Reviewing Classic Who: Lighthouse Edition
Horror of Fang Rock. The Doctor and Leela get trapped on a rocky island lighthouse in the midst of an unnatural fog, where an electric blobby jellyfish monster is slowly killing people using murdervision. In addition to the lighthouse operators, the crew of some sketchy millionaire (who is racing to London to use some illegally acquired information to make himself even more millionaireish) have washed up on the rocks here, and have their own little personal dramas going on.
Nothing says “I’m having fun” quite like a good “we’re trapped on an island being murdered by an unknown foe who happens to look exactly like our murdered lighthouse keeper” story, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It has some truly excellent moments from the Doctor (who, after he tells everyone to shut up while he’s thinking, demands to know why they let him just stand there wasting time when he could have been taking care of some urgent business) and Leela (“You will do as the Doctor instructs, or I will cut out your heart!” to which the Doctor replies with a shrug and something like “You heard what she said”). Unfortunately, the big reveal in the end is pretty anticlimactic. Everyone dies, though, which I appreciate every now and again, then the Doctor and Leela wander off—but not before a big explosion changes Leela’s eye color, so she doesn’t have to wear brown contact lenses anymore. Progress! B+
1:26 am • 4 March 2014 • 1 note
The Myth of the Lonely Artist
I recently (in a not-naming-any-names context because this is hardly an isolated or unique incident so this isn’t a response to him in particular) encountered someone who seemed personally offended that a writer was asking for help with a certain word on Twitter, because his vision of a writer is someone locked away in a solitary room working at a typewriter, alone and unaided. This isolation is no doubt part of the romance and the mystique of books: “Isn’t it your art?” he asks. “Why would you ask someone for help?”
I’m putting this as gently as I can when I say: fuck that.
We need to get over our idea that artists are the sole proprietors of their art, that there is something somehow desirable or noble about working in isolation and carving something together without a word of outside help, because that is, frankly, bullshit. It’s bullshit for all the reason John Green says it is in his acceptance speech for the Indie Champion award and it’s bullshit because originality isn’t the same thing as innovation.
The process of making art is informed by everything the artist has ever read or heard or seen or experienced, and there is no such thing as an artist who would not benefit from the advice or input of others. And there is no such thing as an artist who actually, genuinely creates alone, free from any form of external influence. All art is collaborative.
This is why I license everything I write Creative Commons: because doing anything else feels like saying “No, I have taken literature as far as it goes. You may take it no further.” Every single word that I know, I learned from somewhere else, and all of my literary sensibilities have been built on the backs of thousands of years of literature. Writing is not some crazed genius typing frantically in isolation. It’s a conversation that has been happening since mankind started telling stories.
7:10 pm • 26 February 2014 • 3 notes
I’ve written another new story! It’s called “Of Shipwrecks and Sunken Things,” and it’s here. I also think I forgot to link to one I wrote a few weeks ago called “Song of the Stars,” which is here. Hopefully you enjoy them.
8:04 pm • 16 February 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: I’m Sure It Was A Good Idea At The Time
The Talons of Weng-Chiang. With a title like that in an eighties television program you just know you’re in for some racist Chinese stereotypes, and this story does not fail to deliver. A Chinese stage magician in Victorian England (played by an Englishman in yellowface, natch) has been granted magic hypnotic powers by a mad scientist time traveler from the 51st century, who apparently needs to devour the life essences of pretty young Victorian girls in order to stop himself from dying. Actually, it looks like he fueled all of his science projects with the life essences of pretty young Victorian girls, which, apart from the obvious moral considerations, seems like it’s not exactly a convenient resource.
The mad scientist is pretending to be a Chinese god, and has an army of Chinese criminals running around doing murders and kidnappings for him, led by a freaky homunculus who pretends to be a ventriloquist’s dummy in the stage show. He is apparently trying to find his time machine, which was stolen or something. Despite the fact that his time machine is what turned him into a dying mutant who wears a mask all the time to hide how ugly he is, he is quite convinced it will save him in the end! And the Doctor tries to convince him of that, but mad scientists are notoriously hard to convince that their experiments are not the best thing that’s ever happened. In the end he ends up getting destroyed by his own creation, because of course he does. B-
4:03 pm • 9 February 2014 • 3 notes
Reviewing Classic Who: Robot Uprising!
The Robots of Death. The Doctor and Leela land on a sand-mining vessel in the far future, populated with a bunch of amoral treasure-seekers (because apparently sand mining is quite lucrative) whose society depends upon robot servants in order to survive. If you immediately read that sentence in conjunction with the title and thought “I bet the robots go on a murder spree,” congratulations! You nailed it! It turns out one of the miners is actually a mad scientist who knows how to violate the robots’ prime directive or first principle or whatever this ‘We Totally Aren’t Stealing This Robotic Law From Isaac Asimov’ is called, and he wants there to be a robot uprising. (Why does he want this? He’s a mad scientist! Reasons are for lesser folk.)
Anyway, with the help of a robot investigator whose job is to look into these evil things, the Doctor figures out that the robots rely on voiceprints to accept commands from their new mad scientist overlord, so he lures their boss into a trap, has Leela hide in the closet with a container of helium, and tells her to unleash the helium on the room in order to make the voice prints stop working. And just like that, the robots come in, and squeaky-voiced mad scientist can’t issue orders anymore so he gets murdered by his own creations, as mad scientists are wont to do. Then Leela is like “how come your voice didn’t get squeaky?” and the Doctor is like “I’m a Time Lord!” B+
2:11 am • 29 January 2014 • 2 notes
New Story Redux
I’ve posted another new story. It’s available here, and it is called “Only Stories.” Incidentally, I tag all of these with the "stuff i wrote" tag, so you can keep up with them there if you’re into that sort of thing.
2:36 am • 19 January 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: The Doctor As Multiple Evil Gods
Back to the Classic Who grind!
The Face of Evil. The Doctor lands on a planet populated by a tribe of savages called the Sevateem, who are actually the descendents of a Survey Team that crash landed here forever ago. They worship a god called Xoanon, and their mortal enemies, the Tesh (descendants of the survey team’s technicians) worship the Evil One, who happens to look exactly like the Doctor. The Doctor befriends Leela, who was recently exiled from the Sevateem, and convinces her he’s not the Evil One, and eventually figures out that Xoanon and the Evil One are both the same person. Apparently forever ago the Doctor helped an expedition repair its computer by hooking it up to his brain. But he forgot to erase his personality from it, or something, so it thought that it was actually the Doctor, then went insane and created a world pitting the Tesh and the Sevateem against one another in an endless conflict, because what else are you going to do when you’re an insane computer that thinks you’re the Doctor? In the end the Doctor tries to slip away unnoticed, but Leela forces her way aboard the TARDIS. B-
10:38 pm • 14 January 2014 • 2 notes
Even More Even More Stories
Because I’m a big fan of working at an unsustainable pace, I finished another story! That’s in addition to the one I just linked to earlier (which is here). This one is shorter, and it’s here. It’s called “Ghostburne.”
3:06 am • 8 January 2014 • 2 notes
Even More Stories
I wrote another story! Probably I’ll eventually anthologize these or something, but for now, you can read the new one here.
6:43 pm • 7 January 2014 • 1 note