Planning

I have been away for a long time. Well, at least where internet time is concerned. I have been incredibly busy. Between my technical editing class and the freelance editing work I have been doing, there has been very little brainpower left for writing. I’m also suspecting I’ve reached a type of Doctor Who burnout. This strikes me as odd since I was able to chug along pretty well for nearly two years. But it is also not lost on me that every time I have attempted to do a classic series watch through, I have burned out. The first time, it was on the First Doctor; the second time, the Second Doctor. This is the third attempt, so it seems fitting that I’m dragging on the Third Doctor. I’ve finished “Carnival of Monsters,” which took nearly two weeks, and have only watched two episodes of “The Frontier in Space”—over a week and a half ago. With both stories, I felt they were interesting, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I’m moderately concerned about this.

I’ve been blogging about Doctor Who for a long time. For the most part, I have enjoyed it. And while Patrick Troughton is still my favorite Doctor, I think the Hartnell Era has become my favorite era. No other era seems to have matched that one for sheer imagination and creativity. Everyone was making it up as they went along, and no one was constrained by the weight of making Doctor Who. There wasn’t a proper way to do it (make Doctor Who or even television). They just did what they felt was best at the time and got on with it. Sometimes it worked magnificently; sometimes it failed miserably. And I think that is what I’m missing. I miss the wonder and magic of the Hartnell Era.

Okay, so what else have I been doing besides editing? I’m also in a class where I am learning how to use Adobe Dreamweaver, and I hope to develop a new web site from that. I haven’t decided yet whether or not to combine the content of this site with the new site.

And I have also gotten in to table top role playing games. I ran my first two sessions last week (at a total of nine hours for both sessions). It was fun and I learned quite a bit. There is something fascinating about RPGs. I love the concept of interactive storytelling. I may be writing more about this topic in the future. In fact, I’m trying to determine where I want to take this blog next year. I have some ideas, but it is too soon to mention them.

Thank you to everyone who has subscribed and wandered by to see if I’m still around. I appreciate it. Hopefully I will have more to update soon.

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Blast! Fundraising Appeal

Blast logoMy in-laws run a wilderness camp called Discovery Ministries. It is a ministry that helps people overcome personal challenges and conflict. Being a ministry, it obviously focuses on placing trust in God while pushing people out of their comfort zones. They lead challenge trips, which involve hiking in the wilderness for day to a couple of weeks; facilitate group discussions and interpersonal conflict sessions; and offer retreat and camping facilities. At the core of their philosophy is the use of experiential education to bring about personal growth—mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I value their work. The United States is a country that has begun to lose its connection to the natural world. We are lost without our televisions or smartphones. We have difficulty relating with one another despite greater technological connectivity. And I feel that the church in the United States desperately needs growth—mentally, physically, and spiritually. I worked in a Christian book store and encountered many people who couldn’t deal with conflict. Many of the Christians I have encountered are passive aggressive—we kill with insincere kindness. We have also made our faith into one of head knowledge, often bypassing the heart (except when singing worship songs or reading Christian literature or feeling good about how much God loves us), especially when it comes to relating to people who do not share our beliefs. We like to box ourselves in a safe Christian bubble that constantly reaffirms our beliefs and (more importantly) our feelings. We have often ignored the practical aspects of Christ’s teaching: forgiving others, loving others, caring for others, and having mercy on others. We tend to proclaim what we think is best for the world, always within the safety our Christian bubble.

This is why I value the work of Discovery Ministries: they encourage Christians (and those who are not Christians) to deal with the difficulties of life by taking them out of their comfort zone. They provide an environment that fosters encouragement, growth, challenge, and forces people to actually relate to one another.

Next month I will be participating in a 24 hour hike-a-thon for Discovery Ministries. They rely on donations to pay salaries and maintain the facilities around the camp. They recently built a new office area. It is usable, but they do not have the money to finish it.

