Time is running out!

Unless you’ve got a Tardis handy, you’ve only got one week left to hand in your sonic screwdrivers to Central Library Peterborough! Our Create Your Own Sonic Screwdriver Competition ends this Sunday 20th September* at 5.00pm, so get your entries in quick to be in with a chance to win some great prizes.

I’ll be sad to say goodbye to our shiny Dalek (Peterborough’s security guard stand-in kindly loaned by Addington Books) so thank goodness we’re getting some sonic screwdrivers to arm ourselves with in case we get overrun with Cybermen wanting to use our wi-fi.

Dalek at Central Library Peterborough
Dalek Flickr 2015-08-15-IMG_7550

Create Your Own Sonic Screwdriver entry form

*Coincidentally this the same day that season 9 of Doctor Who premieres on Prime.

Every Doctor must have his day

doctorwhoposterCalling all time lords, cybermen, daleks, and time/space travelling companions!

Central Library Peterborough is hosting a Doctor Who themed event on Saturday the 15th of August, free for all humans and other species to attend.

Cosplay as your favourite character and be in to win prizes for best dressed! There’ll also be colouring in, puzzles, Doctor Who books and DVDs to borrow, and from 2.30 – 3.00 we’ll be holding a quiz to test you on your Doctor Who trivia. If you get the answers correct then you’ll win a prize, and if you’re unlucky there might be the possibility of trying some fish fingers and custard à la the Eleventh Doctor! Who could turn that down?

Doctor Who display

If you aren’t able to attend Doctor Who Day, don’t despair — we’re holding a Create Your Own Sonic Screwdriver Competition which finishes on the 20th of September.

And there’s always the plethora of Doctor Who fiction, fan guides, DVDs, e-books and comics available at your local library all year round.

Cover of Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor. Vol. 1, After Life Cover of Doctor Who A History of the Universe in 100 Objects Cover of Doctor Who 11 doctors 11 stories Cover of Doctor Who Prisoner of the Daleks

Do chicks dig time lords?

I have no idea how I found this book. I was just sitting at the computer looking for a book. Now the book I was looking for didn’t have anything to do with chicks, digging or time lords, but there it was.

And I wanted it.

I have been often told, that one should never judge a book by its cover. I did. The psychic paper, the scarf and the key to the Tardis all said ‘read me’. And maybe the title Chicks dig time lords: A celebration of Doctor Who by the women who love it.

I quite like time lords, so I was curious. I knew Verity Lambert liked time lords, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that Carole Barrowman did too. But a whole book written by chicks who dig time lords was a surprise. They all had different reasons for liking them and they all quite possibly had favourites.

While Doctor Who is off air, the Doctor is hopefully repairing his Tardis and maybe even getting its chameleon circuit to work. I think I could help him out. Not because I can run in high heels and mini-skirt. I can’t. I could get his Tardis fixed.

Cover of An unofficial guide companions fifty years of doctor who assistantsHe probably can’t travel back through time and space to arrive outside the Tardis repair shop on Gallifrey, but he could go to the planet-sized library which contains every book ever written and get a book on how to repair a Tardis. That’s where I come in. I have a library card which isn’t valid for all libraries in time and space, but since when do small details like that stop the Doctor and his companions?

I do know how libraries are organised and I know how to ask the right questions. If the library has a copy of a Tardis repair manual, I could find it with the help of the Librarian. If the Tardis materializes within the library, we won’t need to borrow the repair manual, but if he does borrow it, the Doctor will be able to keep it for ages, then travel back in time and return it on time. How cool would that be?

Do you dig time lords?

Dare I ask, which one?

While you are waiting for the return of Doctor Who, why not borrow a DVD featuring your favourite Doctor.

Exterminate!

The Library holds many culturally important taonga that inform our identity as Cantabrians. This is not one of them, but it is the coolest thing I’ve seen in Store since an old edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:

Dr Who and the Daleks omnibus

 

Doctor Who and the Daleks omnibus is a 1976 TV tie-in. It includes two novel-length stories and vital information on Dalek anatomy:

Dalek-Anatomy

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) was the Doctor du jour when this was published, and he (and his scarf) feature prominently:

Tom Baker and Daleks

 

Levity aside, never forget that “beyond the beyond of beyond at the dark endless edge of eternal space, exists a life force that has neither form nor substance.”

Invasion

Look to the skies…

Dalek saying goodbye

You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books! The best weapons in the world!

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Armageddon, Christchurch, 2012

Card-gaming was just one of many diversions on offer to Expo attendees

Noting the proximity of this year’s Armageddon Expo to the ‘Star Home Show’, I couldn’t help but imagine the comic mis-steps required to necessitate the utter bamboozlement of your average denim and polyester-clad ‘Home Show’ couple. Literally one wrong turn, and their hotly-anticipated, yet coolly-considered morning of soft furnishings perusal and contemplation of the latest innovations in bench-tops would be irreparably ruined. I say irreparably, because confusing the two venues would necessarily result in said pair’s forced exposure to a largely impenetrable and perplexing display of pop-culture expression.

