10 Top Dogs from Fandom Aug31

10 Top Dogs from Fandom

There’s something special about faithful, furry companions in our favourite stories. And how do we make a top ten list when there are so many wonderful canines in geek culture? Let the fans decide! We ran daily “Dog Days of Summer” matchups over August on our Facebook page to make the following countdown. 10. Cosmo Marvel’s spacedog is a liaison to the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping them plan their wild adventures. Former test animal of the Soviet Space Program and current head of security in a city called Knowhere, the talking dog hides the city’s citizens in a dimensional envelope on his collar during the events of Nova comics. Plus, he’s telekinetic and telepathic; as long as his psionic blast isn’t directed at you, you couldn’t ask for a more protective friend. “That does it. That enough. No more Mr. Nice Dog. Now Cosmo will hurt everyone.” —Cosmo 9. Wolf Link All right, all right, he’s not technically a dog, especially since he’s a human in disguise, but we still want him as our best friend. Playable in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link can also be summoned in Breath of the Wild as a companion for Link. “Wolf Link is summoned from another plane of existence and can’t be seen by other people in this world.” —Breath of the Wild Loading Screen Tip 8. Gromit Wallace’s loveable companion in the Wallace and Gromit movies, Gromit was originally going to be voiced by Peter Hawkins, but that idea was dropped when creators realized how expressive he could be just from his eye movements. Gromit is skeptical of Wallace’s inventions and tends to do most of the work for his bumbling friend. He also reads books, listens to Bach, and is great at solving puzzles. “Er, Gromit, old pal? It happened again. I’ll need assistance.” —Wallace, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 7. Zwei It’s not every day you find a dog that happily fits into a small package along with enough food to last him months. He’s also apparently fireproof and incredibly tough, as seen when he destroys an Atlesian Paladin-290 in “No Brakes.” His name is possibly a reference to Cowboy Bebop‘s Ein, also a Welsh Corgi. Eins is the German word for “one” and Zwei means “two.” “Are you telling me that this mangy… drooling… mutt… is going to wiv with us foweva?” —Weiss 6. Underdog As long as you don’t mind him speaking in rhyming couplets and phone booths exploding after he changes into his superhero outfit,  Underdog seems like a handy canine to have around. Able to move planets and fly, among many other superpowers, there doesn’t seem to be much he can’t do. “There is no need to fear; Underdog is here!” 5. Snowy Tintin’s companion, Snowy sometimes struggles making th e right decision when bones or Loch Lomond whisky are on the line. He originally had a dry, cynical personality to balance Tintin’s positivity, but eventually morphed into light-hearted comic relief. “Tintin! Are you dead? Say yes or no, but answer me!” —Snowy, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets 4. K-9 First appearing with the Fourth Doctor in “The Invisible Enemy,” K-9 is known for his ability to beat the Doctor at chess and as Sarah Jane Smith’s companion. Apparently, the writers originally wanted to name him “Pluto” after the Disney character, but Disney refused permission. They also considered calling him FIDO (“Phenomenal Indication Data Observation”). “Affirmative!” —K-9 3. Huan Given to Celegorm, Feanor’s third son, Huan is as large as a small horse and has special powers granted by the Valar. He took pity on Luthien when she was captured and helped her escape, assisting her in killing Sauron’s werewolves and even winning a battle against Sauron’s wolf-form. A prophesy stated Huan could only be killed by the greatest wolf that ever lived. “Arise! Away! / Put on thy cloak! Before the day / comes over Nargothrond we fly / to Northern perils, thou and...

Quiet Character Appreciation Day Aug29

Quiet Character Appreciation Day...

