Into the NAFF race, once more…

Even though I was beaten (by the slimmest of margins) for NAFF last year, I thought I throw my hat in the ring once again. Glutton for punishment, me! I’ll let the blurb below tell you more about it, but if you would like to help me win the race, please feel free to vote! You can download the voting form right here or to make it super easy, you can vote online here with just a few clicks and Paypal  :) It costs $5.00, with all vote proceeds going to the fan fund, so it’s a good cause!

NAFF 2015

Welcome to the NAFF race for 2015. The National Australian Fan Fund (NAFF) was created to assist fans to travel across Australia to attend the National Science Fiction Convention (Natcon). NAFF assists fans to travel to the Natcon and covers the costs of airfares and accommodation. The Natcon donates a convention membership. This year’s NAFF race is to the 54th Australian Natcon, Swancon 40, which will be held in Perth during Easter, 2nd– 6th April 2015. It is expected that the winner will produce a report of their trip, engage in fundraising to support future NAFF races, and to help administer the NAFF race for the following two years. All Australian fans are eligible to vote.

The voting process contributes to the fundraising so each vote costs $5. You are more than welcome to donate more than this amount! Votes are being collected by: Matt Lindus (WA) and the candidate(s). For more information please contact Matt at ratticus@msquared.com.au.

Voting is closed.

Voting opens Sunday 1st March 2015 and concludes on Monday 16th of March 2015. Your candidates for this year:

Paula McGrath

My first convention was Aussiecon3. I stage-managed the Hugos and my memorable moment was convincing Terry Pratchett to hand out awards to ‘fat Americans’ (his words). Since then I’ve helped organise Convergence2002, was on the committee of Aussiecon4, failed in a DUFF race (sympathy play), saw a Worldcon in Chicago, attended almost 10 Continuums, been on and off various committees. What I love most about fandom is the lifelong friends you make and the joy of squeeing about your favourite things and not seem weird. I’ve never been to a Swancon, so this would be a great experience.

Nominated by: Sarah Lee Parker (WA), Rose Mitchell (Vic), and Julian Warner (Vic)

Candice Schilder

I’ve been an active member of the SwanCon community for a long time, including being committee for 23 and convenor of 25. Despite having moved away from WA more than a decade ago, I have continued to make my way to SwanCon, so far without fail. I’m such a familiar face at the convention that I have stopped being surprised when people still think I live locally. I’ll bring to the con the same things I always do; a friendly smile, energy, enthusiasm and a well planned Masquerade costume.

Nominated by: Greg Tannahill (ACT), Desiree Heald (WA), and Samara Morgan (WA)

Greg Tannahill

I am an ACT-based fan, an attendee of multiple Swancons, Continuums and Confluxes, and am well-known in the related community of Australian Roleplaying Conventions. As NAFF delegate I would like to see stronger ties between Australia’s gaming and SF communities, and to cross-pollinate the lessons and experience of each community to help all fans. Both communities need new ideas and new blood, and this is a great place to start. Due to family commitments I cannot otherwise afford to be in Perth on the weekend of Swancon and the NAFF funding would make my attendance possible.

Nominated by: Stuart Barrow (ACT), Julia Burns (ACT), and April Rutkay (WA)

Tehani Wessely

I’ve been involved in the Australian speculative fiction scene since 2001, attending my first convention in 2002. I’m a book geek, a Doctor Who nerd and have volunteerism issues. I was part of the Natcon 50 organising committee, had several years of working with the Andromeda Spaceways crew, helped run the ASif! reviews website, and have judged or acted as judging co-ordinator for the Aurealis Awards since 2007. I love working on ways to improve the prominence of Australian spec fic creators, such as the Australian Spec Fic Snapshot project and by openly wearing my geek cred loud and proud!

Nominated by: Ju Landesse (Vic), Cat Sparks (NSW), and Alisa Kranostein (WA)

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New Who in Conversation: A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler S06E07/08

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through all New Who after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun! 

We would like to thank everyone who nominated our “New Who in Conversation” series for the William Atheling Jr Award again this year – it’s a great honour to be on the ballot! Voting for the annual Ditmar Awards (which the Atheling is included in) is open to all members of  Continuum X (2014 Natcon – Melbourne) and Swancon 40 (2015 Natcon – Perth), and can be done online.

DW_6x07_A_Good_Man_Goes_To_War_048“A Good Man Goes to War / Let’s Kill Hitler”

Season six, episode four

The Doctor – Matt Smith

Amy Pond – Karen Gillan

Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill 

River Song – Alex Kingston

Mels – Nina Toussaint-White

DAVID:

I really enjoyed the introduction to “A Good Man Goes to War”. I do think that there are times when Amy puts the Doctor in roles that by rights are Rory’s, and it was great that he was the subject of her speech and, unless, I am way off, the “good man” of the title and the prophecy. The scene where they confront the Cybermen is quite effective, though you do have to ask about the ethics of blowing up so many of them just to get information – it’s even more casual slaughter than we are used to. I actually had already seen this scene when it was played during the Hugo ceremony, but I had managed to blank it out and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this.

TEHANI:

Rewatching the beginning I’m just all “RORY ROCKS”! Which is, almost certainly, the idea.

TANSY:
I love that Rory uses his Roman Legionary costume and identity when he needs to kick ass, and I do like this scene very much – of course, as soon as you start thinking about the ethics of exploding the whole army it’s a bit icky. Looking back to 2011, when this episode aired – this was the point very much at which fandom accepted Rory as officially awesome instead of complaining about him being a doormat or another Mickey. I’ve always given a bit of a side-eye to this group reaction, as it seems to me that Rory became a lot more popular as a character as soon as he became more traditionally macho – waving swords and uttering threatening lines. Which is a shame, because I love squooshy, sensitive Rory too.

I am very glad that they seem to now have dropped the whole thing with Rory feeling jealous of the Doctor – it feels like discovering Amy’s abduction has led him to finally drop that very boring narrative thread, so he can concentrate on what’s important.

PS: the ‘A good man’ of the title is the Doctor I think, but it also refers to Rory, and takes on different meanings for each of them.

DAVID:

Interesting. To me it is far better fit for Rory. But, that’s the joy of prophecies, right? Discussion fodder!

So, were these Mondasian Cybermen? I get confused by all these alternate timelines etc!

TEHANI:

That’s quite clearly a question Tansy needs to answer, because I don’t even know what you’re talking about!

TANSY:

I don’t know that it’s clear at this point – there’s one school of thought that the Mondas Cybermen have still not been officially brought back in New Who (apart from the head in Dalek), but it’s clear there are plenty of them surfing around ‘our’ universe at this point, and they have ditched the Cybus industries logo as of The Next Doctor, so… NO ONE KNOWS, GUYS. Peter Capaldi recently stated that bringing back the Mondasian Cybermen was a priority for him.

TEHANI:

On that note, Tansy, do the opening scenes make any sense at all in terms of continuity? I mean, there are characters who are familiar but not as themselves I think, and the events we see them in seem like they come from Doctor Who past, but I don’t think they all are? I think it’s all fabulous, but I don’t know it makes any sense?

war5TANSY:

Ah, that’s the clever part. All of these characters feel like they belong solidly to the Doctor’s past – they obviously all have a past with him, but certainly in the case of Madam Vastra, Strax and Jenny, we’ve never seen them in the show before. I love this opening, it’s like a proper heist film, with characters who have a murky past with each other.

Something Moffat has done very well, which RTD only started allowing for in his later seasons, is allowing lots of gaps and spaces between stories, including long periods in which the Doctor lives a life we don’t get to witness. In this case he’s had these friends whose lives he has completely changed, who owe him favours, and we get to walk in on the middle of the friendship.

TEHANI:

Which is super smart for the fandom side of things, because it allows lots of (authorised and non-authorised) opportunities to play in the history. Big Finish is going to have an absolute ball fiddling around in this era in ten years or so!

DAVID:

One of the things that has concerned me with New Who, especially the later seasons, is that it sometimes crosses the line with portraying the Doctor as a darker, more powerful figure into something that is far too potent. I kind of liked the Doctor when he was a mysterious wanderer, and where people did not know who they were messing with, rather than someone whose name so well known as to cause armies to panic and flee. There have been times this has been done well (such as “The Eleventh Hour” and “The Pandorica Opens”), but it can also get a bit too self congratulatory and back slappy. This episode walked that line, and came close times to stepping over.

TEHANI:

By gosh Matt Smith was marvellous in this though. I came back to rewatch after way too long and fell in love with him all over again in this. He’s pitch perfect as the madcap showman in the start of the battle, but that underlying anger, fear and sadness coming through at points (and the gorgeous “I speak baby” stuff too!), oh, so good.

TANSY:

I think this is the Eleventh Doctor at his darkest, and his most morally compromised – as is telegraphed quite heavily in the story! The theme of the Doctor as warrior is carried through, and we finally see the potential for him to be a war leader but also his deep dislike of the very idea that he might do such a thing. Now that we know (CLOSE YOUR EARS DAVID) so much more about what happened to him during the Time War, this story has extra resonance, because this is what he promised himself he would never do again.

DAVID:

I quite liked River Song’s speech at the end where she lectures the Doctor on the dangers of the legend he has created, and just like in Pandorica Opens, we can understand why races might decide the Universe would be safer without the Doctor in it – though of course their methods are inexcusable and completely reprehensible. I think that the modern incarnations of the Doctor have sometimes lost sight of his moral core, and act as if the measure of whether things are right or wrong are whether it is the Doctor doing them.

Doctor-River-6x07-A-Good-Man-Goes-To-War-the-doctor-and-river-song-25918753-1920-1080TEHANI:

It’s all about River Song though, really. Both these episodes are about solving the mystery of River, and I love the way that starts, with her lovestruck and whimsical then thrust into events that she clearly knows the outcome of. Paradoxes, they break my brain.

