by Catriona Mills

Please Stop Questioning My Fandom

Posted 5776 days ago in by Catriona

In honour of the controversial ending to season four of Doctor Who, I want to run through, in a diffuse and undirected fashion, something that’s been bothering me for a while.

I want people to stop telling me what criteria I need to meet before I can call myself a Doctor Who fan.

Sure, no one’s actually telling me this in person, but I’m seeing blanket statements more and more often, and they’re frustrating me.

I was surfing around the other day, looking for a version of Tim Bisley’s rant about The Phantom Menace from Spaced so I could quote it in a comment thread, and I came across another version of this statement on a blog I’d never visited before.

I’m not going to link to the blog, because that’s not important: the author is entitled to their opinion (which is, in a nutshell, what this post is about), and it was just one more iteration of the comment that’s been bothering me.

And that comment, paraphrased, is this: You’re not a fan of Doctor Who unless you get all gushy about the Doctor’s relationship with Rose.

Well, I don’t get particularly gushy over the relationship, but I see no reason why my fandom should be constrained or questioned as a result.

Why am I not particularly invested in that relationship? Many reasons.

Partly, it has to do with the fact that I found Rose thoroughly whiny at the end of season four, and lost much of the sympathy I’d previously had for her as a result.

But partly it has to do with the fact that Rose’s relationship with the Doctor opened up the subsequent unrequited-love angle for Martha and the argument, which I still see posted on various sites, that obviously Donna is in love with the Doctor: everyone is in love with the Doctor.

This argument, to me, has shades of another old chestnut that I despise: Men and women can’t ever really be friends, because sex keeps getting in the way.

I can’t count the number of ways in which that statement frustrates me, but here are a few:

  • it’s patronising: not everyone is locked into a mode of thought where a sexual relationship is the only possible relationship.
  • it’s deeply heternormative: what if one member of the pairing is gay? What if both are? And what on earth does this suggest about our friendships with people who aren’t heterosexual?
  • it suggests we should live in a climate of trepidation, suspecting that everyone we meet wants something from us that they’re hiding behind a facade of friendship, and if we ever acknowledge that facade, the whole friendship will crumble.
  • where do married couples or couples in other forms of long-term committed relationships fit in here?

It seems to me that Rose’s relationship with the Doctor has opened Doctor Who up to this type of reading. I can’t fathom how it is possible to read Donna as in love with the Doctor, but no text is translucent, so presumably people are pulling something out of it that I’m not seeing.

But this is only my personal problem with the programme. When I watched it as a child, there was no suggestion of this in my mind. (With the possible exception of Romana.) The Doctor has companions, and they travelled the galaxy together, and we all wished we could travel in the TARDIS one day. If anything else was going on, it was going on behind closed doors, and I, for one, never thought about it.

Looking back, I think that was one reason why I liked the show: it was one of the few shows out there that didn’t subscribe to the “men and women can’t be friends” mentality.

Well, those days are over, as far a large proportion of Doctor Who fandom is concerned.

And that’s not the issue with which I have a problem.

I’m not attempting to assert that my view of the programme is the only true and right one.

Fandom is not monolithic.

There are as many different ways of being a fan as there are different ways to read a text, and there are as many ways of reading a text as there are readers (provided the text is of sufficient complexity. I don’t know how many ways there are to read Spot books—though I did once have students demonstrate a brilliant reading of a Spot pop-up book through the conventions of Gothic literature, so maybe I shouldn’t be so restrictive.)

You experience great joy out of being a Rose-Doctor ‘shipper? Great! ‘Ship away!

But don’t dare tell me that if I don’t subscribe to your view of the text then I’m not a fan.

I’m a fan of Doctor Who.

I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who my entire life: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t watch this programme, growing up in the household of parents who started watching the programme in 1963.

I was an open fan of the programme back when Doctor Who fans were unilaterally perceived as anorak-wearing weirdos (though I ascribe no particular virtue to this on my part: I never have been cool).

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Doctor Who is blood and bone to me, the only television programme that I’ve ever felt exists under my very skin.

So I don’t gush over the Doctor’s relationship with a recent companion.

Why should I feel compelled to abandon a life-long fandom on those grounds?

Live-Blogging Doctor Who: Journey's End

Posted 5777 days ago in by Catriona

This live-blogging of the final episode brought to you by the fact that we had to chase two possums out of the kitchen this evening: the second time this week we’ve had to chase native animals out of the house.

I love Brisbane.

(Of course, the last great possum chase was slightly derailed by the fact that the possum was running hysterically in one direction and Nick was running in the opposite direction looking for his camera, while I was stopping the possum from making it into the bedroom, and wondering aloud why Nick needed to take pictures of the incident. But that’s not important right now.)

So this is the final real episode of Doctor Who until 2010: sure, there are the specials next year, but it’s not the same as a full season. We’ll see how it works out.

And he we go: the beginning of the final episode. And we have a brief recap of the events of the last episode, to begin with, including Davros. Davros!

And Gwen and Ianto.

And terrified Sarah Jane. (Nick tells me I gave away a spoiler there, last episode. Sorry about that: it’s hard to type and watch at the same time. I do try to keep things spoiler free, honestly.)

And here’s the episode, with the Doctor regenerating, but forcing that regeneration energy into his severed hand.

NICK: The Doctor Who equivalent of the Hand of God goal.

And here come Mickey and Jackie to save Sarah Jane.

And something mysterious to save Gwen and Ianto.

(I have to say, I wasn’t fooled by the regeneration sequence at the end of the last episode. I knew we’d have heard if Tennant was leaving the episode.)

Damn: Doctor and Rose angst. So over this.

Nick points out that the Doctor has technically used up a regeneration, even if he didn’t actually regenerate.

Now why won’t Captain Jack give Donna a hug?

So Torchwood is locked down: Captain Jack is outside, but Gwen and Ianto can do nothing because of Tosh’s time lock. And the TARDIS has been caught in a temporal loop and transferred to the Crucible, the Dalek control ship.

But Sarah insists on the three of them surrendering, so that they too will be taken to the Crucible, where the Doctor is. (Jackie, of course, is only interested in following Rose.)

Martha won’t explain what the Osterhagen Key is (Hee! Daleks talking in German! Funniest bit of the entire episode) but she’s going to activate it, anyway.

NICK: It’s a wonderful McGuffin.

Rose is explaining that her world is ahead of this one, and that this is how they know that the stars are going out—and that all the dimensional timelines converge on Donna. Donna, naturally, immediately puts herself down again, but we know what Donna’s capable of.

