Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Blogger Panel #2

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

It’s time for the second blogger panel, where I pose a science fiction related question to a selection of book bloggers! If you want to answer the question as well, let us know your response in the comment section below. 🙂 The question for this panel was:

If you had a time machine, where/when would you go, and why?

Anna @ There’s Always Room For One More

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Anna (@imyril) has been reading for nearly as long as she’s been walking, and arguably with greater success – or at least fewer bruises. She has a lot of very heavy books about archaeology and/or King Arthur on her shelves, most of which she has read, along with a glorious amount of more portable speculative fiction that she can read on the Tube. Favourite things beyond books include movies, cats, whisky and getting lost. Her musings can be found on her blog and on Twitter.

If I had a time machine…

As Rinn knew when she posed it, this is one of the most difficult questions you can pose an archaeologist. Even a recovered archaeologist (who am I kidding? You never recover). I studied archaeology because of all the things we don’t know, and I am fascinated by the gaps. The chance to examine one – just one – historical or mythical moment is a choice that makes my heart explode. My blood pressure has gone up just considering it.

But in some ways, it’s easy. I can get agitated and rattle off so many places and times (Justinian’s Constantinople; Troy VI; Crete after the eruption of Thera; Akhenaten’s Egypt), but I specialised in Dark Age economics (an academically acceptable option for an undergrad fascinated by Arthurian lore) so there can only ever really be one outcome. We know more than we ever have done about Anglo-Saxon ’invaders’ and the enduring links between post-Roman Britain and the Mediterranean, etched in broken amphorae and plague-carrying ship rats, but we still don’t know what to believe about Arthur.

If I set my time machine for Camelot, I have to assume it would draw a blank. The myth is just that – a beautifully illustrated body of stories concocted across Europe over centuries. But if there’s one thing the Doctor has taught me about having access to a time machine, it’s that you get to cheat a little. The transformation of post-Roman Europe is fascinating in its own right: I’d like to take a journey through the 5th through 8th centuries looking for the truth behind the myths and the realities of life in the ‘Dark Ages’. And maybe – just maybe – find a war leader who united the British and led them to victory against their enemies… even if it’s Vortigern, not Arthur.

There’s still a bit of me that’s shouting GO TO THE FUTURE. But at the moment, I’m not sure whether spoilers would really make me feel any better, so I’ll stick with my ancient past.

Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story

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Jorie is a book blogger and passionate reader at Jorie Loves A Story. She says that her blog was ‘inspired into creation due to a reader’s love and passion for the written word’.

She can be reached either through her blog or via Twitter (@JorieStory).

Such a curious question to be asked as this is something I have personally contemplated for such a long time – especially moreso now that I’ve become a book blogger and have regularly sought out stories which either travel through time or bend time within the narrative arc where the journey of the character has an equal foothold in both the present and the past; sometimes even within the future or an alternative variant of said future. Through my readings, I have garnished a healthy appetite of questioning my own opinion on the matter – would I travel through time if the opportunity presented itself? Or would I yield to understanding it’s best to live our lives forward rather than disappear back inside the past?

It’s a multi-layered question – as if you go by popular commentary found in fiction, television and motion pictures – you’ll find the discourse is not only actively commentated about but it’s a working thesis that has a variety of avenues to explore. One particular TV series comes to mind – it wasn’t inherently about ‘time travel’ but you knew going in something was ‘amiss’ on the time spectrum if the facts within the newspaper were meant to be found by one particular person who could impart his perception of those facts and events by making the best possible choice regarding what to do with the information. The series was called Early Edition and on a similar vein of Dr Beckett travelling through the quantum leap of time itself – both men strived to right wrongs and put people’s lives back on track. They did this from a genuine belief that they were given an ability to do good and it was their personal mission to fulfill that purpose.

When you approach it from a singular point-of-view, of personally travelling through time you have to re-consider the affect this is going to have on the continuum of time itself and how one individual person could effectively alter something that was originally non-existent in their timeline – either lived or unknown from their ancestral past as expertly explored in the new TV series Timeless, which embarks on exploring how individuals who are propelling themselves backwards through time’s arrow for a distinct purpose of stopping someone from aggressively altering history itself. Yet, as foreseen early into the series, each ‘step back’ leads to a ‘new tomorrow’ for their own timelines and histories – wells, technically in the beginning it only affected one character’s life, but evenso! It begged the question – are we meant to travel back or are we meant to continue to learn from the past without personally travelling there ourselves?

