Thoughts on Deep Breath

August 31st, 2014

I just watched “Into the Dalek” last night, and will share my thoughts on that on the next Verity!. :-)

I have some first impressions, and some nitpicks about “Deep Breath.”

In general, I really liked most of the episode. It was a pretty good introduction of a new Doctor, although I still think “The Eleventh Hour” is the standard for the Moffat era of same.

Caitlin’s experience of watching the episode is that she was thrilled to see her Doctor, Matt Smith, however briefly, and she’s somewhat dubious of This New Guy. That’s a legit part of the regeneration fan reaction cycle. But Caitlin has been through multiple regenerations. She knows that the Doctor is still the Doctor (splendid chaps, all of them, as the Brigadier would say). She’ll be fine, given time to get to know the new one. As is the way of things.

On Capaldi as the Doctor:

I love him. LOVE LOVE LOVE him. He is brusque and he is funny and he is deeply alien in his interactions. He’s playing it with shades of the Dark 7th Doctor and Tom Baker’s first 3 seasons. Even better, he’s getting plots and writing that provide what Colin Baker’s Doctor desperately needed to pull off the whole “Doctor is truly alien and has alien reactions” thing.

The whole bit with the dinosaur, and the scene with the homeless man with him discovering his Scots and his eyebrows were sheer brilliance. I pretty much love every single choice he made as an actor. And the costume. I especially loved the whole “I’m pouring myself a drink because I’ll likely have to kill you.” This is clearly a Grown Up Doctor. *nods in satisfaction* So much so that it doesn’t matter if the lead robot jumped or was pushed. (I vote the former).

On Clara:

It’s good to see Jenna Coleman getting things to do. Clara Oswald is finally getting more well-rounded characterization moments rather than being a plot device! The interplay of her being forcibly perky at the Doctor to needle him, and the two of them snarking together in the restaurant scene is made of multiple levels of win. I also rather enjoyed her performance down in the larder. Terrified and defiant and vulnerable and brave simultaneously. Brilliant.

On the Paternoster Gang:

It’s always lovely to see them. Vastra, Jenny & Strax are among my favorite recurring characters.  I generally enjoy their interplay. Vastra & Jenny’s domestic relationship has some interesting undercurrents, mostly played for laughs. Strax is his usual deeply, affectionately inappropriate self. The whole “the Doctor’s family” vibe is very much in play here, and I adore the fact that they are totally ready to incorporate Clara into family life if need be.

Yes, I have a theory about who Missy is. It’s one of the more popular theories, which involves “Missy” being an abbreviation for a feminized version of a particular title. If I’m wrong, that’s fine. *shrug* I’m interested enough to see where it goes, which is part of the point, obviously. And yay, female villain!

There were some things that bugged me, though. Nitpicks ahoy!

Pacing. We watched on BBC America, and the commercial breaks KILLED the structural pacing of the plot, because the plot wasn’t structured for the breaks that BBCA introduced. Obviously, this will be fixed when we own the blurays. But… annoying. US television is structured for these breaks in terms of act breaks and hooks. UK television is not, and that is totally fine. However, if the point of BBCAmerica as a channel is to showcase UK television at its best, why not structure your commercial breaks so that they fit the televisual structure that you’re showcasing?

Much of the humor in Clara’s scenes was aimed at Clara, which, because there was so much of it, began to come across as rather targeted. The slapstick newspaper to the head, the very upsetting medical examination that served no plot purpose (other than introducing the gadget for the Blue Peter winner, which could have been done another, better way–hey, how about examining the Doctor?) and generally just reinforced the whole “Clara is an empty vessel/”typical” woman interested in attractive footballers/has no clear non-narcissistic depths” trope that I have come to deeply dislike.

I realize that this is probably designed to underline and reinforce the veil scene where Clara pushes back at Vastra pointedly claiming that Clara has no depth. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was terribly effective, because while Jenna did a great job with the speech that she was handed, there was something missing in that speech about her issues with the regeneration: Clara’s acknowledgement that the Doctor is still the Doctor. And the plot acknowledging that her having mixed feelings about the regeneration is a perfectly reasonable reaction.

Let’s talk about my issues with how the regeneration was handled.

I accept that in the Moffat Era of Doctor Who, plot and clever lines will be privileged over honest-feeling character emotional beats that might mess up said plot/cleverness, just as I accept that during the Davies Era of Doctor Who, the emotional reactions of the characters to situations will generally be spot-on, but there will be plot holes that you can drive a truck through. So be it.

