Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’

To all twelve of my regular readers: I’M SORRY I HAVE INFLICTED THIS TORTURE ON YOU PLEASE FORGIVE ME

~ Ian

Now, let’s be clear here. When I say I don’t like Sonic the Hedgehog, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the Sonic games. I do. The original Sonic games are masterpieces of the platformer genre (although the recent games are basically hot catshit). Nor do I mean that I don’t like the universe. The disharmonious combination of Looney Tunes animation and cyberpunk dystopia that is the Sonicverse is awesome, in its crazy, weird way.

No, I just don’t like the character.

I mean, come on. Unless you’re delusional, you have to admit that Sonic the Hedgehog as a character is a complete cash-grab baked up by a marketing team for a second-string Japanese video game developer to be cooler than Mario. And I will admit that Sonic is cooler than Mario– if it’s 1991 and you’re twelve. But it’s twenty-one years after the first Sonic game came out, and the speedy blue Erinaceomorph is old enough to get drunk. And we’re accustomed to something more from our video game heroes than a cheap marketing gimmick. This is the era of Commander Shepard. Video games are coming into adulthood as a medium, and wearing sneakers and having an attitude isn’t enough to make you a fully-rounded character.

So, I’m sorry. Sonic, your games are (excuse me, were) great, but you’re still a flagrant corporate construct.

And honestly? The company that created Link, Fox McCloud, and Samus Aran is always going to be way cooler than Sega.

~ Ian

  • The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods, by N.K. Jemisin. Beautiful, beautiful books about gods and magic and the interactions of the divine with the mortal… I could go on and on about how much I love these books, but I won’t. Suffice to say that they both came out in 2010/2011, but I didn’t buy them, because I was waiting for the mass-market paperback edition. (I have the weird compulsion to make all the books on my bookshelf look EXACTLY ALIKE. What? Don’t pretend that you don’t, either.)
  • Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles, by Michael Moorcock. Yes, yes. I was rereading this one (you can find my review of it here), but damn it, it’s fun and it’s available, that’s what.
  • Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Another reread. Okay, yes. This book isn’t Great. But it is good– a cheesy, geeky funromp. Which is all right by me– I mean, not every science fiction novel can be groundbreakingly original.
  • The Hour of the Dragon, by Robert Howard. The only Conan novel written by REH, and yet another reread. This has been my bedside reading for a few days now. Which is good– I loves me a little old-school hack-‘n’-slash sword-and-sorcery before bedtime.
  • Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges. Not my usual stuff– it goes towards the “magical realism” end of the spectrum rather than technically being “fantasy” (whatever those terms mean) but it’s incredible. Borges’s short stories are like tiny, perfectly-formed jewels. They’re not quick reads– they’re meant to be savored, like the finest wines, and not chugged like Coke Zero. Definitely worth your time. (Oh, and I’m reading an English translation– mi español no es tán bueno leer los histórias en la idioma original, as I’m sure you can probably tell from that sentence.)
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett. The final Tiffany Aching book. I love Pterry’s storytelling ability– he’s easily one of the best storytellers writing in the English language today, period. And the Tiffany Aching books are some of my favorite books ever.
  • The Princes of the Air, by John M. Ford. Fast-paced eighties space opera. Three young men battle for fame and glory in the service of the Queen of Humankind.
  • How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford. It’s a Star Trek novel! That’s also a musical! If that doesn’t tickle your pickle, I don’t know what will.
  • A Local Habitation, by Seanan McGuire. I’ve been listening to this book in audiobook form while I work on Project: Stop Looking Like A Fat Asshole Anymore. It’s a detective novel set in the San Francisco bay area with fairies. Fun times, you can be assured. The audiobook edition is read by Mary Robinette Kowal, and it’s very good. (And I will admit, I have a little bit of a crush on the main character, October “Toby” Daye…)

That’s what I’ve been reading. How ’bout you?

~ Ian

faster higher stronger

Posted: July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Olympic Games start today.

