Companion Piece Table of Contents Released

Released! Into the wild! Like a herd of Daleks…or Quarks! (Everyone loves the Quarks, right?)


Anyway, yes, the Table of Contents for Companion Piece is now out, and here it is:

• The Impossible Girls by Deborah Stanish
• That Nitro-9 You’re Not Carrying: Violence and the Companion by Seanan McGuire
• Scheherazade and Galahad in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks by Mags L. Halliday
• Steven Taylor, Space Adventurer! by L.M. Myles
• Scintillating, Fascinating, Irritating by Liz Barr
• I Don’t Want Her to Go by Amy Gaertner
• “What a Splendid-Looking Roman You Make!”: The Male Companions, from Ian to Rory by Emma Nichols
• A Different Way of Living by Julia duMais
• We, Robots by Erika Ensign
• The Damned Don’t Cry by Sarah Groenewegen
• Stories and Fairytales: Feminism, Agency and Narrative Control with the Pond Family Women by Karen K. Burrows
• The Shakespeare Race Code by Amanda-Rae Prescott
• “I Can Do Your Part If You Can Do Mine”: Romana II as the Girl Doctor by Gwynne Garfinkle
• Mouth on Legs by Tehani Wessely
• From “There’s Nothing Only About Being a Girl” to “The Most Important Woman in the Whole of Creation”: Feminism and the Female Companions by Linnea Dodson
• Where in Eternity… is Josephine Grant Jones? by Joan Frances Turner
• Forever Playing Second Fiddle: How Sarah Jane and the Rest of Us are being Sold Short by Nina Allan
• The Barbara Strain by Lynne M. Thomas
• The Curious Case of Miss Victoria Waterfield by Jennifer Adams Kelley
• “Where Do I Fit In?”: The Tale of Perpugilliam Brown by Stephanie Lai
• My Doctor: Harry Sullivan by Sarah McDermott
• Donna: Noble by Name and Noble by Nature by Karen Miller
• Rewriting History with Sticky Notes: Narrative, Agency and Bernice Summerfield by Emma Ward
• Scientists, Not Office Boys: Zoe and Liz, Science-Heroes by Anna Livingston
• The Uses of Turlough by Anne Goldsmith
• Amy‘s Choice: Doctor Who Companions and the Nightmare of Domesticity by Una McCormack
• The Ones He Leaves Behind by Foz Meadows
• Science Princess FTW by Mary Robinette Kowal
• Origin Story by Aneira Vaughn
• What Has Romana Ever Done For Us? by Phoebe Taylor
• The Heroine of Her Own Story by Britany Harrison and Liz Barr
• Sara Kingdom Dies at the End by Tansy Rayner Roberts
• A Question of Emphasis: The Doctor as Companion by Amal El-Mohtar

Tis a cunning mix of professional and fan writers with all sorts of things to say on the humans, aliens and tin dogs that accompany the Doctor in his travels; a plethora of thought-provoking, exciting, fun, nostalgic, omg-now-I-have-to-watch-all-of-Doctor-Who-at-once essays that, by turns, make you look at the companions anew in all sorts of wonderful ways, air-punch with yay, or attempt to hug your entire Doctor Who DVD collection at once…that may just be me. Shusht, I’m a totally well-adjusted human person, promise.

But it does look just a little bit awesome, yes, and, having read the thing quite a few times, I can also tell you factually that it is, in actual fact, awesome. So very proud of this book, and the work done by all the contributors, and my marvellous co-editor Liz Barr.

Mags L. Halliday also has a fab essay on her blog accompanying the announcement, about being female fans, and the complexities involved in countering gender bias.

The print version of Companion Piece is available for pre-order at All Major Book Retailers (here’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble), and the ebook can be pre-ordered on the Kindle or Kobo.

And if you’re coming to Gallifrey 2015, there should be advance copies on sale at the Alien Entertainment table.


Verity Two Cents: 10 Doctor Who Companions That Should’ve Been

In last week’s ep, and for Verity!‘s first episode on companions, it was a discussion on Doctor Who Companions What Never Were, or Guest Characters We Really Liked And Are Bitter About Not Becoming Regulars (that may just be me.)

And I’m pleased to report that I won’t be attempting to fire anyone this week since they did mention Amelia Rumford, and no-one said anything sufficiently ridiculous that I was yelling at my computer. Hurrah! There were also cheers at Kat’s decision to not even engage with the idea that Canton (aka Mark Sheppard, that nice FBI chap in The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon) isn’t a companion. I mean, she’s wrong, he clearly isn’t, but I admire the sentiment.