I’ve set up a fundraising page on Indiegogo. I’m hoping to raise $500 for the ministry. My hiking goal is 20 miles. I have a few incentives that I am offering, specifically writings that I have done. I would appreciate it if you check out the campaign and consider donating as much as you feel you can.

Thanks.

The Three Doctors (Doctor Who)

A photo of the three actors who have played The Doctor
Image copyright by BBC.

Seeing as how it took me a month or so to watch this story, I’ll go ahead and review it by itself. Besides, it was an anniversary special, so it was rather important.

The Three Doctors

Who Wrote It: Bob Baker and Dave Martin

What’s It About: Mysterious antimatter creatures appear on Earth and start abducting whatever they touch. The Time Lords realize this is connected to a power drain in their own systems. Left with no other Time Lord to solve the mystery, they call on The Doctor—ALL of them!

The Three Doctors is a great story for two reasons. First, it involves all three of the actors who had played The Doctor up to this point, and second, the TARDIS is finally repaired and The Doctor has his memory of time/space travel restored. The Doctor finishes this episode a free man. He is no longer imprisoned on Earth.

It was wonderful to see Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell again. Sadly, the latter was in ill health, so his involvement was somewhat minimal. Troughton, however, was on top of his game. Watching this story made me realize how much I missed both actors. It also reminded me why I enjoy the character that the Seventh Doctor (skipping ahead a bit) became: a wise and manipulative figure who often disguised himself as a fool. The moments where the Second Doctor began prattling on about his recorder just to test the limits of Omega’s emotional control were classic misdirection. I was reminded of Tomb of the Cybermen, when The Doctor followed Klieg along the control panel and covertly fixed his miscalculations.

This is also the heaviest Time Lord mythology episode so far. We learn that the power used by the Time Lords is from a black hole, and this black hole was created at the expense of Omega’s life (Omega being one of the great Time Lords of the past). The mythology is being filled in, and the Time Lords are becoming less mysterious. They are becoming beings that can be quantified and known, which can serve to strip away their mysterious and godlike qualities. Of course, we have yet to see the story in which Robert Holmes deals the final deathblow to the enigmatic Time Lords.

By the end of the story, we learn that Omega doesn’t quite exist any longer. For centuries he was kept alive by sheer will, and it was this will that allowed him to survive in a universe of antimatter. His will kept him sustained as he ached for revenge against the Time Lords. By the time the Doctors met him, Omega’s physical body had been so destroyed by the technology he developed to bridge the matter and antimatter universes that his will was all that remained. This actually reminded me of C.S. Lewis’s book The Great Divorce. This book takes on the concept of the afterlife and posits that the actions and attitudes we take in life make us into who we are. The Christian concept of sin, therefore, becomes the impulses we give in to which change us, making us less human and more impulse. If we allow our anger to rule us, we eventually become anger. If we allow our addictions to rule us, we become that addiction. In the case of The Three Doctors, Omega ceased being a physical creature and became a disembodied spirit of the will for revenge.

With the end of this story comes the end of The Doctor’s exile. Jon Pertwee’s tenth season has begun, and I’m excited to see where we go from here.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Doctor Who Overload?

Maybe you could say I’m not a true fan, but I find that when I read a Doctor Who novel, I go into a type of Doctor Who overload.

Yesterday I reviewed Michael Moorcock’s under-appreciated The Coming of the Terraphiles. From the moment I started the book until the moment I posted the review, I had an incredible amount of difficulty keeping up with my jaunt through the classic series. I think I only watched three episodes during the time. It has nothing to do with the quality of either the show or the novel. My mind just cannot handle too much immersion in a single arena.

This means two things:

  1. Now that I am finished with Terraphiles, I will resume watching the show.
  2. When I vanish from the blog for an extended period of time, it probably means I’m reading a Doctor Who novel.

Anyway, I should be getting back to watching the classic series. I would really like to finish the Pertwee era before the end of the semester.