TANSY:

I was spoiled the morning that the episode aired (still bitter) but yes I think this is a great River Song story – if anything, the revelation is only a small part of the episode (though a huge part of the season). Some of my favourite River scenes are in this episode, particularly the one at the beginning when Rory comes to her and asks for help, and she turns him down. You can see in her face, watching this in retrospect, that she’s searching for the person she knows is her father, and that this is the last time she’ll see him before he knows who she is.

It’s a great disappointment to me that the River-Rory relationship was given so little exploration in stories afterwards, because while I think the awkward-loving vibe between her and Amy is so interesting, I think the most interesting scenes between River and Rory were basically in this episode, and back in The Impossible Astronaut.

DAVID:

I was more than a little confused about who the bad guys were in this episode. I thought at first it was the Church Militant from the last Angels episode (which would have bothered me as I thought that was a great concept). Then there was a mention of a Papal directive, as well as Anglican soldiers and the Headless Monks confusing things. The Silence’s doctrine has nothing in common with Christianity, so I will be interested to see where the threads all come together. New Who has had interesting relationship with religion, so I will await with great interest to discover the logic behind all these connections.

TANSY:
Oh, sweetie.

TEHANI:

I think I gave up entirely trying to sort out the continuity, if there is any! Without spoiling, some of this is (somewhat) explained over the next seasons, but here, nah, not so much.

TANSY:

Yes, the church militant and the Papal mainframe are heaven neutral (I love this term though no idea what it means) and I think that’s important – they are neutral, they just happen to be under orders currently from characters who are working against the Doctor.

TEHANI:

That said, for my mind the only villain is Madame Kovarian – the scene where the baby turns out to be Flesh absolutely shocked me the first time, and it upsets me every single time I watch it.

DAVID:

Yes, I actually shuddered when that happened.

6x07-a-good-man-goes-to-war-doctor-who-22613257-1014-570TANSY:

I found the baby plot incredibly stressful the first time around – this screened in 2011 when my youngest was still toddler, so the whole thing with Amy and Rory losing baby Melody was genuinely devastating – though it was actually the stress of not knowing what was going to happen that made it worse for me. In retrospect, now that tension is gone, I can watch the episode without my heart in my throat.

TEHANI:

It’s still completely awful. Too many babies in my life for this ever not to be ridiculously sad.

TANSY:

A lot of people hated the Amy abducted subplot, and there was something really horrible about the idea of her being pregnant in a box for so many months, while her mind was still cheerfully travelling around with the Doctor and Rory. I do like the strength of how Amy is portrayed here as a mother – a role that by no means comes naturally to her, and which she has had no preparation for. I like that she’s not softened by having a baby in her arms – she’s harder than ever, like when she’s so sharp to Lorna Bucket because the idea of sentiment in this situation makes her want to stab things.

DAVID:

I really enjoyed the three characters introduced here, Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax (though I assumed he was the Sontaran from a much earlier episode at first). I’ve heard that they pop up again a few times, and I will look forward to that. Strax especially appealed to me, and I thought both hilarious and believable that the Sontaran idea of penance might involve being forced to “help the weak”. His conversation with the boy was comedy gold. And, I so want to know more about that war and that time zone, it looked like a steampunk fan’s dream come true.The idea of a Sontaran breast feeding was pretty amusing too, I would love to see a cafe owner tell him to cover up!

TANSY:

I love these characters so much. Always and forever. It’s rare for a single Doctor Who story to launch so many memorable, worth-bringing-back characters – this one has four and I won’t tell you who the fourth is, yet. Spoilers!

TEHANI:

The arch looks Vastra and Jenny exchange in that scene in the control room! *dies of love* They are so awesome, and I’m still waiting for that Vastra and Jenny spin off please and thank you! They are all brilliant in this. And though I maybe felt, particularly on rewatching again, that there are perhaps a few too many characters that were really somewhat extraneous, I really genuinely loved this episode. It makes me laugh and cry and ache for them. So much good.

TANSY:
It’s amazing how epic this story feels considering that it is a one-parter – I know we’re here to talk about both stories, but you both did not have to WAIT TWO FREAKING MONTHS between episodes like those of us who were watching it live! (Or wait, Tehani, were you watching it live by this point? I lose track).

TEHANI:

I was TOTALLY watching it live by then! The pain…

TANSY:

The big cast of characters makes it feel like a big, sprawling space opera and I love that – also how well the various characters are set up, even with only a few lines.

DAVID:

I know I am a conservative fuddy duddy, and I don’t think that New Who should be completely constrained by the continuity of the old show, but I am not sure that I approve of throwing out established canon for a one liner and a minor plot point. I am sure that temporal grace has been an important part of the show and a wonderful concept that deserved better.

TANSY:

To be fair, David, the idea of temporal grace has been contradicted in Classic Who at least as often as it has been relevant to the plot! Let us not forget Susan and the scissors in Edge of Destruction. :D I personally think that the temporal grace idea is something a bit like the Randomiser from the Fourth Doctor’s era, or the isometric controls – something that has occasionally been active in the TARDIS, but is not a permanent, always-taken-for-granted feature.

TEHANI:

So we’re kind of cheating with this one, because it’s not really a double episode. However, the program originally aired with a two and a half month gap between the episodes, so technically, as well as “A Good Man Goes to War” being Hugo nominated, we could call them a season closer and a season opener, yes? I just think we really REALLY need to talk about “Let’s Kill Hitler”, so we’ll justify it!

DAVID:

It’s probably long overdue that a TV show about time travel needed to address the elephant in the room. If you had a time machine and a gun, why wouldn’t you travel back in time and try and kill Hitler? Of course, all know it is never going to go to plan!

6x08-Let-s-Kill-Hitler-doctor-who-24887528-1024-576TANSY:

I don’t know that it is overdue in that it’s a trope that has been referenced and discussed almost as often as the JFK shooting or the grandfather paradox. But then it is supposed to be ridiculous in this context – the whole idea is that it’s what an adrenalin junkie teenager would come up with, given a gun and a time machine.

The actual elephant in the room is that the Doctor gets hugely judgmental about all kinds of atrocities when he’s faced with them – he even brought Harriet Jones down for shooting one spaceship out of the sky. So why doesn’t he kill Hitler? Why didn’t he save Adric? How can we actually put our faith in a hero with near-unlimited power to change time, who allows himself to choose his battles?

DAVID:

Well, and a hero who has done far worse things than shoot one spaceship out of the sky!

The problem with Nazi references in a lot of movies (and in political discourse) is that there is a danger of minimising evil and of weird moral equivalences. The idea that River’s crime of killing the Doctor is somehow comparable to Hitler’s crimes made me uncomfortable and I think that they should have made it clear that there were levels of punishment/crime that they were enforcing.

TANSY:
It is uncomfortable – again I think it’s supposed to be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. The British have a long history of turning Hitler and the Nazis into a joke, from World War II propaganda onwards, as a way of coping with what they represented and what the potential invasion of Britain signified, but I think we’re at a point in history where a lot of that humour is pretty misguided.

DAVID:

Because I am so far behind, I don’t know whether we get the story of where the Doctor went looking, and what happened in the time between the start of his search, and meeting in the cornfield, but I am a big fan of these gaps as these can be filled with all sorts of wonders from new companions to homicidal super computers and leather clad savages.

river-song1TEHANI:

The first time I watched this, it was really weird to see newly regenerated River suddenly being a psychopath – it didn’t make sense that Rory and Amy could have known Mels so well and yet she turns into this lunatic so quickly. But rewatching, it was more palatable. The idea that the brainwashing imperative to kill him didn’t actually kick in until she encountered the Doctor makes sense, if you squint at it, so I can hand wave other stuff to make it work.

TANSY:

I like many parts of this episode – particularly Alex Kingston’s portrayal of the very young River Song/Melody coming into her new body for the first time – but I think the search part of the story is disappointing mostly because the Doctor promises he will get their baby back, and he fails. He fails terribly, and we don’t see him fail – we don’t even see him try. Instead, time travel catches up with them – but while I normally support gaps in the story, this one is pretty massive and means that all the emotional punch of “A Good Man Goes To War” is allowed to fizzle. It feels like maybe he just put his feet up in the TARDIS and had a cup of tea then came to collect them at the end of the summer.

DAVID:

River Song being Rory and Amy’s daughter certainly introduces some weird family dynamics, especially if her and the Doctor end up together. One wonders how Amy would feel about that, and the Doctor is continuing his run of entirely inappropriate relationships. Fortunately, the power dynamic between River and the Doctor is much more balanced than some of the other ones we have seen.

I wasn’t sure about the shoe-horning of Mel’s character into Rory and Amy’s past, but that conversation where Amy tells Rory he is gay made it worthwhile. I wonder if there are any expanded universe adventures of the incarnation of Mel’s floating around, whether books or Big Finish? If not, maybe there should be. They didn’t really explain why she was simultaneously wanting to kill the Doctor, and had grown up idolising him. Did the brainwashing only kick in at a certain point? Was there a trigger word? Did she come and find Amy and Rory because they were her parents or because they were a way of getting to her target. I am sure all will be revealed.

TANSY:

Oh, sweetie.

lkh-4TEHANI:

I’m so ambivalent about Mels. On one hand, I think she’s awesome, and I could watch an entire spin off called The Amy, Rory and Mels Adventures played by their younger selves (with a few cameos from the “teenage” selves just for giggles). On the other, without that background, without ever seeing or hearing a single thing about Mels for the entire season and a half we’ve known Amy and Rory, unfortunately it just falls flat for me. I get why we HAVE Mels, but it’s so obviously a plot device and it’s one of the few times I’ve been disappointed by a random add-in.

I think part of the problem I have with it is the way Rory and Amy have basically got over the loss of their baby, and it’s so unfair that they basically just give up on getting baby Melody back again. Just because River was Mels and they kind of grew up together, and they know how things work out (basically), it’s not at ALL the same as being parents to a baby who they were clearly so invested in THE LAST EPISODE.

TANSY:

Yeah, I think a single line earlier in the season to say that Amy named the baby after her best friend Mels (which would make sense and actually would have distracted from the melody – song connection) would have signposted Mels a little better. But then this whole second half of the season is characterised by episodes which needed one or two lines of dialogue to FIX THEM.

