Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Classic Lit in a Modern World

Since Monday was the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, I decided to try watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries online. It's a vlog series with Pride and Prejudice characters in a modern setting. To be honest, I'd tried to read the original, but I couldn't maintain interest in the dancing and talking and talking about dances.  Instead, it's a bunch of funny, melodramatic reenactments. Besides, it made me feel more sympathetic for the characters- except Lydia. She's annoying.
I think I'll also watch Lost in Austen, just because Alex Kingston's in it. I mean, almost anything with her I can retcon into "River undercover."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ooh Shinies

One of my friends posted a link to a giveaway of a Sherlock/Watson pin.  It looks really cool, and the person also makes Doctor Who and Cabin Pressure items...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Doctor and River in Four Quotes

One quote for each season of the Doctor and River’s relationship.
It’s not over for you. You’ll see me again. You and me. Time and space. You watch us run. 
River, “Forest of the Dead”
Obviously, I had to choose from Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, but I thought this quote fit the best because it points forward, to the adventures of seasons five and six.
Is River Song your wife? ‘Cause she’s someone from your future. And the way she talks to you, I’ve never seen anyone do that. She’s kind of like, you know,  ’Heel, boy.’ She’s Mrs. Doctor from the future, isn’t she? Is she going to be your wife  one day?
Amy Pond, “The Time of Angels”
This was the first episode I saw River in, and I think this quote summarizes season five (and even six to a certain extent)  when we’re still trying to work out who River is, and the Doctor doesn’t even know. She’s important to him, but we aren’t quite sure how yet.
The Doctor will find your daughter. And he will care for her, whatever it takes. And I know that,
River Song, “A Good Man Goes to War”
There were a lot of good quotes in this series, but I like this one because it shows how much the Doctor loves River, even when he doesn’t know who she really is.  Even in Let’s Kill Hitler, where she’s trying to kill him, his driving force is “River needs me.”
Just you wait till my husband comes home.  
River Song, “Angels Take Manhattan”
It just shows how secure they are in each other, that they make jokes about traffic and call each other “husband” and “wife.” I don’t care what anyone says, they consider themselves married. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013


As a student at a Christian college, I am required to take a certain number of Bible  and theology classes. One of the professors I had last semester brought up Calvinism and Arminianism  a few times. For those who aren't familiar with it, Calvinists believe that God has ordained salvation for some people, and those people respond. Arminianists believe that we chose God. Or, in a gross simplification.
Certain verses of Scripture support the idea that God wants everyone to be saved. If we believe that God is all-powerful, why doesn't he do so? There must be something he wants even more. 
Arminianist answer: free will
Calvinist answer: his glory
Now, if you read all that, you might be wondering why it's on my scifi blog instead of my general blog, it's because I have a much more interesting way of explaining all this.
The Doctor and River had a timey-wimey relationship. From her point of view, she met him in Berlin, when she attempted to kill him per the orders of the Silence. But at the end of the episode, she chooses to save him with her remaining regenerations. The Doctor doesn't have quite as simple a beginning. The first time he meets River is the last time she sees him--in a different body, just to make it even more confusing for us. For the longest time, he doesn't even know who she is. But once he does, it turns out he's had a connection to her all along.
But what really struck me about Let's Kill Hitler is the Doctor's behavior towards River. At this point, she's a psychopath, emotionally unstable and physically dangerous. But he doesn't treat her like a threat. He treats her like the River he knows, the River he's met before--the woman he trusts with his life. Not that he ignores her immediate behavior. When the Tesselecta captures Melody for killing the Doctor, he insists

Don't you touch her, do not harm her in any way!
 And later in the same conversation,  when the Tesselecta labels her "the woman who killed the Doctor," he points out
And I'm the Doctor, so what's it to you?
A commenter on the Speculative Faith article "The Doctor's Doctrines"posted the following
I doubt it was Moffat’s intent, but you know how Scripture goes on about how our sins are against God, first and foremost?  David’s Psalm after he lost his infant son because of his adultery and murder over Bathsheeba was that he had sinned against God alone.  As weird as that may seem, if we really believe that, this is what that looks like.The Doctor’s objection to the Tessellactor is this: “Her sin is against me, not you.  Therefore, since I have decided to be merciful, who are you to say otherwise?”  And I’m thinking of how Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren, how he’s always telling us (and telling God) how we’re scum and worthless and sinful and all the horrible things we’ve done, and what does God say?  “Their sin is against Me, not you.  I’ve forgiven it, who are you to say otherwise?”
Okay, I'm taking the long way around here, but that's to be expected with my OTP. Back to predestination vs free will. River chooses to love the Doctor, to reject her programming and join his side, but one reason she chooses is because he already has chosen to love her.  The analogy breaks down from the Doctor's side, but one reason we have such trouble with predestination and free will is that we're stuck in time. Looking from the outside, even if it's scifi, can provide an example where they exist in harmony.

