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Bill – the Doctor’s New Companion (and an episode review of ‘The Pilot’)

SPOILERS SWEETIE!

Pearl-Mackie-Bill-Potts-Doctor-Who

Pearl Mackie plays Bill Potts, the Doctor’s new Companion.

I like Bill. She is her own woman, and she will NEVER fall in love with the Doctor. She likes him for himself, even when she finds out he is an alien. Pearl Mackie seems to have hit the right note and is off and running as the new Companion. Did you little nod to Ace, in the sense that the Doctor is her Professor? She reminds me of Ace in that she is a fighter, and not a screamer or a whiner.

Throwing the book

There are a few reasons Bill reminds of Ace. When we first meet Ace, she is a waitress. The Seventh Doctor took a special interest in Ace’s education, and Twelve has shown a similar interest in Bill’s education. There was an ongoing rumour that Ace was a lesbian (her relationship with Karra), which an overt part of Bill’s characterization. Ace favoured jackets with patches, and so does Bill. Like Ace, Bill isn’t overawed by the Doctor, with my favourite quote  from this episode being,  “You run like a penguin with its arse on fire.”

Ace

Ace, the Last Companion in the original series.

Bill aside, I was very taken with the Doctor’s study, and the photos on his desk in particular.

Dear, darling River and his granddaughter, Susan, featured prominently on the desk. For me, seeing those photos was a high-point of the episode, as it showed who was still important to this Doctor’s hearts (two photos for two hearts, geddit?). Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have an day or three exploring the contents of that study. What are the books on those shelves? What are the knickknacks – and their significance? Why the stuffed owl? It is an owl or an alien?

 

Bill and Helen

Bill and Heather

I’m sorry if the plot of the episode seems incidental to meeting Bill and seeing the study. It was a basic ‘monster of the week’ story, with several huge plot-holes. What kind of civilised beings use a conscious fuel for their spaceships? And – for a man who knows the universe – how did the Doctor know so little about the fuel (or those aliens)?

Seriously … Daleks? I couldn’t really see any proper reason for the inclusion of the Daleks.

I did sorry for poor Heather. Incidentally, I have found out that William (Bill) Hartnell’s wife was Heather McIntyre. We all know there is never any coincidences in Doctor Who, so I am sure those names were deliberate choices.

A new Doctor Who episode …AT LAST! I hope Nardole gets the chance to do a little more snarking in the next episode. And I want a macaroon dispenser.

Twelve

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A Lady Mechanika Review by Literature for the Masses

Lady Mechanika, Vol. 1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse by Joe Benitez brings back the unique and incredibly well written tale of everyone’s favorite Victorian England Steampunk hero. Beautifully illustrated, this collection is sure to create another generation of fans to join the cult following Lady Mechanika already enjoys. She is Lady Mechanika, the […]

via Lady Mechanika, Vol 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse — Comic Books – Literature For the Masses

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Lisa Mantchev Book Review

I will start out by saying that this isn’t usually the type of novel that I would pick to read. For starters, the very first chapter really bored me and made it to where I kept putting it off. Secondly, I can’t get a good feel on what genre this novel would/could be classified as. […]

via Ticker By Lisa Mantchev — Blackhearted Book Reviews

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Monstress Review

The more exposure I have to graphic novels, the more appreciative I am of them. There is something quite beautiful in the way that graphic novels portray a story; you can tell that a lot of effort has gone into creating the perfect illustrations to go along with the plot itself. There are some stories […]

via Monstress: The Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu — My Reading List

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The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016

first-look-at-the-doctor-who-christmas-special

Finally! A new Doctor Who episode and it was everything I had hoped for. Be aware, SPOILERS SWEETIE! Please watch the episode before reading this review, or I can’t be held responsible to ruining some great moments.

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The Christmas episodes are usually in a category by themselves, and The Return of Doctor Mysterio was no exception. I was particularly impressed with the way the writers linked this episode to The Husbands of River Song, and the perfection of the casting choices. And – again – London was in danger of an alien invasion and yet didn’t TURN UP on screen. Instead, the setting was New York.