During Sci Fi Month 2014, I read A Stitch in Time by Amanda James wherein I revealed this:

A theory on time, the traveller who knits it back together, and the reality of time travel:

James reveals the basis of her running theory on the full dimension of being a time traveller and one who intends to not only travel along the meridians of time but on fusing time as a broken structure of record back together again; with a propensity of precision generally relegated to knitters or sewers. I, personally, loved what the time traveller’s mentor and guide is called inside the story (as a Time Needle sounds ever so posh) as ‘needling with time’ simply made a heap of sense to me! Time travellers by definition can either muck up an alignment of the continuum itself OR they can create positive contributions by causing a deviant of order as they re-distribute a level of calm within the chaos. I even liked how she parlayed her theory within the title of the novel itself, by using a Stitch in such a clever execution of a person’s job rather than rely solely on prior knowledge the reader may or may not have had as far as vetting information on the subject for themselves.

And, this is exactly my point. If a time traveller can effectively cause a positive outcome from their meddlings in time, then I think there is validity to time travel. However, it begs the question – how many who’d travel in time honestly consider the consequence of leaving a light footprint and not interfering when it’s unnecessary to do so? How many would have that kind of self-restraint?

Since 2014, I have also consumed the duology of Eruption and Reclamation by Adrienne Quintana, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack and an alternative timeline of history in Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom. In each of the stories, you are given valid arguments where time travel is a valid method of resolving something that has been left unresolved. Even in Doctor Who we are constantly reminded of the consequences of ‘spoilers’ a la River Song and of the key reasons why travelling in time is so very dangerous to one’s soul (i.e. the main reason the Doctor is older rather than younger is due to personal anguish for what he couldn’t change nor resolve the memories of those he had lost); yet where does that leave any of us to understand our own personal desire to re-visit the past?!

For me, I used to think having conversations with historical persons I had admired was the best way to chart a course into the past – my admirations for these women and gentlemen have never diminished, however, as I have started to journey into my own ancestral past as an Ancestry Sleuth inside my own family, I must lament there is a strong curiosity to re-visit my own ancestral roots through walking alongside my own ancestors at moments where they made key life decisions or lived moments of their ordinary hours where they were simply themselves caught up in the moment of living their lives.

To re-step through their footsteps – as I am only two or three generations away from the patriarchs of my family who immigrated to America, to see how they braved the ocean and conquered their fears to re-settle so far from their homes whilst uncertain of what they’d find once they were here is quite compelling. Even to go back to the late 1800s and walk through the hours with my great-grandmother of whom was my first best friend and watch as she took in the dawning of the 20th Century and how it shaped her thoughts and experiences from a Victorian upbringing would be incredible. To even go back further, to when the Fortune sailed from England to Plymouth and how my ancestors had to work off seven years of debt in order to stay in New England as the Fortune came without supplies would be incredible.

The only concern I still have – as a time traveller of stories and of an ancestral sleuth of memories – it is hard to turn-off the knowledge I have gained about how even one breath spent in the past can affect the future of tomorrow. Is it right to have the curiosity lead us into uncharted territories where our conjoined living histories could be altered like they are becoming in “Timeless” or is there a way to broker a foothold into the past without erasing the moments which already were lived yet give us a gain of entrance to observe? Perhaps the truer answer is meant to be left unknown. As how would any of us know exactly how we’d react if the choice was presented to us tomorrow? Would we lean on our foreknowledge or would we impulsively act on the hope of what we’d dare to find as seen in the film Midnight in Paris?

Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy

I think most people would probably choose a time from the past to visit, but me? I would most certainly want to visit the future. Even though things are looking pretty bleak on Earth, I think I’m enough of an optimist to envision a future filled with marvelous technology, alien visitors (the nice kind, of course) and a better quality of living for all. I’d like to think that scientists would have figured out the global warming problem and Earth would still be habitable in the next several hundred years or so.

I’m also very curious to see what my future ancestors (wait, is that a thing?) would be like, will my kids grow up to have kids of their own? And will they grow up to have kids? I’d love to visit my future relatives and see where everyone ends up. And wouldn’t it be cool to jump ahead in time and be able to see your present life as the past? What cool technology do we have today that will most certainly become obsolete in the future?

Plus, I really really want to visit some of the science fiction worlds I’ve read about in books, and who’s to say those worlds won’t become reality someday? Of course, I could jump ahead to the far future and wind up in a swirling mass of volcanic fire, but like I said, I’m an optimist…

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Tammy Sparks blogs at Books, Bones & Buffy, and tries to read and review as much speculative fiction as she possibly can, while working full time, raising two teens, and volunteering for her kids’ various school activities. You can also find her on Twitter: @tammy_sparks.

Claire @ Bitches With Books

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Claire blogs at Bitches with Books. She can be reached via her blog or Twitter (@BWithBooks).