A Vlog Update

My first EVER vlog post. And it commemorates a very special occasion.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unto My Hearts

Because you were the first. The first face this face saw. And you'll see it unto my hearts.
--Eleven, "Power of Three"

After rewatching "Angels Take Manhattan"--what can I say? I'm a glutton for emotional agony--I decided to pull out my essay draft comparing Ten and Eleven's reactions to losing their first companions. I've made no secret of my distaste for Ten's obsession about Rose in seasons three and four, but now that my Doctor has lost his Ponds, I'm reanalyzing my position. What, specifically, about Ten annoys me so?

I don't think I need to justify my position much. Yes, Rose's relationship with the Doctor is primary romantic while Amy ends up with Rory (I'm sticking with canon here). But both of them were the first companion for the Doctor,  witnessing the aftermath of regeneration. Finally, they both left "alive" but trapped beyond the reach of the TARDIS.  For simplicity's sake, I'll compare Ten's behavior in Smith and Jones  (with a few mentions of season three) to Eleven in The Snowmen, as I have nothing else to analyse Eleven on at the moment. I hope he finds some joy in season seven b, but that's beside the point at the moment.

First of all, Ten's reaction. When Rose slipped from the dimension-closing-thingy, he screamed, but once the breach closed, he just walked along the wall, pressing his ear as if he hoped to hear her voice from the other side.  And with his final farewell--on the beach at Bad Wolf Bay--he absolutely breaks down. Eleven has to say his final goodbye while staring at the Angel,  trying to convince Amy to come back with him--he didn't even say goodbye to Rory. His last words to Rory were "Down to the pub!" And that scream--that horrible, guttural scream when she disappears--oh, my Doctor.

Perhaps I should be comparing The Snowmen to The Runaway Bride, not Smith and Jones. For completeness, I've watched both while writing this episode. The problem with analyzing Runaway Bride is that it occurs literally minutes after Bad Wolf Bay--Ten almost has to shut down his emotions to deal with Donna.

Okay,  slight change of plans.  I will be discussing both episodes.  But any approach is going to end up lopsided slightly, with only one post-Manhattan episode to discuss. It's worth noting that the only reference to Rose in  "Smith and Jones" is  at the very end, when Martha asks if the TARDIS has a crew. He dodges the question, but admits to having a friend named Rose.  On the other hand, in the Runaway Bride,
(Donna finds Rose's shirt)
Donna: I knew it, acting all innocent. I'm not the first, am I? How many women have you abducted? Doctor: That's my friend's. Donna: Where is she, then? Popped out for a space walk? Doctor: She's gone. Donna: Gone where? Doctor: I lost her. Donna: Well, you can hurry up and lose me! How do you mean, lost? 

Doctor: Trust me. Donna: Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you? Doctor Yes, she did. And she is not dead. She is so alive. Now, jump! 

