Doctor Who and Another Confession…

twelfth doctor

Okay so I haven’t written about the new series of Doctor Who on purpose. With a new Doctor, I thought it would be better to watch the new series before blogging my opinion. And now that series 8 is over.

Overall, I like Capaldi’s Doctor. He’s a breath of fresh air from the previous bouncy Doctors. He’s grumpy and a lot darker than eleven. Pete Capaldi isn’t the problem. *sigh* The problem is that it just doesn’t feel like Doctor Who any more.

The thing is, since the show’s revival, Doctor Who was almost always compulsive viewing. It was a show that you could have theories about and discuss them with other people. It’s always been the TV equivalent of a warm hug to me, but it increasingly doesn’t feel like that any more. It’s getting tired, and there are a lot of things that I find problematic about the show, like the way the Moff treats the female characters. (FYI Moff, you don’t need to constantly sexualise lesbians, it already happens way too much in the media. Also, in case you haven’t realised, most women want more than a boyfriend/husband and babies.) Oh, and I wished they would stop with the mysterious female character series arc that they seem to like so much. It gets boring after a while. Also, they did nothing to improve Clara’s character and I didn’t care about her leaving because she never had an actual personality. Her relationship with Mr Pink needed more time to develop as it felt too rushed and not believable.

Clara-Oswin-Oswald-doctor-who-34512044-1440-900

But this doesn’t mean that I’m ready to give up on Doctor Who just yet. It’s become entrenched in my life as much as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have. It’d be weird to not have it in my life. But, I don’t want to encourage shoddy writing by buying the DVDs and watching the show. Ah dilemma!

I think that’s enough of my thoughts on Doctor Who, that’s pretty much all I can write about them without repeating myself anyway. In other news, I’ve officially failed at NaNoWriMo. The work experience thing that I had to do to keep the Job Centre happy ended up being more hours than I anticipated (I spent four weeks, working full time for less than minimum wage. Yeah, I know. But I’m not going to rant about it because it will just make me angrier.) so by the time I’d get home, I was too tired to do anything aside from eat and sleep. It’s a lame excuse I know, but tiredness kills creativity (It’s a fact.) and I’ve fallen way too far behind to even hope to catch up with my word count now. On the plus side, I did manage to get a couple of chapters written that would have taken me much longer to write had I not taken part. So in the long run, maybe I didn’t fail at all?

I’m going to go with that.

In other news, things are starting to look up on the job front. In that I’ve actually been offered a short term contract. I don’t want to talk too much about it until I have a fixed start date (hopefully, soon!) and whilst it isn’t my dream job, it’ll be my first job where I’m being paid more than minimum wage so it’s still a huge deal to me. Also, it will take a huge weight off my shoulders and whilst it means organising my time slightly differently so that I can find something more permanent, it’ll be miles better than staying on JSA and having the Job Centre breathing down my neck all the time.

I think I’d better leave it there to be honest. I don’t have anything much more to say. But hopefully things are starting to improve. Once again, I’m sorry for neglecting my blog. It’s kind of hard to get back into the swing of posting things on a regular basis, but I will try. Though if you don’t hear from me in a while, it’s because Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming out on Friday and I’ll likely be playing that forever.

Advertisements

We Need More Shows Like In The Flesh

in the flesh

As someone who likes zombies but finds them becoming overused (I think that was one of he reasons why I couldn’t  get into The Walking Dead.) I love In The Flesh. I loved the first series and I am loving the second. Why? Because it’s a zombie show that does not just focus on Zombies and gore (in fact there is very little in the way of gore.) but it focuses on people.

In The Flesh, follows the lives of Kieren Walker and his friend Amy, ‘partially deceased syndrome’ sufferers and their integration into the small community of Roarton after a cure for  rabid zombification was found. As with all good TV and literature involving monsters and zombies, In The Flesh portrays the undead characters as the feared Other dealing with the prejudices of a community still dealing with the horrors of the Rising and becoming a metaphor for Kieren’s sexuality. The second series is still about otherness but in a different way, this time they represent the unemployed and immigrants with the pro-living, UKIP-like party, Victus forcing the undead to take part in a work scheme that gives back to the community. Hmmm, I wonder what that reminds me of?

ren and amy

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Undead Liberation Army and followers of the mysterious Undead Prophet who retaliate to Victus’ polices in violent ways, by taking a drug that turns them back to the rabid zombies they were when they first rose up from the dead, thus confirming every negative thing Victus says about them, ramping up the tension between the living and the undead in the community. This raises questions regarding the Dylan Thomas quoting Amy who embraces her undead status and went to live in a commune at the end of the first series. Has she been indoctrinated by the Undead Prophet or does she truly believe his teachings? What is the reason why she returned to Roarton with her disciple friend, Simon? (I don’t trust him. He’s clearly working an angle and will upset Amy and I love Amy.) Which side will  Keiren pick or will he ever get past his internalised prejudice? We also have Jem, Keiren’s sister who was a former member of the HVF, the local militia that was tasked with killing rabid zombies during the Rising and her struggles with PTSD and returning to civilian life as a war hero.