Ok, so my magical time machine is even better than that, it can move back between worlds (fictional or real) and throughout time!

So on first instinct, I think I’d go to The Shire and visit Hobbiton or even Lothlórien at its founding, before the Ring of Power was made. It just seems like a peaceful time in the stories and I’m imagining such lush, beautiful nature and good food. I’d basically just hit up a bunch of pubs or sort of convince hobbits, men and elves that I’m an awesome guest and that we should all have a massive feast! Is it bad that all I want to do is eat a good meal like I was at Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party? On second instinct, I’m not sure that’s a terribly good idea because I imagine that my appearance and dress and loud manner would be quite shocking and unappealing for some?

My third instinct is to go to the world of magic (like in Harry Potter) and visit Hogwarts when it was first founded by the great four, to travel to my home country in the Caribbean and see the magic that happened there with the melting pot of cultures, to go throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa to see how magic was explored and transformed with culture and time. I think that would be the best, to see that kind of awesome magic!

Let me know your own response to the panel question in the comments below! 🙂

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Falling Out Of Love With The Doctor

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Back in 2013, I posted about my love for Doctor Who. Since then, the series has gone through many changes, most notably a new Doctor. The Doctor is now in his twelfth regeneration, ignoring the War Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.

And since this change, I’ve come to realise I’m really not enjoying the show as much as I used to.

Gone are the days when I would eagerly await Saturday evenings, a brand new episode full of adventure. For this series and the last, I’ve not watched a single episode as it aired. I’ve caught up online, sometimes weeks after airing.

The series just does not feel like Doctor Who any more. An over-arching plot has replaced the new monster every week element that it used to have. To me, the series has almost lost its sense of fun. The episodes don’t feel like adventures. The opening two-parter of the current series was one of the dullest episodes of the show that I have ever watched. And I am so, so bored of the Daleks. They are not scary, and they never will be. But they keep going back to them.

Me too Clara, me too.

Me too Clara, me too.

There are moments where Peter Capaldi feels like the Doctor: that childishness, his inquisitiveness, his social awkwardness. But ultimately, I don’t really like the Twelfth Doctor. He pities himself, and is halfway to giving up on everyone and everything. This is not me criticising Capaldi’s acting in any way, but the producers/writers etc and how they have chosen to represent the Doctor.

However, I absolutely love the Mistress – Michelle Gomez is just fabulous. She pretty much captured my heart as the crazy staff liaison Sue White in Green Wing, and it was clear she would do a fantastic job on Doctor Who. If we can’t have River Song, at least we’ve got Missy.

I’m not giving up on the series, not just yet. It has meant so much to me that I still want to cling to it, hoping that it returns to the good ol’ Doctor Who I remember and love.

Do you watch Doctor Who? Are you enjoying the current series as much as the past ones?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Time Travel

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

As an archaeologist, time travel is an exciting thought. Being able to go back in time and see if your theories are right? Being able to experience those past cultures and civilisations that you’ve studied and obsessed over for years? Yes please. This is one of the main reasons why I love science fiction that features time travel. However, the thought of heading to the future is just as thrilling. I’m always eyeing up the technology on screen in sci-fi films and shows – how cool would it be to get a chance to use some of it?

But the thought of travelling through time is also terrifying.

What if you get stuck in the past or future, unable to return to your own time? What if you change something in the past, however unknowingly or however small, and it has huge consequences on the future? Or even if they are not consequences that affect you, they could drastically alter the life of someone else. What if the people of the past or future see you as a threat or an enemy?

To enjoy time travel in science fiction, you often have to forget about these questions, and just accept it as it is presented. It is such a fantastic element, and I’ve read so many wonderful books featuring time travel:

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Of course that’s not all of them – it would take forever to list them all! Those are just recent reads or particular favourites. And there are several titles involving time travel that I really want to get my hands on:

Loop The Time Machine 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Of course, I don’t just love time travel in my books.

One of my favourite television shows, Doctor Who, is based around the concept of time travel. I discussed my love for the show in the first Sci-Fi Month, and also wrote a short guide to the series for new fans. However my interest has waned a little with the Twelfth Doctor, and that’s something I’ll be discussing this month.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won't be taking your reading advice.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won’t be taking your reading advice.

And not forgetting films!

One of my most recent favourites that used time travel was Looper. It was clever in that it didn’t feel too high tech for most of the film, with the majority of it set in an isolated farm house surrounded by cornfields. Now I feel like that is something I should rewatch this month…

I’m having slightly more trouble thinking up video games that feature time travel though. Most science fiction video games that I’ve played involve space travel, rather than time travel. Can anyone help me out here?