All I have to say about them is this:

I will be very disappointed if the Tenth Doctor doesn’t light the Olympic Flame.

VERY.

DISAPPOINTED.

That is all.

Carry on,

~ Ian

This is a poem about Doctor Who.

I wrote it in October.

I wanted to explore the often complicated and sometimes chaotic relationship between the Doctor and his Companion, and the fact that such a relationship always comes to an end– and when you’re not traveling with the Doctor, something goes out of your life. You don’t have the same sense of wonder that you once did– you’ve seen the wonders of the universe, and now nothing can compare.

I didn’t have any specific Companion in mind when I wrote this poem. In any case, here it is.

(I called the poem “Bigger on the Inside” for obvious reasons.)

~ Ian

 

Bigger On The Inside

 

There’s a man (who isn’t really a man)

who has a box (which isn’t really a box).

The box is bright blue.

It’s also bigger on the inside.

It also travels through time.

 

(You must accept this.

It’s honestly not the craziest thing to ever happen.)

 

One day, the man (who isn’t a man) shows up when you’re in trouble.

Maybe you’re being attacked by mannequins, or there’s a crack in your wall,

or maybe the hospital you work in has been transported to the moon

by rhinoceroid space-cops, leaving you with a small bubble of air

slowly running out, until you and four hundred other people suffocate.

(Maybe you’re being pursued by statues. Who knows?)

In any case, the man will show up in his box (which isn’t a box).

There will be a sound like tortured piano wire,

and there he will be, grinning madly,

his eyes wild with the fevered passion of a true lunatic.

(He may try to speak French to you. At first you will find this annoying,

but eventually it will grow on you, until the words “Allons-y!”

are like the call to adventure.)

He will perform some jiggery-pokery,

wielding his shining silver LED magic wand

which really shouldn’t work but does.

And after a lot of running around and shouting,

whatever was Wrong in your world will be gone, and everything will be fine again.

And the man (who isn’t a man) will take you back to his box (which isn’t a box),

and he will say, “You could come with me, you know.”

 

And because you’re alone, and so is he,

you decide to travel together for a while.

(After all, the worst that could happen is adventures, right?)

 

So off you go, riding along in the box with the man,

as you take off on a journey through time.

(By the way, the box also travels through space.

You have to stop trying to think in terms of Logic.

When the box arrived, all that went out the window.)

And you stop, and step out of the box,

blinking in the sunlight on a brand new world.

 

You could be on a space station, high above the surface of the Earth

in the year five billion, watching as the sun comes up

like a rolling wave, red and swollen,

swallowing up your homeworld like a sandcastle.

Or maybe you’re in an ancient city,

nestled at the foot of a volcano,

as smoke rises from the mountain and the earth rumbles

as if it is giving birth.

You may be in a new New York on another planet,

where everyone has British accents (for some reason),

or in a megapolis on the back of a space whale,

a generation starship light years from home.

 

The man has enemies.

Nobody grows as old as he is (and he is old, very old indeed)

without making a few.

Some of these enemies are alien mutants

encased in hollow shells the shape of pepper pots.

Others are stomping robots,

each one with the brain and heart of a man.

Sometimes his enemies are shadows.

Sometimes they are statues.

Sometimes his enemies are not what they seem to be.

Sometimes they are exactly as they appear.

Whatever the case, you end up fighting (some of the time)

and running (most of the time)

as you traipse across the maddening gulf

between Now and Then.

 

How long you stay on board the box is up to you.

But one day, you’ll leave the box,

set it aside like an out-of-fashion jacket,

returning to your world, the Real World,

the world of cars and computers and pop stars and phone bills.

And when you come back (as they always did,

the people who traveled in the box before you),

you’ll feel like something is missing.

It’ll worry you, like a gap in your mouth

after you’ve lost your first baby tooth.

The world will seem a little grayer, a little cloudier,

a bit more dull than usual.