And again, if you have a few dollars to spare, please consider supporting my friend’s Kickstarter for his Noir City comic. It has been an eight year long dream for him. You can be a part of making that dream come true.

The Coming of the Terraphiles: Or, Pirates of the Second Aether!! (Doctor Who)

Book Cover for The Coming of the Terraphiles
First edition hardcover picture. (Source: Wikipedia. Copyright 2011 by BBC.)

Written by Michael Moorcock

Where I Got It: The Library

Blurb: There are dark tides running through the universe—so strong they swallow light and threaten Captain Cornelius’s familiar existence; if unchecked they will absorb the whole of Creation. But for now he tacks into the solar winds, continuing his long search for someone to guarantee his life, his ship’s life and the life of the universe he loves. He sails in from the Rim, still searching.

Searching for the only being he acknowledges as his peer, who might join him or at least help him; who is known simply as ‘the Doctor’.

First Line: “Whoever named the planet Venice named her well.”

This book is a big deal. At least, it seems so to me. Michael Moorcock is arguably the most well-known writer to tackle a Doctor Who novel. Given that TV and movie tie-ins are generally looked down upon in the literary world, it is quite an honor that someone as established as Moorcock would deign to play in a universe that is not his own creation. And to a degree, he doesn’t. This is probably a Michael Moorcock book rather than a Doctor Who book. Why shouldn’t it be? Moorcock didn’t need to write this book to advance his career. Getting him was a boon. You don’t pursue a major artist then tell the artist that his work isn’t good enough—unless you are in television, of course.

This is the conflict that seems to lie at the heart of this book: Is it Doctor Who enough? I’ve read criticism that says The Doctor is hardly in the book and Moorcock’s creations get more page time. That’s not entirely accurate. I found that The Doctor was in most chapters. In fact, to anyone who read the Virgin books or the EDA/PDAs, The Doctor and Amy get as much page time as The Doctor and his companions got in those books. Moorcock is attempting to fully flesh-out his characters and ideas. The Doctor and Amy are involved, but in a more long-term sort of way. This isn’t an adventure like we see on the tele with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The Doctor and Amy don’t just show up, have some scares, run around a bit, and leave after setting things right. No, in Coming of the Terraphiles, they join a sports team in a competition to win The Arrow of Law. There is a lot of downtime, a lot of character moments, a lot of intrigue, and a lot of philosophizing about Order versus Chaos (a Moorcock staple). In this way, Coming of the Terraphiles almost has more in common with stories like Marco Polo or Reign of Terror in that the story takes place over a great deal of time and we are able to be fully immersed in the adventure. The Doctor and Amy become a part of events as they unfold rather than showing up and forcing them to conform to The Doctor’s ideal. In many ways, I’d say that this is a story that was written to be a novel and work at a novel’s pace rather than be a television story told in a novel. Basically, the story fits the medium.

With the characters, however, we have a bit of a problem. The Doctor and Amy did not ring true to how they are portrayed in the show. Amy was nowhere near as snarky and bullheaded as she often is in the show. The Doctor was more subdued and not as eccentric. I spent most of the novel trying to put my finger on which Doctor I was actually reading. It wasn’t the Eleventh, but the dialog did seem Doctorish. With the dialog, I tried to hear each actor who has played The Doctor to see which vocal inflections fit. In the end, I could hear the Fifth (Davison), the Sixth (Baker II), a subdued Second (Troughton), and possibly Eighth (McGann). (These are in the order I feel fits best for this portrayal.) I was never entirely sure what to make of Amy. I eventually imagined that this was a Fifth Doctor story that took place when the Doctor was travelling with a previously unknown companion named Amy. Suddenly, it fit. We could say that this is an alternate version of the Eleventh Doctor, but the novel precludes that option by implying that the Doctor only exists in one universe.

With regard to other characters, if you are a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, you will immediately recognize the tone and agendas: bumbling aristocracy, domineering matriarchs, and endless nuptial machinations.