Quiet characters are often overlooked. The bold, adventurous characters carry most of the drama, captivating audiences with their flashy fighting styles and quirky personalities. Meanwhile, the unassuming characters play support roles at best and are negatively stereotyped at worst. When a well-represented quiet character comes along, I get excited because I’m one of the quiet ones, too. Here are seven favourites who have inspired me. 1. Spock – Star Trek Although he is half-human, Spock chose to follow the Vulcan lifestyle of logic and restraint. He’s so controlled that it’s easy to forget he’s actually the strongest person on the Enterprise. Although some characters don’t trust Spock due to his lack of emotion, he works hard to maintain his quiet nature. On the rare occasions when he loses—or is forced out of—control, it’s clear why he does so. I admire Spock’s wisdom and scientific skill, but mostly I respect his commitment to self-control, even though he could influence others through force instead of logic. 2. Lie Ren – RWBY Upon first acquaintance, it’s easy to overlook Ren in favour of his extremely outgoing friend, Nora Valkyrie. Ren may not attempt Nora’s crazy stunts—like riding a Grimm monster through the forest—but no one can question his skills as a warrior. He fights with the calm finesse of a trained ninja, but his steady nature is his best contribution to his team. Even during the rockiest of times, Ren is a reassurance to his friends; that’s a skill that I strive to have. And, of course, who besides Ren will make the pancakes? 3. Edwin Jarvis – Agent Carter When Edwin Jarvis begins helping Peggy Carter, he has some trouble keeping up. His genteel existence is suddenly interrupted by exploding buildings, interrogations, and a host of other...

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity Aug24

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity...

How does geek culture impact faith and vice versa? Geekdom House is all about answering this question, and Comic Con Christianity by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry contributes wonderfully to the conversation. A Catholic and nerd, Perry connects geek stories to her experience with the Church, and made me think about these characters in a new light. All the quotes below are from her book, and only brush the surface of the hero-inspired journey contained within its pages! 1. The Tick: There’s Space for Everyone The City has tons of heroes to defend it, but they’re constantly “at odds with each other, causing one another to fail.” The Tick sounds kind of insane, but he showed them that they could get things done together instead of wasting time squabbling. This reminds me of the Church—full of really good people, but often too concerned with petty arguments or who they should be shutting out of their doors and not concerned enough about modeling Jesus’ welcoming behaviour. Sometimes I’m ashamed to call myself a Christian because of this public behaviour. “Everyone is necessary. Everyone is welcome. Everyone has a place,” writes Perry. Exactly! “Sometimes, it’s enough to just be willing to step out in faith and show up because something that is whispering in our hearts calls us to be greater.” 2. Aragorn: Jesus is Humble Jesus “was sort of like a Ranger—he was the True King of Israel, but remained incognito until it was time for him to act.” He did miracles of healing but would often tell the healed not to spread word about him, sharing God’s mercy with people who needed to hear it. I think this humility is important for me to model in relationship with others. “It was vital to our understanding of God’s...

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings Jul20

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings...

Although each fandom has its share of brothers and sisters, the dividing lines between franchises have prevented many sibling relationships that should have been. Here are some characters that definitely belong in the same family: Wonder Woman and Lady Sif Not only do Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif look like sisters, but they share the same skill on the battlefield and the same passion for protecting other people. They even carry the same weapons: a sword and shield. Westley and Jack Sparrow In The Princess Bride, Westley begins as an unassuming farm boy and ends up taking the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts with such gusto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an actual pirate in the family. Although, Jack would be the awkward brother whom Westley doesn’t talk about, but demonstrates an uncanny habit of showing up at the worst times. Elrond and Spock They may be from totally different times, places, and races, but Elrond and Spock share the same pointed ears, black hair, and affinity for calm logic. Plus, they’re also both downright scary in a fight. Mantis and Odin’s children (Hela, Thor, and Loki) Odin’s bombshell in Thor: Ragnarok—that Thor has an older sister, and she’s intent on conquering the universe—is apt to make anyone a bit paranoid. Many fans have joked that Thor should suspect Mantis of being kin, due to her clothing’s green-and-black color scheme and her horn-like antennae (characteristics shared by Thor’s other siblings, Hela and Loki). Add these hints to Thor’s tendency to adopt everyone—even strange rabbits—and it makes total sense for Mantis to join the family. King Thranduil and Lucius Malfoy Same long blond hair, haughty attitudes, and penchant for strutting around carrying a staff. Definitely related. Amy Pond...

Donna Noble and Our Irreplaceable Roles in the Universe Jul04

Donna Noble and Our Irreplaceable Roles in the Universe...