By the way there was a great comic in Doctor Who Magazine – I think the December issue in the same year? Which showed a hidden adventure of Rory, Amy and Mels at Christmas. I think the three of them and their odd childhood together is absolutely a goldmine of missed storytelling opportunities.

TEHANI:

Look, in all, I think this episode is a bit over-the-top and melodramatic, but Alex Kingston is as always fabulous, there are some very good parts interspersed with the bits that don’t make complete sense, and there are some really nice callbacks to past episodes and tidbits that are picked up in later episodes.

TANSY:

Alex Kingson and Matt Smith together are amazing in this. And while I know very much that feminist Doctor Who fans all over the world were infuriated by the “I’m looking for a good man” line at the end of this episode, and the reframing of young River as someone obsessively shaping her life around the Doctor…

I actually really like this piece of their story, because the power imbalance between them with him knowing more about her and their relationship is an important bookend to the early episodes where she was all-knowing and he was innocent. Their relationship is much more fun to watch in stories when they’re both somewhere in the middle, but this piece of the puzzle is important. The fact that she is vulnerable, erratic and less confident here, in her youth, does not take away from how awesome and extraordinary she becomes, just because we’ve seen it in the wrong order so it feels like regression. If that makes sense?

DAVID:

Definitely. To me, all this is doing is showing how she became the River Song we meet when she first appears in the show, not retconning her character or diminishing it. If we went from the River Song we first met to Mels, yes that could be seen as a step backward for a great character. But that River Song hasn’t changed or gone anywhere–we are just getting an extended flashback showing us her backstory! It’s actually a pretty clever idea.

TEHANI:

Definitely! Like, you know, people (even fictional ones) can grow and change – nicely done I reckon.

We’ve already reviewed:

“Rose”, S01E01

“Dalek”, S01E06

“Father’s Day”, S01E08

“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10

“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13

Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special

“New Earth”, S02E01

“School Reunion”, S02E03

“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04

“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06

“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13

Season Two Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Runaway Bride”, 2006 Christmas Special

“Smith and Jones”, S03E01

“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/E03

“Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, S03E08/E09

“Blink”, SO3E10 (with special guest reviewer Joanne Anderton)

Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords” S03E12/13/14

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)

Season Three Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)

“Partners in Crime”, S04E01 (with special guest reviewer Lynne M Thomas)

“The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky”, S04E05/06

“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, S04E09/10

“Turn Left”, S04E12

“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, S04E13/14 

Season Four Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

The Specials: “The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars

The Specials: “The End of Time”

“The Eleventh Hour”, S05E01

“The Beast Below / Victory of the Daleks”, S05E02/03

“The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone”, S05E04/05

“The Vampires of Venice / Amy’s Choice”, S05E06/07

“The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood”, S05E08/09

“Vincent and the Doctor / The Lodger”, S05E10/11

“The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang”, S05E12/13

A Christmas Carol”, 2010 Christmas special

Season Five Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani

The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon” S06E01/02

The Doctor’s Wife” S06E04

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2014 in review

Seeing as I barely blogged (here – I did blog a fair bit at FableCroft and also for my school websites, but Facebook and Twitter tend to be my go-to social networks these days) this year, I figured it might be worth a brief post looking at the year that was. The fact January is almost half over already by the time I’m doing this may indicate what sort of blogging year 2015 will be as well…

1546382_10202569827183393_103299899_nJanuary saw me start a new job in Canberra, commuting to the family in Tassie for the first term while living in a little granny flat during the week. The new job was, and has remained all year, fabulous. I love it, love my staff, love the kids. Very pleased to have made the leap, despite the fact it meant we left (and sold) our lovely home in Tassie that we adored, as well as our fantastic friends there. Due to the travelling, I was quietly tickled to reach Platinum membership status with Virgin Australia, which has made flying a very pleasant experience this past year! Unlikely I’ll maintain it, but it’s fun while it lasts!

Husband started a short-term job midway through the first term, which meant the children were parentless. Thankfully my parents and then a very good friend of the family stepped in for several weeks to take care of them while we both worked. I then shifted the whole family up to Canberra during the Easter holidays, as well as friend from WA who came to be our nanny for the rest of the year. Couldn’t have done 2014 without all the support.

Cranky Ladies logoMarch (and the lead up to) were super busy as we ran a crowdfunding campaign for the Cranky Ladies of History anthology project. We got a lot of media and smashed our target, which was brilliant! The book is due out in early March 2015 and we’re putting the final edits together now. It’s a fantastic book and I’m super proud of it, as well as very grateful to my co-editor Tansy Rayner Roberts and all the contributors for their work. Can’t wait to show it off! As well as projects still yet to come out, 2014 also saw FableCroft publish:

  • the original novel Guardian by Jo Anderton
  • the (mostly) original anthology Phantazein
  • reprint anthology Focus 2013: highlights of Australian short fiction
  • “Sanction” by Dirk Flinthart
  • The Pratchett’s Women and 50 Roman Mistresses essay collections by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • reprint (ebook) novel The Tainted by Glenda Larke