in-the-flesh1

Usually, I dislike TV shows where they hit you over the head with a socio-political commentary, but I feel that In The Flesh manages it quite well, focusing on the story and the characters. It’s the most compelling television show I’ve watched in a long time. It’s not afraid to go places that most TV shows would shy away from. It has complex female characters who are not there to purely serve as love interests and LGBTQ characters do not fall into tired old stereotypes and are not solely defined by their sexuality. Also the sections of society that the zombies serve as metaphors for, actually get representation which is a refreshing change.

I don’t know, I feel like we need more TV shows like this. One’s that actually reflect the society we’re living in instead of the ones that reflect the society that TV producers think we live in.  Also with the cancellation of Merlin and Being Human last year, and the steady decline of Doctor Who (the Moff seriously needs to quit.) In The Flesh is fast becoming one of my favorite TV shows and is surely a good reason as to why we need to keep BBC Three.

 

My Favourite Fictional Universes

As a fantasy writer (and someone who hasn’t really been able to afford to travel much) I love making up my own fictional worlds with their little quirks and details. (It’s exhausting and never ending mind you.) When I’m not using up my energy on creating my own, I love burying myself in others. Especially when they have so much history and detail as they often become as real to me, as well, my own reality. So here is a list of my most favorite ones that I wish were real so that I could explore and what makes them stand out for me. (They’re not in any particular order to be quite honest.)

firefly-flipperpq

I can’t believe how young Nathan Fillion looks…

Firefly

Firefly is probably my favourite Joss Whedon show, I love it to pieces and could watch it over and over, carrying the rest of the story on in my head. There are no characters that annoy me (though Simon and River have their moments, I guess) and whilst I do wish that it had a full season, I like the unfinished nature of it because it allows me to wonder what direction the plot was going in and formulate my own theories about what would have happened. (Yes, I know we got Serenity and that there are the comics. But I like having theories.) One of the things that struck me was the culture of the universe the show is set in.

firefly-ship

Firefly takes place after all the resources on Earth have been used up and humankind has found another solar system to live in. There are the core planets, that live under the governance of the Alliance where their inhabitants are well off, have the latest technology and more than enough to eat. Then there are the outer planets, the ones that rebelled against the alliance in a civil war where life is a lot more difficult. Often the inhabitants are poor, the technology is out of date (by Alliance standards, I guess) and crime is rife. The contrasts of these two different settings are striking; for example the planet Ariel has the look of a highly modern, sophisticated civilization compared to the Wild West setting of the outer planets.  Also the culture of the setting is unique in that it is a fusion of American and Chinese culture as China and America were the last two major superpowers which makes a refreshing change from the generic settings we see so much of in the genre.

 

 

his-dark-materials

His Dark Materials

Ahhh, I loved these books growing up. I liked the fact that the protagonist, Lyra was not the perfect child like a lot of the main characters in children’s books. She lies often to get herself out of trouble with her guardians although this trait often saves her life later on in the books. One of the things that made this series stand out for me was the blending of sci fi and fantasy. Lyra’s world is similar to a late 19th Century industrial society but with scientific advancements such as particle physics and of course daemons, animal manifestations of an individual’s inner self. Religion has a large influence on the society and whilst it is known as the Magisterium, it largely resembles the Catholic Church.

His Dark Materials polar bears

One of the best things I used to love about the books was the fact that the story takes place in multiple worlds. I liked that each one was detailed and unique especially the world with the Mulefa in it. It’s just a shame that the movie adaptation butchered the story. I mean, I get why the books are quite difficult to adapt (and not just because of the controversy that surrounds them.) as they are quite deep. Maybe the series would be better off being adapted into a TV series.

 

 

a-song-of-ice-and-fire-2

 

Westeros

Speaking of books that are better off being adapted into a TV series, we come to Westeros, the setting of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. As much as I love the TV show, I will always prefer the books as they are more detailed and don’t have the limitation of a budget. Based on a medieval European society, the A Song of Ice and Fire series follows the fortunes of various noble houses vying for control of the Seven Kingdom.

fantasy art game of thrones a song of ice and fire roxanne mckee tv series emilia clarke hbo house t_www.wallpaperhi.com_87

Whilst the last two books in the series have been a bit weak, the thing that I like most about the series is that George R.R Martin manages to create complex well rounded characters and the fact that he uses multiple narrators means that your opinion on the some of the events and characters change. I like the wealth of detail that he adds to the world such as the heraldry and the history of all of the houses. I also like the difference of culture across the sea in Essos and how each of the Free Cities are all unique. It makes the world feel more realistic than in most worlds found in the fantasy genre.

