Sci-Fi

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What Doctor Who has Meant to Me

By Joel Anderson (Art & Poetry Editor)

I first met the Doctor in the winter of 2011, after being persuaded to give it a try by my friend Zack Brammer.

So I convinced my lady friend at the time to sit down with me and give it a shot. And from the first episode “Rose” I was intrigued.

Who is this man running around in a leather jacket and purple sweater? Why is he so maniacal/unhinged? What’s up with his ears? What’s a TARDIS and why is it bigger on the inside? Holy crap this is so cool!

Christopher Eccleston is my first Doctor. And I still love his interpretation of the character. A man wounded by his decisions in the past, yet still willing to help any species that needs it, and despite his hardened exterior, he falls in love with a young human, Rose.

I loved seeing the man who could go from the brink of destructive madness, to a mad scientist, to a comic. Which all incarnations of the character have, but I really liked how Eccleston handled it.

I went through David Tennant and Matt Smith, but Eccleston still holds something over me. Such a shame he didn’t stay longer.

But I digress.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for me to get hooked. The writing is incredible, the monsters are fantastic and the characters are so rich and complex. I fell in love with the emotional toll it took on me when a companion left, and we met the new one. The incredible twists, the weeping angels, Daleks, Cybermen it all culminated into one big ball of love that attached itself in my chest, you could say it gave me a second heart.

I ran into some hard times once I became a full-fledged Whovian.

I had a terrible job; working as a telemarketer, not happy with my life, living back with my mom because the economy sucked so badly and my job didn’t pay me enough to live on my own.

I drew a TARDIS on the side of my headset box. And I would stare at that shitty hand drawn TARDIS for hours on end, hoping to hear the all familiar wheeze as the little blue box lands and out pops the Doctor.

It helped me get through some tough times at that hell hole. Picturing some of the fantastical adventures the Doctor and I would go on. And having my weeks ending with a new episode of Doctor Who helped a lot too.

Then I realized my other connection with the Doctor.

Our birthday!

Yes, on November 23, 1963 the first episode of the series aired on the BBC. 24 years later I entered this world. Maybe that makes me a timelord?! I sure hope so.

The Doctor helped me to establish new friendships, started fierce debates, help me to sort out bad girlfriend candidates and made bow ties cool again. But let’s face it, they’ve always been cool.

And on this, the 50th anniversary of the show, I can’t wait to see what the Doctor has in store for us. I can’t wait to see Peter Capaldi in the role, even though I’ll have to say goodbye to Matt Smith.

So here’s to you Doctor. Thank you for two wonderful years of adventure for me, and 50 years for the whole of the fandom. I look forward to the road ahead and I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years holds. To end this tribute I will call upon the great Steven Spielberg who said “The world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who.

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By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

The first true Science Fiction show. The first Science Fiction fandom.

Pop culture owes so much to a little under-produced British television series called Doctor Who, which made its debut Nov. 23, 1963. With its 50th anniversary special just a few weeks away, there are some that might be intimidated to just jump in and watch without a “History of,” or a proposed list of “catching up” episodes. Though BBC America has had specials all year featuring the personality and contributions each facet of this timeless alien, The Doctor, has undergone, it is nice but not necessary.

“The Doctor,” (name unknown, hence his being referred to as “Doctor Who”) is an alien from Gallifrey, the planet of the Time Lords. Time Lords are able to not only travel time and space but can to regenerate their lives approximatley 12-13 times. The show’s mastermind Steve Moffat isn’t always clear to us on this matter.

Each incarnation of the Doctor is played by a different actor who presents their own interpretation of the character. The show saw much success and influence with British children and many musicians in the 60’s and throughout the 70’s and 80’s the show became a British staple. With the end of the 7th Doctor’s tenure, the show went off air but was briefy revamped in the late 90’s with a feature film featuring an 8th Doctor (a great place for new comers). Its success and the buzz it generated led to the show being relaunched completely (this time with AMAZINGLY high production) with a new 9th Doctor in the 00’s. The new Doctor Who featured complicated story archs and new, more involved travelling companions.

As far as a true “history of…,” it would be impossible to discuss the range of influences this program and its thought-provoking idea/ls have had on any number of creative mediums, or even actual science, in the last 50 years but its influence in recent years alone has spawned a loyal fandom which is far from anything lukewarm.

You either love The Doctor or you don’t.

While fads come and go in entertainment, and the recent popularity? (shakes head) of “geekdoms,” a concern for yours truly, usually people who truly grasp onto Doctor Who are quite changed. But fandom is not about collections, it is not about who has seen the most episodes and it sure is not about a geekdom which is now maybe something amusing on primetime but that might lose its “coolness” overnight with the next fad or social phenomenon. NOR is it about the previous “laughing at” and now “laughing with” a geek of said interest, or any interest. It shouldn’t be. The Doctor would not say that. None of these things matter in all of Time and Space.

However, shows like Doctor Who, along with a small handful of other highly influential series, have seen die-hard fandom endure. Nowadays, fandom has gone mainstream. The influence of popular comic books that have been turned into blockbusters, along with the popular graphic novel The Walking Dead seeing a successful run on television, has seen fandom widely acceptable by the masses.

