Tag Archives: SF

Locum Who?

8 Feb

Peter Capaldi is going and it’s time to find a locum to fill the famous Doctor’s shoes…

Along with a black James Bond, a female Doctor Who with a male companion is the most common ‘politically-correct’ change to an established character that crops up. I’ve advocated a black Doctor in the past – not for any reason other than because there have been some excellent black actors who would be perfect for the role. But, a female Doctor wouldn’t sit right with me.

Let’s tackle the male companion first. There’s no reason a male Doctor cannot have a male companion. In the first half of the original series, there usually was a mixture of male and female companions, and often of age. By the end of the original series, there was usually only one companion, who was female and this has been common since the revival. While it originally arose from the idea that a ‘bit of totty’ would attract the dads, I think the reason it was retained was because, especially with the example of the final original-series companion, Ace, a strong female companion made a good counterpoint to the male Doctor. But, there’s no reason why the companion must always be female, young, or in the singular. The companions offer plenty of opportunity to mix things up.

But, the Doctor is a constant.

Of course, we’ve had a female incarnation of the Master (‘Missy’), but that twist worked because the Master has a history of running out of regenerations, stealing bodies and meddling with his biodata. That he would transform into a woman is almost a logical outcome of his adventures in identity. Yes, the Doctor has run through his regenerations quickly and seems to have messed with his biodata, but not to the same extent – and making gender a choice raises all sorts of questions of why he always chose to be male before, but has changed his mind now.

But, more than my feeling that it doesn’t really fit in with the established continuity of the series, is my view that the demand for a female Doctor is horribly sexist. There’s no need for the Doctor as a female role model – if people wanted a female Timelord, why not produce a series featuring Romana? – while the Doctor represents a male character who doesn’t pander to typical male stereotypes. He’s rarely violent, he’s intelligent, academic and quirky, he’s tolerant and kind. In a world where too many male role models are the opposite, he’s a welcome alternative.

Introduce a Romana series, by all means (after all, The Sarah Jane Adventures were excellent), but don’t deprive boys of the wonderful role model who is the Doctor.


Quirks of the Star Wars Universe

30 Mar

Some speculation by DJ Tyrer

Whilst watching the Star Wars films I have become convinced that its galaxy “far, far away” doesn’t work quite like ours. Questions such as why are Jedi celibate when their power apparently runs in the family? are questions of culture, but others reflect deeper differences.

For example, it is clear that the Star Wars galaxy is filled with ether like many scientists of the past postulated for ours. Often the only concession to the supposed vacuum of space is a breathing mask – what about the freezing cold? Ether – unbreathable yet ‘warm’ – would explain this. Perhaps it can even be breathed for brief periods – which would explain why so many pilots don’t bother with the masks (or, perhaps, like sailors who never learnt to swim, they are fatalists?). The real proof came in episode two, Attack of the Clones, when Jango Fett used sonic charges in an asteroid belt – sound needs a medium to travel in, which is why, famously, “in space no-one can hear you scream” – ether is the obvious answer. Of course, the sounds of explosions and starship engines in the classic trilogy implied this, too, but that could be excused as artistic license; the sonic charges actually prove it. There is another hint in Revenge of the Sith when we see explosive decompression of a ship – something that, in real life, would only happen in an atmosphere. (In the same film, we see an open hangarbay, shields down, retaining a breathable atmosphere, implying that there is no vacuum for it to leak away into.) Of course, George Lucas probably didn’t intend this, it is probably a combination of ignorance, artistic license and space opera excitement that have coincided to create this impression – yet it makes sense!

Another question, raised as a continuity error back inThe Phantom Menace yet recurring in Revenge of the Sith, is why battledroids tend to fall apart when powered down or damaged. It is obvious that Lucas intended this (if only as a visual joke), yet it doesn’t seem to make sense. Why do they fall apart when they lose power (whether shut down or damaged)? The only obvious explanation is that they rely on some sort of electromagnetic technology to hold them together which stops working when they lose power. It actually makes a lot of sense as it allows for frictionless joints that can move in extremely flexibly.

The destruction of the Jedi appears to have been remarkably easy, even with a legion of clone troopers attacking an understaffed temple. I suppose that is part of the answer – overwhelming odds combined with Anakin’s insider help allowed the slaughter of all those in the Temple. It is certainly easier to explain  how the majority in the field were killed – the clone troopers are emotionless, obeying an order drilled into them from, before ‘birth’, meaning the Jedi with them could detect no treachery and were thus caught totally by surprise. Yoda, both more powerful and forewarned by earlier deaths, was lucky to detect the attack on him. Lesser Jedi, especially those killed early in the purge, stood no chance. Yet… Obi-Wan survives by a fluke and there must have been others on missions withour clone trooper escorts or wandering abroad bringing justice to backwaters, perhaps others on Coruscant out of the temple at the time. Of course, most on Coruscant or other major worlds will soon have been hunted down, other will have been lured back by the recall signal, and some will have just plain been unlucky, but more ought to have survived. Of course, had Mace warned others of his fears about a plot to destroy the Jedi, it might have been a very different story…

Padme’s death in childbirth has raised questions about Leia’s ‘memory’ of her ‘real’ mother crying when she was very young. Of course, it could have been a false memory, a misunderstanding of Luke’s question, or confusion between Mrs Organa and Padme (after all, the early empire cannot have been a happy place and she probably was indeed sad). But, as a force sensitive, perhaps she retained a pre-birth impression of her mother’s sadness…

Lastly, there is the fact that neither Anakin nor Obi-Wan break a sweat, let alone feel too hot, during their final clash on a fiery, volcanic world. Of course, it may just have been a cinematic desire to avoid nasty stain markings, but that is hardly an acceptable ‘in-character’ explanation! The obvious answer has to be Force powers – if the force can enable you to leap around in defiance of age or gravity, then it can surely keep you cool on a volcano world. Perhaps Padme was secretly a Force sensitive?