Tag Archives: sci fi

The New Time Lady: Observations on a Legacy

Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor

July 16th, 2017 proved a momentous day for Whovians the world over. Not only were we introduced to the thirteenth Doctor, but it was the day we learned that everyone’s favorite Time Lord had, indeed, become a Time Lady. However, amidst the shock and excitement, Jodie Whittaker’s reveal prompted the posting of countless comments and videos with content ranging from rude to outright sexist. This post is for those fans as well as any fans who find themselves concerned with what a female lead could do to the show.

It pays to remember that sci-fi has a long and proud history of challenging social norms in ways that, plainly, would not work in other genres. Be it with diversity in the casting of lead roles, (Uhura and Sulu, Star Trek) or broader commentary on society in general as explored in Orwell’s 1984. As one of the BBC’s longest-running shows Dr. Who is no different.

Although, even some hardcore Whovians may be surprised to learn that Sydney Newman, C.E. Webber, and others, dreamt up the BBC classic as a purely educational program. The Doctor would use his phone box time machine to travel through the past and teach young viewers about history. This idea got scrapped after the show aired in 1963 in favor of a science fiction adventure. However, Dr. Who has never abandoned its educational mission.

Classic Who, (1963-1989), is beloved by many for its campy nature. But, hidden beneath the comically simple props and delightfully over the top characters, are some rather weighty truths concerning human nature, equality and the importance of not taking oneself so seriously. It is within Classic Who that we also meet the show’s first Time Lady. Susan. The Doctor’s granddaughter. She traveled with him regularly from episode one (An Unearthly Child) until she was left in the 22nd century at the denouement of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964). Susan paved the way for many more Time Ladies within the original series and set a precedent for their roles in the reboot.

Susan Foreman: The Original Time Lady

The 2005 reboot introduced legions of would-be fans to the Whoverse turning the beloved British institution into a worldwide phenomenon. With this new audience came, better graphics, more laughably absurd villains, and a renewed willingness to confront the issues of today. Doctor’s nine through twelve carried on a long tradition of boldness, when they championed the sanctity of all life, regardless of race, creed or culture. Why? Because that is what doctors do, they educate, and they heal.

Anyone who chooses to regard Ms. Whittaker’s casting as little more than ‘bending the knee’ to feminism betrays their ignorance regarding the show. Setting aside the fact that The Doctor is a fictional character and that the transition to a female Doctor has been in the works since Tennant, I assert that Thirteen is a woman because she needs to be. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past several decades, or more recently 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you will have noticed the rising tide of people who refuse to remain marginalized. A show as beloved as Dr. Who has the responsibility to take a stand on the issues and let the world know: ‘We hear you; you are not alone.’ Don’t like that? Well, don’t let the T.A.R.D.I.S. door hit you on the way out.

To the fans who worry Thirteen will become a license for clique and misandry, I encourage you to be like the Doctor and choose hope. Give the new kids a chance. Adjusting to both a new lead and a new producer, (Chris Chibnall), is undoubtedly a tall order. However, if we can withstand the mistreated characters, convoluted plot lines, and abandoned story arcs hurled at us during Moffet’s reign of terror, we can survive anything.

Moreover, Chibnall and the BBC announced plans, back in November of 2016, to bring in all new writers. The goal is clear, a new show with a strong revival of the Tennant era format.[i] Season eleven is a fresh start, not abandonment. If you are someone who prefers more concrete evidence, take a stroll through the plethora of praise and well wishes offered to Chibnall and Whittaker by Dr. Who alums. Or better yet, rewatch reaction videos from reveal day. The sheer joy is contagious.

And while she will likely never see it, I would like to decorate the closing of this piece to Ms. Whittaker herself. Thank you for choosing to take up the mantle and guide the show into a new era. Whether you realize it or not, you are already fulfilling your role by offering us something we desperately need. Hope. Hope that our show can return to its roots; but most of all, hope that one day the adage ‘you can be anything you want to be’ will ring true for us all.

Allons-y!