If time travel was possible, there’s a chance that my career would become irrelevant. What would be the point in researching history and archaeology, digging up evidence or hunting through ancient documents if you could just travel back to a certain period in time and see what actually happened? So maybe it’s for the best that time travel is fiction. 😉

Do you enjoy science fiction with the element of time travel? What are some of your favourite titles?

Misc.

Netgalley Science Fiction Readathon

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In preparation for Sci-Fi Month 2015, I thought I’d set myself a bit of a challenge: to read as many of my science fiction Netgalley ARCs as possible for the event. This has two purposes: it provides me with content for the event, AND it helps me raise my Netgalley ratio even higher! If you want to join in with this readathon in preparation for Sci-Fi Month, you are more than welcome.

I’m posting about this because I need help deciding which books to start with! I don’t think I’ll manage them all before November, so let me know if you recommend any of these. I will definitely be reading Red Rising, as it’s part of my book group’s monthly pick for September.

Here’s what’s on my list:

The Water Knife The Mechanical The Buried Life Avalon Rising The Body Electric Red Rising Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel The Fearless The Forever Watch by David Ramirez Black Moon The Waking Engine by David Edison The Almost Girl The Six Gun Tarot Viral Nation

As you can see, I have a lot to choose from. So I turn to you, my readers: have you read any of these? Are there any you would recommend?

Review

Review: Doctor Who – Engines of War by George Mann

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I may not have been a Doctor Who fan as long as some, entering the fandom sometime in 2010, but I feel I’ve attempted to make up for lost time in many ways – one of them being to read as many Doctor Who books as I can get my hand on. So far, none of them have quite hit the heights of the television show, none of them have shown the Doctor in quite the right way.

But that’s the good thing about this book – it features a Doctor we barely know, the ‘War Doctor’ who was first introduced in the show’s 50th anniversary special. This Doctor is nothing like the others, and this is the point in his life where he earned the nickname ‘Predator’ from the Daleks. This means that George Mann had an opportunity to create his ‘own’ Doctor, in a way, or at least not have to rely on the mannerisms and characteristics of the Doctors we know from the screen. The War Doctor is how he sounds – more ruthless, perhaps a little cold, but every bit as determined to save people.

And because this is the War Doctor, Gallifrey still exists, as do the Time Lords. It was wonderful being able to glimpse their society, and also shocking to see that the majority are not as compassionate towards the human race as the Doctor. This definitely felt like a more adult book, compared to other Doctor Who novels I have read, but then again Doctor Who has always had a reputation for being unexpectedly scary in places!

This was a fun adventure that allowed me a glimpse into the Doctor’s past, and fleshed out a version of the beloved Time Lord that we have only briefly seen. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until the next series, this could be it.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: April 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells Drawn by Cecilia Gray Those Above Doctor Who: Engines of War Crocodile on the Sandbank

 

Last month I read a total of six books: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer, Drawn by Cecilia Gray, Those Above by Daniel Polansky, Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann and Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.

I may have read more than last month somehow, but it was a month of ‘eh’ books. These all received two or three stars. The most fun was probably Crocodile on the Sandbank, purely for its portrayal of a Victorian female archaeologist, with ladies fainting left right and centre.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge and managed to defeat Kang the Conqueror! Gorilla Grodd is the villain for May, and he looks to be a tough one.
  • I have currently read twenty five books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
How was April for you?

Review

Review: Doctor Who – The Shakespeare Notebooks by Justin Richards

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2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. It has such promise – after all, any Doctor Who fan knows that the Doctor has met many a historical figure on his travels. In fact, those are often my favourite episodes of the show – not the ones where he travels to the future, but where he goes back in time and we get to see recognisable figures from history.

I do believe, however, that this book will be a much more enjoyable read in hardback or paperback format. I read the eARC, which I highly doubt did it justice. Judging by the illustrations, which of course were in black and white for me, the book is very nicely presented. What I did like was how it didn’t just focus on the ‘new’ Doctor, but all of his other faces, and brought in companions old and new as well. Those who remember the times of Jamie and Zoe, as well as newer fans of Amy and Rory, will be happy.

Unfortunately, I think this book suffers from having a rather niche audience. Sure, it will appeal to Doctor Who fans, but ironically the Shakespeare element of it won’t work for all. Ultimately to me, it felt a little like an attempt to cash in on the ever-popular ‘crossover’ book, mixing characters from different fandoms (if you can refer to Shakespeare as such!).

As much as I love Doctor Who, and as much as I like to read anything about it that I can get my hands on, this sadly did not work for me. It feels more like the sort of book an ultimate fan would buy to complete their collection – it’s not one I can see myself reading again, unlike the adventure story series about the Doctor.