Slowly you’ll begin to wonder if you were mad.

(After all, you saw suns die.

You saw planets being born.)

As you sit there, gazing out into traffic,

stirring your coffee idly with a spoon,

watching the rain fall down from a sky the color of nothing,

listening for a grinding, catching sound,

a sound like tortured piano wire.

Maybe you’ll hear it in your dreams,

and when you wake, it’ll fade like a sofa in the sun,

and you’ll wonder if everything was just a dream,

all the wonders you saw, all the miracles you did.

 

You’ll sit there

and grow old

waiting

for the man (who isn’t a man)

and the box (which isn’t a box)

hoping that your life will start again.

 

Good luck.

Okay. The slate of nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards was just announced. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the list of nominees.)

Since I’m a SFF fan and aspiring SFF writer (and I won’t lie; it would be REALLY cool to win a Hugo one of these days), I thought I might share some of my thoughts on the nominees.

 

Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor), A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra), Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit), Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey), Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Okay. My first impression of this Best Novel slate is that it’s lacking Wise Man’s Fear. Which makes me rage. It makes me burn with the fire of a thousand suns deep within, because WMF is such an incredibly beautiful book. But maybe that’s me.

Now, for the other nominees: I haven’t read DeadlineEmbassytown, or Leviathan Wakes. (I’ve heard nothing but good things about the last two, though, so maybe I should check them out.) There was a kerfuffle last year about Mira Grant’s novel Feed, which was a zombie apocalypse novel. A lot of Hugo voters last year seemingly thought that a zombie apocalypse novel was too, you know, undignified to be on the ballot for Best Novel. (Again, I will say something that is my fervent belief: there are no bad genres; only bad stories.) So many people had problems with that novel. Now, I haven’t read either Feed or Deadline. But I do think that zombie novels, even if they are overdone, aren’t completely exhausted of their potential. There’s still a lot to be done with the genre, and from what I’ve heard, Feed and Deadline do interesting things with the conception (they’re about political bloggers in a zombie-ridden future, and are more about what humanity does after the zombie apocalypse, rather than surviving it.)

Now, about the books I have read…

Among Others: YES. This book was one of my favorites that I’ve read from the last year. Beautifully written, an interesting main character, magic, faeries, and a lots and lots of SF… PURE CANDY. (For those of you who want it, here’s a link to my review of Among Others.)

As for A Dance With Dragons… meh. It’s not one of the best in the series, and it feels more like this nomination for ADwD is sort of a “lifetime achievement” for  GRRM. Maybe it’s an acknowledgement of how long it took to bring out Book Five of ASoIaF. Maybe it’s a consolation prize for A Storm of Swords getting robbed of the Hugo by Goblet of Fire in 2001. I don’t really know. Whatever the reason, I’m guessing that ADwD will win the Hugo, even if it’s not Martin’s best work.

(I’m really going to have to put the other three books on my reading list…)

 

Short Fiction: It’s cool seeing “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City” on the Hugo ballots. For one thing, the whole story originated as an April Fool’s joke on Tor.com. For two thing, it’s funny, and funny fiction is uncommon on the Hugo ballots. For three thing, it’s by Scalzi. And Scalzi’s books are basically candy.

Other than that, I have no thoughts on the fiction.

 

Best Related Work: I LOVE the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Third Edition. I read through the online edition all the time. And I really should check out Writing Excuses sometime: I love Sanderson’s books.

 

Best Graphic Story: I’m really glad that the irrepressible Foglio duo have stepped down for a year to let another graphic story other than Girl Genius win. Not only are the Foglios some of the most creative webcomic creators around, they also have a lot of class. Which makes them even more awesome.

 

Best Dramatic Presentation: GAME OF THRONES!!!!!!1!!111!!!!eleven!!one!!!!!

Ahem.

