Friday, July 29, 2011

Children of Time

The Doctor likes traveling with an entourage. Sometimes they're human, sometimes they're aliens and sometimes they're tin dogs.

--Sarah Jane Smith, “School Reunion”

Besides the Doctor, the most important characters in the show are the people he travels with. From Rose Tyler to River Song, they travel with the last Time Lord, getting into and out of trouble on alien planets, satellites, and Earth.

Just as each fan has ‘his’ Doctor—one they feel best portrays him—many fans have a favorite companion. The bashing of companions, however, can be even more violent than debates about the Doctor. Every Doctor is ‘the Doctor,’ but it’s possible to argue that a companion shouldn’t have been on the TARDIS. While I enjoy most of the companions, I thought I’d go through the revived series companions* and express my feelings about them, complete with fanfic recommendations and romantic pairings. (There are spoilers)

Rose Tyler: First companion of the new series (Ninth and Tenth), she tends to be a lightning rod among fans. On her own grounds, I find her average—not especially stunning, but not a failure either. She also had a romantic attitude towards the Doctor, which was not going to end cleanly no matter what happened. I doubt that any Classic Doctor would have given her a second glance. When Nine met her, he was mired in survivor’s guilt and self-loathing—he needed someone who though he was fantastic, who admired him and didn’t know his past.

Then things got really tangled with her return in Journey’s End. I didn’t mind her brief appearance in the End of Time farewell sequence, but the Journey’s End bit felt forced, with a compromised ending that left nobody happy. If she’s brought back again, I think it will permanently spoil her earlier episodes.

Pairings: Slight Nine/Ten or Ten Duplicate…

Overall rating: Three stars

Fanfic Recommendations:

An Evening with the TARDIS

Fics I’ve written


Divided Hearts

Dreams in Which I’m Dying


Jack Harkness: Former Time Agent, now head of Torchwood, we first met him in The Empty Child/Doctor Dances. While he does shape up by Journey’s End, his blatant sexuality turns me off.

Pairings: I do not touch this area with a ten light-year pole.

Overall Rating: Two stars

Fanfic Recommendations: None

Mickey Smith: Rose’s unlucky boyfriend, he matures a lot during the series. Not much to say about him, but he technically is a companion.

Pairings: no preference

Rating: Two stars

Fanfic recommendations: none

Martha Jones: The second companion of the Tenth Doctor, she was handed the short end of the stick, with constant comparisons to Rose both in-show and by fans. Some people hate her for not being Rose, others adore her for the same reason. Wisely, she left at the end of series three rather then continue wallowing in her misery.

Pairings: no preference, but her crush on the Doctor is definitely one-sided.

Overall Rating: Three and a half stars

Fanfic Recommendations: none

Donna Noble: Extremely annoying in “The Runaway Bride,” she has one of the best-written character arcs of the new show. Her lack of romantic interest in the Doctor was refreshing after Martha and Rose. But her fate—‘The Rueful Fate of Donna Noble’—it was worse than Rose being trapped on the parallel world.

Pairing: no preference, but NOT the Doctor

Overall rating: Four and a half stars

Fanfic Recommendations:

Lucy in the Sky

Rosemary for Remembrance

Let Me Let You Go

Amelia Pond: The first companion I watched, I have a soft spot for her despite her flirty ways. She’s an interesting mixture of injured childishness and sarcasm. Has some amazing insights into the Doctor’s mind.

Pairings: Rory

Overall rating: Four stars

Fanfic Recommendations:

A Few Days Ago

Twelve Years and Four Psychiatrists

Yellow Alert

Fics I’ve written

Come Along Again


Something That Matters


Wilfred Mott: Winner of my Samwise Award for taking on the companion role in The End of Time, Donna’s grandfather is amazingly cool, with serious guts. His scenes with the Doctor in the cafĂ© and on the spaceship, not to mention the lock, are all tearjerkers.

Pairings: I think it’d be kind of cool if he met Sarah Jane.

Overall rating: Five stars

Fanfic Recommendations:

All it takes for evil to flourish

Fics I’ve written:

Cup of Tea

Grasshopper Duet

*Adam, Astrid, Jackson Lake, Adelaide Brookes, and Lady Christine are barely companions. Sarah Jane, on the other hand, gains most of her significance from the classic series and will be covered when I get to the Fourth Doctor’s companions. And River Song…well, she deserves her own post.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Bad Shot

Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel.
-G.K. Chesterton

While this shot was not aimed at me, I feel obiligated to respond. The article starts "If you write fiction, you may be ridng a dead horse," and states
Unfortunately this path is more likely to lead to oblivion than to success. Not only do sales continue to decline as mentioned, but competition with other serious authors for the few slots available is increasingly intense. Your chances of success in selling fiction are slim to none.
I will leave it to someone else to investigate the statistics, the amount of money made by icons like Stephanie Meyers and J.K.Rowling, much less those like J.R.R. Tolkien,who makes more money than a lot of people who have the distinct advantage of being ALIVE.
I wish to comment on the assumptions behind this writing. The author clearly defines 'Sucess' with dollar signs, name recognition, and a spot on the top of The New York Times bestseller list. But some of us don't agree with that. We may want to be sucessful, but sucess might be finally finishing the novel in progress, getting paid for a short story, touching a person's heart.
And as a Christian, I define success as touching someone's heart for God, regardless of fiscal results (although those are nice too. Isaac Asimov said once 'I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn't, I would die." But more important is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Bryan Davis, "Write to plesae God, not to please the market. Write what makes you burn with holy fire, not what sizzles through the checkout stand."
So, thanks for the tip, but I think my 'dead horse' might just be a winged stead.

