They had to get their ideas from somewhere.
I have been remiss about keeping up with the new season of Doctor Who – I have the episodes recorded but haven’t had a chance to watch yet, so no spoilers, sweeties! – but this has not in any way tarnished my love for the show.
But love has different levels, different strengths. While I do very much enjoy the show and think about it a lot as any geek does, I don’t think I would say I worship it. Still, I had to smile as I watched this video by Mike Rugnetta at the PBS Idea Channel, where he asks: is Doctor Who a religion?
It’s a funny idea, and he certainly brings a lot of evidence to the table! If I were taking the question seriously, I’d say it’s not a religion unless people actually believe the show is real. Otherwise, it’s more of a philosophy.
But then, of course, there’s this. Hmmm:
Thinking on this more, though, I suspect that if I had to start a church of Who, it wouldn’t have the Doctor as the central figure. Clearly, if you watch this, you’ll see it’s Karen Gillan who possesses supernatural powers.
Of course, my choice of Ms. Gillan here has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that when I attended the Doctor Who panel at Comic Con this year and went up to take this photo, she looked right at me:
Sigh. My heart may belong to River Song, but what can I say? Unlike the Doctor, I’m only human.
Tip o’ the sonic to Nerdist.
The San Diego Comic Con is the largest pop–culture (scif, fantasy, and so on) convention in America, and one of the largest in the world; over 130,000 people attend. It’s actually a madhouse (A MAAADHOUSE!), with a packed exhibit hall and hundreds of amazing panels and talks.
[At the bottom of this post is a gallery of pictures I took while I was there.]
This year, I moderated a panel called "The Science of Science Fiction: Canon Fodder" – we talked about keeping the science straight in a pre-existing universe when you’re writing a prequel or sequel. I asked top-notch A-listers to be on the panel, and man, they came through. I had Jane Espenson ("Buffy", "Firefly", "Battlestar Galactica", "Torchwood: Miracle Day"), Dr. Kevin Grazier (science advisor for "Battlestar", "Eureka", and the upcoming show "Defiance"), Ashley Miller (who cowrote "X Men: First Class" and "Thor" with panelist Zack Stentz), Jaime Paglia (co-creator and producer of "Eureka"), Jon Spaihts (who wrote the original screenplay for "Prometheus", and Zack Stentz (cowriter with Ash Miller).
The room was packed, and the panel itself was a lot of fun (if you don’t believe me, read this io9 review and another on Physics Central). I cannot praise the panelists highly enough, and I really hope someone got video. It was amazing. And I must thank The Science and Entertainment Exchange for sponsoring the panel. Without them it literally wouldn’t have happened, and Marty Perrault did the vast majority of work making sure this event happened without a hitch. She’s amazing too.
I also sat on a panel myself for io9′s Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life, where I plugged my friends John Scalzi’s and Rob Reid’s books. That was fun, and I clearly need to do a lot more reading given the other panelist’s recommendations.
So much else happened it’s hard to list it all. I did a video interview with Neil Tyson for his Star Talk radio show, I went to fabulous parties, I went to w00tstock and The Nerdist shows. And Holy Gallifrey, I got into the Doctor Who panel (thanks Lee!) and sat in the eighth row, close enough to feel the wind when Karen Gillan flipped her long, silky, red hair. Sigh. See the gallery below for some great pictures from that panel!
But the best part, really, was meeting up with old friends and catching up. If I thanked them all individually this post would be twice as long, but they know who they are.
Comic Con is insanity, it’s a mob, it’s a non-stop sprint of nerdnitude for four days, and I loved every second of it. And you bet your lump of glowing green kryptonite I’ll be there next year – I have even bigger ideas for panels and guests. If I can pull off even half of this, it’ll shake the pillars of heaven. Stay Tuned.
Here are some of the pictures I took from my time at Comic Con. Click the thumbnail to go to a slide, or use the arrows to navigate.
It’s a tough time to be a science fiction hero. Just look at the headlines for proof!
First, there’s this:
Honestly, that’s not surprising. He does seem to get into trouble wherever he goes. So misunderstood. But it would’ve been interesting to know where the TARDIS materialized in that situation.
This next one though is clearly her own fault:
Not that I blame her. I’ve spent many an hour alone in an observatory, and I imagine the Astrometrics Lab on Voyager wasn’t that much more entertaining. Hey Janeway, maybe this wouldn’t have happened if you had let her use the Holodeck more!
The sky is not as it seems.
Certainly, gazing upon it on a clear night you see so much: stars, planets, the glow of hot gas here and there… but there’s also darkness. Look at the Milky Way, its stream split down the middle by a rift of black. Gape at a gaudy nebula, and you’ll see it pocked here and there by pools of black.
But what is inky pitch to our eyes glows with a cold light to those attuned to it.
Tell me, what do you see here?
The bright star is obvious enough, but you can also, dimly, see a feathered stripe of black splashed across the vista, blocking, absorbing the light from stars behind it. Details are muted, structure difficult to ascertain, and you strain to see features that your brain cannot interpret.
