In just a few short hours, it will be 2015, and people will get very, very drunk and act very, very silly.
Meanwhile, I shall be watching Paul McGann and his Hair save the world while the Master and Grace fight for his affections while the Master turns into a snake for some reason and Grace falls in love with him about as fast as girls on Doctor Who usually fall in love with people.
Wait your turn, Master. You'll get to snog him soon enough.
read a book about a woman in black. Now, I have read a book about a woman in
is making his lonely way home one night when he is startled by a woman dressed
in white, frightened and trying to find the way to London. He directs her to
London, but once there overhears two men searching for an escapee from an insane
asylum. He is disturbed by this, but has no time to fret. The next day he has
taken up the position of art teacher to two young ladies at Limmeridge House.
There he meets the plain but sharp and intelligent Marian Halcombe and her
beautiful younger half-sister, Laura Fairlie, who bears a strange resemblance to
the woman in white, Anne Catherick.
It doesn’t take
long for the two young people to fall in love, but Laura has already promised
to wed another man, Sir Percival Glyde, who has some connection to Anne Catherick. Anne Catherick sends a strange, cryptic
warning letter to Laura, but has to flee when Sir Percival arrives. Walter
leaves the distressing situation, but after Laura’s marriage, odd things begin
happening in her household. Marian begins to suspect both Sir Percival and his
strange Italian friend, Count Fosco, of plotting a way to seize Laura’s wealth.
thought this was a rather riveting novel. Apparently this is known as the first
Victorian sensation novel, following on the heels of the popular Gothic novels
of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Collins sets up a very elaborate plot, but
manages to hold all the threads together quite well. Walter was a bit dull at
first, but once he got deep into investigating, I started thinking he should
quit art and open up a detective agency. (Hartright/Halcombe detective agency?
I’d read that book.) Laura was a bit boring, but sweetly inoffensive.
I enjoyed Mr.
Fairlie, who seemed like a dark spiritual successor to poor Mr. Woodhouse. His
constant whinging and the different ways people manage him was amusing,
although not so much as with Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Fairlie is all selfishness.
Marian was an
absolute delight. She was intelligent, resourceful, and active. The woman
crawls onto a wet roof to eavesdrop! That takes gumption. Alas, she falls prey
to Victorian “I got rained on” syndrome, but at least it was depicted as more
than just a cold. (I have a feeling a simple cold wouldn’t have kept her down.)
Honestly, I kept hoping Walter would give up on Laura and just get with Marian.
(Detective agency, remember? Maybe I’ll write that one day.) This is the woman
who nearly managed to outwit Count Fosco. (This is why I think she suddenly
developed a severe illness. Otherwise, Count Fosco would have been defeated
Speaking of Count
Fosco, he was just as wonderfully slimy as he was in Brimstone. Messrs.
Preston and Child translated him into the modern era very well. He is a
colorful (in all senses of the word) character, steeped in high culture yet
clearly capable of horrible brutality. Marian very quickly discerns that Count
Fosco is the real threat, and Sir Percival is a mere bully. What is so
frightening about Count Fosco is his absolutely amorality. He is absolutely
convinced that nothing he is doing is wrong. He is the embodiment of “it’s not
wrong unless you get caught”. This is demonstrated in a very interesting
dialogue between him, Laura, and Marian regarding criminals who escape justice.
That said, I feel
like the final ending-the sudden appearance of a global conspiracy, the
coincidental connection to Walter’s Italian friend, and the way Count Fosco is
brought to justice-was starting to stretch the story too long. I believe
Collins was trying to eke out another paycheck or two from it. If anything, it
felt like it came from some different story altogether. Perhaps Collins
considered writing that and just threw it into this one. Still, the story was
coherent, interesting, and had very real and detailed characters that drove the
Seriously, Hartright and Halcombe Detective Agency. That would have been awesome.
Over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, it was decided to stop calling this Twitterature, since most of us are going way over 140 characters. So...Quick Lit. It sounds like a library program.
So as you all know, I finished NaNoWriMo, and promptly realized how terrible my novel was written. I've signed up at Scribophile for writing critiques, and we'll see where this goes.