In the end, I love this story because it upholds what I feel is the greatest element of Doctor Who: imagination. This story is big on ideas and creativity, with centaur spaceship captains, an iron-masked pirate sailing a spaceship designed to look like a ship from the height of the British Empire, anti-matter agents of Chaos attempting to alter the balance between Chaos and Order in favor of Chaos, and places in the Second Aether that are named after condiments. The novel is lighthearted, fun, and immensely imaginative. These elements cover all its faults.

Final Verdict: While this novel may have missed the mark if you are looking for a straight portrayal of the Moffat/Smith era, it still rings true as both a Doctor Who book and a Michael Moorcock book. However, those who are strictly fans of the new series may not be entirely satisfied.

Noir City

The Jacket, a character from the forthcoming comic Noir City.
An illustration of The Jacket, one of the characters in Noir City. The Art is by Allen Byrns. (Source: The Noir City website. Copyright 2012 by Noir City.)

I have been reading comics off and on since high school. Currently, most of my “fun money” (the term my wife and I give to our personal entertainment budget) goes to the DC Comics titles Batman, Batman Inc., Action Comics, and Dial H. As you can tell, I’m a fan of Batman, but there is no end to the titles I would love to read beyond these four. And what I would really love to do is support more independent titles. Well, one of my friends has given me the chance, and I want to pass the info along to any of the readers of Edwardian Adventurer who also read comics.

Noir City is a comic written by Cody Walker and R.G. Valerius with art by Allen Byrns. As you would expect from a comic with “noir” in the title, the eponymous city is a dark place. Crime is high, morale is low. There are promises of superheroes and pagan gods, and the murder of a superhero from a previous age. The resolution of this murder will determine the fate of the city.

Noir City is being funded through Kickstarter. If you are unfamiliar with this site, it basically serves as a fundraising site for creative projects (comics, movies, music, technology, etc.). You can chose to donate however much you wish. Funding of Noir City starts at $1 and goes as high as you feel you can commit to. If the project doesn’t reach its minimum reserve, you pay nothing. One of the fun things about Kickstarter are the incentives. Each fundraising campaign has tiers of support; each tier has unique incentives. In the case of Noir City, you can get original artwork, exclusive members-only content, ad space for your business or website, or even a customized RPG session run through Skype.

I encourage you to visit the Noir City site. Check out the art and read about the story. If you feel inclined, pledge some money. I’m excited for Cody (who I have known for a few years) and I want to see this project succeed. Plus, it helps support independent artists and illustrates how new media is changing the paradigm of entertainment.

The Noir City Kickstarter campaign can be found here.

The official Noir City website can be found here

RPGs

RPG books.I could blame our internet provider; I could blame the cold I’ve been fighting. But the real reason I have been lax in posting for the last couple of weeks is that I’ve become obsessed with gaming. I don’t mean video games, per se, but tabletop role playing games. I’ve always been intrigued by role playing games but usually from a distance. I love console and computer RPGs, however. The table-top versions seemed interesting but required things like preparation, forethought, and social skills. It is much easier to sit at my laptop and play Baldur’s Gate or Final Fantasy.

I think Role Playing Public Radio finally did me in. It is a NSFW podcast that deals with the ins and outs of gaming and they even provide downloads of actual play recordings. And that’s what ultimately addicted me. I became fascinated by the interactive narrative potential of RPGs. I’ve mentioned before my interest in how technology is causing storytelling to change. I’m starting to suspect that I have a lot to learn—as a storyteller—from RPGs. To that end, I have picked up rule books for both The Star Wars Role Playing Game (Second Edition) and The World of Darkness. I am writing a game scenario using some research I have done for a novel I’ve been writing. It has been time consuming, but it is a lot of fun. I’m hoping to get a few people to play the game once I get things written. I’d even like to write up some Doctor Who scenarios.

Any gamers out there? What are your favorite systems and titles?