For a comic book themed episode, New York is the perfect choice. It is an open secret that New York was and is the main inspiration of the Metropolis of the Superman comics. As well, it was the setting for the Watchmen graphic novel written by the famed comics writer, Alan Moore, illustrated by artist, Dave Gibbons, and given life by the colourist, John Higgins. Both these comics heavily influenced the look, the plot, and the story line of  The Return of Doctor Mysterio. 

pk-mysterio-preview

The Ghost, who has Superman’s powers, but his costume resembles a modernistic Batman. In personality, he reminds me of Nite Owl from Watchmen, well meaning and trying to do the right thing. He does have the classic comic book characteristic of unrequited love for Lucy.

My favourite bits were the interaction between the Doctor and Nardole. Matt Lucas is a genius when it comes to making likeable characters out of unpromising material. Nardole, originally as a character, was rather sweet and clueless, but he has grown into a lovely person with a real fondness for the Doctor. His best line: Yes, yes, go save the planet. You always do that when the conversation turns serious. I may be misquoting this, but that is the general gist of Nardole’s comment. He isn’t clueless so much as single minded. As a companion, he is probably the best ever at understanding who the Doctor really is and what his motivations are.

sushi

Lucy, our intrepid girl reporter, is more than the vapid love interest – though she does end up in need of rescue. She is less a damsel, and much more a dragon lady. And she is a single mother, happy to leave her child with a male nanny.  She has the Doctor dancing to her tune by the middle of the episode. 

However, I also enjoyed the Doctor eating sushi while spying on the alien invaders. (As a big fan of sushi myself.) The humour in seeing the Doctor snacking it what should have been a serious and tense moment was physical humour at its best in Doctor Who. There were many moments of both physical humour and witty dialogue, as it should be in a Christmas episode.

This episode did a fine job of deconstructing the stereotype of the comic book superhero, as well as adding a wistful epilogue to the previous Christmas episode. My husband didn’t like this episode, but he didn’t read comic books as a child and doesn’t particularly enjoy graphic novels (Nobody is perfect). As a fan of both comics and Doctor Who, I enjoyed this episode both intellectually and it was satisfying emotionally. You can’t ask for more than that!

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Some Thoughts About the Sexuality of Time Lords

Spoilers Sweetie!

“I think I’m going to need a bigger flow chart.”

– the Doctor in The Husbands of River Song.

The reboot of Doctor Who has never been shy about sexuality or gender issues. The Doctor loved Rose. Captain Jack was unashamedly pansexual – he is attracted to everyone, and this makes him very attractive in return. Shakespeare was portrayed as being bisexual. Clara had a romantic relationship with the Late Georgian/Regency author Jane Austen – Jane was a ‘phenomenal kisser’ and they played pranks on one another. The newly married Ponds were happy to don dress-ups as part of their sex play. The Husbands of River Song gave us an insight into the sexuality of both River and the Doctor – far more so than the Master/Missy interactions of the past two seasons.

You can’t tell me that that isn’t a lascivious look.

At one point, River lists Doctor’s other wives (that we know of). River mentions Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe, whose marriage proposal he accidentally accepted whilst at a party in A Christmas Carol, another Christmas special, and Cleopatra, who River posed as in The Pandorica Opens. They both have been married to Stephen Fry (lucky Stevie!). And River makes mention of her wives. Time Lords (and River has Time Lord DNA) must have a fluid gender identity and sexuality.

I know a few people who have a problem with this concept. In the old series, the Doctor was asexual, except for the First Doctor who MUST have experienced some form of sexual reproduction to have a granddaughter. But the beauty of a long running series is that you can allow your characters to change and grow. We knew the Doctor was changed when he developed his deep emotional bond with Rose. Surviving  a war and the genocide of your species might have that effect.

Time Lords might resemble human beings, but there is no reason why they have to share the same human obsession with sexuality and genders. To me, what is much more important is that they love each other in the same way as we human beings love each other. Love defies barriers and defines us. River might be looking forward to seeing the Doctor’s new incarnation all over, but it isn’t the sex that defines their relationship. It is the love.