If you’ve decided to rewrite continuity so many times that it doesn’t matter anymore because every arc is now designed to ignore/erase the emotional consequences for any character at any given point, and you’ve trolled every pedantic fan desperately trying to make sense of the timeline for eternity? I will just throw up my hands and do my best to engage with what is before me. It’s easier. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of spending a lot more hard-earned attention and brain-time on something that you clearly don’t think is all that important. Fanon will do the emotional work that you don’t want to do. *throws up hands*

Clara’s timeline before and after jumping into the vortex to save all the Doctor’s is now so hosed up beyond recognition that I will just accept her not understanding regeneration or knowing what it looks like.  She has not a clue, because the plot works better that way. Despite having established her as being a generally clueful and a worthy companion who has already saved the Doctor repeatedly.

Clara keeps saying “something’s gone wrong” and pointing out the age of this new Doctor. Understandable to a certain extent, as in Clara’s experience of “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor,” the Doctor ages, but begins young. Assuming she remembers that. If she doesn’t, she still might be freaked out that after being told that regeneration is a renewal, the Doctor has renewed into a body that clearly has more wear and tear on it than the previous version. So she might plausibly suspect at first that something went wrong.  Clara’s reaction that she’s not sure this is the same person are perfectly reasonable. Especially given that the Doctor has some decently bad amnesia at first, and doesn’t remember her.

The phonecall then also makes a certain amount of sense. It’s supposed to be a plea for the viewer to give the new Doctor a chance. And, clearly (in retrospect, given the recurring theme in “Into the Dalek”), the goal here is to have the Question of the Season (or at least part of it) be Who is the Doctor This Time? Which is fair enough.

But the over-emphasis on the age of the Doctor (both based on his observations and Clara’s) ended up throwing me out of the story. It felt as though there was a meta-text of yelling at the vocal parts of fandom that were (assumed to be) upset that the Doctor is now older. These fans were assumed to be female, flighty, and only interested in attractive young men who are potential love interests, just like Clara was assumed to be. And Clara’s reaction was clearly an attempt to point that out.  So what you have is a metatext that yells at one set of fans about not liking the Doctor because he’s older, and another metatext (Clara’s reaction) that tells us that there’s clearly something wrong with being older. It basically slaps the audience with ageism both ways; if we accept that the Doctor is older, we side with thinking that young people are vapid, and if we don’t, we don’t want to think about/value older people.

As a result, I’ve now devoted much of my commentary about this episode to something that should have been a minor point from a plot and emotional POV.

We already accept that the Doctor is 2000+ years old at this point, regardless of wearing a young, pretty face to appeal to the masses. All we needed was one line that pointed out that the Doctor doesn’t always get younger, with the example of the Troughton to Pertwee regeneration. Explain to Clara (and the viewers at home who need it) that this sometimes happens, and move on. It solves the issue, and places the emphasis back where it belongs, which is on Clara and the Doctor getting to know themselves and each other in this new context.

The transition from one Doctor to another is always rocky. Accepting change is a major theme of the series. Chastising the audience by assuming that they will all fail to do so in different ways just seems a bit … illogical for a now hugely popular show that has world tours and simulcast premieres.

So, TL;DR: I liked Deep Breath, loved Capaldi & Coleman, thought some of the jokes fell flat, and thought that the deep suspicion of Capaldi’s age as the Doctor was a bit overemphasized.


New Verity! Episode 49–Into the Deep Breath

August 28th, 2014

I’m not on this one, but you know you wanna. 

I need to listen to it and write my 2 cents post!



5 Librarian Things make a post

August 28th, 2014

1.  The Digital POWRR Project published our White Paper (the IMLS deliverable) yesterday. I am so very, very proud of the work that we did, and of the colleagues that I have had the honor of knowing and working with for the past 2 and a half years. I hope that people find it useful. It helped us learn so very much, and we are grateful to the IMLS for the opportunity.

2. We are taking our Digital POWRR workshops on the road! We will be in San Francisco, St. Paul, Northampton, and Texas! (I am very much looking forward to the Smith workshop, for what I hope are obvious reasons. *plots trips to Herrell’s and WEBS*)

3. If you are a book nerd, please do check out this lovely video about Rare Book School:

4. Also please note that there are now fellowships for early-career Rare Books Librarians that will pay for you to go to RBS or the RBMS preconference.

5. I am working simultaneously on 2 library-related seekrit projects. :-) More on those later.

New Verity! Extra! Series 8! Series 8! What do we appreciate?

August 21st, 2014

IT’S ALMOST HERE! Pardon the shouting, but we’re a bit excited. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we talk about what little we know of the upcoming Series 8. We also have a nice little discussion about out spoiler policy–and spoilers in general. Poor Erika does too much Verity! homework and learns more than she wants. Lynne experiences ratatouille and bitterness. Kat wants you to serve her fangirly whims. And Deb is apparently on a first-name basis with Steven Moffat.

What are you most excited about in series 8? Let us know (in a spoiler-free manner!) in the comments! And let us know your thoughts on spoilers too!