Even the Doctor’s scared, here: as he says, this is a Dalek empire at the height of its power. Not like the last time they fought the Daleks.

But something odd’s happening to Donna: she can hear a heartbeat that no-one else can hear.

Rose and Jack are pretending to be tough about the whole thing—but they’re scared. Jack’s terrified, even though he knows he should be fairly safe. And even Donna, who doesn’t really know what the Daleks are like, is concerned—but she keeps getting side-tracked by that heartbeat. The Doctor thinks she’s scared, but it’s more hypnotic than that.

But now Donna’s scared, because she’s trapped in the TARDIS, and the Daleks intend to destroy what they rightly identify as the Doctor’s greatest weapon. They’ve deposited it into the heart of the Z-neutrino energy that powers the Crucible, which will destroy it.

Now, Russell T. Davies: I warned you I’d stop watching if you destroyed the TARDIS.

The Doctor is, rightly, more concerned about Donna, but the loss of the TARDIS must hurt him, too.

Donna, meanwhile, has touched the Doctor’s hand, from which the heartbeat is emanating. And the glass breaks, and the hand glows, and a new Doctor grows from the severed hand.

A second Doctor. Completely naked, if that’s your cup of tea.

He activates the TARDIS and it dematerialises, but from the original Doctor’s perspective, it looks as though it has been destroyed.

Jack shoots the red Dalek, and is exterminated. This freaks Rose out: the Doctor, obviously, slightly less.

Rose and the Doctor are being taken to Davros; as they leave, Jack—who, remember, cannot die—winks at the Doctor.

Donna is freaked out: “Lop a bit off, grow another one? You’re like worms!” But this Doctor is much more frenetic than the original, and David Tennant does a nice Catherine Tate impression. This one only has one heart, and he owes his existence to Donna: part Time Lord, part human.

And he’s more intuitive than the original Doctor. He knows that Donna lacks self-confidence, that she really does think that she’s worthless. But he knows better. The original Doctor does, too, but he doesn’t see any reason to convince Donna of it; he doesn’t really see her fragility.

He emphasises again that the way in which he and Donna keep meeting each other over and over again is not common, that there must be something more to it than that.

Martha, meanwhile, has reached her destination, and met an old woman who has stayed while the soldiers—boys, all—have fled in terror. The woman has heard of the Osterhagen Key, and she knows what it does. She blends this with memories of a single trip to London, the central thought in all her memories—all spoken in a mixture of untranslated German and English, so we don’t understand all that she is saying—but she can’t bring herself to shoot Martha.

Jack is being incinerated, but he works his way out. What kind of incinerator has a lock on the inside? Still, it’s good for Jack that it does.

Sarah, Mickey, and Jackie are being taken for “testing.”

The Doctor and Rose are being “contained” in Davros’s vault. The Doctor suspects that Davros is no longer in charge of the Daleks—he claims Davros is the Daleks’ “pet.”

Dalek Kaan is ranting, again—Davros is committed to the idea of the prophecies that Kaan is repeating. His trip into the Time War means that he saw “time,” and that is what has driven him mad.

Once again, he emphasises that one of the companions will die, but the Doctor, of course, thinks that Donna is already dead.

Davros repeats the idea of “testing,” but this time he mentions that they are testing a “reality bomb.” Sarah easily runs away from the group, and Mickey follows her. But Jackie has stopped to help a woman who has fallen down, and now the Daleks are looking directly at her. She can’t escape.

The planetary alignment field allows them to power the reality bomb—and z-neutrino energy in a single stream. The Doctors know what this means, but everyone else is in the dark. The test subjects will soon find out, though—but not Jackie, because her teleporter has recharged; she can still escape, and does so.

Everyone else in the firing lines dissolves into their constituent atoms, leaving nothing but dust.

Donna and Rose both ask their respective Doctors what happened, but neither answer: Davros tells Rose that the reality bomb cancels the electronic field that holds the atoms in any object together. With the help of the twenty-seven planets, Davros can send the wave through the entire galaxy and through the interstices between galaxies, destroying all of reality.

(I originally wrote that as “destorying,” which is fair enough, but not quite accurate.)

Detonation is near: the Daleks are retreating.

Captain Jack meet up with Mickey, who’s both pleased to see him and not:

JACK: And that’s beefcake.
MICKEY: And that’s enough hugging.

Sarah Jane, though, has a warp star: an explosion waiting to happen.

And Martha has two other people on line, and that’s enough to activate the Osterhagen Key, but she won’t activate it yet, not until she’s tried one more thing.

And that’s contact the Daleks on behalf of UNIT.

(The clone Doctor, on the other hand, has an idea to lock the reality bomb onto Davros’s DNA, which will cause the plan to backfire.)

Martha explains that the Osterhagen Key—invented by someone called Osterhagen, the Doctor supposes—will detonate nuclear bombs below Earth’s surface, tearing the planet apart.

The Doctor objects, but Martha points out that the Dalek needs these twenty-seven planets, and have no use for twenty-six planets.

Jack also pops up on the monitor, with the warp star. It gives Sarah, too, a chance to confront Davros, whom she originally met back on Skaro as a much younger woman. I’d love the deal with that confrontation in more detail, but I don’t have time.

Because Davros is pointing out that the Doctor has killed many people over the years: his daughter, the stewardess, River, the tree woman from season one, Rattigan, the man from “Tooth and Claw” . . . many, many others whose names I can’t remember, and that’s only the people who’ve died in the past four seasons. Many more died in the Doctor’s name between 1963 and 1989—it might have been nice to see some of them.

Martha and the others are drawn into the Crucible’s vault, with Davros, the original Doctor, and Rose.

DAVROS: Detonate the reality bomb!

And then the evil cackle. For one friend of ours, that was his sole update on every social-networking site around for about three days after this episode aired. “Detonate the reality bomb! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

But now the clone Doctor and the TARDIS are here: unfortunately, the clone Doctor is a bit rubbish, and ends up getting shot and locked in a cell. Donna, trying to activate the weapon, is also shot.

But the bomb isn’t detonated? Why not?


Donna’s not dead—and, as the Doctor points out, she can’t even change a plug. So what’s happened?

She has control of the Daleks, who are horribly confused by the fact that they can’t exterminate anyone.

The Ood saw this coming: the Doctor-Donna, they mentioned.

(Ha! The spinning Daleks make me giggle every time. And they remind me of the sad, wailing Daleks dying of lack of radiation in the original William Hartnell Dalek story. So sad, that was.)