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The Husbands of River Song: an episode review

Spoilers Sweetie!

True Love

The Christmas episodes for Doctor Who tend to be ‘fluffier’ – I think it is because of all that snow. This year’s episode was both humorous and touching, and was a contrast to the rather serious nature of the rest of the season. I would like to see more of this humour popping up in the future.

Now, let’s get one thing straight from the start, I am a huge fan of River Song and her ambiguous nature. So much of a fan, I own her sonic screwdriver and was thrilled to get a River Song figurine for Christmas.

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So, I found the Christmas episode a true delight. Snappy dialogue. Witty repartee. Gorgeous guest stars. Fabulous outfits for River. And the chemistry between the Doctor and River … swoon!

Best bits:

River: If either of you use my name again, I will remove your organs in alphabetical order. Any Questions?

The Doctor: Which alphabet?

And…

River: When you love the Doctor, it’s like loving the stars themselves. You don’t expect a sunset to admire you back. And if I happen to find myself in danger, let me tell you, the Doctor is not stupid enough or sentimental enough and he is certainly not in love enough to find himself standing in it with me.

The Doctor: Hello, Sweetie.

And the penny finally drops for River.

And…

River: I’m an archaeologist from from the future. I dug you up!

And…

 

And… then there was the Doctor’s excited dialogue at pretending to find the TARDIS was bigger on the inside. I could watch that over and over again.

And… finding out that River’s last night with the Doctor was going to be 24 years long (talk about sexual chemistry).

This was the penultimate resolution of the lesson the Doctor learnt from losing Clara; to cherish your loved ones while you can, because you may never know when you will lose them. He knows that River’s adventures are coming to an end (her diary was given to her by someone who KNOWS how long a diary should be.) I had a little weep when I saw River’s realization that the Doctor really did love her.

River: I hate you.

The Doctor: No. You don’t.

Remember my blog about the coded messages between friends and family? I’ll let you work out this code for yourselves.

Overall, a very satisfactory episode. It became one of my favourites straight off.

River and the Thirteenth Doctor

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A Season Overview of Doctor Who

SPOILERS SWEETIE! If you haven’t watched this season completely, stop reading now.

 

This was a classic season of Doctor Who. I enjoyed the monsters new and old, the Doctor’s inability to interact without note cards, the team of new faces and the return of old friends (OSGOOD LIVES!) and the new insights into the Doctor’s history and character. As a gadgetophile, I loved both the Sonic Sunglasses and the new Sonic Screwdriver. And – let’s face it – Peter Capaldi is gorgeous!

I am going to discuss double episodes as one unit.

The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar: The one thing that really struck me with this storyline was the way Clara flipped from super-brain to dumb sidekick. This was very poor characterization. As a sad reflection on me, I enjoyed the way Missy tormented her in the second episode, as I am a huge fan of clever dialogue. Missy had all the best lines.

It was interesting to see how the Doctor interacted with Davros as a child and Davros as an adult. The most interesting concept for me was the language of the Daleks being controlled by limited understanding of their interface between the organic creature and the robotic shell. A a writer, it was a fascinating concept to explore, paralleling the way the English lanuage has been shaped by external forces.

And I love the week long pun party the Doctor threw himself. Wearable tech. Guitar rock. Missy sassing everyone.

Under the Lake/Before the Flood: This was a classic ‘old school’ Doctor Who story. Tense atmosphere. Unstoppable monsters. Running through creepy corridors. An adorable alien – dressed as an elegant Victorian funeral director – who ends up dead, and suddenly much more dangerous. A very tangled timeline as the Doctor whips back and forth to understand the situation.

It was all great, but my absolute favourite bit was the story told by the Doctor about Beethoven to explain the Bootstrap Paradox. The whole episode was one big Bootstrap Paradox, which this story lampshades. At the end of the episode, it is underlined by the Doctor asking Clara who thought of what to program the ghost to say. Fabulous storytelling!