If there’s any Doctor Who companion who’s not shy about reminding humans and aliens alike of her value, it’s Donna Noble. Even in front of the renowned Shadow Proclamation, she states, “I’m a human being. Maybe not the stuff of legend, but every bit as important as Time Lords, thank you.” The paradox of her saying that is, in spite of all her bold statements and sass, Donna doesn’t actually believe her own words. She repeatedly mentions that she’s only “a temp from Chiswick,” as if this is the sum total of her identity. It isn’t until the Season Four finale, “Journey’s End,” that the Doctor realizes how much Donna undervalues herself. The half-human, half-Time Lord version of the Doctor studies Donna in sudden understanding and says, “All that attitude, all that lip, ’cause all this time, you think you’re not worth it… Shouting at the world ’cause no one’s listening.” Like many people, Donna’s life hasn’t gone the way she hoped. She works as a temp instead of having a steady job. She lives with her mother. She discovers that the man who claimed to love her is only using her. Is it any wonder that she feels lost and unimportant? Whether we shout at the world like Donna or stay silent and hope we’re noticed, we all want our lives to matter. Donna’s deepest fear is that, if she doesn’t speak up, she’ll be ignored entirely. By making people acknowledge her, Donna hopes that they’ll believe she’s important and then, maybe, she can believe it too. She’s spent so much time thinking her life is insignificant that she completely misses how valuable she is. Thankfully, the Doctor doesn’t. During her travels with the Doctor, Donna frequently proves to be the deciding factor...

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed Jun29

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed...

I love it when a show I enjoy references another show I love, or does something clever and self-aware. My favourite might be #3, because I was the most surprised and delighted by it (plus, I only watched Castle because Nathan Fillion). But here are some references you may have missed. 1. Firefly A figure of Han Solo in carbonite shows up in the background of various scenes on the Serenity. Just because. 2. Andromeda Kevin Sorbo pulls out a blonde wig and sword from his locker in Andromeda, looks at it for a second, then puts it back. 3. Castle Nathan Fillion’s character, Richard Castle, dresses us up as a “space cowboy” in Castle. 4. Doctor Who When the tenth Doctor has a gas mask on, he references the first season’s “Empty Child” episode by saying, “Are you my mummy?” As if we needed reminders of the horrors in that episode. 5. Community When “Beetlejuice” is said for the third time ever in Community, he shows up in the background. 6. Futurama Though he’s not introduced until much later, Nibbler’s shadow can be seen in “Space Pilot 3000,” and is later revealed to be responsible for Fry falling into the cryogenic chamber. 7. Chuck In “Chuck vs. The Third Dimension,” the letters “IG-88” is the name of a grenade, a reference to an bounty hunter droid in Star Wars. This is not the only Star Wars reference in Chuck, of course. 8. The Flash A character on The Flash who has ice powers is named Elsa. When people are already going to be making the connection, you might as well just roll with it. 9. Fringe Each episode included a subtle clue for the next episode, such as an the pilot, where an image of a pen and rose in a newspaper...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity Oct11

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity...

While Christianity does not figure prominently in many fandoms, here are six occasions when faith is alluded to with surprising accuracy. “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” – Captain America, The Avengers When Natasha Romanoff describes Thor and Loki as “basically gods,” Cap responds with this famous statement. Odin himself echoes the sentiment in Thor: The Dark World when he tells Loki, “We are not gods. We live, we die, just as humans do.” Both Cap and Odin realize that power doesn’t equal divinity. The Avengers may be able to save lives, but only God can save souls. “Mankind has no need for gods. We find the One quite adequate.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek (S2E2, “Who Mourns for Adonais?”) The crew of the Enterprise is faced with a dilemma similar to Cap’s when they meet a superior being called Apollo, who interacted with the human race thousands of years ago and was considered a god. Apollo demands that the humans of the Enterprise worship him, but Captain Kirk and the others refuse. “It’s easy to do nothing, but it’s hard to forgive.” – Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (S3E16, “The Southern Raiders”) In this episode, Katara wants to take revenge on the man who killed her mother, but Aang urges her to forgive him instead. While Aang doesn’t mention God directly, his words are reminiscent of Jesus’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis Generations of readers have found truths about God hidden in Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s metaphor for Jesus Christ. Mr. Beaver’s explanation of...