We had several launches/book parties through the year, including one in Hobart to celebrate (belatedly) the launch of Tansy’s Ink Black Magic and Dirk’s Path of Night novels from late 2013, one at Continuum for the release of Guardian, and one at Conflux for the release of Phantazein, all of which were great fun.

photo (36)In early April I had the five day Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year judging conference (for which I was the Tasmanian judge), which coincided with the announcement of the Aurealis Awards (for which I was judging co-ordinator), both in Canberra, which was most handy. This made for a super busy long weekend but one that was filled with collegial conversations revolving primarily around books and publishing – fantastic! Was absolutely delighted to have several shortlisted works on the ballot, and to see Joanne Anderton take home the Aurealis Award for Best Collection for The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories (it also won the Australian Shadows Award for the same category and was shortlisted for a Ditmar!) and that we co-won the Best Anthology category for One Small Step – we’ve had a few shortlistings and one win in a short story category in the past, but this time I got to bring home a trophy! We also had shortlistings for the Ditmar Awards, the Australian Shadows and the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award.

I had quite a few conferences during the year, including Continuum in Melbourne, SchoolsTechOz in Melbourne, Conflux in Canberra, the inaugural International Library Symposium at the Gold Coast, CrimeScene in Perth, and others here and there. We also spent several days in Queensland at Mum and Dad’s (and driving to and from) during the July school holidays, and finished the year there as well, though at the coast with them and my brother and his family, which was nice. Driving the distances with four kids on my own isn’t the most fun ever, though it seemed to be the only time I caught up on podcasts during the year, so that’s a win. I’m glad I got to spend time with my aunt in October when I was in WA for conferences, as sadly she passed away in December, and will be much missed.

Other things in 2014? We did the Australian Spec Fic Snapshot again, with an enormous number of interviews being conducted and posted over a two-week period; continued with David McDonald and Tansy our Doctor Who in Conversation series of reviews (for which we won the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review!); with Jo Anderton and Alex Pierce reread and reviewed the David & Leigh Eddings Elenium and Tamuli trilogies; hung out with friends when possible; unintentionally started a bit of Twitter fun with the #FakeCon hashtag; watched a LOT of shows (on DVD or computer, none of that free-to-air business!) with favourites being BBC Musketeers, Outlander, Defiance, Orphan Black, Doctor Who, Arrow, Flash and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD; read a LOT of books, too many to list but you can see them at Goodreads; chauffeuring children from pillar to post (the big kids also both had interstate trips on their own – Master J to QLD to his grandparents in April, Miss G to Tassie to her mates in October, including for her birthday!); I finally got my butt into gear and started actively working to lose some weight (so far about 10kg); and probably a million more things I’ve forgotten but there you have it. My 2014 in 1,000 words (and some pictures). Thanks for being part of it online or in real life, and here’s to another great year!

Christmas Wessely Kids  10410278_10204388469008302_8456898195796568932_n (1) 10847783_10204716753775216_7468526947719541367_n

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Eddings reread: The Tamuli trilogy

Because we just don’t have enough to do, Alex, Joanne and I have decided to re-read The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies by David (and Leigh) Eddings, and – partly to justify that, partly because it’s fun to compare notes – we’re blogging a conversation about each book. We respond to each other in the post itself, but you can find Alex’s post over here and Jo’s post here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. Also, there are spoilers!

Our review of The Diamond Throne (Elenium 1) is here.

Our review of The Ruby Knight (Elenium 2) is here.

Our review of The Sapphire Rose (Elenium 3) is here.

tamuliALEX:

Dear readers,

Here’s an interesting thing. We’ve been writing these reviews in a Google document. This one, entitled Domes of Fire, has existed for a few months without anything being written in it. This is despite the fact that I think we would all have said that we enjoyed the second trilogy a lot, if not as much as the first, and that we all devoured the second trilogy on this re-read just like we did the first.

TEHANI:

Aw Alex. You don’t think all of us being crazy busy had anything to do with it? :)

ALEX:

It’s just that…well, there’s not really that much to say. We said most of it with the first trilogy, and the reality is that this second set, the Tamuli, is basically a reworking of the first.

TEHANI:

Heh, I like that Eddings pretty much acknowledges that about halfway through The Shining City:

“It has a sort of familiar ring to it, doesn’t it Sparhawk?” Kalten said with a tight grin. “Didn’t Martel – and Annias – have the same sort of notion?”

“Oh my goodness, yes,” Ehlana agreed. “I feel as if I’ve lived through all of this before.”

JO:

One will not point out similarities to the Belgariad either. Or the Mallorean. One will not.

ALEX:

Almost identical set of people, very similar set up – except just like any sequel, things are More Impressive and More Worse. Not just a puny god, but a serious one! Bhelliom’s not just an object but an imprisoned eternal spirit! Sparhawk is Amazing!!

…ok that one’s not that new.

What follows therefore is a general discussion of the entirety of the Tamuli – what we liked, what disappointed us, etc.

TEHANI:

I think part of the problem was that once we started reading, we just couldn’t stop – having glommed all six books in such short order made it super hard to separate this batch into separate reviews! So this one giant piece is a much more sensible idea.