Anyway, the Hugo nominators chose an interesting tactic here: nominating Game of Thrones‘ first season in one gigantic lump, letting it fall under the category of Long Form Dramatic Presentation, and freeing up the Short Form category to let Doctor Who dominate. As usual– since 2006 the Short Form category has pretty much been “Best Doctor Who“.

That being said, I think it would be really cool to see Gaiman’s episode win the Hugo. I know– Gaiman has been awarded the Hugo enough for several lifetimes. But you know what? He deserves it. And “The Doctor’s Wife” is honestly an incredible episode. He should be incredibly proud.

Of course, he’s Neil Fucking Gaiman. That should be enough of an excuse for pride in its own right.

 

Best Professional Artist: I hope John Picacio wins this award. He’s an incredible illustrator, and there’s been a case of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” with him at the Hugos so far.

 

Best Fan Artist: Randall Munroe!

There was, again, a debate at the last Hugo Awards, because Munroe does, in fact, make a living from his work (he’s the creator of xkcd) and thus some people thought that he shouldn’t qualify for the Hugos. But, you know, Frederik Pohl and John Scalzi have both won Best Fan Writer Hugos, and they’re hardly amateurs. So I think it’s fine that Munroe has been nominated for a Best Fan Artist Hugo.

Of course, last year, he was defeated by one vote. So let’s see what happens this year. At the very least, it should be interesting.

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: I haven’t heard of any of these people. So I don’t have any comment.

But I will admit, if you want to see where the future of SFF is going, then looking at the Campbell isn’t a bad place to start…

 

So yeah. Those are my thoughts. Now let’s see how many of you disagree with me!

(Like always, comments are encouraged.)

~ Ian

If you didn’t already know, I’m a little bit of a geek.

And if you’re a certain kind of geek, then the phrases “Michael Moorcock” and “Doctor Who” will send a bit of a tingle down your spine.

I am that kind of geek.

At first I was a little worried about the quality of this book. I mean, media tie-in fiction is rarely good. And I hadn’t read any Doctor Who novels. But this book was written by Michael Moorcock. A man who has been writing for more than fifty years, who has cheerfully danced between fantasy and sf and realism, spanning traditions from pulp to postmodernism. He’s also the creator of the Multiverse, a massive universal construct that’s enough of an umbrella to contain all his fiction (and, possibly, all fiction ever written). It kind of boggles my mind to think that the Elric stories are fundamentally contained within the same massive framework as the Colonel Pyat quartet. And there are very few books as completely different as the Elric books and the Pyat quartet.

So I took a step into this book, where the worlds of Moorcockian multiverse and Whovian time-travel antics collide.

I was pleasantly surprised.

This book probably won’t be one of Moorcock’s enduring creations. It’s at best a somewhat-pulpish adventure using characters created by TV writers. But, hey: you know you’re not getting Mother London when you crack the book open and read its full title: Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles: Or, Pirates of the Second Aether!!

So, no: it’s not “literate chewer”.

But it is fun.

This is one of the few Moorcock novels that I’ve read that I’d describe as a “romp”. It’s pure fun from start to finish, and there are a few unexpected surprises. For example, I’d expected that it would blend the Multiverse with the Whoniverse, and it did– pretty seamlessly. What I didn’t expect was the extent to which it read like a Wodehouse novel. Seriously: there’s a character who is completely unironically named Bingo.

DW:TCotT:OPotSA!! has a lot of inside jokes for the Moorcockian aficionado. For example, the MacGuffin that the heroes are searching for is called “The Arrow of Law”, a name that any true Moorcock scholar should be able to recognize. There is a space-pirate captain named “Captain Cornelius”. And early on in the book, it’s revealed that the Doctor used to publish a fanzine going by the name of Novae Terrae (which was the name that Moorcock’s 1960s magazine, New Worlds, went under when it was a fanzine in the forties).

To sum up: the book was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it. Not enough to say that I loved it, per se, but it amused me, and that’s often a noble enough goal when telling a story.

Final Score: three out of five fifteen-centimeter TARDISes

~ Ian