But that’s with your eyes. Try again, look at it, but this time, widen your view. See it now?
Well done! Where before you saw material absorbing light, now it emits! Of course, unbeknownst to you, you had some help: the ESO APEX telescope in Chile. It sees into the far, far infrared, where light is so stretched out it is entirely invisible to humans. In fact, the wavelength of light is so wide there that if it were a vibrating string, you could physically see the crests and troughs, since each would be separated by the next by nearly a millimeter. The light your eye can see has a wavelength only a thousandth that wide.
When APEX looked at this ribbon of dark, frigidly cold dust, it sees the material glowing. What we see as dark, it sees as bright. You can even compare the two directly, using a slider over the two versions of this picture, unveiling precisely what your now-expanded vision can take in.
Cold dust is the bane of the astronomer who uses merely visible light, since it blocks the view behind it. But one person’s poison is another’s meat, and if you study the material that wends its way between the stars — and sometimes comes together to form them — then the view from APEX is sustenance for you. This material is barely above the ultimate freezing point of absolute zero, and you might think it dead and useless. But from such stuff are you and I descended, and everything you see around you.
So when you do peer around you, and take in your environment, your surroundings, your home, look again. You are surrounded by the invisible, permeated by it… but always remember, it was invisible only until we chose to look for it. We created the means necessary to do so, and when we did the Universe opened up before us.
Image credit: ESO/APEX (MPIfR/ESO/OSO)/A. Hacar et al./Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin.
I make no excuses for my love of Doctor Who, and one of my favorite things about it since it was rebooted back in 2005 has been the music. I have always loved the title theme (originally written by Ron Grainer), ever since I was a little kid, and the modern orchestral reworking of it by Murray Gold is magnificent. I listen to the soundtracks all the time.
Gold wrote a new theme for The Doctor for Matt Smith’s version of the character, called "I Am the Doctor", and it’s fantastic. It’s got an odd beat to it, because it’s in 7 (as opposed to the usual 2, 3 or 4 beats per measure of most music). A bit off-kilter, just like the Time Lord himself, and with an underlying momentum and power. Also like The Doctor.
And that’s why I love this video: Murray Gold playing the theme on the piano — which he posted pseudonymously to YouTube!
Very cool. I’m looking forward to getting the Series 6 soundtrack as soon as it’s available here in the US. But for now, I think I’ll just go have a listen to this track from Series 5 played by the National Orchestra of Wales. Allons-y!
Tip o’ the sonic screwdriver to The Nerdist!
- TV scientists that even real scientists approve of (An article I wrote for Blastr.com)
- Doctor Who fan trailer to tide you over
- Dragon*Con 2011
- Doctor Who infographic
- An observatory that’s bigger on the inside
If the recent season finale of Doctor Who made you despair of waiting a year for the next season to start (with only two holiday episodes between now and then to alleviate the pain), then try watching this fan-made trailer for the show. It’s quite well-done (and there are no spoilers for the last episode).
Sigh. Yeah, now the wait will be even worse. And I should know: I’m a doctor.
Oh– there are two other fun DW vids, if you’re so inclined: this one, a Series 6 synopsis that is spoiler-ish, and this one, which is a quite spoilery funny mashup of the good Doctor with Tik Tok from
Lady Gaga Ke$ha. Yes, seriously.
One of the more fascinating meta-qualities of the intertubez is how it’s opened up a bunch of sub-cultures to people who would otherwise have no idea they exist. Sure, we all know about Trekkers and Whovians and Steampunkers, but until the advent of Twitter, Facebook and the other social nets I was not aware of the popularity of crafters: people who make things. I mean people who knit, do papercraft, create clothes, and so on.
Oh sure, I knew it was a fun hobby and all that — what I didn’t know is how devoted some folks are to it. It’s pretty cool; they make cozies, socks, hats, skirts, dresses, sweaters… it’s amazing. And of course, this being the web and all, a lot of these folks are also space/math/science/scifi nerds. Still I never, ever, ever would’ve predicted this. I present to you The Vitruvian Dalek:
Winter’s coming… I could use a quilt. Hmmm.
Tip o’ the sewing needle to Mary Firestone.
* I know, it’s not knitting, and I used that joke once before. But it’s still funny.
This makes me so happy: my pal Chris Hardwick — look up "nerd" in the dictionary if you’re not familiar with him — is taking his gargantuanly popular Nerdist podcast to the TV airwavery:
W00t! This airs after Doctor Who on BBC America September 24 here in the States, and I will watch (though on my DVR as I’ll be at TEDxBoulder talking about trying to save the world). I’ll note this will be broadcast so it’ll be PG-13 or so; that ought to be fun. His podcast is NSFW in much the same way that standing next to a gamma ray burst is Not Safe For Being Alive.
Chris is really, really funny and one of the few bigger Doctor Who fans than I am. And I am not at all jealous that his guests on the show will be Matt Smith and Craig Ferguson. Not at all.