So, I have more reading time! This means I can get started on the second of the LotR trilogy.
1.) The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
A literal illustration.
Once again, I was struck by how far Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli run. I can't even run down the block. What if I have to catch some orcs?
Wait, I have a car. I'll just use my car.
Also, Legolas meditates while running. That's talent.
With the fellowship broken, Aragorn is forced into the difficult decision of which way to go. Should he follow Frodo and Sam into Mordor, and try to speed them on their way as best he can, or should he follow the orcs and rescue Merry and Pippin before they are brought to Isengard?
In case Legolas didn't make that clear.
The first scenes are so tense, and then you see the kind of mistreatment Merry and Pippin are undergoing, and realize it's going to get so much worse if Saruman gets his hands on them, and you realize how high the stakes are, even if they aren't the main players in this. We also get a look at orc politics and realize it's not much different from today.
Also, Treebeard is nothing but awesome. Pure, unmitigated awesome.
I was reading this before bed, but then I started getting close to Helm's Deep, and I'm like, "I can't read this right before bed. I'll never sleep." So that's reserved for another day. What I am reading before bed is...
2.) The Sumerians by Samuel Noah Kramer...Still.
You saw the cover last time.
I'm moving much faster on this now that NaNoWriMo is over. It's fascinating just how much information they've gotten on this ancient culture, and how much more they're still finding.
On interesting tidbit I noticed last night was one of the myths about Enki. Apparently the poor gods weren't even able to get enough to eat, because the goddesses were eating them out of house and home, or something. So Enki asks his mom to create servants for them out of clay. She does so, and people get right on that making bread for the most powerful beings in the universe.
Then Enki decides he wants to make people too! Unfortunately his first attempt went...not so well. The person he made lay there like a lump and did nothing, and the other gods yelled at him and cursed him.
One wonders if this information was available while Tolkien was writing The Silmarillion. It sounds a lot like the origin story of the dwarves.
3.) Alone with the Horrors by Ramsey Campbell
"Campbell Country" is the British version of "Lovecraft Country". Most of his stories take place, not in the back woods, but in run down urban areas. There's also a ridiculous amount of class angst, but that's the British for you.
Refreshingly, most of these are not solely based off the Lovecraft mythos, but are still quite creepy. I've seen authors that write well within the mythos fall apart when trying to come up with their own thing. Campbell has given us: Y'Golonac curses I have doomed us all!; spiders dressed up as people, because of course they are; and an evil pram. No, seriously, an evil pram.
One thing I noticed is the very surreal quality to stories, even if they start out completely normal. This works well to set up the atmosphere. It throws off the reader and lends a sinister quality to everything, and makes you second guess the narrator.
Now, I must go write Christmas cards. Because I am actually going to write Christmas cards this year. What madness is this?
No, no, not Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Preston Child. It's totally his real name guys, really. Sure, he was inspired by Doug and Linc's technothrillers, to the point it practically sounds like a Lincoln Child novel, but that's totally his real name. Sure, he has used pseudonyms in the past, and uses stock photos for his pictures, but he's really, incredibly legit. And if people bought his books thinking that they were by the other guys, well, it's not his fault. At all.
GUYS. HE'S SO SAD. LOOK AT THE SAD FACE EMOTICON. HE'S VERY SAD.
The Nostalgia Chick knows that tears are an important part of every balanced meal.
You know...even if that really was his name, he probably should have realized how it would be perceived. Instead, he and his deranged fans lament the madness of the evil Amazon bullies who leave bad reviews and use the word "rip-off" You know, kind of like...
GUYS HE'S A MALE, THRILLER-WRITER VERSION OF STEPHENIE MEYERS.
This actually explains everything about this situation. (Given that most of the reviews that are not obviously sock puppets are pretty bad.)
The Doctor is a
bit confused after his regeneration. He isn’t quite sure who all these people
are (although he’s happy enough to latch on to Sarah Jane with a death grip),
tries on various silly costumes before dressing like a deranged hobo, and insists
being grown up means being able to act childish (while throwing a slight
tantrum at the Brig trying to confine him to a hospital bed). Also he shoves
Harry Sullivan into a chest.
