Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: A Guide to Doctor Who

 

A lot of the Sci-Fi Month participants are big fans of Doctor Who. But what about those of you that aren’t? As today is the fiftieth anniversary of the show I’ve put together a guide to the show (as best as I can…) for people who don’t know much about it and would like to know more, or any new fans!  Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

 

What is Doctor Who? It’s a British TV series that started in 1963, about a Timelord known as ‘the Doctor’ who travels through space and time in his TARDIS. Aided by a variety of trusty companions, he saves people, civilisations, worlds – even the universe.

Or, if you’d like the more long-winded Wikipedia synopsis:

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

Timelord? TARDIS?? Timelords are time-travelling humanoid aliens from the planet Gallifrey. They are able to see all of time, as it was, as it is and as it will be – hence their name. They prevent time from being altered or re-written. Timelords also have two hearts and are capable of regenerating, meaning they change their appearance and essentially are reborn, instead of dying (each different appearance is known as a ‘regeneration’). A Timelord can be killed though, if they use up all their regenerations or are killed whilst regenerating. The number of maximum regenerations was stated as thirteen, but the shows producers and writers have recently hinted that more regenerations are available.

And as for the TARDIS… well you must have seen this at least once before:

Vrrrrroom… vrrrrrooom!

The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the preferred method of transport for a Timelord. It is a spaceship, and the Doctor’s takes the appearance of a police telephone box. Doesn’t look very roomy does it? Well… it’s bigger on the inside.

 
The TARDIS interior often changes with each regeneration, and this particular TARDIS interior belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. We’re often told (but don’t get to see) about the various rooms in the TARDIS, including a swimming pool and a library (or occasionally a swimming pool in the library).
 
Regenerations? Do explain… Time for a handy infographic!
 

 
These are the many faces of the Doctor. He has currently changed his face eleven times, and as Matt Smith is leaving this year, will regenerate for a twelfth time soon. Each regeneration is like a different person, with his own personality and traits. For example, Eleven is rather childish, and has an obsession with bow ties. In comparison, Nine was much more serious (and Northern). Four was unpredictable, with a quirky sense of humour but could also be rather somber. However the Doctor retains all memories from previous regenerations.
 
You mentioned the Doctor has ‘companions’? Yep, throughout the show the Doctor has always had at least one other person travelling with him (apart from the occasional special episode). It would take a long time to talk about all the previous companions, so I’m going to introduce you to the companions from New Who (the rebooted version of the show from 2005). You can read about the others here though (may contain spoilers). 
 



What about all the evil that the Doctor fights? The Doctor never really fights, a lot of his battles involve outwitting the enemy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the villains of Doctor Who, as part of the fun is seeing what they can actually do, so instead I’ve put together a collage of various monsters and villains! If you want to read more about the creatures that the Doctor and his companions encounter, the BBC website has some great monster profiles.
 
 
1. Weeping Angels  2. Cybermen  3. Vashda Nerada  4. Daleks  5. Judoon  6. Vampires/Sisters of the Water  7. Sontarans  8. Silurians/Homo Reptilia  9. Smilers  10. The Silence  11. Peg Dolls  12. Gangers   13. The Ood
 
So… where does the Doctor actually go? To the past AND the future! He’s been back in time to Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, visited good ol’ Will Shakespeare, met Queen Victoria (and protected her from werewolves)… and as for the future, there’s just so much that he and his companions have seen – you should watch it for yourself.
 

I hope this has encouraged you to give the series a shot, or been a fun read if you’re already a fan!

 
Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Common Concepts in Science Fiction

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Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
 
There are some factors that just make a science fiction book. That’s not to say that all sci-fi novels have to contain all, or even any, of these points, but they’re often found within works of the genre. In the style of my very first Fantasy Friday post, I’m going to do a similar post with science fiction and talk about common concepts in the genre. You’re more than welcome to join in, if you make your own post there is an InLinks widget at the bottom where you can share your post URL.
 