 

 

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone 2

Harry Potter

Although I was already a big bookworm by the time my mum bought me Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (I used to love reading E.Nesbit and Roald Dahl) the book really caught my imagination and pretty much defined my childhood. I spent ages wishing that I could go to Hogwarts (my parents hid my acceptance letter dammit.) and I loved the idea of a secret world of wizards living next to our own mundane world. I loved the idea of there being moving pictures and photos and how the staircases moved so it would be easy to get lost.

Hp-harry-potter-34907716-1280-800

I also used to like how the wizarding world had their own terms for certain things like splinching and that they had their own sport. (I really wanna play Quidditch.) I used to love how relaxed the school rules were considering how dangerous it would be to have hundreds of untrained teenage witches and wizards all cooped up in one building. (I don’t think health and safety exists in the wizarding world) Also it was nice to have a main character with red hair who didn’t have an uncontrollable temper and a female protagonist who was smart, brave and used her knowledge to save Harry and Ron’s life on more than one occasion.

The one thing that used to bother me though was how were the children born into wizarding families taught basic English and maths and things.  I mean were they ALL taught at home by their parents or were they enrolled in muggle primary schools if both parents worked? (Imagine how annoying it would be to find out that your SATs didn’t matter once you got to Hogwarts.)

 

dragonposter

Thedas

Okay, so I’ve talked about how Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favourite games. (Let’s not talk about how many hours I’ve clocked up on Origins. Not that I’m ashamed or anything.) Whilst it might not be the best gaming franchise out there, it was the first game for a very long time that managed to suck me in and immerse me in the plot and the characters.

But Thedas is one of my favourite settings. I think it’s because that whilst it does take a lot from generic fantasy settings, it does change up some of the tropes. For example the Elves, instead of being some great beautiful race with thousands of years of knowledge are either oppressed city elves living in poverty or members of the nomadic Dalish clans; elves who are desperate to hold on to what is left of their culture and try to recover as much of their lost history as possible. You also have the dwarves of Orzammer a place with so many people vying for political power that it is dangerous to walk around during elections.

Inquisition_concept_art_-_rocks_and_water

But the thing I like the most about the setting of the games is that there is a lot that hasn’t been explored yet, we’ve been to muddy grey Ferelden and spent hours running around Kirkwall. (trampling through the same dungeon over and over again. But that’s a rant for another post.) The thing that I’m most excited about Inquistion is that we’ll get to visit Orlais, the decadent country where the nobles where elaborate clothes and plot and scheme against each other. We’ve heard a lot about the country from the games and the other tie ins to the franchise, I’m kind of excited to explore somewhere bright and colourful especially after running through the same three environments in the second game. Kirkwall really isn’t a pretty city, everything is brown. I mean, Ferelden wasn’t that bright either, but at least you had the elven ruins.

 

860blog photo

Middle Earth

Last but not least, my favourite fictional universe has to be Middle Earth. (Yes, I know it was an obvious choice. But it’s my list so deal with it.) I know I’ve talked at some length about how much that the books have influenced me. (I mean Tolkien defined a whole genre, it’s kind of difficult to not be influenced by him.) But one of the things I like the most is the world. I have spent years travelling through Middle Earth, fleeing to Rivendell with the Fellowship, wandering through Mirkwood with Thorin’s company and drinking in the Green Dragon with the hobbits of the Shire. (Both in my head and in LOTRO.)

I like the feeling of the familiarity the setting has now that I have read the books so many times. I like how welcoming and home-y the Shire feels and how awe-inspiring Lothlorien and Rivendell are. (I would seriously like to live in Lothlorien, I like being surrounded by trees, though all the stairs would probably kill me.) I like the dark, forboding sense you get when when the Fellowship journey into Moria and how unsafe the cities are the closer you get to the Black Gate. I also like how barren and hot Mordor was and how uncomfortable it must have been for Frodo and Sam. (Yes, I know there’s farmland in the south. I guess there had to be otherwise how would the orcs feed themselves in the first place?) Though the one thing that niggles me is that I often wonder what happened to the female orcs? Did they fight too? Or did they take up the jobs of the male orcs to help with the war effort? I’m guessing the last one would be more likely.

Lothlorien2

I don’t know, I think my favourite place in Middle Earth has to be the Shire. I think I’d make a good Hobbit and it seems like a fairly simple way of life. Though I would like a summer home in Lothlorien.

Okay, so that concludes my list of favourite settings. I’m sure there are loads more that I could add to in the future. (Since there are loads of books I haven’t read yet.) I’m sorry that this post took a long time, I’ve been kind of busy and distracted these past couple of weeks. (But hopefully, I can get back on to the blog posting wagon.) Oh, and a question (mostly to get people commenting on here.) what are your favourite fictional worlds and why?