Related links:
Mr. Chris from The Pharos Project snapped a pic of us “on the big screen”
Radio Free Skaro’s trailer coverage
Bridging the Rift
“I have a theory…it could be bunnies”
Doctor Who World Tour playlist
The Ultimate Companion
The Ultimate Time Lord
Series 8 fan-made opening
Deimos (Big Finish audio w/Paul McGann & the Ice Warriors)
Rachel Talalay
Sheree Folkson
Series 8 episode titles (and more)
BBC America Deep Breath time change

Download or listen now (runtime 38:14) 

New! Verity! Extra! Tower Commentary by the Dashboard Light

August 6th, 2014

You asked for it! (Or at least enough of you did to beat out the other choices.) This Extra! sees the first of our two listener-voted commentaries! Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we chatter over the Sylvester McCoy classic, “Paradise Towers“. Or rather, we’ll be talking over it if you play your DVD while listening to us. (Queuing instructions included in the ‘cast.)

And before the commentary, Lynne tells us about her exciting new project!


Uncanny links:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:52:06) 

The Next Project: Uncanny Magazine

July 29th, 2014

So, this is what we’ve been working on lately.

Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy

Three-time Hugo Award-winner Lynne M. Thomas (Apex MagazineChicks Dig Time LordsGlitter & Mayhem) and three-time Hugo Award nominee Michael Damian Thomas (Apex MagazineQueers Dig Time Lords) are launching year one of a new professional online SF/F magazine: Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy

Each issue will contain new and classic speculative fiction, fiction podcasts, poetry, essays, art, and interviews.

Our Philosophy:

We’re geeks who have spent the past several years creating and sharing work that gets us excited.

Whether it’s sharing true, personal stories of how the community that loves Doctor Who changes lives in Chicks Dig Time Lords and Queers Dig Time Lords, publishing haunting, lyrical, and devastating stories in Apex Magazine, or throwing a massive, Kickstarter-funded science fictional party through Glitter & Mayhem‘s stories of the dark side of night life and roller derby (what’s more awesome than partying aliens and roller derby?), we’ve done our best to bring you stories and images that stay with you, because they feel like they were made for you.

We think that the best Science Fiction and Fantasy literature combines astonishing ideas, strong characterization, gorgeous writing, and distinctive points of view from around the world.

We love the stories that we can’t stop thinking and talking about, because of how they made us feel.  We’re taking our experiences and using them to create a new online magazine.

We’re calling it Uncanny, because we want to produce a sensational magazine that feels like you’ve been here before, in the best way possible.

These kinds of stories feel as rare as unicorns. Getting to share them with our readers as editors is awesome like a space unicorn (hence our mascot).

Space unicorns for everyone!

Here’s a preview of some of our cover art, in this case, by Tran Nguyen:

A Sentimental Swallow by Tran Nguyen
A Sentimental Swallow by Tran Nguyen

 (This is available as postcards and prints for some backers).

Year One Contributors: (So far)…

For year one, we’ve solicited original short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winning and nominated authors including:

L-R: (row 1) Amal El-Mohtar (photo credit: Stephanie J. Boland), Sofia Samatar (photo credit: Adauto Araujo), Charlie Jane Anders, Liz Argall, Rachel Swirsky (photo credit: Folly Blaine); (row 2) Maria Dahvana Headley, Mary Robinette Kowal (photo credit: Rod Searcey), Neil Gaiman (photo credit: Kimberly Butler), Scott Lynch; (row 3) Catherynne M. Valente, Paul Cornell, Ken Liu, Kat Howard (photo credit: Tia Mansouri), Hao Jingfang, E. Lily Yu.

We plan to showcase original poetry by

… and essays by

Uncanny will also feature cover art by

More preview art, this time by Julie Dillon!

Fortune's Favored, by Julie Dillon
Fortune’s Favored, by Julie Dillon

 (This is available as postcards and prints for some backers).

There will also be slots for unsolicited submissions. We’re deeply committed to finding and showcasing new voices in our genre from around the world.

How You Can Get Uncanny:

Uncanny issues will be published as eBooks (MOBI, PDF, EPUB) bimonthly on the first Tuesday of that month through all of the major online eBook stores. Each issue will contain 4-6 new short stories, 2 reprinted stories, 2 poems, 2 nonfiction essays, and 2 interviews,at minimum. We are currently working on providing additional exclusive content just for subscribers.

Subscribers and those purchasing single issues get each issue (ex: Nov/Dec 2014 is our first planned issue) in its entirety up front, no waiting.

Those reading online for free will have to wait a week for the first half of the issue, and a month for the second half, to appear on the second Tuesday of each month (of November and December, respectively in our example) at

We will also be producing a monthly fiction podcast.