So it was a two-way meta-biological crisis (or something like that: this is a hard episode to recap), and now Donna is part Time Lord, as the clone Doctor is part human. And Donna knows what needs to be done to send all the planets back home: without those, the reality bomb is no threat.

SARAH: So there’s three of you?
ROSE: Three Doctors?
JACK: Oh, I can’t even tell you what I’m thinking right now.

Jack, we all know what you’re thinking of right now. You’re not exactly an opaque character, in this regard.

Dalek Kaan has been manipulating the time lines: in his trip into the Time Wars, he has seen what the Daleks have done, and he objects. He is working to the end of the Daleks, but he needs the Doctor to do it.

The Doctor won’t.

But the clone Doctor will. He reverses the power feeds, blowing each and every Dalek in the Crucible, in all the ships, into dust.

Oh, and the Doctor is not happy. Because he’s seeing himself re-commit the genocide that we know he committed. And Davros is left alone on his burning battleship: the Doctor wants to save him, but Davros refuses—he forces the Doctor to accept the fact of his genocide. And Dalek Kaan insists that one will still die.

The Doctor calls Torchwood, and he calls Luke and Mr Smith—but wait! What’s this? K9!

K9! Good dog, K9! I’ve been waiting all episode for you!

With the help of Torchwood and Mr Smith (and K9!)—but not Jackie, who’s not allowed to touch anything—the Doctor can fly Earth back home, towing it behind the TARDIS with the help of the rift.

A little silly? Perhaps.

Lovely music, though. And Ianto seems to be enjoying himself. And I like to see Ianto enjoying himself.

Plus, this is a bit of a break from the recapping, because we’re still ten minutes away from the end of the episode, and I’m already thoroughly confused about whether I’ve mentioned all the main points or not.

So Donna finally gets her cuddle from Captain Jack? I don’t know how I feel about the fact that Donna’s not just the only woman, not just the only human, but the only sentient being that Jack’s been reluctant to cuddle.

Back on Earth, Sarah’s off, to see to her teenage son.

Mickey’s off; he doesn’t want to go back to the parallel world.

Jack and Martha are off: Jack’s been deprived of his teleport, but hints at another possible career for Martha, other than UNIT.

Mickey’s not stupid, he says: his Gran’s dead, and he can see which way the wind’s blowing, so he’s off after Jack and Martha.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is back to Bad Wolf Bay: Jackie’s not thrilled about being in Norway, because she’ll have to get Pete to pick her up.

Rose doesn’t want to return to the parallel universe, but the Doctor says she has to, because the clone Doctor needs her. He, she says, is himself when he first met Rose, fresh from committing genocide and scarred by his war experience. The Doctor wants her to heal him, as she originally healed the original Doctor.

Rose is reluctant, but Donna points out the great gift that the Doctor is trying to give her: this Doctor has only one heart, so he will age and die as Rose does. He can spend the rest of his life with her.

Rose is still reluctant, but when the clone Doctor completes the sentence that the original Doctor never managed to finish in “Doomsday,” Rose grabs him and kisses him.

She still runs after the TARDIS when it leaves without her noticing, though.

I feel a little sorry for the clone Doctor—I think things are going to be a little difficult for him at first, with Rose or without her.

Donna, on the other hand, is breaking down. Her brain can’t contain the effects of the human-Time Lord meta-crisis (I must go back and correct this), and the Doctor knows what’s happening.

Donna knows, too, but she doesn’t suspect the consequences.

Until right now. She knows what he’s going to do—she can see it in his face, and he apologises, but she’s crying and she’s begging him not to, and this scene breaks my heart, because he’s going to strip everything away from her, everything that makes her Donna.

He’s going to do what the humans did to the Ood.

Damn, I don’t want to watch this again.

And he does it.

And he takes the unconscious Donna back to her mother and her grandfather, stripped of every memory of the Doctor. And no one can ever mention it to her again, for the rest of her life. She can’t ever know what happened to her.

And Bernard Cribbens is weeping: he knows what this means. He knows that Donna grew and stretched while she was with the Doctor, and now that’s all gone.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the cruelest thing that the Doctor has ever done.

And I know Sylvia is trying to be supportive of Donna here—the whole “She’s my daughter” thing—but it breaks my heart to see that braying woman on the phone, not knowing who the Doctor is or what they did, and knowing she’s been dumped back into that suffocating life, with her hen-pecked grandfather who has to escape up the hill to be able to breathe and a mother who’s constantly berating and belittling her.

Oh, Donna.

What Rose goes through—a parallel universe, sure, but with her mother, her formerly dead father, her ex-boyfriend, and a clone of her recent boyfriend—is nothing compared to this wholesale destruction of Donna.

Okay, I can see in his face that the Doctor feels the horror of what he’s done.


I say again: this is the cruelest thing you’ve ever done, Doctor. Ever.

(For those of you watching these as they air on the ABC, some of us had an enthusiastic conversation about this episode here. It was spoilerific, but no longer.)

Rules That Should Never Be Broken

Posted 5778 days ago in by Catriona

This post is brought to you by the difficulties of marking while Nick is holding a shouted video-cam conversation with my father a metre away: mind, I’m not blaming him for the shouting. It’s just distracting.

But if my obsessive reading and watching of television has taught me anything, it’s that some rules can be broken, and some are inviolable. These are the inviolable rules, as far as I know them.

1. Never go shopping with Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan.

2. Never mess with Veronica Mars.

3. If in doubt, nuke the planet from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

4. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

5. Don’t go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

6. Always take a banana to a party.

7. Don’t wear a T-shirt reading “Clone” around Captain Jack.

8. There can only be one.*

9. Don’t forget your towel.

Have I missed anything important?

*(I have no idea why I’m currently obsessed with Highlander; I haven’t seen it in years, and I was never thrilled with the “rape as an object lesson” sub-plot. Yet I keep making jokes about it recently.)

Strange Conversations: Part Fifty

Posted 5778 days ago in by Catriona

I take a brief break from my current occupation of slowly moving a pile of papers from my left-hand side to my right-hand side (i.e., marking) to note the following conversation:

ME: I keep forgetting how young my students are. I suppose it’s because I’m getting so old.
NICK: You’re only 31. It’s not old.
ME: I’m pretty damn close to 32.
NICK: You’re not 32 until you’re 32.
ME: No, you’re not allowed to do that when I advance my own age, only when I advance yours.
NICK: That’s because you’re aging me prematurely.

(It drives Nick nuts when I advance his age to his next birthday. He has on occasion shouted, “Stop sucking my youth away!”)

