Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Love Affair with Space and Time

What kind of Whovian would I be if I don't mention the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who that took place on Saturday 23rd November? Probably the most iconic British Science Fiction show, now watched and even worshipped around the world, I grew up watching the series. I can remember my very first story - The Planet of the Spiders (which I've long since blamed for my arachnophobia) - where Jon Pertwee regenerated into the eccentric Tom Baker. My parents were scifi fans, so Doctor Who and the original Star Trek were regular programs to watch. Then later there was Blake's Seven, The Tomorrow People, and The Tripods. Space 1999, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. More Star Trek spin offs, Red Dwarf, Torchwood, Babylon 5, Farscape, Stargate. We lost Doctor Who for 16 years, only for the next generation to explode back onto our screens to a new generation of fandom. And while Star Wars might have triggered the switch for me from writing fantasy to scifi, it was Doctor Who that shaped my debut novel.
Me, age 18, with the then 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy, just before the show was cut.

One aspect of The Day of the Doctor that really struck a chord with me was the fact the story revolved around a regeneration of himself that he had deliberately chosen to forget. The regeneration (beautifully portrayed by John Hurt) was responsible for destroying the Doctor's homeworld Gallifrey, along with the whole of the Time Lord race - his own people - in order to utterly destroy the Daleks (something we know ultimately failed as the Doctor has met further incarnations of the Daleks since). But now regenerations ten and eleven (or so we thought) are faced with the regeneration they tried to forget, and forced to relive making the same terrible decision. This time they elect to do it together, because they can't see an alternative. But then they don't. Together with their other selves, they hide Gallifrey instead of destroying it. And the terrible act that has haunted the Doctor for three generations is averted.

Now, I have one issue with this. The Doctor had to make a horrible decision, and while he's always regretted it, that decision has shaped every decision he's made since. In my novels Keir and Gethyon, I also have a time traveller - Quin. When her son Gethyon, and later Keir question why they can't go back and change things, she tells them it's impossible. They travel through time by feel rather than science, and how can you go back to save someone you saw die? It's psychologically impossible. You know they're dead. She makes the point that if they could go back and change such things, they woudn't be the people they are. Here's a snippet of their conversation:

Gethyon: “But you said we can travel in time as well as space. Didn’t you ever try to go back and…?”
“We can’t go back,” Quin snapped, a sudden harshness in her expression that softened at his responding scowl. “And even if we could, if we could put every little mistake right, what would that do to us? We wouldn’t be the people we are now. Would we care so much if we hadn’t already lost things precious to us? Would we have pity for others if we hadn’t suffered ourselves? Everything that we are, everything that we try to do, believing it to be for the best—all of it is born from the life we’ve had, the decisions we’ve made, good or bad. There are so many things I want to put right, but knowing that I can’t means I try all the harder to make the right choices and be the best person I can.”

And that's my issue. For three generations since that forgotten Doctor, he has been shaped by that terrible decision. And now that he's changed what he did, won't that reshape everything he does? Perhaps it won't change the events already passed, the adventures we've seen, but it will inevitably change what he does in the future.We know that Matt Smith is shortly due to regenerate into Peter Capaldi, so the Doctor is going to change anyway, But I'm curious to see what impact the saving of Gallifrey will have on the new Doctor, and whether we'll now see a darker, perhaps more over-confident regeneration who no longer has the death of his own race on his conscience...

In the meantime, I raise a glass to the creators, writers, producers and actors responsible for 50 years of Doctor Who, and who helped to spark my own stories. Here's to another 50 years! *salutes*

Pippa's Journal

Although I haven't hit 50K with my NaNoWriMo story (again!), I've finished the story. It's all there, and waiting for a damn good polish. At 35K, it's certainly exceeded my original 10K expectation, and to date (being my 4th attempt), it's the longest I've managed at NaNoWriMo. So I'm very pleased and proud with that. Even more amazingly, I put five pages and the synopsis into a critique event by Breathless Press...and got a request for the full on completion! Woo hoo! Of course, that's no guarantee of a contract, but since I wasn't even sure this story would even see the light of day as a self published short, it's flattering to know it caught a publisher's eye. Here's my badge of honor!

Ping Pong

Donna and Laurie, I think too many of us take all the Moon missions for granted, and all the politics behind them. When the shuttles were decommissioned, I felt that humanity was somehow giving up the idea of space exploration, and after all we'd achieved, that seemed so tragic. I'm still hoping I might live long enough to see someone set foot on Mars. I wasn't born until eight years after the assassination, but I can imagine that it hit home in the same way news of 9/11 hit the schools and TV - something that makes the world stop.

Laurie, great post on promotion and it certainly sparked a lot of discussion. I think different things work for different people, and there's still no one magical thing to it. I agree we need something more. The question is still - what?

1 comment:

  1. Loved your thoughts Pippa--even though *gasp* I've never seen an episode of Dr. Who. (Don't worry, I've already been properly shamed by fellow Brigaders Sarah Shade and JC Hay.) The photo of you with the then current Dr. Who is fabulous. Hope you have that up somewhere in a big frame. :)

    And many, many congrats on the request for your NaNoWriMo story. You may not have "won" but it sure sounds like you have a winner! Can't wait to read it.


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