Geek Stuff · Life · Writing

What I’ve learned from Chicks Dig Time Lords

I’ve been sitting on this blogpost for a very long time. Months and months in fact. Which in itself is pretty relevant to the subject matter of it.

imageWhen I first heard about the book Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It I have to admit I was puzzled by it. The title seemed to sum me up, I am after all a female fan of Doctor Who, but I didn’t really understand why the book was necessary. I don’t watch and enjoy Doctor Who or any of the other geeky or sporty things I like differently because I’m female, so why was it necessary to have a book about being a female fan?

It was released and I heard positive things about the book but remained bemused. Then the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards were announced and Chicks Dig Time Lords was nominated in the Best Related Work category, and went on to win it. I decided I probably needed to give the book a go to see if I could work out why it was so highly regarded, bought a copy of it and put it on my bookshelf.

Roll on spring 2013, my understanding of a lot of things had changed and my eyes had become opened to many new things (the internet is a wonderful educator). For reasons I absolutely do not remember I picked up my copy of Chicks Dig Time Lords and started to read the first essay. I read a handful of essays on my first sitting, and then over the next few months read the whole book an essay or two at a time – wanting to spread them out and give myself time to think about what they’d had to say.

I was so very wrong in my first assessment of the book. I completely misinterpreted what the book was about and why it existed. The book isn’t a collection of essays about being a female Whovian, it’s a collection of essays by and about Whovians who happen to be females. And that is such an important distinction, one I needed time and learning to be able to spot, let alone understand.

For all manner of geeky things there are a range of publications both print and digital that give fans a voice. I’m aware that whilst these publications exist women’s contributions are generally less common than men’s. That is what this book has done – it’s given a safe space for women to share their thoughts and opinions. I do think the balance has started to shift a little since the book was published in 2009, but there’s still such a very long way to go.

As a female geek and sports fan I have always known that my voice is a quiet, frequently unheard and sometimes unwelcome one. My presence in both arenas has not been without its difficulties, my gender has time and again gone against me – from dismissive comments assuming the nature of my interest (apparently it’s all about the hot men) to suggestions that my knowledge needed to be tested to ensure I did genuinely belong there. My stories are sadly common amongst female fans, and I count myself lucky (and isn’t that in itself a sad state of affairs) that my experiences whilst irritating, patronising and downright unreasonable are firmly at the very mild end of the scale of the abuse experienced by other women.

I have plenty of thoughts and opinions on the things I am passionate about. I shy away from sharing them publicly, particularly on my blog. There have been odd posts over the years, but far too many times there have been little voices telling me I don’t know enough, don’t have the background, don’t belong, shouldn’t be writing about that particular topic. And so I haven’t.

(As an aside, the one post I did write that always comes to mind is the one I wrote on my old blog about The Sarah Jane Adventures. Someone whose opinion I really respect read it, and misinterpreted a really ambiguous sentence I’d written. They commented about it, and it still makes me cringe to remember years after. A lesson learnt.)

This is the year I’m going to make a change. I have this space all of my own and I’m going to use it to be me. I’m going to write posts about things I love and care about, and actually hit the publish button. I’m going to write more posts about the random thoughts that often fill my brain, things that leave me pondering but I convince myself no one else could possibly care about.

One of my concerns about writing about these things is that I won’t be any good at it – but as I tell my Beaver Scouts the only way to get better at something is to practice. I think it’s about time I took my own advice. I’m going to ignore the voice in my head that comes up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t, I’m going to stop caring about the fact I’m a girl, stop caring about the fact I might get something a bit wrong, and I’m going to take the leap and just get on with it.

My blog, my thoughts, and there’s no one who can tell me what I can and can’t do.

Geek Stuff

Photo Love

A very quick post this evening, my job did end up running over into today so I’ve got 4 days worth of stuff to catch up on this evening if I have any hope of tomorrow’s plans being possible.

Soon after beginning my mission to read All The Things I saw this post from the Anglophenia blog and knew I needed to share it. They have six new images from this autumn’s An Adventure In Space And Time, the drama from the upcoming season celebrating all things Doctor Who.

Photo from BBC America
Photo from BBC America

This picture of David Bradley as William Hartnell is wonderfully exciting, I was thrilled when his casting was announced – I’d never have thought of him myself but he seems like pretty brilliant casting to me. It looks good and knowing it has been scripted by Mark Gatiss makes me think it’s really going to be a great watch.

Book Review

My Week In Books. [7]

This week’s post has a bit of a theme, I’ve spent the whole week reading tv tie-in fiction. I absolutely love books related to tv, I have a bookcase filled with reference books, episode guides, and most importantly fiction – both novelisations and original stories. I see tv tie-in fiction as a wonderful way to spend more time with characters I love, the only thing that would be better would be if I achieved my big dream of getting to write it!

The first part of last week was spent with a pair of classic Doctor Who novelisations. I was pretty young when Doctor Who left tv screens in the 1980s and was born into an entirely non-geeky family so there was never any effort made to introduce me to any of the classic sci fi around. I became a fan as an adult and so far the majority of my experiences of the first seven doctors have come from books – I’ve read a handful of Target novelisations and built up a reasonable collection of Big Finish’s Short Trips anthologies before they went out of print.

Last year BBC Books started to reissue classic titles from the Target range of novelisations, to date they’ve released 12 of them, each with an introduction from current writers and fans. I have a set of the first 6 and decided to read Doctor Who and the Daleks and Doctor Who and the Crusaders. Both were written by David Whitaker and feature the first incarnation of The Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell.

I hadn’t had much exposure to this version of The Doctor, and I have to admit I found both books a little hard going. I think this could be down to one of, or a combination of, factors; they were originally written in the 1960s so the writing style is different, they feature Hartnell’s Doctor – as I’ve already said I’m most unfamiliar with him, they’re written in the first person with a narrator (Ian Chesterton) who comes across in quite an irritating manner, and the tight binding of the books meant that I spent as long wrestling with the book as I did reading it (I’ve since discovered the books are available as eBooks so I will have to add these to my Kindle and see if this solves that problem).

I enjoyed the plot of Doctor Who and the Daleks, I know it deviates from the tv episodes but as I haven’t seen them it didn’t clash or appear wrong to me. It was lovely to get an idea of how the Daleks first appeared, and to meet the Thals who I’d heard of but knew nothing about. I didn’t enjoy the plot of Doctor Who and the Crusaders anywhere near as much. It’s not a period of history I know anything about but I think I could have coped okay with that if the story interested me more, and didn’t include quite so much cruelty and violence (both threatened and carried out) towards Barbara. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly can’t imagine I’ll be revisiting it any time soon.

I spent the second half of the week reading Torchwood tie-in books. I had previously read and enjoyed the first fifteen novels that had been released covering the Torchwood story up until the beginning of the Children of Earth, the two I read this week came from the most recently released trio that fit between Children of Earth and Miracle Day. I read First Born by James Goss which focuses on Gwen, Rhys and baby Anwen, and Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough which allows former Torchwood team member Suzie Costello another chance to take centre stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed both books. I’d read and loved books by both authors before so I was pretty confidant they would go some way to ease the disappointment Miracle Day had left me with, and I was right. I found First Born a little slow to get going but once it did it was a great read, twisty and disturbing with a lovely vein of humour running right through it. I fell straight into Long Time Dead, it was wonderful to see Suzie again and to see her back to her villainous best. I read the book in a single sitting, and finally put it down feeling entirely satisfied.

My only complaint about these new Torchwood novels is in their production. The first fifteen were all released in batches of three, they came in a hardcover and the spines each contained a third of a picture so that lined up on a shelf they all look really nice. These new releases are in paperback and don’t have the spine illustration so my nicely coordinated shelf now doesn’t look quite so nice. It’s a real shame, I really dislike it when publishers do this and I know I’m not the only one who feels like that.

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Phew, that turned into a much longer post than I’d expected. It is also the last of these posts for the forseeable future, December is going to see Juniper’s Jungle fully open for reviews again. Whilst I enjoyed the break from reviewing (and getting through the second year of my degree) it was always my plan to get back to it and the time is now right. I’ve got some great books waiting for my attention and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on them in the coming weeks.

Book Review

My Week In Books. [5]

Each Monday I review the books I’ve read in the previous week in mini reviews.

The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery by Justin Richards. BBC Books.
I was really excited when BBC Books announced this eBook tie in to the final episode of the first half of the current series of Doctor Who. TV tie in books are a real love of mine and having seen Melody Malone’s book play such a prominent part in the episode I couldn’t wait to read it. Initially I was really disappointed, this book is not the book featured in the episode but another Melody Malone Mystery. Once I’d got over that and got stuck into reading I was soon won over.

The book is a really enjoyable read, I thought Melody’s voice was captured really well which really added to the reading experience. It was good to read a story about the Weeping Angels – they’re a little less scary in prose than they are on the tv screen! I thought it was interesting that they had facets that hadn’t been explored in the tv series, I wonder whether this will be brought into the tv canon at any point. I’d love it if the BBC produced more Melody Malone books though I imagine there’s a limited number of stories they could do featuring the Weeping Angels.

Playground by 50 Cent. Quercus.
The book opens with a title page crediting both 5o Cent and Laura Moser, which pleased me to see the ghost writer clearly credited, and a foreword from 50 Cent where he talks about how the book is a semi-autobiographical account of his youth and his time as a bully. I must admit I was a bit unsure about the book when I picked it up but these things made me more interested in what was held within it.

50 Cent says that he hopes to show the various sides of a bully and I think this is achieved well by the book, from the very beginning the lead character, Butterball, comes across as an angry teenager with a challenging attitude. Over the course of the book as you get to know Butterball better you discover the other layers that he has and get to see the whole boy. Whilst this is a book with a definite moral message it avoids feeling preachy – I think this book could be a useful read for a lot of teens. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, if there are to be more YA titles from 50 Cent I will most definitely be adding them to my collection.

Red Tears by Joanna Kenrick. Faber and Faber.
I saw this book discussed on a discussion group and was intrigued by it so requested it from the local library. Whilst I’d read books that included mentions of self harm before I think this book covered the subject in more detail than any of them. It is a book that’s clearly been well researched and it’s thoughtfully written, it never glamorises or demonises self harm but instead carefully explores the subject matter and the different ways people react to it.

I found the book hard going at times because I could identify a lot with some of the pressures the lead character is facing, it definitely reminded me of some of my own year 11 experiences (though I dealt with them in a different way to the lead character). I think if this book had been around back then I’d have found it reassuring just to read that someone else was feeling similarly. This is a book I am sure I will be recommending, though with caution as the author herself advises that it may be triggering for some readers.

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A double post this week after I was away last weekend. I feel a bit bad that in two weeks I only managed to read 3 books, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time catching up on the issues of Rolling Stone I’m behind on instead.

Geek Stuff

New Doctor Who homeware? Yes please!

I was very excited (and my bank balance very worried) to see news of the new Doctor Who homeware range that’s being launched. The Doctor Who Home range is going to be sold by the BBC’s online shop and Selfridges later in the year, it’s made up of tableware and stationery – two of my favourite things!

I’ve got my eye on these notebooks:

Image from Design Week.

This teapot:

Photo from The Doctor Who Site.

And this pack of notebooks for starters:

Photo from The Doctor Who Site.

I’m also keen to see some of the products that I haven’t seen pictured yet like the apron and the set of mugs (though I assume that will be the same as the set of espresso cups, just mug sized). The Doctor Who Site has two posts featuring more of the range here and here, and Design Week also has a post devoted to it here though you have to ignore the inaccuracies it contains!

TV Stuff

My Five Favourite TV Shows of 2011.

It’s that time of year when everyone’s compiling lists, and I do love a good list so I thought it was a bandwagon I’d happily jump onto. I’m going to do three lists of five items, my favourite TV shows of 2011 on Tuesday, films on Wednesday and books on Thursday.

I watch a lot of tv. This year I’ve loved so many programmes, both ones I’ve been watching for years and ones that I’ve discovered for the first time. In no particular order my favourite shows of this year have been…

Leverage
Oh how I love this show. For starters it has a great cast playing brilliant characters, the team of five are all well developed and interesting and the women are as cool and capable as the men. The relationships between the team members reflect the friendship the actors all have off the screen, they are all so believable and wonderfully entertaining. Then there are the plots, each episode sees the team pulling off a con or heist, acting like modern day Robin Hoods. These are slick and clever, and often leave me very impressed by their inventiveness.

Hawaii Five-0
I decided to give this a go after hearing Dave and Barry of Geek Syndicate discussing it on a number of episodes of their podcast. Within the first couple of episodes I was hooked, the friendship between Steve and Danny is a brilliant snarky bromance that drew me straight into the show. There are some great characters, I’m particularly enjoying seeing both Daniel Dae Kim and Masi Oka in shows that don’t frustrate me at every turn. Hawaii Five-0 is definitely a new favourite for me.

Doctor Who
This year’s series of Doctor Who brought me my favourite guest character yet in Canton Everett Delaware III, a new episode to add to my list of favourites in The Doctor’s Wife, and a fantastic Christmas episode. It also brought the Doctor wearing a Stetson, a small detail but one that made me very happy. Whilst the series arc was a little convoluted, and at times seemed to be forgotten, the individual episodes ranged from entertaining to downright brilliant. The Christmas special has left me really looking forward to next year’s series, even if we do have to wait until the autumn for it.