My Paladin Is Just as Immoral as My Elf, Alas

Posted 5779 days ago in by Catriona

Have I posted too many pieces on Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures?

Actually, that was a rhetorical question.

I started an adventure this morning, thinking that keeping it running in the background would help me focus during my marking—the game requires little active involvement.

Of course, I then promptly forgot about it and have only just come back to it, to find this adventure:

Paks had never screamed as loud as he did when the floor dropped out from under him, dropping him directly into the middle of a large room full of orcs. The orcs had been squabbling and gambling, although Paks’s entrance seemed to get their attention.

Paks made a Charisma check with a difficulty of 13 . . . and rolled 18

Thinking quickly, Paks managed to convey (through a series of rapid fire gestures) that he was not, in fact, dinner, and was instead sent to be married to one of the local orc girls. The orcs thought this was a little strange, but Paks was charismatic enough that they went along with it. After the makeshift ceremony, Paks saw his chance and quickly escaped — with the wedding gifts.

Paks received 84 XP and 36 gold.

Paks, let’s just run this by you again. You’re a paladin. A holy warrior, dedicated to the service of your god. Also, you are carrying a Vorpal Greatsword, which adds +10 to your attack rolls.

But, just because you happened to fall through the floor and land in the middle of a group of orcs, what do you do?

You lie through your teeth.

You exploit your personal charm to support that out-and-out lie.

You actually go through with marrying a poor orc girl who never did anything to you.

And then you leg it with the wedding presents.

That’s fairly problematic, don’t you think?

(Also, orcs? 36 pieces of gold? As a wedding present? I can get more than that flogging my armour on the open market!)

Strange Conversations: Part Forty-Nine

Posted 5780 days ago in by Catriona

NICK: Russell T. Davies apparently turned down a gig writing for George Lucas’s new live-action Star Wars TV show.
ME: I’m not surprised.
NICK: Apparently.

Man. Some people can’t leave a good franchise alone.

Yet More Random Bookshelf Weirdness

Posted 5780 days ago in by Catriona

Photographing the bookcases in the spare room brought these two books to my attention, again.

Firstly, the book I mentioned briefly in the last post: Dragonfall 5 and the Hijackers.

I think we all have the same question, here: why is that otter wearing a crown?

The blurb makes it a little clearer:

Tim and Sanchez and Old Elias dislike the planet of the Waterworld intensely; it’s cold and wet and dark, and the sea otters who live there are bossy. But the vintage spaceship, Dragonfall 5, has been hired by the sea otters to transport their Princess, and the family crew badly need the money. As if matters weren’t bad enough, just after the starship finally takes off, a strange noise comes from the hold and the Dragonfall family find themselves looking at a band of very large and unfriendly hijackers!

Oh no!

Actually, the only way this book could be cooler is if the large and unfriendly hijackers are also crown-wearing sea otters.

Then there’s this one:

In this case, the blurb doesn’t really help at all:

Moon serpents!” Astronaut Bud Barclay gasps into the microphone of his space suit. Tom Swift Jr.‘s investigation of the phenomenon reveals that the giant, writhing reptilian forms are caused by gas vapours. When Tom captures a sample of the gas in a metal flask for analysis, he shoots up from the moon’s surface into space! Through quick thinking the young scientist-inventor rescues himself and realizes that he has discovered a new powerful energy, which he calls Serpentilium.

At this time, a large railway network is in the market for an advance method of rail travel. A contract will go either to Swift Enterprises or to a rival firm, Cosmosprises—whichever designs the best super-speed train.

How Tom, using Serpentilium, develops his invention and defeats Cosmosprises’ evil attempts to win the prized contract makes exciting reading for all Tom Swift Jr, fans.

Well, it might have made exciting reading, if you hadn’t given away all the key plot points, blurb.

Mind, the back cover describes this as a “series of jet-paced Science Adventures featuring the amazing Tom Swift. Racy, exciting and futuristic—these stories are specially written for young science fiction fans.”

Racy? Really? Hmmm.

The fact that they’re “racy” does make me more inclined to read Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober, Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector, and Tom Swift and The Captive Planetoid.

I imagine it’ll turn out to be much like the time I read the novelisation of the 1980 Flash Gordon film by Arthur Byron Cover and found out not only that Ming the Merciless was sleeping with his daughter, but also that Dale Arden had broken up with her boyfriend because she was tired of participating in the threesomes he insisted on.

I don’t remember that from the film.

Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour Stage Eight: Last Stop in the Spare Room

Posted 5780 days ago in by Catriona

I don’t know why I always feel compelled to apologise for these posts, but I shan’t this time. This ends the tour of the spare room, which means we’re on the home stretch (only the living room and the study to go! And, frankly, I’m not sure about the study.).

Plus, it will probably be another two months before I get around to another such post.

Besides, this should be a short stop, because these are mostly Nick’s books. (Warning: Robotech novelisations ahead!)

To be honest, there’s not much I can say about these first two shelves:

Because they’re almost entirely Nick’s Doctor Who New Adventures and Missing Adventures. I can’t honestly remember ever reading one of the New Adventures, though I do find the idea of the Bernice Summerfield novels (a former companion of the Doctor’s, who became the main protagonist of the series when Virgin Books lost the right to publish Doctor Who novels, after the BBC decided they wanted to publish them in-house) rather fascinating, since it’s one of the few instances of a companion being shown to have their own exciting, adventurous life after separating from the Doctor.

I did, however, read a few of the Missing Adventures: I gave up after three, if I recall correctly. (And gave up almost as quickly on Star Trek novelisations.)

I did read Christopher Bulis’s State of Change, with the sixth Doctor, Peri, and the Rani in an ancient Rome in which Cleopatra and Anthony had beaten Augustus at the Battle of Actium. Or something along those lines—I forget the details, now.

And I read Stephen Marley’s Managra (an anagram of anagram), with the fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane, but, sadly, I remember almost nothing of the plot—except that Sarah loses her memory at some point.

And I’m sure I read Paul Cornell’s Goth Opera, with the fifth Doctor and his standard companions, but it thoroughly confused me. It was a sequel to Blood Harvest, which I hadn’t read, and, though they do say you could read them independently, I’m not sure that’s the case. It did involve a vampire Nyssa, though.

And none of that is as geeky as this next shelf:

Robotech novelisations: yep, that’s geeky. (They’re not mine. Honestly.)

On the plus side, lying on its side in front of the Robotech books is one of Nick’s Dragonfall 5 books: he’s been picking these up occasionally for nostalgic reasons—apparently, he read them and loved them when he was younger.