Poor Harry gets abused a lot, actually.
However, when a
mystery crops up, it immediately catches his interest. Parts of a
disintegration gun (to be used in traffic, obviously) are being stolen. While
UNIT moves out to protect the different factories, the Doctor gets distracted
by crushed flowers and lounges around in Bessie with his hat over his face.
Jane looks into the Nation Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, known as
“Think Tank”. There she learns they are testing a robot called “K1”to perform
dangerous tasks, but she finds out the actual creator of the robot, Kettlewell,
thought he had disassembled it. When she goes to see the robot, she finds it
torn between conflicting programs to kill intruders, and to protect humans.
Sarah Jane expresses sympathy, but the director of the robot program, Winters,
scoffs at this.
After she leaves,
K1 arrives at Kettlewell’s place and attacks him, but the Doctor arrives in
time to defeat the robot with his scarf. K1 flees, only to be handed the
disintegrator gun and ordered to steal papers from a cabinet minister-launch
codes for nuclear missiles!
investigations lead her to the conclusion that many of the scientist at Think
Tank are members of the Scientific Reform society, who believe scientists
should be in charge of the world.
believes science is just too hard for
girls. Sarah Jane gives a devastating burn in response, and it is
realization that Reform now has the nuclear codes and can enact their plan,
it’s a race against time and a size-changing robot that is not Optimus Prime.
This was a pretty good introduction to the
Great and Powerful Tom. He was suitably manic, and his eccentric way of solving
the problems just set the tone for the rest of his run.
Tom Baker, showing off the majority of his facial expressions.
The Sontaran Experiment
Mr. Potato Head
and his clones are back again! The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry Sullivan
teleports to Earth from the Nerva space station (previous serial, could not
find). They find Earth apparently abandoned. While the Doctor works on the
teleporter, Harry falls down and Sarah Jane is surprised by an astronaut named
Roth, who claims he was captured and tortured by an alien. The Doctor,
meanwhile, has been captured by the other astronauts. After a rescue effort,
they go back to the crevasse where Harry fell, only to Field Major Styre, a
Sontaran who has been experimenting on, and killing, the astronauts. Styre has
been preparing for an invasion of Earth.
was…apparently a fairly forgettable one, as I don’t remember much about it.
Styre was suitably evil, subjecting Sarah Jane to frightening hallucinations
and being pretty much a jerk (as Sontarans tend to be). The Doctor was, of
course, awesome, because Tom Baker. He also takes great joy in picking on
He apparently gets excited over mines as well.
Possibly part of
the reason this didn’t make an impression on me is because of the next one.
Genesis of the Daleks
intends to take Sarah Jane and Harry back to Earth, but the Time Lords grab the
TARDIS and land it on Skaro, telling the Doctor to stop the creation of the
Daleks. The trio exit the TARDIS only to find themselves in a war zone
reminiscent of a World War II movie. This is near the end of the thousand-year
war between the Thals and the Kaleds. When a poison gas is released, the Doctor
and Harry are captured by the Kaleds while Sarah Jane is left outside, unconscious.
the Mutos, the partially mutated victims of the war who have been abandoned by
both sides. One saves Sarah from the others, but before they can make any
plans, the Thals capture them and force them to load radioactive materials into
Doctor and Harry meet the main players on the Kaled side: General Ravon,
Security Commander Nyder (looking about as Nazi as they come), and Ronson, a
more thoughtful scientist who discovers, to everyone’s surprise, that their
captives are alien.
arrives with a Dalek.
THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS
further surprise, the Doctor calls it a Dalek, something that Davros had
literally just come up with. A few of the scientists collude with the Doctor to
help him escape and stop Davros’ experiments.
The Doctor and
Harry manage to slip out and rescue Sarah from the Thal dome, but while there,
they discover Davros providing the Thal leaders with deadly chemicals. The
Kaled dome is destroyed, and the Daleks are unleashed on both the
The trio, along
with the Thal and Mutos survivors, sneak back to the Kaled bunker. The soldiers
are instructed to destroy the bunker, while the Doctor goes in, hoping to stop
the Daleks in their tracks.
