The End of Time
In 1978 I remember reading an interview with (I assume) Richard Donner, director of Superman: The Movie, who pointed to the new superhero shows then popular on TV—things like The Six Million-Dollar Man—and said something like, “We can’t have Superman just picking up a car to save someone: Steve Austin does that every week.”
This was by way of justification for the film’s climax, in which Superman turns back time by spinning the Earth backwards on its axis—one of the most cringe-worthy pieces of anti-science cinema I’ve ever seen. The argument was that everything had to be bigger, better, and more spectacular than anything that had gone before. I think I preferred the end of Superman II, where the denouement was at a much more human level.
This interview dredged itself out of the depths of my memory last week when I watched the second part of “The End of Time,” the final Doctor Who episode for the tenth Doctor, David Tennant. Writer/producer Russell T Davies has a bad habit of wanting everything bigger and bolder than last time, and with the climax of season four involving whole planets teleporting across the galaxy (with bizarrely few negative consequences to the atmospheres or structures of the planets), I guess we all knew we were in for a challenge to our abilities to willingly suspend our disbelief.
The comments thread at Circulating Library live blog of the episode indicates the level of disapproval from even hard-core fans. I won’t rehearse the objections here, so go and have a look.
Such a pity for Tennant’s send-off, when he has been one of the most popular Doctors (I thought he was great, but Tom Baker will forever be my Doctor).
Anyway, we’ve got that young Matt Smith and scripts by Stephen Moffat to look forward to, so let’s hope the series regains a little sense.
Doctor Who Season Four Final
It’s fair to say that this is NOT a spoiler free zone, just in case you haven’t seen it as yet (it aired last night in Australia).
Hugo Award Winners 2008
Oops! Missed this from about a month ago. More information here
Really happy about “Blink”: my favourite (ever) Doctor Who episode.
- Best Novel: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)
- Best Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)
- Best Novelette: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press; F&SF Sept. 2007)
- Best Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)
- Best Related Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles Vess Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Paramount Pictures)
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink” Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)
- Best Editor, Long Form: David G. Hartwell
- Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
- Best Professional Artist: Stephan Martiniere
- Best Semiprozine: Locus
- Best Fanzine: File 770
- Best Fan Writer: John Scalzi
- Best Fan Artist: Brad Foster
The winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines and administered on their behalf by the World Science Fiction Society, is Mary Robinette Kowal.
Hugo Nominees 2007
The 2006 Hugo nominees have been released:
Eifelheim, Michael Flynn (Tor)
His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Glasshouse, Charles Stross (Ace)
Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge (Tor)
Blindsight, Peter Watts (Tor)
Other categories can be found here.
It is interesting to note that three Dr Who episodes have been nominated again, along with an ep of Battlestar Galactica and one from Stargate SG-1 (my god! Is that still running!). I might try to read more than one of the novel nominees this year…
Judging at Worldcon on 1st September.
Update: In the interests of balance, here are the Nebula novel nominees, which this year—unusually—share no overlap with the Hugos:
The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra
Seeker, by Jack McDevitt (Ace)
The Girl in the Glass, by Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley)
Farthing, by Jo Walton (Tor)
From the Files of the Time Rangers, by Richard Bowes (Golden Gryphon Press)
To Crush the Moon, by Wil McCarthy (Bantam Spectra)
Winners announced 11-13 May 2007 in New York.
- An entertaining discussion is brewing at Crooked Timber: Was Foucault a closet Habermasian?
- A gallery of British title-sequence design
- A collection of Doctor Who spoofs
- A news article from 2004, announcing the then-new Doctor Who logo
- K-9 and Company’s title sequence
Three guesses as to what I’ve been researching today.
Messianic themes in Dr Who
I’ve really been enjoying the new series of Dr Who (many thanks to Nick here).
One of the things that I’ve noticed different to the classic series is the seemingly messianic themes. Yes, the Doctor has always swanned in, saved the day, and taken off again, but in the new series he seems to be much more conscious of the power that he holds and the some of the implications of this.
Hoggart and Who
The interrelationship between Doctor Who and cultural studies grows more complex and tangly, with the news that Richard Hoggart, founder of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, is being played, in a dramatisation of the Lady Chatterly’s Lover obscenity trial, by a certain side-burned actor:
Dad is played by the wonderful David Tennant (Blackpool, Casanova) who has carefully prepared his appearance by watching old interviews, even studying newspaper pictures of the time and having a picture of Dad on his mobile phone. He’s extremely convincing – the suit, the hair, the Yorkshire accent, and trickiest of all, the speech rhythms. The only thing wrong is his sideburns. To do this film he had to take 24 hours off from making Doctor Who in Cardiff and, as he explained, the sideburns wouldn’t grow back in a day.
There, I thought, was a kind of fame – to have researchers and costume directors pore over every detail of your appearance, then be seen in the witness box wearing Doctor Who’s face furniture.
Doctor Who and Absurdism
OK, I know that Nick is supposed to the Doctor Who expert, but I couldn’t help noticing how different the writing and design were in the final seasons, compared to those when the show was at its peak…
Cybermen in the Eighties
Yes, I’ve missed a decade. And by “missed”, I mean “totally ignored”.
Doctor Who versus Christmas
One of the most striking things I’ve noticed about the triumphant return of Doctor Who to television has been how smoothly it has slipped back into the—sometimes rather twee—traditions of British popular culture.