And I probably shouldn’t be quite so snooty about Robotech since I once bought a book, also on these shelves, called Shakespearean Detectives. Apparently, it’s a sequel to a book called Shakespearean Whodunnits, which I don’t own. On the other hand, I do own one of Simon Hawke’s Shakespeare and Smythe mysteries, in which Shakespeare, oddly enough, solves mysteries in his spare time.

(I am a little embarrassed about Shakespearean Detectives, though.)

On the other hand, if anyone could tell me how I came to own a collection of Sven Birkerts’s reviews, I’d be grateful for the information. It’s not even as though it’s The Gutenberg Elegies (although I am a little sick of people suggesting that the Internet is responsible for the decline of reading, especially since the word “reading” is often so unnuanced in these debates. I mean, pornography aside, the Internet is largely a textual medium, not a visual one. But I don’t mean to start a rant here.)

At least this next shelf redeems things a little:

Look: there’s some Terry Eagleton, and Deny All Knowledge (a book of critical readings of The X-Files), and Nick’s copy of J. C. Herz’s Joystick Nation. So we’re not just a household filled to the rafters with Robotech novelisations—we do have some more serious books lying around.

The serious books just happen to be out-numbered by Robotech novelisations. And, really, doesn’t that make life more fun?

On that note, let’s play spot the Paul Cornell novel that was made into two of the better episodes from season three of Doctor Who!

A Glimpse Into My Thought Processes

Posted 5781 days ago in by Catriona

I was listening to Tripod’s “Astronaut,” a song about the lack of a Japanese space programme, and heard these lyrics:

Because you can’t carry out a ninja style assassination dressed as an astronaut,
It’s the luminous fabric (Too visible.)
And they don’t let you (Ooo-ooo)
Use a samurai sword when you’re an astronaut,
You might puncture the suit.
You might depressurise, like a Gremlin in a microwave.

And then my thoughts ran roughly along these lines:


No, wait.

What happens to Gremlins when you put them in microwaves? They explode, don’t they?

But they don’t explode because they depressurise, do they? It’s more of a . . . boiling effect.


But, then, you do explode when you depressurise, yes? (Wait, wasn’t there a Mythbusters episode about that? No, that’s not important.)

So is that a sufficient similarity to make that an effective simile? After all, they both explode.

No, but they explicitly suggest that Gremlins in microwaves depressurise, and I’m fairly certain that’s not what happens.

You know, I really don’t think that’s the best simile.

No wonder my students think I’m overly pedantic.

Great song, though.

Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour Stage Seven: Now We Reach The Point of True Chaos

Posted 5781 days ago in by Catriona

This is still the spare room, but this bookcase is overloaded to within an inch of its life. Really, I need to stop complaining about this and do something. But it’s no longer a matter of not wanting to buy any new bookcases: now I’ve genuinely run out of walls to put them against.

I could move to a bigger house, I suppose, but that seems like going too far.

I’m not serious. Really. The situation’s not that bad—but I would love a room where I could have floor-to-ceiling bookcases. With glass doors, to keep the dust down. And maybe cupboards underneath, to store magazines and so forth.

A library, basically. One day, I shall have a room in my house that I can legitimately call the library. One day.

In the meantime, I have a bookcase that’s carrying three times the load of books that it should be:

Actually, this shelf’s not so bad. (Ooh, pretend that you can’t see that collection of Walt Disney’s Annette at the back there—I genuinely have no idea why I bought those. They’re funky, though. Could they qualify as retro decorating items, do you suppose? No, didn’t think so.)

But what annoys me every time I look at this shelf is that I don’t have room for a dedicated detective-fiction bookcase. I’d really like that, because I have a fair number of mysteries (some blended with other genres, some classic), and they’re scattered all over the house: Reginald Hill here, along with Val McDermid (only the Kate Brannigan stuff, which I rather enjoy but don’t actively seek out: I stay away from the Lindsay Gordon mysteries, because they’re a little nasty for me), P. D. James on a lower shelf (I went through a P. D. James phase about a year ago, but I stopped after a while because I realised that Adam Dalgliesh inspired almost homicidal feelings in me. Once I realised that I was shouting, “Why would you propose to her, you daft twat?! She’s leaving because you’ve never even made time to have dinner with her, and you’ve only met her half a dozen times!” at the book while reading, I understood that they weren’t great for my blood pressure), Agatha Christie in the hallway along with my classic Victorian detective fiction, and poor old Rex Stout (bless you, Rex! You were the greatest of them all!) and Dorothy L. Sayers in the living room.

And that’s not even including the various one-offs and minor authors scattered around the place, or the genre-bending detective fiction, such as Simon R. Green’s Hawk and Fisher books on the next shelf down, or Glen Cook’s Garrett, P. I. series and Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories, which are in the hallway.

Sigh. One day. When I have my library, which I’ve just decided will have a skylight. A lead-light skylight. And one of those ladders on wheels—although Nick will never use one of those. I might need to rethink this fantasy.

But I’ve just noticed that this second shelf also has my copies of Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong books. I don’t have a full collection—in fact, I was horrified to find out how many of them there are after I’d bought half a dozen; it was like buying a fantasy novel and then realising the cover indicates “Book One of the Twenty-Seven Book Cycle of the Mist Queen,” and thinking “Dang.” But I’d never read them, and I felt that having grown up in Australia, I should have read them.

I still haven’t read them. Naturally. But I will one day.

I like the new covers for Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, there in the middle of the shelf under Kim Wilkins’s The Resurrectionists—that’s another book I haven’t read. I did start it, and I’ve read (and loved) the Gina Champion Mysteries (over to the left on the same shelf) because she’s an excellent writer. That’s the problem; she’s too good at writing scary stories. I read the first fifty-odd pages and decided there was no way I could use this as bedtime reading. (Actually, the first Gina Champion book, Bloodlace, terrified me, and they’re written for teenagers.) But I do mean to read the trilogy written around European folklore and, in fact, have the second one, Giants of the Frost, somewhere on this shelf.

And, hey, Garth Nix! That’s the Keys to the Kingdom series (I have the Abhorsen trilogy, in the living room), but I haven’t—surprise, surprise—read them yet. But I have a reason this time! I mean, a good reason. I bought these ones secondhand, and they only had volumes two and three: Grim Tuesday and Drowned Wednesday. So until I bother to buy the first one, Mister Monday, there’s not much point reading these two. Actually, it would probably be counter-productive.

I love the look of those Trixie Beldens, though. I think that’s a complete set: a complete set of the 1970s’ versions, anyway. I had to pick them up piecemeal, but I think I’ve found them all. And those books in front of them are the Dana Girls Mysteries, by the same “author.” Although, now I look closely, that’s only my paperback Dana Girls books. I wonder where I put the half-a-dozen 1970s’ hardbacks that I have?

Oh, who knows where anything is in this completely anarchic cataloguing system?

I see that that’s where I’ve put my Kim Harrison books, though. I was rather enjoying the first one, because the world-building was quite fascinating: essentially, when a genetically modified virus devastates the human population, the vampires, werewolves, witches, and so forth have to come forward in order to help keep basic systems operating (and thus ensure their own survival). But then I became distracted in the middle of the second one, put it down, and then never picked it up again.

I do like the titles, though: they’re all based on Westerns (in fact, I think they’re all Clint Eastwood Westerns): titles such as A Fistful of Charms and For A Few Demons More. I was rather irritated when The Outlaw Demon Wails—best title ever!—was renamed Where Demons Dare in the U. K. People in the U. K. are still going to get a joke based on The Outlaw Josey Wales, surely? I did!

Okay, this post has become far more verbose than intended. But the point of the next two photographs is to show that each of these overloaded shelves:

Also has a whole set of books behind the ones visible at the front of the shelves:

Oh, and perhaps you’d be kind enough to ignore the fact that I own four Pollyanna books, not just the original? Even though the later ones are written by different authors? I don’t quite know why I own four Pollyanna books—especially since all I can think about these days is that scene in the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where she points out that even though she’s been ravished by a demon, she’s determined to remain optimistic.

Seriously, though, there has to be something going on behind those books. No-one is that cheerful all the time without some reason. Perhaps she has a secret Lithium habit. Or is bonking the gardener (television has taught me that that’s a traditional way of alleviating boredom for upper-class housewives. Television can’t be wrong!). Or she has a carefully hidden gambling addiction and is over-compensating for the fact that she’s sold all the plate.

There has to be something, though.

On the other hand, now I look at exactly which books are hidden behind the front rows, I’m starting to see the benefits of double-stacking the bookcase.

I don’t intend to get rid of my David Eddings books, because they were gateway fantasy for me. (I first read them with my best friend when we stayed at her father’s house in Sydney for a week. She’d been reading them there and was on book two or three, so I started with book one, and we read through them together, pointing out the bits we especially liked.

But I don’t re-read them: I find the politics—including gender politics and racial issues, especially the fact that the crueler, evil races of this world are apparently Asian, while everyone else is happily Caucasian—questionable.

(It reminds me of when they filmed Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for the Sci-Fi Channel and cast Shaun Ashmore as Ged. Really, you only needed to have skimmed the books to realise they were some of the least white books around! Le Guin herself rants, and quite rightly, about it here, if you haven’t come across this debate before.)

And on the shallowest level possible, I’m happier having Steven Brust and Charles Stross evident in the living room and hallway and these ones tucked away at the back of a bottom shelf in the spare room.

Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour Stage Six: Still In The Spare Room

Posted 5781 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve been neglecting the Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour recently: I don’t know why. Perhaps I’m worried about boring people.

Or perhaps it’s that we’re heading into the thoroughly chaotic bookshelves, which are going to confuse people and give them a poor opinion of my organisational skills. (For the record, I labour under a combination of fairly poor spacial-organisation skills—all those years of just shoving everything under my bed, I suppose—and a partner who won’t throw anything, and I mean anything, away.)

Or perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that I’ve been busy and sick, and trying to concentrate on formal publications rather than on taking photographs of my bookshelves.

But in the rundown to mid-semester break—one more class!—I think I can spare some time for photographing my lovely, lovely books.

(Also? I love my camera. These photographs are so much clearer than the earlier ones.)

I’m not showing what’s on the top of these bookcases, because it’s old stuffed toys: not many in total, but including my childhood toy, who now looks less like the beloved companion of a young child and more like the survivor of a horrific accident that included fire and traumatic amputation—he’s homemade, and while he once had little denim boots, they were made to cover his original red-felt boots, which wore away. Since his denim boots have worn away as well, he now has what look like mangled stumps on the ends of his legs, complete with dangling red strands of felt. Poor thing: I led him a hell of a life, I think. He came everywhere. And was frequently left behind, as well. I think he’s earned a nice, quiet retirement on top of a bookshelf in my spare room.

This bookshelf, though, has largely been made over to Nick’s books. Nick, being a science-fiction geek and artist, has an enormous collection of tall hardbacks—and I’m quite pleased about that, frankly, because modern bookshelves aren’t really constructed to take ordinary books. It seems to me that if you want bookshelves that will take standard paperbacks/those slightly larger paperbacks we get now/trade paperbacks, you actually have to make one yourself.

And if you do buy them, and deal with these absurdly large shelves, then the temptation is to cram more and more books on top of the existing books, to fill up the gaps—as you’ll see on a slightly lower shelf.

Actually, I probably didn’t need to mention that these are mostly Nick’s books: the fact that one of them is called The Cult of Mac probably gives it away. And, mind, he bought that book before he got his iPhone, which is the point at which he really drank the Kool-Aid. Before that, he spent so much time with his iMac that I used to called it his iMistress, but now—now it might actually be time for deprogramming.

(I kid, honey. Now, go with the nice man.)

But on these shelves you can really see the chaos that is my idea of organising bookshelves. I can see there my Beverly Cleary (Ramona! Ramona used to annoy me, somewhat—she was a brat—but they were books that showed clearly, and without the abject sentiment of, say, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, how a family could have two working parents and yet struggle financially, often in quite minor ways, it seemed, that nevertheless added up to serious difficulties. I don’t remember that being prevalent in the other fiction that I read at the time.)

I can also see some Colin Watson (one of the Inspector Purbright mysteries, not a Lucy Teatime novel) and some E. Nesbit on the far left (so that’s where I put those! I was wondering), but behind those is an entire shelf of books that hasn’t seen the light of days in years, probably. No wonder I keep forgetting what I have and rebuying at book sales.

But it’s this last shelf that really, to me, encapsulates one of the problems with spending thirteen years in academia: we just generate so much paper.

The homogenous pile of paper on the left is all the course readers that Nick and I have required either as students ourselves or for the various courses that we’ve taught over the years. We can’t bring ourselves to throw them away, because there’s valuable material in there: photocopies of articles and books chapters, and even some primary texts, that we’d otherwise have to go and gather again if we ever need to re-consult them.

But the truth is that, without some sort of indexing project, we tend to forget what’s in there. And so we never do consult them. But we won’t throw them out, either. The same is true of the files on my desk and on the various bookshelves in the study and for the archive boxes full of the side effects of the research process that we both have stored under our desks.

Of course, the fact that I’m someone to whom reading is roughly analogous to breathing and who prefers to buy than to borrow books doesn’t help matters.

But I’d be remiss to leave this bookcase without pointing out that it is perhaps the geekiest case in the house.

Not only is this where we store RPG manuals (and, sadly, those White Wolf books are mine, though Nick’s the one who bought the Dungeons and Dragons set at an Alumni booksale, despite the fact that we don’t play that version of D&D):

But Nick’s Doctor Who books themselves take up half a shelf.

I’m not even going to go into the manga books. Really, how many books on how to draw robots (and alluring manga-style women) does one man need?

Interesting Wikipedia Fact

Posted 5782 days ago in by Catriona

I’ve just been searching on Wikipedia, hoping to find a list of writers who died accidental deaths.

Okay, that sounds ghoulish, but . . . well, no. It’s ghoulish. But it was prompted by the fact that I found out—through a long series of links on other subjects, the rationale for which I’ve forgotten now—that Tennessee Williams choked to death on the lid of an eye-drop bottle.

(I also found out that Robert E. Howard shot himself, which I’d never heard. And that the poet Hart Crane threw himself off a cruise boat into the Gulf of Mexico after being beaten up by a male crew member to whom he’d made advances. Poor bastard.)

I had no idea that that was how Williams died.

Hence the ghoulish searching.

But Wikipedia, while normally good on esoteric lists, had no such list.

Interestingly, though, when you search for “list of accidental deaths of writers,” the fourth item that comes up is “List of The Dick Van Dyke Show Episodes.”

Now, some might say this is simply because the search engine is pulling up key terms such as “list of” and “writers.”

I prefer to think it’s because Wikipedia knows dead when it sees it.

Today's Deeply Philosophical Question

Posted 5783 days ago in by Catriona

If there can only be one, why does it have to be Christopher Lambert?

Strange Conversations: Part Forty-Eight

Posted 5783 days ago in by Catriona

When geeks are too obsessed with their games . . .

NICK: So, if I got another copy of Diablo 2, would you play it with me?
ME: I don’t know; I’d probably just die all the time.
NICK: No, I have lots of powerful characters.
ME: But then I’d be a minion. I don’t like being a minion.
NICK: No, we’d be a raiding party.
ME (as light dawns): You just want me to be a mule, so you can carry more loot!
NICK: No! That’s . . . just a pleasant side effect.

Live-Blogging Doctor Who: The Stolen Earth

Posted 5784 days ago in by Catriona

I was a little uncertain about the practicalities of live-blogging this episode, since there seemed to be an enormous storm heading straight towards us and, Brisbane’s power-grid being what it is, I was rather alarmed about the possibility of the power going out.

But, as with last night, the storm seems to have boiled away to the north, so we should be all right.

There’s more rain coming, but not sufficient to warrant a severe storm warning. It has, at least, cooled everything down, which is an advantage. I’ve never acclimatised to Brisbane’s weather—at least, not the warm weather.

So here we are, for the second-last episode of season four.

(And I tell a lie, apparently—there is still a severe storm warning for Brisbane City. But if the power goes out in the middle of the episode, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

(I’m giving a lecture on—partly, anyway—cliches tomorrow morning, and that always seems to have a detrimental effect on my writing. So keep an eye out for further cliches in this posting. I’m sure there’ll be plenty. Does that qualify as a cliche? It’s certainly not inspired writing.)

But all that’s beside the point—this is the first of the two-part story line that ends season four. I wonder what can possibly happen in this episode?

And here we are on earth—the Doctor panicking about what “Bad Wolf” can mean, but finding that nothing is wrong at all. Apparently.

Donna’s a bit stunned that she’s just met Rose, but the Doctor’s more worried about what Rose’s ability to travel between universes means for the health of the universes themselves.

Of course, he leaves too early: things start going haywire as soon as he gets back in the TARDIS—and the Earth is gone. The TARDIS is fixed, but the Earth has vanished.

Oh, bless, Donna—she’s so free from jealousy, insisting to the Doctor that isn’t it a good thing that Rose is back? I’m not sure about that, myself—but we’ll see.

Martha! She’s in the U.S.

And Torchwood—still in Cardiff. Captain Jack dashing out to see what’s happened, while Ianto and Gwen boggle.

And Sarah Jane, with her adopted son and “Mr Smith,” the computer with the melodramatic fanfare.

And Donna’s family—and Martha, and Captain Jack, and Sarah Jane, all staring up at the sky.

And there’s Rose—and we pan up, following her eye line, to see a sky full of planets, hanging so close to the earth that you’d think we’d be pulled into one of them.

And, the world’s longest credit sequence!

Donna, practical as always, is worried that with the absence of the sun, everyone on earth will freeze to death. And the Doctor’s astonished by the power of the technology that could move the planet.

That’s a nice encapsulation of their differences.

Richard Dawkins! Say hello to Romana for me!

And the Doctor’s going to the Shadow Proclamation—that’s something we’ve been hearing about for several seasons, now. I’m looking forward to seeing how that pays off.

Damn—I can’t keep up with what’s happening. Now there’re two hundred spaceships heading straight for earth. Not that anyone would notice, because they’re all too busy looting the shops, getting drunk in the streets, and beating each other up.

Rose isn’t fussed, though—she’s carrying an enormous gun, so she’s perfectly secure.

Martha’s phoning Captain Jack, to see whether he’s heard from the Doctor. Martha’s on Project Indigo. It’s top secret, but Jack’s heard about it, because he met a soldier in a bar—strictly professional, he tells Ianto.

And now the Daleks are broadcasting “Exterminate!”—and Sarah’s crying, and Jack’s terrified, and Rose looks like she’s barely holding it together. They all know what two hundred Dalek spaceships mean.

And, of course, last time Jack met the Daleks, they killed him. It was a heroic last stand, but he still died.

Supreme Dalek! All red and shiny. He’s pretty funky. But I’m with Jack and Sarah; I don’t like where this is going.

The Doctor, meanwhile, tells us that the Shadow Proclamation are intergalactic policemen—I suppose rather like Interpol. Turns out the Jadoon (don’t correct my spelling!) work for the Shadow Proclamation.

The Shadow Proclamation tell the Doctor that twenty-four planets have been ripped from the skies. Oh, yes, Donna—you’re every bit as important as the Doctor; she’s the one who notices that Pyrovillia is part of this pattern, and the Adipose breeding planet. She doesn’t mention the Lost Moon of Poush, of course, because she wasn’t there for that conversation, but she’s still the catalyst for the Doctor realising what’s happening.

