Doctor Whittaker Reviewed

13 Oct

So, Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and I’ve just watched her first episode for the first time. I’ve only seen her in a couple of things (in St. Trinians, where she was good but not Doctor material and Attack the Block, where I found her irritating). But, then, I wasn’t impressed by David Tennant in Harry Potter, but thought he was a good Doctor.

I did think they gave her an excellent (almost-)introductory line upon the discovery he was now a she (“Half an hour ago, I was a white-haired Scotsman”), perhaps intended to remind of us Capaldi’s disappointingly-lacklustre performance – after all, as far as most viewers go, she doesn’t have to compare to the best Doctors of the past, merely the last incumbent.

I won’t fault her on her effort and enthusiasm – my first impression of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor was that she ws really giving a fine performance as a disorientated alien. Unfortunately, for all that, I wasn’t really buying into her as the Doctor. She just didn’t have the gravitas. Though, of course, to be fair, most new Doctors have given a somewhat weak initial performance. (Indeed, Ecclestone took his entire series to get there.) So, first impressions are not necessarily damning.

The real problem, though, is that, despite not thinking a female Doctor (as opposed to a female Time Lord protagonist in her own series) is a good idea, I could buy into a woman in the part, but not her. For example, Catherine Tate’s Donna-Doctor managed to be simultaneously both more Doctorish and more fun than Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, while the character of River Song was also stronger and more Doctor-like. Indeed, I think the female supporting characters in this episode came across as smarter, stronger and more proactive than the Doctor, further diminishing her. To me, Whittaker’s Doctor seems more like a parody than a serious character.

As for the first episode itself, I wasn’t that impressed – the writing was solid but uninspired, rather like the acting of the supporting cast. Workmanlike would be the apt term – it does what it sets out to do, but doesn’t shine. However, if that quality of acting and writing can be married to a better plot, then I can see this being a strong series, better than recent ones.

I’m not giving up on the series, and could see it being a success, but I have yet to be convinced by Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. Perhaps she’ll manage to inhabit the role, perhaps not. Time will tell…



A New View

28 Sep

View From Atlantis is the new webzine from Atlantean Publishing, launching in October as a successor to Awen Online. While primarily focused upon genre poetry, it will also be open to general and literary poetry, as well as prose.

The first issue will be online in early October and submissions will be welcome for issue two between the 1st and 14th of October, which will be posted around Hallowe’en and seeks submissions with a loose Hallowe’en and Horror theme. Future themes will be announced later in the year.

Full submissions guidelines can be found on the site.

Submission final calls

12 Sep
The following close to submissions at the end of September:
Great War – poetry and fiction inspired by World War I (particularly the events of 1918). Prose should be under 4000 words and ideally under 2000 words. Poems any length.
Horror Poems for Hallowe’n – These can be dark, scary or comic horror. (They don’t have to reference Hallowe’en.) Any length.
Lunar Module – Poetry inspired by the 1969 moon landings, the space race and moonlandings in general. Any length.
Christmas Chillers – Festive horror fiction. Ideally between 1000 and 3000 words with an upper limit of 5000 words.
And, while it’s open on a rolling basis, I would love to receive some more Dark Tower poems (any length) so that I can release another volume.
In addition, submissions for entires in The Bards, Xothic Sathlattae and Yellow Leaves solo-poet broadside series are sought.
Full details on these and of other open themes can be found here.

Infernal Poetry

14 Aug

Two new poetry chapbooks will be released by Atlantean Publishing very shortly.

Infernal Stars is a chapbook of poems inspired by the worlds and words of Clark Ashton Smith, featuring poems by Sheika A., Norbert Gora, Frederick J. Mayer, DJ Tyrer, and Lee Clark Zumpe. £1.50 (UK) / £3 (overseas)

The title is derived from an unfinished novel by Smith, titled Infernal Star.

Ivory and Rose Leaves is a selection of decadent, aesthetic and symbolist verse, featuring poems by Sheikha A., Aeronwy Dafies, DS Davidson, Clive Donovan, Frans Jozef Goossens, Mark Hudson, John Light, Robert William Schmigelsky, DJ Tyrer, and Lee Clark Zumpe. It also includes a translation by DJ Tyrer of one of Baudelaire’s poems. £3 (UK) / £6 (overseas)

Three-for-two offer applies to all booklets.

Payments can be made via or UK sterling cheque to the Atlantean Publishing editorial address (payable to DJ Tyrer).

When We Return…

27 Jul

Atlantean Publishing is currently on hiatus. The idea is to reduce in the inflow so that it’s possible to reduce the backlog, but a flooded cupboard has somewhat dented that plan, still we hope to get back to you all soon…

The only exception to the hiatus is submissions to the The Supplement – you are welcome to submit articles, reviews and letters of comment.

When we reopen to submissions in September, we are looking for Lunar poetry, Great War poetry and fiction, and Christmas (or otherwise festive) horror stories – with these categories closing at the end of that month. (Please remember to include the theme in the subject-line of your email.)

We will also be reopening to general submissions in September and there are other collections in the pipeline – visit the wiki page for further details.

Remember, we only provide a contributor’s copy, but we are happy to accept reprints.

Sensitive Readers – Insensitive Writers?

26 Jun

The Bookbaby site recently discussed authors using ‘sensitivity readers’ and the comments from authors were largely negative (and, I must say I’m in accord with the feeling that stories shouldn’t pander to the easily offended). But, one interesting point struck me – that the term ‘sensitivity readers’ was being used for both actual ‘sensitivity readers’ and what we might call ‘accuracy readers’, and that most people were fine with the latter, but not the former.

For clarification, a ‘sensitivity reader’ exists to check for issues in the story (whether words, stereotypes or situations) that could cause offence. Of course, this can prove useful (if you’re writing what is intended to be a positive portrayal of black people, you don’t want to find you’ve propagated offensive stereotypes or used terms that will offend) and may be necessary for certain markets (books aimed at the schools market need to be appropriate to their intended readership). But, too much caution can stifle good writing (after all, the best writing will challenge and risk offense), and an over-reliance by editors on ‘sensitivity readers’ may cause them to reject books that tackle difficult subjects for that very reason.

What I’m calling an ‘accuracy reader’, on the other hand, is someone who checks for factual errors. Although, in the context of ‘sensitivity’ I’m discussing, this may mean asking a transperson to check that everything related to your transwoman protagonist is accurate, this is no different to asking an expert for assistance in ensuring the accuracy of your work. Of course, there may be an overlap between ‘sensitivity’ and accuracy (“yes, that word is used correctly, but it is very offensive and not suitable for a children’s story”), but the aim is primarily to get the story right, not mollycoddle.

While I wouldn’t advocate setting out to offend for the sake of being offensive (or attempting to gain publicity through outrage), I have little time for editors who would neuter a story in case it offends someone. There will always be a need for stories that take risks, ask difficult questions and present awkward truths and we shouldn’t fear them. But, we should strive for accuracy.

Awen is 100 issues young!

20 May

Yes, it’s true – Awen has reached its hundredth issue! You can download a pdf copy for free from the issues page, along with several earlier issues.

This issue includes:

Fiction by SchiZ, DJ Tyrer, Jenn Weiss, and Lee Clark Zumpe,

Poetry by Nick Armbrister, H.G. Carter, Marc Carver, Aeronwy Dafies, DS Davidson, Emma Doughty,  Diane R. Duff, Walter Durk, Rik Hunik, Keith Murdoch, Paul Murphy, Gordon Scapens, SchiZ, Megan Sherman, and Neil Wilgus.