Christian Encounters: J.R.R. Tolkien

Christian Encounters: J.R.R. Tolkien

Publisher’s Summery
Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.
J.R.R. Tolkien famously penned The Hobbit and the 3-volume novel The Lord of the Rings. Known as “the father of modern fantasy literature,” his writings have inspired many other works of fantasy and have had a lasting effect on the entire genre. In this Christian Encounters biography, learn how Tolkien’s faith was an intrinsic element of his creative imagination, one that played out in the pages of his writings and his life.

My Review
I have read much of Tolkien’s works, from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit to the Silmarillion to Roverandom and the Lays of Beleriand, even Sigurd and Gundrun; I have a firm basis in the primary texts of Tolkiendom. But I haven’t read many biographies about him. So when I saw this book on the Booksneeze list, I jumped at the opportunity.
My first surprise about this book was the size. It’s only a little wider and taller than a mass market paperback, and a good deal thinner—easily carried in a purse or backpack. The flexible end-‘papers’ make excellent bookmarks in a pinch, and the text, though small, is easy to read.
The content was also excellent, a well-rounded perspective on one of the great minds of speculative literature, if not the patron saint of Christian fantasy. Covering Tolkien’s life from his childhood in South Africa to his rough courtship with Edith and into his creative life at Oxford, this book is accessible for Tolkien-philes and newcomers alike. It even ends with a chapter covering his legacy among modern culture.
Four of Five stars

Although you probably don’t care, I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson as part of their BookSneeze program in exchange for writing and posting an honest review. I was not required to praise the book.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

You Were Born for This

Publisher’s InformationHis New York Times phenomenon The Prayer of Jabez changed how millions pray. Now Bruce Wilkinson wants to change what they do next.

Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by an act of God. Around the world these acts are called miracles–not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn the "protocol of heaven."

In the straightforward, story-driven, highly motivating style for which he is known, Wilkinson describes how anyone can be a 'Delivery Guy' from heaven in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose and spiritual growth.

You Were Born for This will change how you see your world and show you what you can expect God to do through you to meet real needs. You will master seven simple tools of service, and come to say with confidence, "I want to deliver a supernatural gift from God to someone in need today–and I expect to!"

My Review
Books on Christian living tend to fall into one of two categories: inspiring, but too vague to act on; or with too many steps and strategies to allow the Holy Spirit to work. This book avoids both traps, giving Scripturally-sound strategies to be deliberate about opening yourself to God’s work.
More importantly, I felt the book addressed the main concern I have with ministry. As an introvert, I have a sick feeling at the thought of sharing my faith. But two points struck me: first, we are the deliverymen for miracles, not the miracles ourselves. And secondly, fear is just the body saying “PAY ATTENTION!”
Four of Five stars

I received a free copy of this book but was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Be The People: A Review for July 4th

Publisher's Description
An insightful analysis of the forces of deception rapidly reshaping America's morals, social policies, and culture, with a call to specific action, written by a thoughtful and courageous Christian social scientist on the front lines of today's issues.

Cultural elites in the media, academia, and politics are daily deceiving millions of Americans into passively supporting policies that are detrimental to the nation and their own best interest. Although some Americans can see through the smokescreen, they feel powerless to redirect the forces inside and outside government that radically threaten cherished values and principles.

Drawing on her training in political science and law, Dr. Swain thoughtfully examines the religious significance of the founding of our nation and the deceptions that have infiltrated our daily lives and now threaten traditional families, unborn children, and members of various racial and ethnic groups-as well as national sovereignty itself--and provides action points for the people of this country to make the political system more responsive.

The book is divided into two sections:

Forsaking what we once knew
Re-embracing truth and justice in policy choices
It also covers key topics such as:

America's shift to moral relativism
America's religious roots
Abortion's fragile facade
Historical and biblical views on families and children
Erosion of rule of law, national security, and immigration
Racial and ethnic challenges
Reclaiming the future

Also includes a short list of suggestions at the end of each chapter, as well as appendices containing the 10 Commandments, The Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution.

My Perspective
The author opens the book with her goals and audience. She believes that America was founded as a Christian nation and provides evidence to prove it, returning to the original documents for support. The two sections of the book could be classified as "Abandoned" and "Reclaiming," as the Christian heritage of America is contrasted with the moral decay of our nation today.
The book is easy to read and compelling,with some startling claims that require more thought then might appear on first reading. One of these areas is covenant theology: the belief that America has a covenant relationship with God in modern society, just as Israel did in Bible times. While Christians may disagree with that perspective, it is hard to dispute that America is seen--even by its enemies--as a primarily Christian nation.
Even if you don't agree with the author's worldview, she has practical suggestions on moving forward, as well as a clear presentation of her ideas. Not only is is a good reminder for Christians, it might help those on the other side of politics understand where Christian conservatives are coming from. Overall, I give Be the People 3.5 stars.
I recieved a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program but was not required to write a positive review

To close, I would like to share a prayer reprinted in the book. This prayer was originally given to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1996.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good,," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We confess:

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ.