Category: Doctor Who

Clara Oswald to depart

So after teasing us with her departure from Doctor Who it has been announced ( that Jenna Coleman will be leaving the role of Clara Oswald during this new season of Doctor Who.

By way of summation and subject to arbitrary change, here is my listing of Nu-WHo companions:

  1. Donna: because she was a very effective foil for the Doctor. Turn Left is one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes and one of the few companion-centric episodes. Overall there was a good combination of Tate’s perfoamnce, effective scripts and a good dynamic between her and Tennant.
  2. 50% Clara: Coleman I think initially had the same problem that Freema Agyeman had – the writers didn’t know what to do with the character. The later Clara who is bossy to the point of obnoxiousness is a better character, although I should imagine opinions on that will be as varied as opinions on Capaldi’s first season.
  3. Rose: Apart from being the first of the NuWho, Rose worked well because of the depth of her own supporting cast. That same trick didn’t work for Martha Jones or even Donna but for Rose it did.
  4. Rory-Amy: Likeable and central to much of the Matt Smith story arc. It was good for Amy to be a double-act with Rory.
  5. Martha Jones: Some excellent acting but badly served by scripts and storylines. The worst role for the companion is to simply be tagging along after the Doctor and too often this was what Jones had to do. While that season had some of the best Who episodes (Blink, Human Nature/Family of Blood) Jones never got a really strong episode centered on her (the closest being the second part of the two part finale). Additionally that season was the worst one for Russell T Davies’s indulgent tendency to portray the Doctor as a quasi-divine savior.

I won’t rank River Song in that list as it was a different role from the ‘companion’ one. However, recently re-watched her introduction/finale in the Tennant era and it demonstrates how Moffat’s clever-tricksy tendencies worked well with Davies’s emotional sledgehammer tendencies to make very good television.

Anyway – sad to see Coleman go. I hope there is an episode in this new series set in Blackpool (Coleman’s and Clara’s home town) as it is natural setting for Who and a place that should be appreciated by anybody who loves weird.

The Hugos: why even bother?

This post started as a comment elsewhere but has changed a great deal to become this post. Additionally I felt I needed to write this post first, so that I could explain some of the analogies I might make.

Blackpool – a place where party conferences happen. Also Clara from Doctor Who is from Blackpool (as is Jenna Coleman).

In the light of recent controversy there are numerous proposals on voting strategies for the Hugo Awards, rules changes, ethical principles and debates on the nature of the awards themselves. This post is part of my thinking out loud on those issues.

The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious awards within science fiction and fantasy. An award of comparable reputation are the Nebula Awards, which are organized by the Science Fiction Writers of America organization. There is significant overlap between the two but they do have different approaches.

  • The Nebula Awards are decided by a jury – and can be seen as judgement of a work by peers of the author
  • The Hugo Awards are decied by a popular vote – and can be seen as support from fans

However calling the process for the Hugo Awards a popular vote is misleading. Yes, it is open for effectively anybody to vote who is willing to buy a supporting membership but, in effect, it is a vote of a particular kind of community that we could call the WorldCon community. That community I have compared in a previous post to being not unlike the activists who might be involved in a political party. They are a narrower group than just people who generally support, read or like science fiction and fantasy. In so far as they like the activists within a political party they act partly in terms of how they see the genre as whole. That doesn’t make them particularly wiser or more insightful or even less prone to short term thinking and/or factionalism just as party political activists don’t necessarily always work for the best interests of the party they support.

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Mad physics

In a discussion on File 770 I was rude about the physics of faster-than-light travel while defending some of the madness of Doctor Who’s Kill the Moon episode and commenter “ccm” replied:

FTL spaceships? Hah! What about a freakin Time Machine that can grow and jettison rooms as needed, produce pretty much anything you need, can travel anywhere and anywhen with no concerns about fuel, weight, etc….and seems to be some kind of living creature as well.

Well fair point.

But I still think that FTL drives are as bad and in someways the madness of whovian physics makes more sense. The absurdity of the Who reality is a kind of realistic realism.

Now that will require some justification. Continue reading