The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived:

The first episode was the culture clash of two warrior races, and the Doctor got to speak baby again (always a highlight for me), and the creation of a new immortal. Actually, the Doctor seems to scatter immortals in his wake. I’m a little surprised that our ash maiden survived to the end of universe looking untouched after billions of years … when even Captain Jack turned into the Face of Bo. That little chip must be bloody amazing. And yet, there was one HUGE plot hole in the second episode, that a second immortal wasn’t formed by the use of the second chip.

It was obvious that Ashildr was being built up for a future appearance (Well, it was to me. my family disagreed.) I love Maisie as an actress, so I was inclined to love Ashildr … but her final appearance in the second episode hinted at dark doings.

The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion: 

The Zygon banner.png

Osgood LIVES! *happy dance* This article could have been a thousand paragraphs of how happy I was to see Osgood star in TWO episodes. Osgood is the every woman character for me, as a scientist with glasses and asthma (just like me) and a mad Whovian (exactly like me).

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I love the Osgood/Doctor interaction. Osgood proved to be much more competent and much tougher than inferred by earlier appearances. And she was quite able to hold her own against the rebel Zygons. However, the very best moment was the Doctor’s impassioned speech about the benefits of peace. Followed closely by Osgood reading the Doctor’s browser history…

I loved the logic behind the two puzzle boxes. Pure genius.

Browser History

 

Sleep No More:

This was the weakest of the new episodes. It was kind of a rerun of Under the Lake and Before the Flood, with the Monster-of-the-Week being a clever pun on the Sandman myth. Okay, even a weak episode is better than no episode, but this didn’t really stand out in a season of such fabulous episodes.

Face the Raven:

Clara dies in this episode. Some people hate Clara, and some people love her. I have to say I was never that passionate about her, but I’ve also enjoyed her adventures. I thought this episode was brilliant in making me sob like a baby by the end.

I was happy to see Rigsy again. The Doctor was so adorable about his delight in the baby (wanting to bring the tiny human along on adventures). And at this point, I think it is important to remember that the Doctor was once a father and grandfather – and I believe his relationship with Clara is the same sort of friendship that develops between a grandfather and his grandchild. The baby lampshaded this for me. It explains his grief at Clara dying. A heroic death making a sacrifice for a new dad doesn’t have any ironic overtones, oh no. Not a bit. Indeed…

It also brought a logical outcome to what was happening with Ashildr. I was surprised at the ambiguity of her characterisation. I am still not certain she is a ‘good’ person, or if she is still a person at all.

Heaven Sent/Hell Bent:

Doctor Peter in a romantic castle.

These were two very different episodes stylistically, but their underlying discourse was about the implications of immortality and how different people experience it. These are big themes and concepts, that philosophers have been arguing for thousands of years. Doctor Who managed to sum up all the arguments in two episodes.

The first episode hung solely on Peter Capaldi’s acting ability, and didn’t he shine! There was a quick glimpse of Clara (as a memory) and the unspeaking personification of Death, but the rest of the action and dialogue was undertaken by Peter. He only experienced one day … but on another level he lived through three and a half billion years! But if he can’t remember anything but that one day over and over (Holy Groundhog Day Batman), each of those days was full of his rage and grief at losing Clara. How could he grieve and get over it? He couldn’t.

Hell Bent saw the Doctor back on Gallifrey. You would think the episode where he finds Gallifrey would be a happy episode. Nope. But it was full of awesome. It showed you just how far the Doctor would go to rescue his Clara (grandchild surrogate). But in the end, it was all for nought. In ANOTHER ironic twist, he loses all memory of Clara the same way Donna lost all memory of him. But the Doctor wasn’t left unchanged. He still loves Clara on some level.

Clara and Ashildr (ME) get to go off on adventures in their very own TARDIS, though Miss Clara does have to die eventually. The glimpse of their TARDIS at the very end of the episode had me howling – much to the embarrassment of my family. I wasn’t crying for Clara. I was crying for Doctor, ripped away from his memories for the ‘good’ of the universe. That means he will have lost a LOT of other memories as well … for how can he retain a memory of adventures they shared?

I wonder how this is going to affect his character next season.

However, before that … THE CHRISTMAS EPISODE!

