The Doctor is in and more random geekery

• “Lots of planets have a North”: Scottish actor Peter Capaldi will be the next Doctor Who. He starred as Malcolm Tucker in In the Loop — a hilariously profane satire of the marketing campaign for a war of choice in Iraq. And he was apparently once in a punk band with Craig Ferguson called The Bastards From Hell.

• “While it’s certainly not unusual for small children with active imaginations to tell fanciful stories, Clark was rather more insistent that his funny story was actually true than seems appropriate for his age.”

• Emma Caulfield takes online quiz: “Which Buffy the Vampire Slayer Character Are You?” Finds out she’s Willow Rosenberg.

He is noble, abundant, and fills the universe. (And He is in trouble if Congress doesn’t do its job.)

• “2^7 Nerd Disses.” From Phil Plait and Zach Weinersmith. A sample: “You’re so unlettered … You mistake the word malapropism for other similar sounding words.”

• Variations on a theme: Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones theme by cello quartet Break of RealityThis guy does a cool metal version, which is what I imagine it would sound like if GoT were on Starz instead of HBO. Here’s what the show’s opening credits might look like on NBC. See also: “The Rains of Castamere” from The National.

• David Gibson’s Religion News Service piece, “Can a Christian watch Game of Thrones?” revisits the question of the show’s moral vision. (I’ll cut RNS some slack for the pseudo-pietistic tribalism of that headline because Gibson and his editors still seem to be in shock after the Red Wedding.) It’s a good, thoughtful piece that highlights Scott Paeth’s Niebuhrian take on the show, while also giving Paeth the final word on the final word about this topic: “How he ends his story will tell us much about the moral world in which he dwells.” As with everything, it’s hard to say what it means unless we know how it ends. Gibson also mentions Jim McDermott’s “Bastards and Broken Things,” which has a nice Ragamuffin-ish take on GoT.

• Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, lends a bit of support for the Niebuhrian reading: “I feel it’s a really apt ending because he has been outsmarted and it all comes from his good heart.” (If Reinhold Niebuhr is too hoity-toity for you, Scott Paeth also shares this: D&D alignments of Game of Thrones characters.)

• These articles could have trolled for clicks with headlines modeled after that RNS one above — “Can a feminist watch Game of Thrones?” The answer, in all three cases, is yes.) “How the Patriarchy Screwed the Starks.” “Gratuitous Female Nudity and Complex Female Characters in Game of Thrones.” “Yes, Women Really Do Like Game of Thrones (We Have Proof).”


Via PNH: “Twitter API returning results that do not respect arrow of time.” Very cool merging of form and fiction: “After a thorough review, I can point to the spot in my code where a bad calculation expanded the scope of the search to days after today’s date, but I cannot tell you how it’s possible that the thing returns results.” Read the whole thing.

Mark Evanier remembers the great Ray Harryhausen.

• Iron Man, Iron Throne — the Starks of Winterfell.

• I don’t have any problem saying that Batman is from New Jersey, but Gotham shouldn’t be in South Jersey.

• “Some details of advanced technological designs, architectural blueprints, family recipes, occult summoning rituals, state secrets, and alien anatomy have been changed in order to avoid providing readers with world-endingly dangerous knowledge.” (via)

• Desperate Acts of Magic: “Congratulations, I hereby appoint you as the newest member to the third most-mocked profession, right behind ventriloquists and mimes.”

• OK, two more Game of Thrones items: Kathleen Geier on historical inspirations for the books; Max Read on how accents support and undermine the show’s geography.

Adam Parker’s post on theologian Jonathan Edwards contains a big-time spoiler for the movie Oblivion — so be warned about clicking that link. I can’t say I follow the whole argument, but Parker is certainly right that “the following quote shows that Edwards had a science fiction writer within him.”

It is possible without doubt in the nature of things for God to annihilate me, and after my annihilation to create another being that shall have the same ideas in his mind that I have, and with the like apprehension that he had had them before in like manner as a person has by memory; and yet I be in no way concerned in it, having no reason to fear what that being shall suffer, or to hope for what he shall enjoy.