Doctor: I spent Christmas Day just over there, the Powell Estate, with this family. My friend, she had this family. Well, they were. Still, gone now. 
Donna: Your friend, who was she? (....)This friend of yours. Just before she left, did she punch you in the face? Stop bleeping me! 
Donna: That friend of yours. What was her name? Doctor: Her name was Rose. 
Okay, some of that is Donna being...well, Donna, but I haven't watched these episodes for a while, and it's interesting to see how normal Ten is acting. He's chasing down aliens, asking his normal sorts of questions and making a nuisance of himself.  In fact, judging only by Runaway Bride or Smith and Jones, he's coping with the loss of Rose far better than Eleven is with his Ponds.  He's off on adventures--
Maybe that's why he's so mopey later. He didn't have a chance to mourn right away, and all that repression stuff just made it worse. Not that I believe most of Freud's junk, but it can't be healthy when he doesn't ever acknowledge the hurt.
On the other hand, Eleven does have River, but with her "never-let-him-see-the-damage" mantra, I'm not sure if that was helpful or not. I'm not even sure how long she stayed with him.  So, the next time we see him, in the Great Detective prequel, he's not only withdrawn, but retired. He lives on a cloud, alone.  The best summery we get of his decision comes from Madame Vastra:
He suffered losses that hurt him. Now, he prefers isolation to the possibility of pain's return.
She also states that the Doctor's not a hero anymore.
The Doctor is not kind. He stands above this world and doesn't interfere in the affairs of its inhabitants. He is not your salvation nor your protector.
We don't see anything like this from Ten until post-Journey's End. Even then, Ten keeps traveling. He doesn't just park the TARDIS and refuse to act. More than that, Eleven intends to wipe Clara's memory of him--which, quite frankly, shocked me. Considering what happened to Donna, one'd think that he'd  be more wary of tampering with memories. Maybe--likely--in his mind, it was for her own protection. After all, what happens to his friends? They leave. They get left behind. And some...some...die.
Admittedly, Eleven is my Doctor and the Ponds are my companions, so I'm mourning them in a way I didn't for Rose, but it still seems to me that...oh, how do I put this. Eleven is the clown of the NuWho Doctors,  compared to Nine's survivor's guild and Ten's immensely human emotions. And so he doesn't let himself grieve, he doesn't want anyone to know him as anything but the "madman in a box." And Ten is human enough that he can't stop his grief leaking out, but Eleven turns himself into a ice cube--another Eureka! moment--the ice creations in The Snowmen were echoes of his own emotional state.
I'm rambling now. Maybe I should stop and come back after watching all of season three. But I definitely see a difference between Ten's grief and Eleven's. Ten's attitude could be defined in the season four quote.
"I'm always alright," because he just keeps moving on and doesn't let it show. But Eleven can't pass it over that easy, because he has River; no matter how much he wants to forget, they were her parents. Instead, he hides. He's the strangest mixture of old and young, Eleven is--the unalloyed sorrow of a child with the despair of an ancient. And he hides, like a child afraid of a shot, because he can't see how this pain is going to make things any better.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Once Upon a Time: The Outsider

Well, I'm glad I didn't give up on OUaT after last week's episode, because "The Outsider" was a wonderful piece of storytelling. Among other things, it made a Rumbelle shipper of me, although I tend to see him as more paternal to Belle than romantic. I'm a sucker for hurt/comfort and protective relationships, though, and Rumple's reaction when Hook had Belle cornered was beautiful to see.
But what I really liked was how we got to see more of Belle in this episode, both in the fairy-tale land and Storybrooke. She's clever and intelligent, not as much of an action girl as Snow or Mulan, but still very proactive. I don't think I could fight Mulan or survive on the run like Snow, but I could effeminately use my brain like Belle does.
And the way she interacts with Rumple--that's what a resurrection arc should look like. I still don't understand how the writers/producers/whoever are messing up Regina's so much when they got Rumple's running so well. She tries to hold him back from beating up Hook, from giving into those darker urges.
And what does she get for it?


Amnesia! They took her memory, and since she doesn't have any memories of Storybrook beyond the padded cell, it leaves her with so little...and Hook got hit too. And does that mean he lost his memory as well, or was he exempt because he wasn't there for the curse...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

EDAs: The Space Age

After some of the others I've read, this novel was rather disappointing. It's basically and literally "gang wars in space," between two 1980s factions, mods and rockers. I'm not interested in gangs normally, and setting this petty rivalry in space didn't make it any more interesting. In fact, the Doctor and Fritz spent most of the time pointing out exactly how petty it was.
I didn't really care about the characters either, and the prose was dry. Compassion--my favorite EDA charrie so far--didn't have much of a role either, so overall, I'd rate this as one to skip.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Big Finish Doctor Who on BBC

The BBC’s station Radio Four has aired some Big Finish dramas featuring the Eighth Doctor, with more to come. Each will be up for a week from the original air date, so  listen while you can. The first one, “Death in Blackpool.” aired Monday has five days left on the digital player, which is free to non-Brits as well. 
Death in Blackpool, featuring the opinionated Lucie Miller, was…well, let’s just say it makes most of Davies’ Christmas specials look frolicsome and charming.  And I’ve only heard Lucie’s introductory story, “Blood of the Daleks,”—I imagine it would be even more depressing to fans of hers.  What makes it worse is that the main crisis isn’t even an alien invasion or temporal collapse—but a car crash, with Lucie barely clinging to life. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t aliens involved, but they aren’t really what makes it depressing.  As a side note, this episode spoils Lucie’s adventures with her Aunt Pat, but I’m not sure how significant that is.
The second one, Situation Vacant, is much funnier. An ad has been placed that reads: 
TRAVELLER IN TIME AND SPACE seeks male or female companion with good sense of humour for adventures in the Fourth and Fifth Dimensions.
No experience necessary.
No time wasters, no space wasters please.
The potential companions struggle to find out what’s going on at a hotel conference, leaving the audience to laugh at the conventional approach to a very non-conventional situation. I’ve thought about writing a story like this once or twice, so it was great fun to listen too.
Today’s serial, Nevermore, has the Doctor and the winner of the tryouts in the previous story landing on a Poe-themed planet, complete with dreary ravens and threats of the Red Death. I really should read some more Poe—I’ve only ever read “Masque of the Red Death,” “The Raven,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and maybe “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Tonewise, it’s between the other two serials,  but they’re all very good.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Once Upon a Time: The Cricket Game

Have you never done anything worthy of binding or of worse punishment? However, that is not for me to judge, happily. --Faramir, The Two Towers 
 Since the "winter finale" of Once Upon a Time, I've been nervous about Regina's redemption arc, and last night's episode, "The Cricket Game," fulfilled some of those fears. It started out fine--even humorously, with Emma and Henry walking on Snowing. I mean, they're married, so it's fine from a moral standpoint, but so, so awkward. And David's response:
It's impressive that we can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at this stage of the game.
That's absolutely hilarious. But went downhill from there. Cora, disguised as Regina, killed Archie (except she didn't, not really).  The moment she started throttling him, I knew it was really Cora, but I could see the whole episode laid out. They'd believe Regina did it, and Emma would defend Regina for no logical reason. But what made it worse was seeing all the chances  Snow had given her before. They knew she was dangerous, a threat to them and the whole realm as long as she lived, but they still let her live, judging her actions by a clearly generous standard.
The whole plot makes me want to gag. Because Regina's innocent of this particular murder, it makes people more inclined to consider her innocent of all her previous shenanigans.  It goes back to the Tolkien quote I put at the top of this review. When Faramir captured Gollum at the Forbidden Pool, he expressed gratitude that he didn't have to judge Gollum on any charges besides trespassing, but implies such charges still exist. I wish something like that had been put in this episode.
Emma's characterization here was incredibly sloppy. One moment she's all REGINA IS INNOCENT and the moment after seeing Pongo's memory she was all REGINA MUST DIE. I just want Snow and Charming to sit down with her and say: This is everything Regina did to us. We gave her chances--so many chances--but I wouldn't trust her for five minutes.  It feels so wrong, so unlike her...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Hobbit Review

Is now posted on I Firie Elenion. Click here for a direct link

All Good Tales Deserve Embellishment: The Hobbit Review

Gandalf: You'll have a tale or two to tell of your own, when you come back. 

Bilbo: Can you promise that I will come back?

 Gandalf: ...No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
 I spent the evening of December 13th at the local movie theatre, getting in line for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  3D IMAX premiere. My roommates, three other friends, and I showed up at 9 pm, cloak-clad, and sat on the floor for most of the three hours until the studio opened. Part of the reason we showed up so early was to make sure we each got a packet of the exclusive free posters. One of my friends showed up to her theatre even sooner-- 6 pm.

I haven't put mine up yet, but that's partially because my dorm room walls are already full with posters of Doctor Who, Narnia, Tangled, and other fandoms. But when I studied them, I realized they use the Tengwar runes, Quenya-style, and contain actual words. I understood a few words, because I sometimes use Tengwar in letters to my penpal, but the letters were too faint to make out more than a few words. All the same, it really made me happy that I understood the letters.

Even thought I had a great time with my friends, I really wanted to attend again with my family. And this Saturday, we did. Well, half of us. Dad and the teenage brother went to see Lincoln, while Mom, the younger brother, and I went to see The Hobbit, since they were at the same theatre and roughly the same time.

One of my favorite elements that I noticed even more this time was the number of similarities with the original film trilogy. Gandalf bumps his head on Bilbo's chandelier,  the Ring falls onto Bilbo's hand just as it did Frodo's, Gandalf "dims the spotlights" and gets deep-voiced to make Thorin take Bilbo as he did to make Bilbo surrender the Ring, Frodo puts the "No Admittance Except on Party Business" sign on the gate, and the Eagles are summoned by a moth (See more examples by scrolling to call back/call forward here) There are also some great nods to the book.

  • The chapter six title "Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire" is dropped by Gandalf and Thorin as they flee the Wargs.
  • Saruman claims Radagast disgraces the Istari--a term used only in the Appendices.
  • Likewise,  Gandalf's claim to have "forgotten [the Blue Wizards'] names" referrers to the fact they are unnamed in Middle-earth. The Unfinished Tales suggests the Quenya names of Alatar and Pallando, but those are of uncertian canon.
  • Radagast believes the spiders are "spawn of Ungoliant," the giant spider who aided Morgoth in destroying the two trees.
  • Gandalf says Smaug is aware of the smell of Dwarves, but unaware of Hobbits. This is a dropped note in "The Quest of Erebor," Gandalf's account of these events.
  • Lindir appears to welcome the Company to Rivendell.
  • All "White Council" elements come from the Appendices and/or posthumously published works.
  • We actually get to see Thorin earn the "Oakenshield" title.
I'm sure there are more that I haven't noticed, but feel free to add them in the comments. But really, all those little tie-ins just make it better. The tone discrepancy between the original books set the filmmakers in the difficult position of either taking a serious approach to The Hobbit and being accused of making it too dark, or imitating the more juvenile tone and risking dissonance between the films. Overall, I think they did a good job, making it serious without being too depressing. I only noticed two main changes, which are both justifiable in my mind.
1. The inclusion of Radagast. First of all, he is mentioned in the book, if only in passing, so it's not as if he was a new character. Secondly, his role in Fellowship (summoning an Eagle to Isengard) was given to a moth, so it balances things out to add him here. Finally, I just think he fits the tone of the Hobbit films well--a crazy-awesome chap who makes a significant discovery in Dol Gulder. Besides, he's played by Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor in Doctor Who. I'm always up for seeing Who actors again.
2. The antagonist role of Azog, the pale goblin. Azog isn't entirely invented either: he started the War of Dwarves and Orcs when Thror attempted to reclaim Moria. This gives a personal angle to his hatred of Thorin, and helps simplify things for new viewers.
One of my favorite parts of the film was the beautiful settings. I've never been good at visualizing fictional places, but I was so pleased with all of them, from Dale and Erebor to the Shire and Rivendell. Just the sense of yes. That's how these places should look. How they do look. I was especially pleased with Dale. It has a distinctive architecture from Minas Tirith or Edoras (the other two strictly human habitations we've seen) but feels more cheerful than the antiquarian former or warlike latter.  And Rivendell...oh, for a complete film set in Rivendell. All those waterfalls and statues and trees...I hope heaven looks like that.
And the Riddles in the Dark scene...oh, that scene is a masterpiece of acting and cinematography.  Both Freeman and Serkis deserve some sort of award for that scene--especially Serkis, who had the challenge of portraying (as I'd put it) "a psychopathic two-year-old," the mentally-damaged Smeagol side and the cunning Gollum side. It's funny, but an unpredictable villain is almost more dangerous, because they have no agenda to manipulate, no good side to stay on. But the acting--not just the dialogue, but the hand motions, pacing, all of it just is absolutely perfect.
As for the cast of dwarves, I appreciate the work that went into distinguishing each character. I can distinguish most of them by name, if not all,  but my favorite is, without a doubt, Ori.
I mean, just look at that face. And the sweater he wears for the first scene, and how he asks Bilbo where to put his plate when he's done eating...he's absolutely adorkable, that wonderful combination of adorable and dorky. Compared to the head-butting Dwalin or the brooding Thorin, he's much more mild-mannered and considerate. He carries a book with him for much of the film, which is likely The Book of Mazbul, which means this skelton is likely the remains of my favorite dwarf. I mean, Fili and Kili are handsome, but I'm much more attracted to scrawny guys who are intelligent. He even knows the Tengwar (Elf-runes).
Anything else? Well, I don't think it was too long. All the scenes at the beginning helped establish the Dwarves' characters and how out-of-place Bilbo was among them. If anything should have been cut, I would have eliminated the entire stone-giants sequence. It was only a brief gag in the books, and doesn't quite fit with the elaborate creation narratives for the other races (in the Silmarillion). I'd also make the goblin battle sequence shorter too (including the Wargs).
At least the worst is behind us.
 Not in the least Bilbo, not in the least. But I'm looking forward to seeing what lies ahead.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Serious Business: The Tolkien Fanchise