JO:

Oh that’s absolutely it! I read all six in this big BINGE…and then you wanted me to sit down and be sensible about each one? Can’t I just say ‘yay’ Sparhawk? Also where are my notes…?

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New Who in Conversation: The Doctor’s Wife S06E04

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 8 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun! 

doctorswife“The Doctor’s Wife”

Season six, episode four

The Doctor – Matt Smith

Amy Pond – Karen Gillan

Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill 

Suranne Jones – Idris/The TARDIS

TEHANI:

So, much as we could happily talk all day about different episodes, we’re going back to our original remit of Hugo Award nominees, season openers and closers and specials. That means we’re skipping “Curse of the Black Spot”, which most conventional fandom wisdom will have you believe is a really rubbish episode, a condemnation I actually quite disagree with, but we’re not TALKING about that one, so that’s okay! :)

DAVID:

Pirates and swords and sirens, what more can you ask for? I quite liked  “Curse of the Black Spot”, which just goes to show I continue to be completely out of touch with conventional fan wisdom!

TEHANI:

Say it with me: “Conventional fan wisdom can bite me”!

DAVID:

I also love that whooshing sound deadlines make as they fly past! (with apologies to Douglas Adams, of course).

TANSY:
I’ve come to appreciate the Dread Pirate Episode because it’s Raeli’s favourite of this season, and it has Kenny from Press Gang in it, but mostly because of Amy in THAT outfit.

gaiman_and_coTEHANI:

It’s a sincerely awesome outfit.

And here we are, at the episode that started it all for me. Not that it’s WHERE I started watching, but it is WHY I started watching.

TANSY:

Ah, I remember it well. Neil Gaiman has a lot to answer for :D

TEHANI:

He does indeed…

If there is one thing Moffat does well, it’s seeding teeny pieces of narrative along the episodic arc to lead towards a climactic ending. Amy’s observation that the Doctor wants to be forgiven for what he did to the Time Lords, SO MUCH FORESHADOWING!

For me, the best part of this story has to be the performance of Suranne Jones as Idris/The TARDIS – she is astonishing, and has forever enshrined in the minds of fandom what the consciousness of the TARDIS looks and sounds like. It’s a bonus that she looks like a character from a steampunk story… Cosplay ahoy!

DAVID:

Idris is a fascinating character, and Suranne’s performance is wonderful. I love the idea of a TARDIS being a living creature, though it is not a particularly new idea. It’s certainly something I have come across in the novelisation/New Adventures (after writing that, I tried to track down what I was talking about, but I think I may have gotten the character confused with I. M. Foreman. I seem to remember the Doctor meeting a woman on a hill who had a universe in a bottle. Perhaps our Who expert, Tansy, can shed some light?).

TANSY:
I had stopped reading the New Adventures/EDAs regularly by the time the intelligent and humanoid TARDISes entered the story, though I have read one or two featuring the companion Compassion who was actually a TARDIS-in-waiting, I think. Still, getting to meet *our* TARDIS is still a pretty big deal.

vlcsnap-2011-05-19-16h29m37s122DAVID:

The twist I really liked was that the TARDIS stole the Doctor, not the other way around. It really does say volumes about the Doctor that his perception of such a foundational event is completely wrong! But, we all suspect that we have never gotten the *true* story of how the Doctor came to be travelling the time-space continuum, right? But, the TARDIS being a living creature really does make sense when you look at their interactions over the years. The Doctor has always treated the TARDIS with a fondness, and always tried to cajole rather than command, that speaks of more than simply the sort of anthropomorphisation directed at ships or cars.

TANSY:

That blew my mind when I saw this episode – it’s pretty rare to watch a Doctor Who story that completely changes the way you view the stories that came before it, all the way back to 1963. (though I have to say, it’s more common than it used to be) I loved that our TARDIS became so real in this story, and that it added something so enormous to the mythology.

DAVID:

I always enjoy stories that explore the nature of the TARDIS, and its ability to reconfigure itself – sorry, herself! I think one of the reasons I fell in love with Doctor Who was this idea of such an amazing craft. More than just a spaceship, bigger on the inside than on the outside, it is the sort of thing that a young viewer finds hard to resist. The only other craft I think of that filled me with even a fraction of the same yearning was the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator!

One trick I think they missed, though, was when they go to the spare console room. That would have been a perfect moment to break out one of the Classic consoles, and the old white walls. In a show with the rich historical fabric of Doctor Who, it’s touches like that which can really “show” not “tell” those links with the past.

TANSY:

I agree with you on this one – it must have been a production decision, but the story calls so hard for the white walls with roundels, and I’m sure that’s what it will look like in the imaginary Neil Gaiman novelisation that we’re never going to get to read.

DAVID:

There were some great scenes in this episode, too. When the Doctor opens the cabinet and discovers he has been tricked, you can see the hurt and sadness and RAGE. It’s at that point I almost felt sorry for House because I knew that it was in for a world of hurt. Almost.