Can anyone deny that it is possible, after my annihilation, to create two beings in the universe, both of them having my ideas communicated to them with such a notion of their having had them before, after the manner of memory, and yet be ignorant one of another? And in such case, will anyone say that both these are one and the same person, as they must be if they are both the same person with me? It is possible there may be two such beings, each having all the ideas that are now in my mind in the same manner that I should have by memory if my own being were continued, and yet these two beings not only be ignorant one of another, but also be in a very different state, one in a state of enjoyment and pleasure and the other in a state of great suffering and torment (Scientific and Philosophical Writings [Yale Works, Vol. 6] p.386-387).

• “10 Characters Who Got More Interesting After They Died.” Good list, but it’s too short. So here are 10 More Characters Who Got More Interesting After They Died.

  1. Gladys Crabtree
  2. Jacob Marley
  3. Officer Alex J. Murphy
  4. Kenny
  5. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington
  6. Lestat
  7. Beric Dondarrion
  8. Dr. Malcolm Crowe
  9. Large Marge
  10. Buffy Anne Summers


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  • mattmcirvin

    If it’s as big as generally implied, greater Metropolis would basically have to fill all of southern Delaware, and probably spill into Maryland. The Eastern Shore would be a very different place.

  • Amaryllis

    Queen Hermione of Sicily. Where was she during those sixteen years?

    Miles Vorkosigan. Not that he wasn’t always interesting, but he grew up after that.

    Ista dy Baocia (while I’m on Bujold), after either of her “deaths.”

    The Corinthian. Standard slasher-movie nightmare in his first incarnation; oddly compelling the second time around. Also, probably, Matthew the Raven; although I never read Swamp Thing and know nothing about Matthew Cable the man, Matthew the Raven is pretty cool.

  • Amaryllis

    * sob*

    More beaches, fewer cities, is my motto.

    Or no, that’s not right. Cities are perfectly fine, in their place. Their place is not on the beach. Especially not on my beach.

  • Ohhhh. Sorry, I totally misunderstood. Yes, Lyanna makes sense as one of the candidates for KotLT.

  • But what about Star Trek VI? “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” I’ve always thought that movie showed such growth of the character. Spock wasn’t struggling so hard to repress his human ancestry. He was willing to let himself be who and what he truly was.
    And then, there’s that whole “cowboy diplomacy” arc from TNG. That’s not something pre-mortem Spock would even have considered.

  • Supposition says the rebellion was already coalescing around deposing Aerys for Rhaegar(that’s why Aerys demanded he be at Harrenhal, to prevent Rhaegar from plotting) but that went out the window when Lyanna broke her engagement to Robert.

    If you look at the marriage alliances being proposed, there were too many Northerners allying with Southron lords. The rebellion was beginning before Brandon and Rickard Stark were executed.

  • And Rhaegar was ordered to track down the KotLT, leading people to feel he found her, and fell for her right then, which was why he gave her the wreath.

  • Definitely with you on the Corinthian. But, having read both Swamp Thing and The Sandman, I’m pretty sure Matthew the Raven isn’t Matt Cable. Matt Cable was near death when Anton Arcane possessed him, and died shortly after kicking Arcane out. But unless you’ve read something I haven’t, there were no indications that he went on to become Dream’s raven.

    Whoever Matthew the man was, he’s far more interesting as a bird. The same is likely true of all of Dream’s ravens — from what I can gather, he picks very ordinary dead guys for that role.

  • Amaryllis

    Hmmm, I could have sworn somebody told me that…

    * google *

    Ah. Wikipedia, anyway, thinks it’s canon:
    Since Matthew technically died while in the Dreaming in Swamp Thing #84, Morpheus/Dream of the Endless revived him to a form of life as his raven.

    Maybe it was a retcon? I haven’t read much in the comics world, but from what I understand, Gaiman took a lot the of DC stock characters and turned them to his own purposes. I guess this was one more instance.

  • Huh. According to that, the ravens weren’t always ordinary people. Okay.

    ETA: I’d completely forgotten about Matt Cable going into a coma, but I remember it now.