Sadly, however, they missed out numerous Shoulda Been Companions, by which I mean my list, my beautiful list of a plethora of guest stars who would clearly have, um, improved things if they’d ended up on-board the TARDIS. Probably. Here they are:

Astrid Ferrier

Astrid Ferrier in The Enemy of the World

1) Astrid Ferrier (Amazing agent person in The Enemy of the World, NOT KYLIE MINOGUE, omg) – You might think she should come back for the excellent performance given by Mary Peach (she auditioned for The Avengers – the proper one – and it shows), or the fact that the chemistry with the Doctor was of the decidedly awesome and non-platonic variety, but no, no, it’s for the outfits. Look at her clothes! Those collars! The sci-fi silvery goodness! (Okay possibly only silver because black and white telly, but still.)

2) Rapunzel (a woman with really long hair who turns up in The Mind Robber) – A fictional character who ends up in the real world? Smashing! And it’s 1969, so it seems like a really cool, edgy idea too. She’d probably get half a story where she deals with being unreal in a real universe and then it’s never mentioned again; luckily fandom and fanfiction exist. But think of how useful her epic hair would be in many an ill-advised escape attempt!

3) Ralph Cornish (Director of the British Space Programme – yeah, that’s right, *British* Space Programme…ah, the seventies, such optimism – in The Ambassadors of Death) – Sixties/early seventies Who makes much use of the cool-headed woman of science trope, but the male scientists tend to be a little more, uh, emotional, or with a slightly unsteady grip on reality. Happily, that trope is subverted in lovely Ralph Cornish, the wonderfully competent and patient head of British Space Things. He’s trying to save people but he’s got the military running around his base and the Doctor in full on jerk mode aimed right at him, and yet he never even raises an eyebrow in annoyance. Obv he and Liz Shaw should get whole seasons to themselves to go explore space. Yes.

4) Miss Hawthorne (total science skeptic from The Daemons; bit in love with Sergeant Benton) – The Third Doctor is pretty annoyed a lot of the time anyway, but how hilariously annoyed would he be with Miss Hawthorne along?

“A magic ship,” says Miss Hawthorne. “That sails between the stars…by magic!”

“It’s a spaceship,” says the Doctor, glaring, “fusion-powered.”

“Magic beings!” says Miss Hawthorne.

“Aliens,” says the Doctor. ”

“Ah, a mysterious faraway magical land.”

“It’s another planet.”

“A magic planet!”


5) Alpha Centauri (Totally serious business interstellar ambassador in The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon) – Because if there’s one thing every family action-adventure science fiction series needs, it’s a six foot tall penis-shaped alien with a shower curtain wrapped round it in a way that does absolutely nothing to hide that fact it’s a six foot tall penis-shaped alien.

But Alpha Centauri is so lovely! And terrified, and never wants to go anywhere. It’d be like Turlough but with less incompetent murder-planning and not actually ever being able to get them out of the TARDIS ever. And what do *real* Doctor Who fans want more than stories set entirely in the TARDIS? NOTHING, that’s what.

6) Anat (resistance leader from Day of the Daleks‘ alternate, dystopic future Earth) – So, she fights Daleks in a future Earth, then gets trapped back in time and her own future’s destroyed and it’s quite great cause it means the Daleks don’t occupy Earth and enslave humanity, but she’s now cut off from everything she’s ever known and goes travelling with the Doctor to find an exciting new purpose in life. Damn it, that actually sounds like a reasonable plot thing… that I totally didn’t steal from Big Finish and what they did with Klein.

Amelia Rumford

Prof. Amelia Rumford

7) Professor Amelia Rumford (old lady archaeologist investigating The Stones of Blood) – a character with a personality so forceful it can’t be dimmed even by Prime Tom Baker is something special. She’s got the determination of a concrete brontosaurus, dealing with druids, human sacrifice, hyperspace, blood-sucking alien rocks, and her girlfriend turning out to be a 4000 year old intergalactic criminal all in one night. And she was a bit in love with Romana. Clearly more adventures were well-deserved.

8) Duggan (The subtlest detective that ever detected in City of Death) – Who doesn’t want their own portable battering ram? Think of all those locked doors that could be so neatly dispensed with, even without a sonic screwdriver. Here’s Duggan! Happy to run at that lousy door and show it just who’s boss! You go, Duggan.

Todd in Kinda

Todd, and Peter Davison’s lolarious face.

9) Todd (Science officer on Kinda, a nice green planet with a snake problem) – Not that I think there’s anything wrong with the Terrible Trio (that’s Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan)…um, well, two of them at least, well, anyway, the point is, Nerys Hughes at least knows what to do with her hands when she’s standing still, okay? …and Adric did seem to be having fun on Kinda; they could totally have just swapped them out to the benefit of everyone…but mostly the viewing public.