There’s a reason
this serial is held in such high regard. It gives us a very visceral look at
the war that started the Dalek race, and it hits on a lot of different points
of the war: the helpless victims caught in between, young people going out and
dying, the horrible deaths that result, the desperation and loosening morals,
and the relief when people think it’s finally over. The World War II analogues
were quite obvious. Both sides seemed
represent the different terrible aspects of Nazi ideology. The Thals were
the vicious, warlike people (to begin with), and the Kaleds were the ruthless
scientists. Neither side was particularly good at the end.
It also gives us
a couple very iconic moments. The first is Davros’ speech about holding the
fate of the universe in his hands. If the end was in his power, would he cause
it? Oh, you bet he would. (As he demonstrates clearly in Journey’s End.) It’s very chilling to
watch-someone who has been so warped by war that he would kill everyone just
for the sake of his ego.
The other moment
is the image of the Doctor holding the two wires together, debating with
himself about whether or not destroying the Daleks while they are helpless is
truly the right thing to do. (Yes, he mentions the Hitler argument during his
debate.) This sets up a very common moral dilemma for the Doctor. How far is
"Doctor, what vexes all men?" "The dichotomy of good and evil?" "You're...you're not normal, are you?"
This was a
fantastic serial. It introduced Davros, it showed us what circumstances it took
to cause the Daleks, and it gave us some fantastic acting from Tom Baker.
10/10 would watch forever.
Something about Davros seemed so familiar...if only I could figure out what...
Revenge of the Cybermen
If it ain’t
Daleks, it’s Cybermen. I tell you.
Our heroic trio
arrive back at the Nerva space station, a few thousand years in the past, only
to find wacky hijinks are afoot. A plague has hit the station, leaving them
under quarantine and isolated, with only three men to continue running the
beacon to warn ships away from the nearby planet of Voga. When an alien warning
comes through transmission, it seems the only source could be the planet, but
Professor Kellman insists that there was no life on the planet when he visited
it six months previous.
Voga, there is in fact life on the planet. The alien who attempted to warn the
space station is dead; the military leader has some kind of plan, and is in
contact with someone on the station. (Three guesses who, and the first two
don’t count.) The Vogans (lol) are tense from the nearby Cybermen, who are
On the station,
the Doctor realizes the Cyberman are involved; Voga is known as the “planet of
gold”, and gold is known to weaken the Cybermen. The planet was a very
important asset in a previous war. Then, Sarah is bitten by a cybermat, the
real cause of the deaths on the station, and the Doctor manages to get past
Kellman’s sabotage of the transmat system to send Sarah and Harry down to the
planet, filtering the poison from Sarah’s body. Unfortunately, the two are
captured by the Vogans. There, they discover there is a conflict between two
sides. Vorus, the military leader, wants to stop hiding from the Cybermen, and
has a plan involving the humans above. But the chief councilor Tyrum wants his
people to use caution. Sarah and Harry are caught up in the fighting, while on
the space station the Doctor tries to fix the transmat system to bring them
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
he can, the Cybermen arrive on the station, so they can destroy the asteroid
and the main source of weapons against them. They send the Doctor and two of
the men on board to plant bombs throughout the asteroid. They have fourteen
minutes to make it back to the transmat system (almost impossible), and if they
try to take the bombs off, they’ll blow up anyways.
This was a pretty
fun serial. The chief of the action, however, takes place as the Doctor makes
his way across the asteroid with a bomb strapped to his back. It was really a
tense scene, as it wasn’t entirely clear how the Doctor would manage to get out
of it. Kellman was a bit transparently evil; but on the other hand, it was nice
to see the Cybermen back (even if it led to complaints that their weakness was
too ridiculous.) It had a slow start, but the end was worth it.
"If you're so technologically advanced, why do we need to do this?" "IT IS LOGICAL THAT THE CLIMAX BE ILLOGICAL." "That...that doesn't...oh, never mind."