I came across this link " My Father's 'Eviscerated' Work" on  an author's Facebook page. This interview with Christopher Tolkien, son of the Middle-earth creator, shows a gulf of opinion regarding the popular film franchise. For those who don't wish to read the whole interview, this quote summarizes Christopher's perspective:
The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.
My gut response?  Now I feel like a bad fan for liking the films, for being jealous of my friend's 'Sting' letter opener and drooling over my conceptional art calender.  I just came back from a second viewing of The Unexpected Journey, clad in a full-length cloak. I'd recommend the films to anyone who loves fantasy, and try to convince anyone who doesn't to come along anyway.
I appreciate all the work Christopher Tolkien has put into publishing his father's manuscripts--without his work, we'd only have The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and a volume of poetry called The Adventures of Tom Bombadil set in Middle-earth.  Instead, we have The Silmarillion, the twelve-volume History of Middle-earth,  The Children of Hurin and Unfinished Tales.  Even in a rough state, seeing those stories has only given me more respect for J.R.R. Tolkien's astounding creativity.
As for the franchise...okay, there are a lot of people who are in it only for the hot dwarves or tabletop games, but I don't think those people are ruining it for others or diminishing its power.  Maybe it's just me, but I see a hint of  disdain for popular acclaim in Christopher's words. There are so many moments, even in the films, that contain the beauty and even strength it by introducing it to new audiences. My mom, who struggled to read the Hobbit to my brother, loved Gandalf's quote to Bilbo when giving him Sting:
True courage consists of not knowing when to take a life, but when to spare it.
I prefer the conversation about pity from Fellowship instead, or the silent scene where Bilbo forgoes stabbing Gollum while invisible, but that's not the only beautiful, serious moment. I love any scene set in Rivendell or Lothlorien, Sam's commitment to Frodo, Eowyn's bravery in defense of Theoden--they all give me a taste of what Lewis would call "Northernness," a moment of longing for reunion with God. I don't care about silly commercial products or franchise zombies--I am a fan of Tolkien, and proud of it.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Meaning of Clara Oswin Oswald

Clara: clear, bright, famous
Oswin: God's friend
Oswald: God's power

Within hours of The Snowmen (nah, hours of Asylum), theories of Oswin's true identity began to circle the web. Some of the simpler ones suggest she's an already-existing character, such as Romana, the Rani, Susan, Jennny, or Donna. She could also be a child of canon characters, such as River/Doctor, Rose/Meta-crisis, or Jenny/Jack.
What suggestions do we have that might hint at her identity?

Her "absolutely true" bedtime stories:
 Invented fish to go swimming with her
 random association: Jim the Fish, fish that can swim in fog, Colin the goldfish, the Atlantian fish-people, starwhales

Born behind the face of Big Ben, accounting for her acute sense of time.
random association: Rose and Jack danced at Big Ben during WWII, the pig-alien's ship destroyed Big Ben during aliens of London,  could be a reference to TARDIS-conception

There is obviously some connection beyond mere resemblance for Oswin and Clara. Both mentioned a passion for souffles, as well as the same personality. But the real clincher is her last words, both times.
Run, you clever boy. And remember.
Remember what? AGH! MOFFAT! First, we met Oswin in the future. Then Clara in the past, and  (presumably), another version of her from our time period.

One of the cleverer theories I've seen is that Clara is a repetitive message, much like "Hello Sweetie" or "Bad Wolf," but more complex. To quote
Let's just say someone/something is trying to send the Doctor a message. Could be a warning, a distress signal, a bait, whatever. But contacting the Doctor can be fiendishly difficult, as ''The Pandorica Opens'' already demonstrated - and *that* was by the Doctor's own personal friends.Furthermore, the 'one word test' in ''The Snowmen'' can be seen as a discussion of the limitations of language. Sometimes a topic arises is complicated enough that, no matter how smart or witty you are, you can't summarise it with one word. Sometimes you need to clarify, demonstrate, answer questions, etc.So instead of a page of paper, or a holorecording, or something so limited, a message is coded in the form of a pattern throughout history. A sentient pattern, capable of certain behaviours that attract the attention of the recipient. A pattern that stores a virtually uncountable number of words in its vocabulary, and can flexibly adapt their usage to suit the situation. A pattern that is a person...
Intriguing, but it doesn't quite seem to fit for me. The word that kept coming up when I considered Clara was "echoes" or "projection." In the actress's first appearance, she projected a human voice while trapped in the form of a Dalek. Perhaps that's a hint to her true identity.

