Tag: doctor who

Chicks Unravel Time, aka I watch old Doctor Who


Very pleased to announce my essay on Doctor Who, “Invisible Women, Bikinis and Yellowface: Minorities in the Fourteenth Season of Doctor Who”, will appear in the anthology Chicks Unravel Time, alongside luminaries like Diana Galbadon, Martha Wells and Seanan McGuire. Many thanks to Deborah Stanish and L.M. Myles for the invite, and for the fact-checking. The anthology is now up for preorder on Amazon, if you’re so inclined.

The sister book to the 2011 Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords…

In Chicks Unravel Time, editors Deborah Stanish (Whedonistas) and L.M. Myles bring together a host of award-winning female writers, media professionals and scientists to examine each season of new and classicDoctor Who from their unique perspectives.

Diana Gabaldon discusses how Jamie McCrimmon inspired her best-selling Outlander series, and Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January Mysteries) examines the delicate balance of rebooting a TV show. Seanan McGuire (Toby Daye series) reveals the power and pain of waiting in Series 5, and Una McCormack (The King’s Dragon) argues that Sylvester McCoy’s final year of Doctor Who is the show’s best season ever.

Other contributors include Juliet E. McKenna (Einarrin series), Tansy Rayner Roberts (Power and Majesty), Sarah Lotz (The Mall), Martha Wells (The Cloud Roads), Joan Frances Turner (Dust), Rachel Swirsky (“Fields of Gold”) and Aliette de Bodard (Obsidian and Blood series).

In case you have doubts: yes, this isn’t an entirely nice essay. Some of the eps were a good load of fun (particularly the one on Gallifrey, which had a nice plot in addition to awesome costumes), but Season 14 unfortunately included the infamous “Talons of Weng Chiang”, aka OMG. I’d been warned was full of fail, but hadn’t expected to be quite *that* bad. Watching it was pretty much like watching a train wreck in progress. Guess we can say it’s a product of its time (considering TV shows of the time on British TV, you can actually argue it’s more advanced, which is kind of scary), but I’m really glad we don’t live in those times anymore…

Dalek Game


(via pretty much everyone on my f-list)

Katherine Jennings illustrates “The Dalek Game”, aka she takes book titles in which she randomly replaces a word by “Dalek”. For instance, The Dalek in the Willows, Where the Wild Daleks are, …

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I love this one, derived from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (and Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Brief update



Books read: Steven Brust’s Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years after, Viscount of Adrilhanka. Basically, a fantasy version of The Three Musketeers (and sequels), set in the same universe as the Vlad Taltos books, except a lot earlier. It’s faithful to the point of adopting a faux 19th-Century narrative voice, which I find awesome (but which irritated a lot of people, if one judges by the Amazon reviews). It’s really fun to see characters from the Taltos books making an appearance (Morrolan and Aliera remain favourites, though Mario isn’t bad either), and the retelling keeps the spirit of Dumas while having enough twists and turns to make this thoroughly entertaining. I’m thankful that the last book, Viscount, didn’t turn out as unrelentingly grim as The Vicomte de Bragelonne (I love the musketeers, but what Dumas put them through in the last book is painful for me–I know old age and decay and death are part of life, but I’d rather not have it all paraded before me at such an unrelenting pace). Slightly disappointed by Aerich, who lost a bit of panache compared to Athos (mostly by not having a connection to the adversary of the second book, unlike Athos who was tied to Mordaunt via Milady), but Tazendra as Porthos was awesome (female, and a sorcerer to boot. I’m in love). And Pel is more than a match for Aramis.

And I finally got my copy of Irene Kuo’s Key to Chinese Cooking, a thick volume on how to cook Chinese food–I saw good recs on it as a book that focused on techniques and on the reasoning behind said techniques (rather than a collection of recipes which tell you nothing about the cooking principles); and the book certainly looks very good in that regard. It’s got everything from chicken stock to dumplings and desserts, and it looks like the Chinese answer to Ginette Mathiot’s Je Sais Cuisiner (I Know How to Cook , another thick classic, this time on French food. BTW, if you don’t have it, I highly recommend it as the Bible of French cooking–an English translation apparently just came out–it’s the kind of old-fashioned book that has no illustrations, but that thoroughly dissects every single basic concept of cooking, and has recipes for basically anything under the sun).

