Monday, July 29, 2013

The Big Mystery of Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special

As more information comes out and more theories surface, it has become clear that John Hurt's Doctor as revealed in the last episode, creates a deep mystery of who the Doctor really is. We have watched in the surety that we have seen all the incarnations, starting with the First Doctor who ran away from Gallifrey with his granddaughter (whose fate has never been revealed) up through the Eleventh Doctor who found himself facing his own grave on Trenzalore. We are given this partly because we have seen each incarnation morph before our eyes. Or have we? There is one break in the middle. We have not seen the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor into the Ninth.

That makes three different periods in our favorite Timelord's life where John Hurt could fit; he could be a later incarnation, between the Eighth and Ninth, or before the first. I am hoping for earlier, but in any case, if John Hurt's Doctor turns out to be another incarnation, it means that when we see the regeneration at the end of the Christmas Special, this is the last Doctor.

Or is it? I love to put on the old episodes and I am currently running through at least one story from each season and the first and last episode of each incarnation. There are some fun facts to be found, especially when you do some searches and find out the mind of the story writers and producers who created the stories. What I've found is that during the eras of the Fourth and Seventh Doctors, there were some ideas afoot. In The Brain of Morbius, Morbius and the Doctor engage in a mental wrestling match and the Doctor loses. We see all of his former selves and some others. While most people today think this is Morbius, it is indeed the Doctor and the writers and producers intended it to be the Doctor. The faces are those of several of the production staff at the time. Then a few episodes later in The Deadly Assassin, we are given the limit of twelve regenerations causing the idea of many previous Doctors to be lost. Then in the era of the Seventh Doctor, there was a substory being built to restore much of the mystery to the Doctor. He was more than he seemed and it was implied, but never stated, that he wasn't just a Timelord. Rumor has it that he was the third member of a trio of Timelords who founded Gallifrey, the others being Rassilon and Omega. And as was established in the 20th Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors, Rassilon was immortal (which makes his return during the Time War make sense).

So is the Doctor limited to 13 incarnations (which the 12 regeneration limit gives him)? We will have to wait and see. One hope is that John Hurt is not playing a new incarnation, but one of the previous ones. The most likely is an older Eighth Doctor or a younger First Doctor. I think a younger first Doctor makes more sense, especially considering some rumors about the 50th Anniversary Special and that inserting another incarnation will cut the show shorter or force them to deal with the question of the number of regenerations the Doctor ends up with. It would be an interesting question to find out why the Doctor ran away from Gallifrey. What did he do, who was he before. It can be answered in several ways that does not ruin the mystery of our favorite Timelord.

I've been happy with Steven Moffat's writing so far, so I have high hopes for the special and subsequent Christmas special and the introduction to a new Doctor. The story of the Doctor has been in many hands and it has changed a bit over the years. When dealing with the story of a time traveler who does so much, we can surmise he might have even changed his own past a few times, but it has been oddly consistent in certain aspects. A man on the run from his own people in a rackety old Tardis. As Clara said, "Run, you clever boy, Run!"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ender's Game - Spoilers Of A Different Sort

Unless they have completely rewritten the story, it is pretty hard to spend much time on spoilers for Ender's Game. Read the book if you are interested. But this film is being spoiled in a different way. The writer of the story it is based on, Orson Scott Card, has become an outspoken opponent of marriage equality. It is a mistake that the studio should have picked up on before green lighting this film, but now that it is made and ready for release, there is a lot of backlash against the film for Card's bigoted political activism.

There are different opinions of how to handle this movie. Some are calling for a complete boycott on the chance that Card might earn some more money or that they might green light a sequel. I don't share that view. A movie is a group effort, even if it is an adaption of a written story. You have hundreds or thousands of people who got together to turn a writer's vision into a visual spectacle. In particular, the actors who have taken part in this production deserve our support. With this story being mainly about children, many of the best young stars in Hollywood are in it. I'm sure that everyone involved in the production is acutely aware of Card's homophobia.

David Gerrold today posted a very reasoned argument why we should not boycott the movie and I whole-heartedly agree with him. Yes, Card's views are reprehensible, but he rarely put that into his stories and this movie is a great vehicle for the Hollywood professionals who were involved. We just need to send the message that we want no more of Card's work brought to life by Hollywood. I think they have got that already. Though, if not for Card's views, this could have been a good series for a studio to invest in.

This brings me to authors and politics. Authors dabble in politics at their own risk. Card has dabbled and lost. sometimes, especially far out from the final outcome, it can be hard to know which side is safe. But in this case, Card became more active that closer this topic came to gaining national acceptance. That is always a recipe for disaster and Card is now a poster child for it.

I sometimes dabble in political discourse, but I do my best to not be extreme. It is the extreme views that more often get you in trouble. Card wasn't paying attention and is now paying the price. All authors should avoid being too extreme, but should have causes. The thing is that if you do a bit of research, it will be readily apparent which way our world has been heading for a very long time and to buck that trend is to ask for trouble. Sometimes opinions are best left in private. A person who engages in extreme politics risks cutting their audience in half. It is hard enough to be a writer without doing that to yourself.

Quiet Summers

Well, quiet at least here on my blog. I can't say the summer is quiet in general. The day job is busy, the home life is busy, and I'm trying to do some reading and editing at the same time. Plus I'm planning 3 writing projects. I can't say I set out to deliberately mirror Lucas' long promised 9 part saga, but it has turned into that. I have written the first three novels in Ven's journey. Now I'm working on the second three (1 written but not edited, 1 planned but not written, and 1 yet to be determined). The last three have always been a no-brainer. If you've picked up Edge of Hyperspace, the last story is a bit of a preview of what will come. War always makes for good stories. After that I haven't decided, but Ven will retire from the featured role in novels and it probably will descend on Chup. Plus there are other stories to tell. Plus I love short stories so I probably will come up with a few more collections.

So while I may be quiet in my social media output at the moment, I am far from quiet behind the scenes.