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide Nov25

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide...

Christmas is coming, folks. And we know gift shopping can be a hassle. What to get your geek buddies that they don’t already to have? What to ask for because no one knows what to get you? We did a Gift Guide to Geek Art already, but thought you might be on the lookout for other ideas too. We did the research for you and have compiled a guide to satisfy every fan’s dream. For the Anime Enthusiast We know RWBY‘s not technically an anime because it’s American; calm down, folks! Calm down. Also, our Small-size editor’s wanted that Attack on Titan hoodie for a long time. Just sayin’. Attack on Titan Hoodie – $34.99 RWBY Ruby Figure – $34.95 Works of H. Miyazaki – $188.99 Crunchyroll Subscription – $6.95/month Princess Mononoke Art Print – $28 Eevee Earrings – $13.16 For the Tabletop Titan No one can understand why the board game organizer is so awesome unless they are a board gamer. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – $70 Dice Bag – $9.95 RPG Dice Set – $9.98 Dungeon Master Screen – $15 Board Game Organizer – $15-$50 King of Tokyo – $39.99 For the Comic Cavalier Marvel’s taking the Star Wars universe to great places… need we say more? Plus some other cool stuff. Star Wars Comics – $4.99 Inky Superhero Art – $30-$75 Superhero Fingerless Gloves – $25 Nimona Graphic Novel – $15.99 Ms. Marvel Comics – $2.99 DC Comics: A Visual History – $35 For the Fantasy Fiend That handmade Falkor, though! Lindsey Stirling album – $9.99 Elf Ear Cuffs – $27.75 The Name of the Wind – $10.79 Handmade Falkor – $131.83 The Grisha Trilogy – $36.53 Game of Thrones Dog Tag – $14.99 For the Sci-Fi Supporter The closest you can get...

Out with the New Nov11

Out with the New

Newer isn’t always better. Just ask all of the loyal Samsung customers who ran out and bought the new Samsung ‘splody phone. They thought they were getting was new-and-improved technology. What they actually got was the choice between keeping a pocket bomb or trading it back in for last year’s phone. They also got a stern warning not to carry their new phones on airplanes. If you’re not a Samsung customer, don’t feel too smug. If you’ve got Windows 10, Microsoft has been quietly force-feeding your computer the Anniversary Update, which might improve your device. Or it might turn your perfectly functional computer into a giant paperweight. Don’t even get me started on iOS 10. I miss the slide-to-unlock feature desperately and wish my iPad and I could just go back to the way we used to be. As a geek, I should know better than to expect good things from an upgrade. If fiction has taught me anything, it’s that upgrades are usually a very, very bad idea. Upgrades are bad, right? When Rose wanted to save the Doctor from the Daleks, she exposed the heart of the TARDIS and was infused with the Time Vortex. Like the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it wasn’t exactly voluntary. It also didn’t go well. The power was too much for Rose and the Doctor sacrificed his incarnation to save her. Oh sure, we got David Tennant out of the deal, but… actually, that is a pretty good deal. But as for unnecessary upgrades… do you remember what happened to Lt. Barclay in Star Trek: The Next Generation? He and Geordi went on a little away mission to see why the Argus Array wasn’t working. He got knocked out by an alien probe and woke up greatly...