(And he does mention that they’re in a perfect pattern, which is why they’re not falling into each other.)

And the Doctor mentions the Daleks in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” trying to move the Earth—he doesn’t mention the Time Lords moving the planet in the distant future, in “Trial of a Time Lord.” Self-editing again, Doctor?

Jack’s freaking out almost as much at the idea of Project Indigo as he is at the two hundred Dalek ships. But Martha knows that she takes her orders from UNIT, and she activates it.

Jack tells us that it’s experimental teleport scavenged from the Sontarans—but that without stablisation, Martha’s dead, scattered into atoms.

I know that voice! Oh, damn—Davros! That’s Davros! Brilliant!

And Dalek Kaan—driven insane, somehow, burbling of the arrival of the Doctor. Oh, wow, that CGI for the Shadow Proclamation headquarters is beautiful. Prettiest thing this season, I think.

One of the workers approaches Donna, telling her that there was something on her back, and that she’s so sorry for the loss that is to come.

Oh, I do hate these hints about what’s to come. They keep me worked up for the coming week.

Doctor, don’t dismiss Donna’s advice, even when it’s the bees disappearing. Bees are aliens? I’ve never trusted bees. But they leave a trail that the Doctor can follow. The head woman for the Shadow Proclamation wants to co-opt the TARDIS, to have the Doctor lead them into battle. But she’s also terribly naive, so he just takes off.

The Daleks are rounding people up in the streets, but not every street. Nevertheless, Bernard Cribbens wants to attack them with a paint-gun—he thinks if he blinds them, they’ll be helpless. While he’s explaining this to Sylvia, Donna’s mother, the Daleks blow up a house when a family defies them and runs back inside.

Bernard Cribbens is a good shot, but the Dalek burns off the paint—and then explodes, as Rose appears behind him.

Bernard Cribbens wants to know if she wants to swap guns with him.

Sylvia is learning the truth about where Donna is, as her father tells her that they’re travelling the stars. The Doctor, meanwhile, is following the bees’ trail, but it stops in the middle of the Medusa Cascade—the centre of a rift in time and space, which the Doctor hasn’t visited since he was a boy of ninety. The Doctor’s defeated here—which the very Ennio Morriconian music (as Nick points out) reinforces. This is the point of ultimate defeat: the Doctor has no idea where to go, Sarah is devastated, Torchwood is stalled, Martha seems to be dead . . .

But then a voice comes out of nowhere on the subwave network.

Everyone thinks it’s just a desperate cry for help, until the voice says, “Captain Jack, shame on you!”

It’s Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister. And she’s calling for Jack, Sarah Jane, and Martha, who’s not dead, but in her mother’s home.

(Rose, meanwhile, wants to talk to Harriet, but the Nobles don’t have a webcam—Sylvia thinks they’re naughty. Rose started annoying me, here—she’s a little whingy.)

Jack, of course, is hitting on Sarah Jane. I don’t blame him—and it is Captain Jack.

(And Rose whinges, again.)

The subwave network was invented by the Mr Copper Foundation—and Mr Copper was the man who survived the wreck of the Titanic and left to start a new life on earth with a million pounds. He seems to have brought his alien technology to bear.

Harriet shuts down all possibility of using the mysterious Osterhagen Key. (Don’t correct my spelling.)

(And Rose whinges, again. You were there first, Rose—but there were many companions after you.)

Torchwood, Mr Smith, and Martha are combining their knowledge and technology to send a message to the Doctor, boosting the signal through the subwave network. It will be traced back to Harriet Jones, but she’s not worried about that.

And the Daleks have detected the transmission and are tracing the signal back to its origin: Harriet.

(Rose, the Doctor is in space: is holding your phone up to the ceiling going to make a difference? Oh, never mind.)

The Daleks have found Harriet Jones, who’s masking the location of Sarah, Torchwood, and Martha.

Now she’s transferring control to Torchwood. She knows what’s coming through her door.

And she stands up:

HARRIET: Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister.
DALEKS: Yes, we know who you are.
ME: (Chuckle)
HARRIET: Oh, you know nothing of any human. And that will be your downfall.
DALEKS: Exterminate.
ME: (Sniffle)

It’s a good death, for a character whose every appearance has been fascinating.

And now the Doctor’s skipped forward to the Medusa Cascade, which has been pulled a second out of time from the rest of the universe. And he can see Torchwood, Sarah Jane, and Martha—but not Rose. He hopes Rose is there, but she doesn’t have a webcam.

And then another voice comes in—and Sarah Jane knows that voice. She remembers the genesis of the Daleks.

Davros—Davros resurrected, though Sarah thinks he’s dead and the Doctor knows he’s dead, that his command ship flew straight into the jaws of the Nightmare Child at the gates of Elysium (don’t correct my spelling).

Dalek Kaan gave his mind, flying again and again into the time-locked Time War to rescue Davros. And Davros stripped the flesh from his own bones, literally—NICK: That’s grotesque and implausible—to create a new race of Daleks.

And Dalek Kaan can forsee death for the most faithful companion of all—everlasting death. I really hate these future warnings.

The Daleks have located Torchwood—and Jack is out of there, having used Project Indigo to get his teleport working again. And he also has an enormous gun.

But the Daleks are coming, and there’s only Ianto and Gwen left.

Sarah is leaving, as well—like Jack, she wants to find the Doctor, although she’s leaving her son behind in the car of Mr Smith. And where’s K9? I want K9, dammit!

Rose is off, too—another one seeking the Doctor. She, too, has some kind of teleport technology. But hers can take her straight to the Doctor, who’s landed on an empty street outside a church.

So there’s Rose and the Doctor, staring at each other—and Donna grinning to see it.

And they start running—but the Doctor’s not looking where he’s going. And there’s a Dalek: Rose sees it, the Doctor does not. And it catches him a glancing blow, before Captain Jack arrives and blows it up.

Donna and Rose drag him into the TARDIS while Jack covers them.

And back at Torchwood, Gwen and Ianto are insisting they’re going out kicking and screaming, like Tosh and Owen.

The Doctor is looking pretty bad.

And Sarah Jane is pulled over by a Dalek patrol—who is shot by mysterious benefactors.

The Daleks break into Torchwood, and Gwen and Ianto are shooting them.

The Doctor’s starting his regeneration cycle . . . and the episode is “To Be Continued.”

You bastard, Russell T. Davies! You magnificent bastard!



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