How We Will Use the Funding:

We are fundraising to cover the start up costs for launching a professional online magazine. We intend to pay our writers $ .08 per word for original fiction, our poets $30 per poem, and our essayists $50 per essay, and our artists $60 per reprinted artwork. In addition to paying our contributors, our budget includes hiring Clockpunk Studios to set up, design and host a robust website; podcast production and hosting costs; and covering backer rewards and Kickstarter fees.

5 Things make a Wednesday post

July 23rd, 2014

1. New! Verity! Extra! It’s a Big Finish Roundtable, featuring our very own LM Myles, whose Breaking Bubbles 6th Doctor Story is out this week, and Caroline Symcox, writer of Council of Nicea along with Una McCormack in an encore appearance!

2. Verity!’s very own Deb Stanish is the Geekadelphia Geek of the Week! WOO!

3. We visited Mary and Rob Kowal over last weekend. I have been inducted into the cult of Fluevog. This was our consolation prize for Being Grownups About Not Going To London. They are ridiculously cute and comfortable shoes.

4. This weekend is the Aicardi Syndrome Family Conference. This is our first conference back in quite a while, and we are a bit nervous about it. While it’s a great opportunity to connect with families having many of the same experiences, it is also a bit of an emotional roller coaster for a long list of reasons. We are counting the days until Caitlin’s GI specialist appointment. She is still barfing every 5-7 days. :-(

5. In good news, Michael will be guesting at Chicago TARDIS this year! As will Billie Piper. O_O I may be a WEE BIT EXCITED.

New SF Squeecast Episode! Episode 36: Kiddie Pools of Blood…in Phoenix

July 22nd, 2014


Episode 36 of the SF Squeecast is out!

Kiddie Pools of Blood…in Phoenix  was recorded LIVE at Phoenix Comic Con. With Elizabeth Bear, Catherynne Valente, Seanan McGuire, me… and CHARLAINE HARRIS.

In this episode, we generally squeed about teams, writing series, and how to kill people. We mentioned so many things that we are skipping the links this month. If you’re having trouble looking up something on your search engine of choice, please let us know.


5 things make a post-Convergence update post

July 16th, 2014


1. New Verity Episode! Episode 46: Communication Breakdown is live.

2. Work is quiet, in the sense that I’m mostly working on things like annual reports and tenure portfolio reviews, that I can poke at slowly over time well before the deadlines. We are planning Digital POWRR workshops in the fall (I will be on the road quite a bit), and waiting to hear back from our IMLS grant officer about when the white paper can be released into the wild.

3. This is good, because much of my brainspace has been taken up with worry over Caitlin (she is still continuing with the pattern of being barfy every 10-14 days for no visible reason). This kind of thing is very wearing, because when she’s in a barfy period, she needs constant vigilance. As a silent aspirator, we have to be quick to get Cait onto her side so that the barf doesn’t get into her lungs and lead to pneumonia. Also, it’s obvious that she’s not having any fun.  We see a GI specialist for her on the 29th, but waiting for that is frustrating, especially with the knowledge that we might not get concrete answers anytime soon. While she was sick at the McCulloughs before CONvergence last week, she got through most of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which she seemed to enjoy.

4. CONvergence was ABSOLUTELY lovely. We had a good time, Cait was well for the whole convention and on her very best behavior, too, and we had the opportunity to hang with friends old and new. I’m particularly proud of coming in 2nd on Paul Cornell’s Hypothetical Who game. Given that points were awarded for audience laughs as well as logical Who knowledge-based conclusions, and I lost to a professional comedian, I’m considering it a win.

5. I learned that the older brother of my best friend from high school passed away suddenly on Monday. Her whole family is heartbroken, and I am for them as well, while doing that feeling helpless from 1000 miles away thing, as I can’t make it out to the funeral. He was in his early 40s. I’m not very keen on this whole “suddenly members of my peer group are passing away” thing. At. All.

So, ups and downs. We’ve been watching a lot of cozy mystery series lately, particular Midsomer Murders  and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Enjoying them both immensely for completely different reasons, while appreciating the tidiness of the format. There is great comfort in everything making complete logical sense, like pieces of a puzzle, especially when real life is generally much messier.

Trying to be patient for August 23, the beginning of the Capaldi Age of Doctor Who. :-)

Verity! Extra! Doctor in a Strange Land

July 9th, 2014

This week’s Extra! features crossover madness! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Tansy, as we muse over what it would be like to plop the Doctor into other fictional worlds. What makes a good crossover? Which Verity isn’t really comfortable with crossovers? Who coins the term “Capaldi-flicted”? And who observes that Capaldi “gives good cape”? Listen and see!

Then let us know in the comments what fictional worlds you’d like to see the Doctor (and/or his companions) visit. Inquiring Verities want to know!


Related links:
Tansy’s Musketeer Space
Radio Free Skaro #428 – Believe it or Not

Download or listen now (runtime 29:36)