Duped by Davros Oct03

Duped by Davros

Most of the time, when I’m watching a movie or TV show, I can see right through the plot twists. I catch the foreshadowing and can predict what’s coming (and sometimes dialogue—which means that it must be pretty poorly written). I like to think that I can see a lie coming from a mile away because I have worked in pastoral ministry for almost 20 years. But the episode of Doctor Who, “The Witch’s Familiar,” had my poor brain in a tizzy. I should have seen through Davros’ act—he even gave himself away early in the conversation when he called the Daleks’ compassion a “defect.” He told the Doctor that compassion “grows strong and fierce in you like a cancer” and that it “will kill you in the end,” to which the Doctor replied, “I wouldn’t die of anything else.” I mean, he completely laid his evilness out there. He said it flat out. Could he have been more obvious?! But, I got sucked in to his tears. I got sucked into his apparent remorse right along with the Doctor. He’s Davros—he’s pure evil! But, I’m Catholic! No one is pure evil—everyone can be redeemed! Initially, using a tactic that would have worked on himself at one time, Davros tried to tempt the Doctor to touch the cables that would suck his regenerative power out of him by making him think that he could wipe out all of the Daleks. The Doctor didn’t succumb. So, when that didn’t work, like the super-evil villain that he is, Davros changed gears and went for what he sees as the Doctor’s greatest weakness (and just went on and on about it!)—his compassion. Davros cried. He asked to look into his face like a dying family member would request. He asked if...

The Doctor’s Eternal Perseverance Jul27

The Doctor’s Eternal Perseverance...

“This traffic is taking forever.” “I’m never going to find the right woman.” “Waiting for the DMV took an eternity.” I recognize these statements, of course, as the hyperbole that they are, even as I speak them. But such a blasé attitude towards the concept of eternity and infinity cheapens it. I have never experienced more than a lifetime and my exaggerations do not come close to expressing what eternity must feel like. Therefore, to be patient or persevere in the face of eternity is an ideal that escapes me completely. I know there is either a finite time that I will have to wait or I recognize that death will claim me before I ever see the consummation of my hope, whatever it may be. What would happen, though, if somehow I could comprehend eternity to the point that, no matter what happens, I can push through? In the penultimate episode of the ninth season of the “new” Doctor Who (titled “Heaven Sent”), Peter Capaldi’s Doctor explores this concept of forever. He finds himself in some sort of elaborate trap with a mysterious stalker who elicits something we’re not familiar with the Doctor experiencing: fear. The Doctor is afraid of this… thing. We know it’s called “The Veil” only by the end credits, but, beyond that, we don’t know anything other than it was specifically designed from the Doctor’s worst nightmares to evoke a reaction of fear from the rogue Time Lord. The intense grief of losing Clara and the darkness of being alone can only be overcome by his memory of Clara and his love for her. The Doctor reasons that fear is being used as a motivation to coerce him to reveal his deepest, darkest secrets. As fear does its work,...

Keep On Keeping On Jul08

Keep On Keeping On

When Umberto Eco sought the feedback of friends and colleagues for his manuscript, The Name of the Rose, many, while praising the creativity of the narrative, commented on the difficulty of the first 100 pages, which described life and practices in a medieval monastery. Editors, fearing readers would give up reading before the mystery actually began, also suggested Eco rework the dense opening. Eco refused. As he explained in his Postscript to The Name of the Rose, “if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.” In framing the sort of mindset necessary to get through this part of the novel as a journey, Eco alludes to the kind of perseverance he expects. I got thinking about these difficult 100 pages and the sort of perseverance required to get through them earlier this month when I was loaning some books to a friend for summer reading. I handed The Name of the Rose over and commented on how much the novel means to me. “But the first 100 pages are really hard—the author tried to weed out people who shouldn’t read his book.” After thinking about that for a moment, my friend handed the book back to me and said, “Maybe not.” I’ve seen the same responses for not attempting to read Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, even Stephen King. So what makes some people able to persevere through long and difficult material? Put another way:...

Who wants to live forever? Dec02

Who wants to live forever?...

Stories about eternal life on earth abound in sci-fi and fantasy; I think of the Dúnedain from The Lord of the Rings, That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, many a Star Trek episode, and the list could go on… The Highlander movie and TV series, however, is a favourite of mine. My family will attest to my random singing of “Who Wants to Live Forever”by Queen, or shouting out the catchphrase “there can be only one!” during battles with… well, anyone who will battle me. The theme of immortality is also a constant in Doctor Who, since the Doctor is essentially immortal. Though there were two recent episodes that dealt with immortality head on—”The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived.” In the first episode, a young Viking woman named Ashildr dies to save her village from aliens using a helmet that the Doctor modified. Feeling sad for her poor, grieving father, and perhaps guilty for his part in it, he decides to bring her back to life. He uses a modified microchip (he’s really into modifying alien tech in this episode) to bring her back and gives her a second one to use on someone else so that she will not be alone—because there’s a catch to this remedy—she will be immortal. The immortality that I am waiting for is one where I will become most perfectly myself. “The Woman Who Lived” picks up in Ashildr’s adulthood, several hundred years after her encounter with the Doctor. We find her so jaded, broken, and lonely from the solitude of her immortality (she never did use the second microchip) that she has been living a life of crime. She reveals that, since her memory is mortal-sized, the only way she could remember everything that has happened to her is by writing it out...