If you want to follow my Whovian adventures on Facebook, I am Osgood Lives:

https://www.facebook.com/Osgood-LIVES-548954855247854/?ref=hl

And I help out as Sci on Doctor Who Forever:

https://www.facebook.com/drwhoforever/?ref=hl

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Lynne’s Favorite Ten Modern Science Fiction (non-Steampunk) Authors

This list is not in order of preference.

1/ Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey; Portrait by Linda Eicher

I read ‘The White Dragon’ when I was nineteen, and have been a McCaffrey fan for ever after. I think the Pern books are great, but it is her ‘The Tower and the Hive’ books that I probably love the most.

2/ Ursula k. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin

Every Le Guin book is something to treasure, but my favourites are her fantasy EarthSea series and her feminist Science Fiction classic The Left Hand of Darkness and her post-colonial/ecological Science Fiction classic The Word for World is Forest. Her short stories are gems.

3/ Jennifer Fallon

Jennifer Fallon

The Tide Lords is my favourite series, but it is hard to pick just one stand-out book in her bibliography. You always have fun when reading any of her books.

4/ Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

But he’s a fantasy author, you all protesting. May I direct you to the Long Earth series … written with Stephen Baxter.

5/ Vonda N McIntyre

Vonda N. McIntyre

Vonda N. McIntyre

If you haven’t read Dreamsnake or The Moon and the Sun, race out and read them right now, or I just can’t talk to you.

6/ Judith Tarr

Judith Tarr and Pooka

I reread A Wind in Cairo at least once a year (it is a fantasy book). Tarr has had a long and prolific career, and writes both Science Fiction and fantasy.

7/ R A MacAvoy

R A MacAvoy

Tea with the Black Dragon is one of my very favourite books of all time, but I love all her books. She is another author who can write both fantasy and Science Fiction books, with elegant ideas and enchanting prose.

8/ Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones

You might be surprised at Diana Wynne Jones inclusion on this list. You can’t tell me that Howl’s Moving Castle, or A Tale of Time City, aren’t partly Science Fiction as well.

9/ China Tom Miéville

China Mieville

Okay … he has written books that can be considered part of the Steampunk oeuvre. However, most of his books aren’t in the Steampunk genre, but written in something he likes to call Weirdpunk. Most of his books defy genre definitions. And if that won’t entice you to read something of his, may I recommend Embassytown.

10/ Sean Williams

Sean in a hat

Sean Williams

He is a New York Times bestseller. Go read the Twinmaker series, and thank me later.

And Lucky you! I’m making an extra recommendation: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Read Songs from the Seashell Archives Quintet and her Science Fiction collaborations with Anne McCaffrey.

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

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The Zygon Invasion – a Doctor Who Episode Review

Spoilers sweetie … be warned. If you haven’t watched ‘The Zygon Invasion’ yet, now is the time to click to a different page. Go watch it and then come back to this blog post.

Osgood grieving at the side of her ‘twin’s’ grave.

I run a Facebook page called ‘Osgood Lives’, so you might understand how excited I was when I knew Osgood was coming back from the dead. This episode didn’t disappoint me. It started with two Osgoods! Twice the fun!

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Why do I love Osgood so much? Well, I am a scientist, I am a fangirl, I cosplay, I have asthma and glasses, and I can really relate to her character. But it is more than that. Osgood is an embodiment of the Doctor’s rational and peaceful side, AND HE RECOGNISES THAT! Why do you think the Curator gave her his scarf? It wasn’t because she was/is super cute fan of the Doctor (even though she is). The Curator is from the Doctor’s future, and must know how important Osgood is. And how would you send a subtle message to your past self?

There are a lot of other blogs that are focussing on the revelation that Clara has been replaced by the Zygon, Bonnie, and is a rebel Zygon at that. Well, we all knew that Jenna is leaving the series, and this might be a clue as to how she goes. However … these circumstances are just a bit too much like when Amy was replaced by the Flesh duplicate. I knew it wasn’t Clara the minute she smart-mouthed Jac about her age. Poor Jac.

Sisters by secrets, not by blood.

I can’t wait to see the second part of the instalment. And one of my favourite moments was a passing reference to Harry.

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