My Theory
I'd kind of like Clara to be the Doctor and River's child--I mean, who knows how their genetics would combine--but that makes the kiss extremely awkward. Instead, I think Clara is a "projection" of River Song, post-Library. The library has holographic and replication technology--like the Node--and with access to so much information, constructing bodies seems possible.
It also seems to fit, personality-wise. Both River and Clara are flirty, straightforward, and adventurous ladies, who aren't afraid to tease the Doctor.  Yes, there are a few differences, but she seems to have a similar "essence" to River Song. It would also explain Clara's serendipitous use of the word "pond" when subjected to the one-word test. Not to mention their final words.

You and me. Time and space. You watch us run.
River Song,  "Forest of the Dead."

 Run, you clever boy. And remember.
Oswin Oswald, "Asylum of the Daleks."
Clara Oswin, "The Snowmen."

Another aspect that seems to seal the deal for me is her reference to being born "behind the face of Big Ben," accounting for her "acute sense of timing." It doesn't take too many associations to connect this joke with River's conception in the Time Vortex.  As part Time Lord, she certainly has an "acute sense of timing," down to always being caught by the Doctor when she jumps off things. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

Dear Professor Tolkien,
Congratulations on your twelvity-first birthday. Though I am over one hundred years younger than you, I have admired your works and wisdom for several years.  My first introduction to your work came with  The Hobbit, now adapted into three feature films. When I reached high school, I moved on to The Lord of the Rings because my class was taking so long to read The Hobbit. 
Since then, I've gone on to read The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, most of The History of Middle-earth,  and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. 
Of works not set in Arda, I have enjoyed stories ranging from "Roverandom" to "Leaf by Niggle," but one of my favorite stories is "Smith of Wooton Major." Something about that tale moves me in a strange way that other works, even good ones, fail to do. I also enjoy your nonfiction, such as "On Fairy-Stories" and the volumes of your letters.
I also appreciate your friendship with C.S. Lewis. Without you, we wouldn't have the Chronicles of Narnia or any of his apologetic works. God obviously set you both in each other's path not only for your own benefit, but for the literary enjoyment of millions. It is one of my great disappointments of my trip to Oxford that I was unable to visit your grave.
Your works will always have a special place in my heart as the first fantasy I deliberately sought out. The first book I remember reading was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as my mom was reading it too slowly, but I read The Lord of the Rings and Silmarillon because I wanted to explore more of this world while waiting for everyone else to catch up. No matter how much modern writers try to emulate your works, none will ever surpass the dedication and time put into your work.
a grateful fantasy fan.

EDAs: The Shadows of Avalon

Since the Internet here is too slow to begin watching Classic Series five (Second Doctor), I decided to focus on the expanded universe novels instead.  I got tired of goody-goody Sam two novels in and skipped ahead to number thirty-one,The Shadows of Avalon, where the alien Compassion undergoes a wonderful transformation.
I don't feel like bothering with spoiler warnings or explanations, so if you ever plan on reading this book and being surprised, just stop reading now.
I'd already read both Interference novels, which introduced Compassion and her species, the Remote. Basically, they're gigantic receptor dishes, absorbing any media signals and responding accordingly. At some point, the Doctor adjusted her receivers to only respond to the TARDIS. In this novel,  the transformation culminates in Compassion's rebirth as a type 102, humanoid TARDIS (which President Romana then attempts to kidnap and force into a breeding program, but I can't judge the rationality of that, as I haven't read how she became evil).
Most of the novel is set in the dream dimension of Avalon, with the Brigadier trying to recover from his wife's death. I'm really glad he had a role in this novel--it made me care about the events of the story more than if the Doctor was interacting with some random character. The author seemed to really understand the Brig's character and how he'd react to loss. The scenes describing battle between Avalon and England tend to drag, but the rest of the story is fairly good.