Small heroes Nov18

Small heroes

War stories are full of great men and women doing great deeds. They stand on the front lines and fight for what’s right and good. They are the heroes we expect to read about, the heroes whose lives we want to emulate. These are the Arthurs, the Aragorns, the Sarah Walkers, and the Harry Potters. But there are also those heroes who are not considered great. They don’t have power and they’re not skilled fighters. To the world, they are “nobodies.” And yet, they are just as important, if not more so, than those great heroes. They carry the strength of simple, pure love, compassion, and humility. They fight for what’s right and good, too, but they do it behind the scenes when no one is watching, and they do it without expecting glory or praise. These are characters like Samwise Gamgee, Chuck Bartowski, Riza Hawkeye, the Doctor’s companions, Merlin, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood.These are the heroes who stick with me because they tell me that I don’t have to be the most skilled, or the most brave. My favourite example is Sam; how could it not be? There’s a moment in The Return of the King where all seems lost and Sam is alone. Frodo has been stung by Shelob and carried off by Orcs, and Sam has taken the Ring so he can continue the quest. As he looks for Frodo, Sam is tempted by the Ring. It shows him visions of himself as Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age; all he has to do is claim the Ring as his own and he can overthrow Sauron or command the valley of Gorgoroth to become a garden of flowers and trees. Sam doesn’t give in. He thinks of his love...

Retreating into mercy Nov11

Retreating into mercy...

One of the main characteristics that makes the Doctor a unique sci-fi hero is his non-violence in the face of danger. Whereas Han Solo prefers a good blaster (and shoots first!) and Mal reckons a good ol’ punch in the face will resolve a problem better than yammering ever could, the Doctor uses intelligence and reasoning, luck and audacity (and sonic devices) to vanquish his often brutal enemies—the Daleks, Cybermen, and even the Master. Since the show’s original premiere on November 23, 1963 (a day after the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy shocked the world), there has been much made of the Doctor’s refusal to meet violence with violence like a more traditional “heroic” character. The two-part episode, “Human Nature/ The Family of Blood” from the third series of the reboot offers a deep reflection on the Doctor’s non-violence. Here the Doctor is merciful, while John Smith (the human he transforms into in order to hide from the Family of Blood, an alien race hunting his life essence), is not. As a human, John Smith is a “good man” but flawed, predictably returning violence for violence—like so many of us do. The Doctor knows he can win, but opts to lose himself in order to avoid destroying his “enemies.” At the beginning of the episode (written by Paul Cornell and based on his own Seventh Doctor novel, Human Nature), we find the Tenth Doctor living as a teacher in an early Edwardian British public school under his well-worn alias, John Smith. He has repressed his Time Lord identity into a fob watch, forgotten all but dreams of his adventures. He and his companion Martha are in hiding, on the run from the Family. It is not until the end of the episode, after the...

Dalek inaugurated as new supreme Pontiff Oct07

Dalek inaugurated as new supreme Pontiff...