Bethany Killian

[i] http://www.gallifreyannewsroom.com/?p=4723

Otaku Review: Knights of Sidonia

Knights of Sidonia

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A Netflix original, mostly 3d animated, manga adaption by the same name. The master mind and author behind this series is Tsutomu Nihei. Whom is well known for emotional scenes, striking vistas and insanely huge and complicated environments. His previous work Blame! Took place in a huge ever expanding mega structure. This time around it’s a science fiction epic that takes place in a generation ship. A asteroid made into a humongous spaceship that has been traveling for generations though unknown space. On the run from some very, very creepy and clearly organic beings. sid4These monstrosities looks like something out of a Lovecraftian nightmare and will shred you to pieces with razor sharp appendages. Meanwhile try very hard to fight them with rocket propelled mecha. Which uses lances among other things as weapon. There is a reason why it’s called Knights of Sidonia, Naturally the students also use them to joust during combat training. By now you should know that this series is in no way affiliated with the Knights of Cydonia song from the band Muse.  Interestingly enough this puts it somewhat on the hard side of the science fiction reality scale,  Though the Guano as the thing they is know as, is anything but real.

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The main protagonist Nagate Tanikaze is a fairly decent one and is just shy of being a spike haired loud mouth. Tough he has his moments. Since he is from outside the system he’s the odd one out and slowly but surely he gains the respect of his peers. However this is a seinen  series, which gives the characters a lot more emotional flexibility, which also make then infinity more expandable. I will not go into more details, as few people like spoilers. Almost everyone with a name can die and probably will die.  At least this holds true for the first half of the series. Nagate, is a bit of an oddity that emerged from the under belly of Sidonia in order to raid the rice storage. Naturally a chase scene ensues, he got heavily injured and eventually got conscripted. By the way, have I mentioned that anyone can die? I just had to be sure. For reasons unknown to me there is also a female baker bear in the series as well.

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Mi biggest complain would be that I feel that there is something seriously wrong with the framerate. The animations have a nasty habit of getting choppy. There are plotting and visual differences between the manga and anime, but it’s mostly faithful. There are also cases of naked breast in the comic. sid6

All in all a fairly enjoyable show, based on a very decently drawn and made manga. Though at times I wish that Knights of Sidonia was drawn instead. But you know what they say; taste is a butt, split in half and the middle is shit. One thing that also stands out is the overuse of the color white, as everyone seems to parade around in their uniform all the time. Keep in mind this is not a child friendly series, there are a lot of violence, blood and people dying in gruesome ways.

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Njål H Sand

Otaku Review: Vandread

My first encounter with anime, as I’ve come to know it, was Vandread. Everything prior to it was either Pokemon or Moomin. In the Vandread universe, men and women live on two different words, which are at war with each other. The beginning sequence follows a ceremony where a new flagship is to be launched and Hibiki has lost a wager and is trying to steal a Mecha. Just as a team of pirates strike, stuff blows up and the prototype ship fuses with the pirate ship. From there on a space adventure with a very unlikely and gender-segregated crew begins.

The show has 26 episodes divided into two seasons; a move that condenses the plot into 75 minutes and a manga. The main theme of the series is the different perspective between men and women who are learning how to live together after being raised on separate worlds…a true culture clash of epic proportions. This is all wrapped inside a deeper plot, complete with character development, tastefully ecchi content and beautifully drawn characters. We follow the shenanigans of the crew and the stubborn, cocky spiky-haired main character, as well as the ditzy alien-loving Dita, who keeps referring to Hibiki as Mr. Alien.

Indeed, this is bonafide scifi show after all, with 3D animated space fights, where he can “merge” his Mecha with the female fighter crafts. This results in some awesome combinations with some rather suggestive cockpit and crew placements! The supporting cast is nice and varied, though they borrow quite a lot form stereotypes. Luckily there is no violent tsundere as the main love interest. Too many shows includes a headstrong, sexually insecure girl whom beats up the boy for just looking at her, even when it’s an honest accident.

In an ocean of questionable animation quality, this is quite pleasant to look at and very decently animated. Due to 3D being used in space, it does not feel out of place at all, even though the 3D has not aged that well. However, it’s a very nice way to avoid the uncanny valley. Naturally there is a stupidly catchy theme song that will probably get stuck in your head. I can’t go too much into the plot details, since that would ruin the story. However the whole series is on YouTube, it seems. The dub there is not too bad; however it’s still a dub.

I enjoyed it, as I’m sure you will as well.

-Njål Sand-