 
Time travel is something that has always fascinated humankind. I know some people do not get along with it in books, but personally I love it. There are series like Doctor Who where it is one of the main elements, or books like All Our Yesterdays. It opens up so many possibilities: parts of history can appear in a futuristic novel, historical figures can be brought to life – or civilisations even further ahead in time can be imagined. There are so many elements of time travel – alternate timelines, the grandfather paradox, many elements that would take a great deal more space to discuss!

See also: Doctor Who, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, The Time Machine by H.G Wells, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Looper, Back to the Future, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 
Space travel is another big factor, often hand-in-hand with time travel. What makes it so exciting is that it’s something we can already do – albeit on a smaller scale than appears in most science fiction – so events in many books could be ones we have yet to look forward to! In some cases spaceships are able to travel in hyperspace and reach destinations very quickly, but some works of science fiction show space travel in a different way. For example, in the Mass Effect game universe, the player can find objects called mass relays (shown above), which form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. In the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, there is a price to pay for space travel. Certain characters are able to travel through space at such a speed that it kills them – but they are resurrected on the other side. It’s every bit as painful as it sounds, much to the dismay of one particular character who has to make several journeys in a short period of time!
 
See also: the Mass Effect video game series, the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, House of Suns by Alistair Reynolds, Firefly, Sunshine, Star TrekStar Wars – in fact there are so many different books, TV series, films and games I could mention!

 
Aliens appear in so many works of science fiction, in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally they are friendly and help the human race, but most of the time… well you really don’t want to cross them. The Alien franchise (well, some of it) is a fantastic example of hostile alien races terrorising humans. I think they’re so popular because, admit it, we love the idea of there being some other form of intelligent life out there. There have been so many UFO spottings, abduction reports and other alien eyewitnesses that just prove we are obsessed. I for one am both really excited and kind of absolutely terrified by the idea of extra-terrestrial life. On one hand, they could be like the turians from Mass Effect (I’m a big Garrus fan), but on the other hand they might just be something like the creatures from Alien. And I don’t fancy meeting a facehugger, thank you very much.

See also: the Alien film series, the Mass Effect video game series, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Doctor Who, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 
This is one thing that makes me kind of sad when I read or watch sci-fi. I can’t remember ever seeing physical copies of books represented: characters always use ebooks or tablets to read or study. In fact it’s often some sort of multi-use device, for reading, communicating, studying and looking up information. I really hope that this is not our future; as much as I see the uses of an e-reader I would hate to live in a world without paperbacks.
 
See also: Acid by Emma Pass, the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Star Trek

 
It’s not just extraterrestrial life that fascinates us, but also artificial life. And like extraterrestrial life, it can be scary. In many examples, life created by humankind gets its own back on its creators – but in some cases, androids or cyborgs are seen as lesser citizens. One such example is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, also adapted into the film Blade Runner, where a bounty hunter has to dispose of several androids who have defied orders. As for YA fiction, there is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, where the eponymous character would be shunned from society were she to reveal her true status. In many cases, androids and cyborgs are indistinguishable from humans, which can be all the more dangerous. **Alien spoilers ahead** Think how shocked the crew of the Nostromo were when they discovered Ash was an android all along. **end spoilers** So maybe you should think about thanking that ATM next time it spits your cash out. Because one day, the machines might rebel against us!
 
See also: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Artificial Intelligence

What concepts do you often see cropping up in science fiction? I can think of plenty more but have chosen only to cover a few. Which are your favourites?

