plea.

“The Outcast” isn’t the only episode to deal with gender identity or LGBTQ issues in Star Trek. But it’s only among a few.  The most recent on TV was in 2003 and it dealt with HIV/AIDS (allegorically of course, I mean this is Star Trek)

For more info on this Topic check out http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/homosexuality.htm

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