Movies watched: I finally got around to watching Day of the Moon (the followup to the Doctor Who episode I’d seen at Eastercon), and had enough closure on the plot to wait for the DVDs of season 6 (I don’t think the show is shown in France, at least not anymore, as it flopped pretty badly when they attempted to show it. It’s very British, and I can understand why it wouldn’t work over here). Anyway, it was a pleasing if sometimes overblown episode, as a lot of Doctor Who episodes are. Mostly redeemed by that awesome moment between the Doctor and River Song at the end (I’m not a fan of the plot point, but I do love Matt Smith’s behaviour during that bit); and of course by that final teaser, which I don’t expect to be resolved before the end of the season. I did confirm that I liked Matt Smith way better than I did David Tennant.
Rewatched the pilot episode of Firefly, and fell in love all over again with the characters. Darn, does Joss Whedon know how to write an ensemble cast.

Writing done: er, not that much. I have the skeleton of a plot for the space station story, and am currently attempting to find a subplot. The characters keep multiplying (in true Dreams of Red Mansions fashion), and I’m not entirely sure I can afford to keep them all…

Cooking: express bún chà giỏ yesterday, to finish off some of the salad. Today, attempting cari bò, Vietnamese beef curry (well, sort of. A cross between cari bò and ratatouille, which should be interesting once I’ve worked out the proportions). Next week, I’m taking part in my office’s cake baking competition, with a theme of “red”, so I’ve been researching recipes, and I think I know what to cook (another improvisation. I’m not telling what, since it’s a secret until Wednesday).

Misc.: got a bit grumpy at yet another story purportedly set in France which failed to get the basics right, but decided it wasn’t worth getting angry for long.

Some thoughts on Doctor Who


(somewhat rambling, as we’re still in the midst of watching it).

A while ago, I bought a set of the first four seasons of Doctor Who (the reboot, not the older series), for a couple reasons: first and foremost was our overdose on American TV shows, which have an amazing tendency to sound the same and display the same set of clichés (seriously, if there’s one more attempt to depict Mexico as a lawless place held by cartels, I’ll scream). Second was, well, the embarrassing feeling we might be missing out on something, and that rather more embarrassing feeling of being completely at sea when a group of fans (and there are many of those) started to debate the merits of the various doctors and companions. Third, we’d got a season of Torchwoood as a gift, watched it, and kind of liked it (well, OK. Most of the plots sucked, but who doesn’t love Captain Jack? And there were a few gems there, even though really well-hidden).

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when we finally cracked those open and started watching them. So…

Well, for starters, it *is* a rather nice change to US TV. It’s got a very camp side, a sense that it’s not entirely taking itself seriously (much like the Doctor). I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not, but having what I presume are old enemies from the show appear again gives it a retro style that contributes to the overall campiness. I’m not necessarily using that in a bad way, but it’s honestly very hard to take seriously an episode such as “Bad Wolf”, which features parodies of all major reality TV shows (Anne-Droid, anyone?), and also hard to be genuinely frightened by the Daleks. Or the one with werewolf Queen Victoria and the kungfu monks…

I don’t know if this is just me getting better as a writer, but this time around I can very clearly see the difference between the various scriptwriters and their episodes–unlike US TV shows, where I can seldom remember who wrote what, and the quality of an episode seems less linked to who wrote it. I don’t know if US shows have a more unified scriptwriting policy? In any case, another major difference to most US shows is that the variance in quality is also striking: there are episodes which really, really suck, and episodes which are really great (“Girl in the Fireplace”, for instance. Like many people, I’m a Moffat fan). It’s interesting to see. Russell Davies, for instance, has a greater liking for the overblown drama, which sits ill with me; I tend to prefer more restraint.

Unlike the H, I already had some idea of the basic principles; and while the show does a great job of explaining things as they come along, the regeneration thing was rather difficult for him to swalllow. Overall, mind you, I’m not entirely sure that we got over it: it’s rather a shock to have got used a particular actor and then see him vanish, and Christopher Eccleston was just plain great. Now I understand where all those intense discussions about the Doctor’s incarnations come from.

It’s still rather desperately all-White (there is Mickey, but so far he hasn’t been a major character), though I do appreciate the variety of social classes on display, and the fact that the show doesn’t restrict itself to London (yay for Cardiff and its temporal rift). At times, it also felt like “companion waits for Doctor to save her”, which I can sort of understand given the show’s setup, but still… still, it’s a woman waiting for a humanoid-shaped man to save the day, which did get annoying after a while. I don’t know if things get better after that (we’re at “Girl in the Fireplace”).

It’s also, well, not profound–purely entertaining, which it does very well, but hardly in the league of shows that ask hard questions (your mileage may vary, but I tend to put shows such as Trigun or Battlestar Galactica here, at least in their first few eps. Stargate, for instance, is also pure entertainment, with awful assumptions made about aliens, Earth and the good old US of A).

So, anyway, that’s how we feel so far. Still two seasons and a half to go (plus the specials, and season 5). We’ll see how it goes.