  • Greenygal

    SANDMAN itself only made allusions to Matthew’s prior identity, most notably when Matthew says he doesn’t drink anymore and Lucien quotes from the issue where Matt had his fatal drunken car crash. But it was explicitly confirmed in an arc of THE DREAMING, where Matthew is temporarily changed back into a human and meets up with Abby again.

  • Congratulations – this comment just got me to give in and read GoT. Well done.

  • Wednesday

    The trouble with Jenny is this: I initially assumed you were talking about the titular character from The Doctor’s Daughter (season 4), because that Jenny got more screentime and narrative focus than the Jenny-and-Vastra Jenny. And since her being a lesbian was definitely treated as a Quirky Wonderland Inhabitant Trait in the same way Vastra being a lizard-lady was, it felt like a token “oh, right, DW is supposed to be progressive, let’s put in a lesbian character as one of the Quirky Friends that the Doctor calls up to aid him.”

    Jack’s sexuality was definitely played for humor, but he got a lot more screentime, got to help save the day in a more significant way, and got his own spin-off. (That said, I didn’t watch Torchwood but I would watch the hell out of a Jenny and Vastra spin-off, so long as the showrunner was, um, not Moffat.)

  • NelC

    Sounds like Frederick Pohl & Jack Williamson’s Farthest Star. Pohl can be a bleak writer, sometimes.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Yes – I just hunted around in the stacks (a bunch of shelves full of books in our basement – we have a LOT of books) and found Farthest Star. The part I remembered seems to be just a sort of prologue, and some details are slightly different, but that’s definitely the book. (Or maybe I read that first section as a standalone short story, once upon a time??)

    Anyway, the bleakness is very effective. And I can understand an artistic and/or moral point in making us take a close look at disaster, even though it isn’t enjoyable. But after glancing at the rest of the book, I see that the overall story wraps up with an Official Happy, or at least Successful, Ending; and that seems to retroactively make the hopeless fate of the first main character into something more like failure porn.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Wait, what? Does that turn Superman into some equivalent to Barney Fife? Because you and Amaryllis are right, there just isn’t room in Lewes – heck, in all of Delaware – for Metropolis as we picture it; so it has to be a tiny place whose inhabitants delusionally consider it a big city.

  • Carstonio

    Yes, you would see Clark and Lois dining on steamed crabs and Smith Island cake.

    “Smallville” placed Metropolis in Kansas about a two-hour drive from the small town. Hell of a commute to the Daily Planet for Lois when she lived on the Kent farm, although many people do this in real life.

  • NelC

    Yah, I seem to recall that FS was an expansion of an earlier story. My brain wants to say ‘Cuckoo Star’ but I’m not sure.

    It’s been a long while since I read the book, but I remember being somewhat unconvinced by the Official Success ending. These days, I’d be inclined to ask how anyone expected a suicide mission no-one involved wholeheartedly volunteered for to succeed at all.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    That would explain why I don’t remember reading the rest of the story, or even being aware that there was a “rest of the story.” Thanks!

    (Also – interesting point about the overall mission. I may go ahead and read the rest of the story to see how the others are bullied (or whatever) into volunteering, and how the alleged success is pulled off.)

  • NelC

    Funny, people are going on about Malcolm Tucker as though that (and Local Hero) were the only things Capaldi’s ever done. I’ve been a fan of his since LH, and I remember him for the transvestite in Prime Suspect, Uncle Rory in The Crow Road, the Angel Islington in Neverwhere, narrating the audiobook of The Wasp Factory, and a zillion other roles all over British TV, not to mention narrating a bunch of documentaries and the odd advert (I’m so in love with his voice).

    He’s a versatile actor, and will bring the same abilities to his Doctor, making him as unique a character as Malcolm Tucker, such that we’ll all forget Tucker inside five minutes, I’ll lay odds on it.

  • caryjamesbond

    It’s a hell of a ride. I’ll be very interested to hear your take on it. Like I said, I’m totally getting an “real middle ages with DRAGONS!” vibe.

    Another thing I like- the way he handles magic. It’s very Tolkienesque. At the begining, there is no such thing as magic, although there are some remnants of it scattered around. And when magic does start to exist, it’s mostly subtle, and comes at a very, very high cost.