TANSY:

I was disappointed too! Any hint that we’re going to get Time Lords in the new show brings a frisson of excitement with it (yes even after The End of Time) and the idea that so many have been horrifically disposed of is very sad.

Worth a shout out for a couple of interesting details: previously-never-mentioned-before Time Lord the Corsair is namechecked in this episode (aww they do love their definite particles) and specifically mentioned as a Time Lord who changed gender with regeneration. This is the first mention of this possibility in TV canon. Also, the little white flying communication boxes are a thing from 1969 classic story “The War Games”. It had previously been teased that this episode would include SOMETHING we hadn’t seen since that story, and the little boxes were a bit disappointing for those of us who were peering suspiciously at the characters to figure out which one was The War Chief, or Lieutenant Carstairs.

TEHANI:

Personally, given my own connection with this story, I’m a bit surprised I don’t have more to say about it! I think it’s mostly “gleeful flail” when I think about the episode, without a lot of critical view. I always have to double check that House isn’t voiced by Neil Gaiman (it isn’t, it’s another one of those delightful sounding British (Welsh) actors).

I wonder how different the episode would have been if they had managed to get it into season five instead of this one, as was originally intended? What would that have done to that season (which we all quite like) as a whole?

“The Doctor’s Wife” won the Hugo AND the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation – how much of that do you think is the “Neil Gaiman effect” and how much is due to the episode itself, do you think?

DAVID:

That is interesting! The first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t think that it would have deserved the Hugo in Season 5, as I don’t think it is stronger than a number of episodes from that season. It’s certainly a very good episode, but I am not sure it is a GREAT episode.

Which does lead on to your next question. It is a bit hard for me to comment as I am not far enough into the season to say if this is the best episode in Season 6, and whether it deserved the Hugo (which is a very subjective call, anyway!) over any of the others. To be honest, I hope it’s not the best, because I loved Season 5 and can think of four episodes from it off the top of my head that are better than this one.

Neil Gaiman certainly does have a massive fan base, but you’d like to think people vote beyond that, and if something wins it obviously resonated with lots of people. So, maybe it’s just me! Looking at the other entries, there are two other episodes of Doctor Who and an excellent episode of Community (another show I got on very late!). With all due respect to Chris, who is a great guy, I don’t think an acceptance speech should have been nominated, let alone won. So, is this better than the other two episodes, or the Community one, or did the Gaiman Effect push it over the line? I’ll probably have a better idea by the end of the season.

the-doctors-wife-20110513045606021TEHANI:

And I have to say something about the title – designed just to set the fannish tongues wagging?

DAVID:

Well, it doesn’t take much, does it?

TANSY:

Another piece of fannish history here – this title first got used in the 80s as a deliberate fakeout, left on a whiteboard to see if anyone on the production team was leaking info to the fanzines. So it started out as a provocative tease and is being used here in just the same way. If you haven’t seen it before, the point at which you realise that this episode isn’t about River Song but about the TARDIS is pretty awesome and brain-explodey.

Anyone have any favourite lines from this very quotable story? I think mine is still Amy with “Did you wish very hard?” but Idris has so many gorgeous things to say, like “Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing. Only there’s a winner.”

DAVID:

That is a marvellous line. Any writer would also agree with “Oh tenses are difficult, aren’t they?” but I thought Amy showed exactly how well she knows the Doctor, summing him up perfectly when she responds to  Rory saying “He’ll be fine. He’s a Time Lord.” with:  “It’s just what they’re called. It doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.”

TEHANI:

I love this:

The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.

Idris: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

And this:

6x04-The-Doctor-s-Wife-doctor-who-22053299-1280-720Idris: I’ve been looking for a word. A big, complicated word, but so sad. I found it now.

The Doctor: What word?

Idris: “Alive.” I’m alive.

The Doctor: Alive isn’t sad.

Idris: It’s sad when it’s over.

And with that, this review is over too. But we’ll be back!

We’ve already reviewed:

“Rose”, S01E01

“Dalek”, S01E06

“Father’s Day”, S01E08

“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10

“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13

Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special

“New Earth”, S02E01

“School Reunion”, S02E03

“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04

“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06

“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13

Season Two Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Runaway Bride”, 2006 Christmas Special

“Smith and Jones”, S03E01

“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/E03

“Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, S03E08/E09

“Blink”, SO3E10 (with special guest reviewer Joanne Anderton)

Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords” S03E12/13/14

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)

Season Three Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)

“Partners in Crime”, S04E01 (with special guest reviewer Lynne M Thomas)

“The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky”, S04E05/06

“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, S04E09/10

“Turn Left”, S04E12

“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, S04E13/14 

Season Four Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

The Specials: “The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars

The Specials: “The End of Time”

“The Eleventh Hour”, S05E01

“The Beast Below / Victory of the Daleks”, S05E02/03

“The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone”, S05E04/05

“The Vampires of Venice / Amy’s Choice”, S05E06/07

“The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood”, S05E08/09

“Vincent and the Doctor / The Lodger”, S05E10/11

“The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang”, S05E12/13

A Christmas Carol”, 2010 Christmas special

Season Five Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani

The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon” S06E01/02

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