The upcoming 50th Anniversary special is going to examine “who” this entity of the Doctor really is. His culminated nature, his “name” and what he has done throughout history in “his name.” What does he mean to the Universe (real or imagined)? And as such, this cultural historian really has little to say for a “History of…” because as compared to more longstanding fans, whatever I say would be trite. Though much research has been done prior to this article and really as soon as “fandom” hit with MY “first doctor,” the 9th Docotr played by Christopher Eccleston. But again that is not the point of this fandom of Whovians. It shouldn’t be because it is not the message of the Doctor nor his archetype. Yes, it can be intimidating even though one might have heard great things about the series being thought-provoking, about the endless possiblities posed by time and space travel and the 900 year old alien entity that shared his experiences with little old humans because he chose to. In the series, the Doctor chose to see the good and foster it in this imperfect race. But when one jumps in and finds that yes, there are complicated story arcs but the average episode, any episode, can intrigue a new viewer to watch and crave more. Similarly to novellas.

Fandom. Merchandise. While it is nice to have something one likes become more accessible, one must beware the capitalism. Not “Capitalism” in a broad sense, but by other fans’ capitalization. The, “Oh yeah, I’m a geek too” that a Whovain might hear at say, a convention or even in a more average mundane place. And just proceed with the mission of well, watching the show.

Having said this, a recommended list of books about Doctor Who will not be provided. Although there are some great ones, there are many bandwagon sensationalists that are, again, capitalizing on die-hard fans’ commitment. To truly appreciate the program, one must simply watch it. Watch it alone. Watch it with others. But don’t watch it out of peer pressure or because geekdoms are cool right now and the other geeks are tweaking over it. Don’t believe the hype!

So without further ado, in addition to watching the show, I present some media in appreciation of the Whoniverse in its most basic, honest and/or comical manner.

With love, Ms. Rose

Fandom Picks:

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

Artist Larry Lee Moniz.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

For some, Science Fiction is more than merely science fiction. It is a way of life. The philosophies often found in most Science Fiction works often represent a strong sense of morality, diplomacy, democracy and idealism. Often times, where other artistic mediums appear to be hypocritical and/or biased, Sci-Fi has always held it’s ground, all while providing a strong sense of intellect and excitement.

From the practically Christ-like morals of The Doctor (Doctor Who) to the balance of the Force (Star Wars) and the Enterprise’s galactic mission of peace and diplomacy (Star Trek), Sci-Fi franchises, no matter how violent or futuristic, still stress the importance of good triumphing over evil. This is a facet to Science Fiction that artist Larry Lee Moniz finds both inspiring and crucially important.

“Well, I think outside the obvious escapism, I like Sci-Fi when good is conquering evil, the wrong gets set right. Sci-Fi with a message of good vs. evil,” said Moniz. “To quote Craig Ferguson, a HUGE Doctor Who fan, ‘Intelect and Romance over Brute Force and Cynicism.'”

Moniz is a San Francisco-based graphic artist and huge Sci-Fi fan. His love for the genre and its principles came from a very early age.

“I was drawing pictures of spaceships and robots since I was able to pick up a pencil!” explained Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

Image by Larry Lee Moniz.

He quickly turned his admiration of particular Sci-Fi works into inspiration, that have ultimately paved the way to his career.

“I got through art school essentially making every project I could about Sci-Fi! Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost In Space, Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was never at a loss for material for my assignments!” Moniz said.

Through his art, Moniz proves that great appreciation can be converted into inspiration, ultimately making for intense creativity. And, as he stated, there is more than just escapism to the high fantasy genre. There is the ability to connect with others, and on very artistic fronts.

The multi-talented Moniz offers some of his most interesting works, including his original reinterpretation of the Doctor Who theme song.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Giger designing the iconic creature from the "Alien" franchise.
Giger designing the iconic creature from the “Alien” franchise.

Hans Rudolf Giger, better known as H.R. Giger, is a Swiss-born conceptual artist who’s designed some of Hollywood’s most terrifying images. Giger, born in Chur, Switzerland in 1940, is also behind some of the music industry’s most eyebrow-rising album art. Taking inspiration from the horror-fiction works of H.P. Lovecraft and images associated with the Necronomicon, as well as his own night terrors, Giger has been Hollywood’s go-to artist for the gruesome and macabre for over 40 years.

Giger began his career in the movie industry as a director, making small horror-tinged sci-fi films in his native Switzerland. He broke on to the international scene most notably for his work on the 1979 blockbuster, Alien. He designed the notorious monster after sketching down one of his own night-terrors, an ailment of which he frequently suffered. The Alien monster has become synonymous with the multi-million dollar franchise.

The Alien monster created by Giger.
The Alien monster created by Giger.

Aside from the Alien franchise, Giger has been involved in several major movies over the decades. He’s responsible for the most terrifying imagery in the horror flicks Poltergiest II: The Other Side and Killer Condom. He’s also credited for designing the Batmobile from 1995’s Batman Forever. Most recently, his original designs were credited in the 2012 horror/sci-fi Alien-precursor, Prometheus, and has been a creative consultant behind the computer game, Dark Seed.

Giger is also well-known in the music industry for creating some of the most controversial album artwork ever released by major labels. He’s the mastermind behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, which had to be edited due to its overtly sexual explicitness. He also designed the limited edition poster (rows of copulating genitalia) that was included in vinyl copies of the Dead Kennedys 1985 release Frankenchrist, which resulted in the arrest of the band’s frontman, Jello Biafra. More recently, Giger has designed a custom microphone stand depicting a naked woman for KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis and has a line of custom-designed signature guitars from Ibanez.

Giger believes that despite the dark and menacing tones behind his work, beauty can be found.

“Some people say my work is often depressing and pessimistic, with the emphasis on death, blood, overcrowding, strange beings and so on, but I don’t really think it is. Some people would say my paintings show a future world and maybe they do, but I paint from reality. There is hope and a kind of beauty in there somewhere, if you look for it,” said Giger in an interview with TIME Magazine.