Review

Review: All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
From a non-linear, non-subjective view point, time is not simple. No, in fact it’s more…

 

Thank you, Doctor*. Bearing that in mind, books about time travel are never going to be simple. It is something that has fascinated humans for a long time, the possibilities it would bring but also the potential troubles it would cause. And when I heard that this book, so loved by many a YA fan, was about time travel, I was quite surprised.
That was, until I read it myself.
Because it’s not simply a story about time travel. Whilst that is the main essence of the story, the focus of the plot, it’s so much more. It’s also a story of young love, of heartbreak, friendships, power, intelligence. The story is so well-structured; the flitting between past, present and future works so well and builds up to the final events perfectly.
From the very first chapter, I knew I had to find out what was really going on, and soon. As if that wasn’t enough, a couple of chapters in one little word had me reeling, needing to know more. The plot is exciting, the action fast-paced and exhilarating and there are several little twists thrown in to catch you off guard. Although I guessed one important element of the story early on, it was revealed shortly afterwards and is a crucial plot point from thereon out.
The time travel in this book is explained early on, conveyed through exposition, and best of all it’s not unnecessarily complicated. I’m not particularly scientifically-minded, so I don’t know how it would sound to someone who is, but it made sense to me – at least in the context of the story and its universe.
With well fleshed out characters and relationships, built up more effectively by ‘flashes’ – moments where a character blacks out and relives a past moment, caused by the time travel – Cristin Terrill cleverly makes you both like and dislike the same character through the use of different points of view. And that’s what makes this such a tense read, because you’re at once both aching for someone to get their comeuppance and simultaneously be saved. It also meant that I wasn’t always rooting for Em and Finn’s success in their mission, and at other times I was.
Marina, one of the main female protagonists, was snobby and rather selfish, as well as being a bit of a spoilt rich kid. But I couldn’t dislike her completely, I felt that her lack of parental contact redeemed her from that a little, and she had a certain naivety to her that couldn’t be ignored. There was a great contrast during the first third or so of the book, between Marina’s normal life, where her biggest worry was confessing her feelings to James, and that of Em, imprisoned, tortured and with a secretive and tangled past. Em is tough and hardened, mysterious and brave.
And as for the guys… it was nice that they weren’t too different, which is how it often seems to be. Often they have opposite colourings, interests, body types, personalities… but both boys are intelligent and ultimately well-meaning. James is so brilliant and full of good potential but… it’s hard to write much about the characters of this book without getting a bit spoilerific.
Take it from someone who knows all about spoilers.
It’s not often a book has me totally torn between characters and events. It is powerful, drawing you in and making you unsure of the conclusion you wish for. The ending was heart-breaking but with a sequel on the way, things might not be as they seem… and I’m fine with that.

 

I like GIFs now. GIFs are cool.
*Disclaimer: I am not sorry in the slightest for the Doctor Who references.
Author Interview

Author Interview: Marianne Curley

The other week I was thinking about how great it would be if I could interview some of my favourite authors. So I decided I’d send out some emails and see if any of them had some time for me. I was so happy when Marianne replied – taking time out of her busy schedule for me – and now I can proudly post my short interview with her!

If you’ve never read any of her books, I highly recommend them if you like Young Adult fiction, Paranormal or Fantasy fiction or anything to do with time travel. I’d say they also appeal to historical fiction fans, for their time travel scenes.

  

The Named, The Dark and The Key – the Guardians of Time trilogy 

Old Magic – a standalone novel

About Marianne

Born in New South Wales, Australia, Marianne discovered her love of books at the age of eight years old. The first novel that had an effect on her was Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Throughout her school years, the library was one of her favourite places – and it was when she read Katherine by Anya Seton that she found a passion for historical fiction.

After marrying and starting a family, Marianne started working towards her dream of becoming a writer, inspired by the beautiful country of Australia. Her first novel, Old Magic, was published in 2000 by Bloomsbury. She then started writing the Guardians of Time trilogy, undertaking much research into the historical periods that Isabel, Ethan and the others visit.

In 2004, Marianne was diagnosed with Myelfibrosis. As this can be a difficult subject to talk about, I would like to use her words here: “It was a huge deal in my life and my family’s life. Without a stem cell bone marrow transplant I was going to die. Fortunately my sister was a wonderful match and though I was given only 35% chance of surviving the transplant, with no other option, I enthusiastically embraced the transplant. I spent months in hospital, in quarantine, undergoing high doses of chemotherapy. I lost my hair and nearly died from kidney failure and a host of other problems, but I came through it with the help of the life-saving medical staff of Westmead Hospital, my beautiful sister’s beautiful, healthy and abundant stem cells, the support of my family (all of them) and the incredible amount of prayers that were said for me. I am truly thankful. 