10) Lytton (Mercenary who survives working for Daleks in Resurrection of the Daleks; less survival is managed when working for a race of flail-y clingfilm aliens in Attack of the Cybermen) – No longer would Eric Saward have to come up with some new mercenary character doing some new mercenary thing every story he’s script-editing on, noooo. Now, with a mercenary actually on the TARIDS he can just have the Doctor trip over and knock himself out in the console room before going on to write the mercenary space show he’s always dreamed of! Good Doctor Who? No, terrible, dreadful awfulness, undoubtedly. But at least Eric Saward would be happy, and, in the end, isn’t that what matters?

Your discerning eye may have noticed that all these options are from classic Who. For New Who options, the Radio Times has a list over here. Personally I think their choices show a serious lack of courage, what with all those actors still being alive and all.

Oh, but you know who they did miss out? Caecilius. There’s no way that could go wrong. (That’s Peter Capaldi’s character in The Fires of Pompeii, just to save anyone from having to click over to Google.)

And apparently today is extra blue Monday or something. It is V COLD, but otherwise I’m feeling okay. P’haps you are not? I cannot help really, but I have been Pinteresting a bit this weekend. Maybe pictures of Doctor Who things would be cheering, or just pictures of Awesome Things?

Need more ways to keep warm that do not involve setting self on fire.

Companion Stuff

So we’ve done something terrible for Verity!.

On last week’s show, we announced our theme for 2015: the companions of Doctor Who. So far so good, then *certain* people thought it’d be ever such a good idea to have a poll to let our listeners help decide which companions we’ll be focussing on. A poll. A poll where people vote WRONGLY.

(Obviously, I’m not talking about you, dear reader, if you happen to have voted. Of course not! Just all those other listeners who don’t share your exquisite taste.)

The one saving grace is that the final poll results are less rules of what we’ll be talking about and more strong guidelines. I’m looking at it right now, and clearly quite a lot of the wrong people are winning…not Barbara though, well done voters on your Barbara voting.

But there’s still time to change things for the better!

So what are the right sort of answers for this poll? Excellent question! You get twelve votes, and the very most correct use of these votes is as follows: Barbara Wright, Vicki, Steven Taylor, Polly, Jamie McCrimmon, Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, Romana (either), Amelia Rumford, Martha Jones, River Song, Amy Pond.

Now, if you’ve a keen eye you’ll notice Amelia Rumford isn’t actually an option. You should write us letters of complaint about that. Nice letters of complaint, not the other kind. And don’t mention I said you should, obv.

Elsewhere in the podcast world, I’m guesting in this week’s episode of the Audio Guide to Babylon 5, one of my favourite podcasts, discussing the season one episode Babylon Squared.

It was a smidgen terrifying recording. Which probably sounds ridiculous, but every single podcast I’ve done up to this point, I was talking about some aspect of Doctor Who. I’m used to Doctor Who; I know how to talk about Doctor Who. How do I say words about Babylon 5?! It’s a whole different universe of opinions, and I’m used to those opinions being all disjointed and floofy but making perfect sense inside my head, not having to put them into actual understandable sentences.

So, yes, terror, but also tremendous fun. It’s a smashing podcast, and you should definitely have a listen if you’ve a fondness for B5 or if you’ve ever wanted to watch the whole show all the way through, it makes an excellent companion (heh!) since tis a podcast of two halves and the first half of the discussion every episode is spoiler-free.

And, finally, Companion Piece, that fabulous anthology that I’ve edited with Liz Barr on the companions of Doctor Who (which we were editing *well before* Certain People decided this should also be Verity’s 2015 theme) is now available for pre-order at Amazon (UK) and (US). Now, I might be a *smidgen* biased, but I have read it quite a lot of times, and it’s an awesome book; an exciting, fun, thought-provoking collection, with essays from some three dozen excellent writers.

Till next time, delicious readers! Happy Wednesday!

Alas, no more Cardinal Capaldieu

Ah, good Tuesday, readers. I type to you today in, if anything, even more of a snit at Peter Capaldi and his inability to be two people. You see, I didn’t watch the finale of last years’ Musketeers, because then there would be no more Cardinal Capaldieu and I’d be sad. However, with the second season now starting and probably about five hundred years of Capaldi Who to look forward to, not watching started to seem a little silly.

FOOLISH ME. Do you know what the final three Richelieu scenes are? Political Shenanigans between the Cardinal and Anne of Austria, and they are beautiful, and they are clearly setting up that power struggle to only escalate in the next season and CRUEL FATE has forever deprived the world of more of their bitchy, side-glance-y politicking.
So, yes, that. Boo.

(On a bit of a tangent, cause I’m reading another iteration of someone being Wrong about actual Ye Olde Medieval European Times to justify not-actually-Realism in Fantasy, I want to point out that all the royal women featured in season one of The Musketeers ruled countries at various times: Marie de’ Medici and Anne of Austria ruled France as regents, and Christine Marie, Louis VIII’s sister, was regent of Savoy. Now, yes, this is the seventeenth century rather than the Middle Ages (where some pseudo-medieval fantasy books would have you believe women did sod all; again, noooo) but women’s political influence, whatever the century, does have the unfortunate habit of being underestimated, dismissed or forgotten. Thus, this tangent.)

There was also a slight accident yesterday evening when I watched Oculus. And now I’m vaguely terrified of everything but especially all reflective surfaces, and mirrors, and mirrors with wooden frames…there are several in the house. One looks quite old. Chuck it maybe? I can’t actually be certain it’s *not* watching me…

But, yes, Oculus, what a fab horror movie! Pitched at exactly the level of scary where – aftereffects and suspicions re mirrors notwithstanding – I’m frightened but not freaking the fuck out, which is basically my one criteria regarding horror movies. And spaceships. They do get more points if there’s a spaceship. Karen Gillan is bloody fab in it too, and had a smashing American accent (I thought, but what do I know? I don’t mind most of the ‘American’ accents in Big Finish).

Alas, I always feel faintly disappointed at the conclusion of horror movies, and, quite often, actively irritated. Oculus doesn’t magically avoid the disappointment, but neatly steers clear of irritation by neither explaining nor justifying the fucking creepy killer mirror.

And Starbuck is Amy Pond’s mum.

Where is the stop button on the time clock please?

I remain vaguely optimistic that at some point we’ll be so far into the future, time will curve round and we can start counting down years and I’ll feel much better. I haven’t got over it not being 1998 anymore, so being in Back to the Future II future-time is more than a little disconcerting.

It’s also that horrid time of year when you feel vaguely obligated to look back on the past twelve months and resist the urge to dive into the nearest suitably deep pool of cold water and hope your past is swapped with a more productive one by the time you come up from air. I made a list to try and help and, admittedly, it made me feel slightly better, and then slightly worse, so yes, whatever list.

But a new year! Exciting! On the very first day I celebrated by trusting Netflix to choose me a film. It recommended The Legend of Hercules, presumably so that I could suffer through it and thus prevent anyone who read this post from doing the same. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THE THINGS. It’s not just full of bland, boring characters doing bland, boring heroics, it’s busy being offensive with three whole female character cut-outs: one who’s killed by her husband; one who stabs herself to save her Heroic True Love from having to make a tricky decision; and one priestess who gets possessed by a Hera who thinks it’s a fine idea for her husband to cheat on her with another woman if it’s in the cause of peace. You know, Hera, the goddess who stuck a handful of venomous snakes in the cot of Zeus’s bastard offspring cause she was so pleased with the cheating. That Hera. She also has a floaty whispery voice, while Zeus is represented with great swirls of thunder, lightning, and Hercules looking like he’s about to declare “By the power of Greyskull!”

On the bright side, it did have Liam McIntyre in a supporting role, showing a slightly wider range than I’d given him credit for, and also managing to make whole minutes vaguely bearable since I’m awfully fond of him thanks to Spartacus.

I should make up some New Year’s resolutions or something.

1) Don’t trust Netflix’s recs (it’s also responsible for that time I watched that awful film about the magic horse that makes everyone fall in love it and then they die.)

2) More Lego. Lego is good and full of cheer.

3) Less judging self for needing ten hours sleep. With so many other things to be self-judgey about, you won’t even miss it, surely!

4) Better food stuffs. I’ve done very well already. I had like seven Brussel sprouts two days ago.

5) Neater inboxes. I do like it when they’re neat, and feel much better, but, aargh, the email fear.

This was actually going to be a post about the Doctor Who Christmas Special (and I do talk about it on last week’s Verity!), but I’m currently in a little bit of a snit at Peter Capaldi as The Musketeers just came back on and he wasn’t in it, and I know according time or energy or mass or whatever he can’t be in both it and Doctor Who, and if it came down to it I’d prefer he was the Doctor (I did have to think about it though, for several seconds) BUT STILL.

Okay, that’s enough run-on sentences for one post. Farewell, delicious readers! And Happy New Year!