Merlin
After last year’s Merlin introduced a core group of knights I was really excited to see how the show evolved with these new characters. Whilst it’s always nice to see Arthur and Merlin’s friendly bickering it has been so good this year having a range of characters. I love the sense of fun and camaraderie there is between the knights, and I look forward to seeing much more of them next year. I only wish that Morgause had stayed for longer and that Morgana had had a little more to do during the series.

Friday Night Lights
I know I said this list was in no particular order, but I have saved the best for last. I cannot begin to draw together my thoughts about the series in just a paragraph, I’ve been trying to write a blog post about the series for months and am still struggling to write clearly about it. I watched all five seasons in about 6 weeks, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it back in September. I started watching it because I saw people on Twitter talking about it, I never expected to love it anywhere near as much as I did, I think it has probably jumped to the top of my all time favourite tv shows list. I shall definitely make sure I get that blog post finished in January.

What have you been watching and loving in 2011?

Days Out · Geek Stuff

Out and About : Doctor Who Experience.

What? Doctor Who Experience.
Where? Olympia, London.
How much? Adult – £15 off peak prebooked, £18 peak prebooked, £20 on the door. Child £12.50 off peak prebooked, £14 peak prebooked, £15.50 on the door. Family tickets are also available.
When? Until 4th September 2011.

When you’re in London celebrating a 31st birthday as a group of geeks what more appropriate way could there be to spend an afternoon than at the new Doctor Who Experience at Olympia?

From the time we got off the tube at Olympia the anticipation began building steeply, the route to the experience entrance is marked out by posters bearing cybermen. As the event has timed entry slots there was no queuing to get in, we simply went into the building and after taking the lift to the correct floor entered the first room.

The first room acts essentially as a holding room where you wait for the next entry to the walk-through experience. There’s plenty to see and look at, exhibits included Liz 10’s costume, a Silurian display and artefacts from the House of Calvierri. Whilst we were having a look we were aware of the number of children also milling about, and found ourselves wondering whether they would impact on how we were able to enjoy the walk-through – at the Doctor Who Exhibition housed at nearby Earls Court we had all had similarly unfortunate experiences.

Wide eyed wonderment.
The walk-through took about 20 minutes, you begin by watching a wonderfully edited together montage of clips from series 5 (we won’t get into an episode numbering argument here thank you very much) before walking through the crack from Amy’s bedroom into a museum. As you’re looking around the security system is taken over by the Doctor who is stuck in the spare Pandorica and needs help. These clips with Matt Smith guide you through the walk-through, I don’t want to reveal the path it takes, but be assured it will make even the casual fan’s heart sing.

All of our fears about having children with our party were completely unfounded, if anything having young fans getting completely swept up in the experience (one got scared to the point of having to leave the walkthrough) added to the buzz. There was a real sense of camaraderie between our group, everyone had such a great time.

Time to add a little detail.
After leaving the walk-through we found ourselves in a more traditional exhibition that did bear some resemblance to the previous exhibition at Earls Court. There were some exhibits that we had seen before but these were accompanied by many new items. The first section dealt with the Doctor himself, each of his incarnations was represented by his most iconic costume. We also visited a room devoted to his companions, and one dealing with enemies through the ages (in this area there was a lovely mix of classic Who and nu-Who). There were special areas offering screenings, workshops on how to walk like various monsters and a mock up of the art department.

My favourite part of the exhibition was the interior of the TARDIS that had belonged to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. You could get up close and personal with part of the central console, and all the supporting struts were in place. Playing on a screen at the side of the exhibition was the regeneration of the Tenth Doctor into the Eleventh Doctor. We did spent a few minutes watching the Tenth Doctor say goodbye and all felt that tell tale lump returning to our throats.

“You’ve got a little shop. I like a little shop.”
When we’d finally had enough of the exhibition we made our way out into the shop. Whereas the shop for the Earls Court exhibition always felt a little like an after thought this one was filled with things I found myself being tempted by. There was enough space to walk round without the fear you were going to knock something off a shelf or step on a playing child – another improvement from previous exhibitions.

We all had a thoroughly good afternoon and based on all the smiling faces we were seeing so did everyone else who was there. If you’re even vaguely interested in Doctor Who I would recommend it as a worthwhile visit.