For a year after the transplant, I was unable to concentrate well enough to even read. But it gradually returned and I began writing again. After such a dramatic experience the first writing I did was more cathartic than publishable. I wrote a novel called “Chains” about two brothers of Italian descent named, Julian and Vincent, who lose their mother to cancer and battle through their grief in different ways. And while this manuscript is close to my heart, it may never be published.

I mention this because it has been seven years since my last book, The Key, was published, and many of my readers wondered what happened and why I hadn’t written anything since.”
(from Marianne’s website)

Interview

Rinn: Who or what inspires your writing?

Marianne: I am inspired every day by my surroundings. I live on a mountain with beautiful scenery of waterfalls, rainforests, fresh-water creeks, interesting foliage, and an abundance of Australian wildlife. The birds are especially beautiful. I am also greatly inspired by music and always have songs playing when I am writing. I love to listen to dramatic music or songs that tell a passionate or epic story.

[Rinn: I lived in Australia when I was five, and I have such vivid memories of it. I can imagine just how inspirational it is!]

Rinn: What are some of your favourite books and authors?

Marianne: ‘Katherine’ by Anya Seton was a favourite book of mine for many years when I was a teenager. Later in life my favourite books were ‘The Thorn Birds’ by Colleen McCullough, ‘The Girl in Times Square’ by Paullina Simons, and ‘Battleaxe’, the start of a brilliant fantasy series by Sara Douglass. More recently my favourites are ‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller, because it is so beautifully written, and ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor, a breathtaking fantasy that is rich in description and imagination.

[Rinn: The Song of Achilles was a beautiful book. I still have to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.]

Rinn: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Marianne: When I’m not writing I’m usually reading. But also, I like to potter in my garden, knit scarves, beanies and blankets, and collect pictures from around the world to pin on my ‘Pinterest’ boards online.

Rinn: Is there anything you find challenging when writing, and how do you overcome it?
Marianne: My biggest challenge when writing is the creation of the first draft. I get a little edgy until the draft is safely on file. I listen to music during this phase as it helps to loosen the thoughts and bring visual images into my head. I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the writing process.

Rinn: What made you choose the particular periods of time that the Guardians/Order travel to in the trilogy?

Marianne: I chose those time periods because firstly, I believed they were interesting; and secondly, I felt there were important enough events during those time periods that would have a significant effect on the present should they really be altered.

[Rinn: Definitely! I think they were great choices.]

Rinn: If you could travel to any period in time, when would it be?

Marianne: The truth is I wish I owned a time-travel machine! I don’t know if I could pick just one period. I’d probably start with the dinosaurs and work my way through to the future! I suppose if I had to select one I would probably visit the Romans during their peak domination of the world.

[Rinn: I think I’d be too scared to visit the dinosaurs… I’ll stick to Jurassic Park 😉 Another great choice, a really important civilisation.]

Rinn: Who is your favourite member of the Guard, and of the Order?

Marianne: My favourite member of the Guard is Ethan, because whatever I threw at him he still remained loyal. As for the Order, I don’t actually have a favourite.

[Rinn: Mine is Arkarian. And Isabel too, because she has a great name ;)]

Rinn: If the Guardians of Time trilogy was turned in a film series, who would be in your perfect cast?

Marianne: I think, if I had a choice, I would like to go with a few relatively unknown, up-and-coming young actors. I would watch them try out and read for the parts and select them from there.

Thank you so much to Marianne for letting me interview her! I’m so proud to be posting this, and really grateful. This is a series that I’ve loved since I was young, and still re-read. I cannot wait for her next novel, Hidden!

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