In an unprecedented move this week, several German high ranking clergy have openly declared that they no longer consider themselves to be under the authority of Pope Francis, but instead have pledged their allegiance to a Dalek. This follows several months of progressively dissenting behaviour in which the aforementioned clergy were trying their level best to change Christ’s teachings on marriage and family, sexuality, and reception of the sacraments. In a statement released by the group, Cardinal Walter Kasper states that “Our new Pontiff is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful mutant who wants everybody to be happy.” The inauguration happened last Thursday in a low key ceremony in which it was reported there were “guitars.” The new pontiff, who has taken the name Daal XVI, has wasted no time in issuing his first papal document entitled “Exterminatus” in which he discusses wiping out all of humanity by utilizing their own sinful tendencies. The 38-word document also quotes never before heard scripture—the Gospel of Davros. When asked about the rather concise nature of the document, Cardinal Reinhard Marx explained: “We felt it was important to choose a Pontiff who had a very limited vocabulary. In this way it would be almost impossible for us to dissent from his teachings because we can pretty much interpret his one-word theological answers however we want.” However it is also being reported by several different sources that the new Pontiff has an extremely short temper and is liable to sudden outbursts. An eyewitness at the inauguration ceremony told us that “Everything was going smoothly with the opening procession until Pope Daal got to the sanctuary steps. No-one had remembered to put a ramp there for him to roll up and he just totally lost it. Everyone knows Daleks can’t climb stairs....

The devolved Doctor Sep23

The devolved Doctor

Sometimes change is good, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The Doctor has lost something fundamental to my definition of a hero. He changed. And I don’t like it. Mercy is the ninth and tenth Doctor’s frequent weapon of choice. Here is a hero who doesn’t fight for justice by brandishing a blaster, but who is full of forgiveness and looks for nonviolent solutions to the battles surrounding him (unless we’re talking about Daleks, but I consider them the exception to prove the rule). At the end of the rebooted Series One, the Daleks are back in numbers and threatening the Earth. The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) creates a signal that will wipe them out completely, but unfortunately, it will also destroys everything living, including the humans on Earth. The Doctor has his hand on the lever and is faced with the decision to end the lives of everyone he knows on Earth, though the Daleks are presumably going to destroy them anyway. At this moment when every viewer is holding their breaths to see what he will choose to do, the Dalek emperor taunts him. “I want to see you become like me,” he says. “Hail the Doctor, the great exterminator!” The Doctor weeps over his dying enemy. Now that’s a true hero. And as the Doctor’s fist tightens on the lever, the emperor asks him: “What are you, coward or killer?” The Doctor makes a move to push the lever down, but then steps back. “Coward, any day,” he replies. Cowardice. He chooses cowardice. He is the opposite of a Dalek. He is compassionate and merciful. He values life and abhors violence. He is the hero who warms the cockles of my heart. Fast forward to the newest Doctor (Peter Capaldi). There is a distinct contrast between these two doctors. With this latest Doctor we have a bitter and angry Time Lord, ready to destroy (as demonstrated by his willingness to kill Missy in the episode “Death in Heaven”). A Dalek tells him, “I see into your soul, Doctor. I see hatred. You are a good Dalek.” You are a good Dalek. Becoming what you hate is many a person’s fear, and for the Doctor, whose worst enemy is the Dalek, that fear must be tenfold. (Spoiler warning) The first episode of Series Nine, recently aired, ends with the Doctor holding a Dalek weapon that appears to be aimed at the child Davros. The Doctor is so afraid of what Davros will become, about what he will do, that he has returned to Davros’s childhood to destroy him (or that is the assumption). How ironic that the Doctor should wield the weapon of his enemy. Regardless of what the most merciful act truly is—destroying Davros or letting him survive to kill millions—the Doctor appears to be choosing violence as the solution to the problem. Where was compassion? Where was mercy? These values that the Doctor has come to epitomize are lost in the hatred of an evil being. I can’t help but bring back memories of Ten (David “Dreamy” Tennant), whose repeated phrase is “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” words said with genuine empathy. The major plot in Series Three comes to a climax when the Doctor defeats the Master with words. No weapons, just words. “You are a good Dalek.” “As if I would ask her to kill,” the Doctor says to the Master in reference to his companion, Martha, who has saved the day. Then the Doctor forgives the Master for all the evil he has done, and offers to take the Master with him on his travels. Unfortunately, the Master’s wife intervenes and shoots her husband; the Doctor is left with his enemy dying in his arms. And he cries. The Doctor weeps over his dying enemy. Now that’s a true hero. What makes mercy and nonviolence so much more powerful than cold justice?...