Quite apart from their inability to distinguish an Otaku from a Whovian, “denim-and-polyester’s” sense of social equilibrium would be assailed by any number of groups of maddeningly-specific sub-cultural devotees, not to mention those rogue niche enthusiasts whose alignment to the most arcane and obscure back-alleys of fandom manage to baffle even the initiated.

As it happens, I can’t verify that any such fish-out-of-water scenario actually occurred, but that may just be because I spent the majority of my time taking in the spectacle of several thousand people, predominantly young, but not exclusively so, having a fantastic (albeit uncomfortably physically intimate) collective time. It was both fascinating and inspiring to witness so many formerly marginalised enthusiasts, be they wargamers or cosplayers, participating in an event attended by a demographically-diverse crowd.

The ever-improving accuracy of Star Wars costuming on display by the Expo’s default maitre-d’s, the NZ Outpost 42 garrison leads me to suspect that it’s only a matter of time before the Empire calls these clearly capable troops into active service. although perhaps something will have to be done about their enthusiasm for posing for photos, which somewhat undermines the regime’s cruel totalitarian agenda.

But of course, for many Armageddon attendees, posing for photos is largely what it’s all about. It would be an unusual cosplayer, many of whom have clearly spent weeks or months planning and refining their often freakishly elaborate costumes, who would greet a photo request with coy refusal. Not that all costumers are equally invested in the hobby. For every painstakingly executed Naruto or creatively exemplary TARDIS/Woman, there’s someone who wants to show their geek-love, but can’t quite make that final leap of faith.

For once, the TARDIS fails to unassumingly blend in with its surroundings

Fortunately, pledging commercial allegiance to one’s chosen obsession/s is an attractive option for those costumed or otherwise. Armageddon regulars will be familiar with the companies which routinely set up shop at the Expo, offering everything from manga books, anime dvds, and merchandise from an exhaustingly broad range of licensed properties. They were there in force again this year, shilling everything from novelty button badges, to Death Note plush toys to pricey top-shelf anime statues.

I myself was fiscally obliged to make a decision between a thirty-dollar Sylvester McCoy autograph, and a slightly more expensive, though considerably less articulated six-inch simulacrum of the man himself, outfitted in one of the least offensive of the generally offensive 1980s Doctor Who costumes. In the end I plumped for the autograph, but I’ve since had buyer’s regret. Not just because face-to-face encounters with my childhood heroes, despite my high expectations, are unfailingly disappointing, but the little Sylvester also came with his TARDIS.

Inside Christchurch’s Death Star command post

With so many events and festivals cancelled over the last months, it was  a huge treat to be able to go to one event that has managed to rearrange itself – the ironically appropriate  Armageddon festival.

With its usual venue both red-stickered and red-zoned, the Armageddon organisers managed to not only find another venue, but also to put on a show that, in terms of both attendance and spirit, feels just like any other end-of-the-world party.  Over 7000 bodies through the door, and most of them human, or at least human-ish (not sure about the dudes in the white armour, and I definitely have doubts about the guy in the corner who was oozing intestines).

Although the “names” were mostly lacking this year (except for a signing panel from The Almighty Johnsons), the teens turned out in their hundreds, with the usual complement of bewildered-looking parents being towed along by nine-year-old boys holding lightsabres and sonic screwdrivers.  Outpost 42 stormtroopers were everywhere, although Darth Vader only arrived on Sunday, probably to check out his Death Star command post (really truly impressive, built here in Christchurch by a group of very clever guys).

And there was heaps to do: commission your own artwork for as little as 10cents; buy whatever you want to eat as long as it’s deep fried; learn about MMP, the Greens party or organic popcorn snacks; plan your career at NatColl; buy a model helicopter and try out all the new PS3 games; watch anime on the giant screen; see Princess Leia dance a saucy dance (my goodness, she must have been cold in that!); cuddle up to any number of comic or manga characters; buy a katana or hire a replica machine gun, or just hang out with the Doctor(s).

For fun, entertainment and forgetting about the New Normal for a few hours, it’s the best $5 I’ve spent in ages, and I’m already diarying the 2012 event.  You should too.

Armageddon – cosplay, comics and cat ears

Photos from Armageddon Expo

So we’ve made it through Day One of possibly the most unusual convention that Christchurch sees each year.  For those who don’t know, Armageddon is a yearly sci-fi/ fantasy/ comic /anime /manga /gamer /f an-based event that runs in two or three cities around New Zealand.  It’s a chance to dress up (or cosplay), to see tv and movie stars, watch anime on a big screen, buy really cool stuff, beat people up with giant inflatable sticks, or just hang out and talk nerdy.  There are teenagers EVERYwhere, and I am very jealous.  They get to wear cat ears, bear suits, capes, wigs and wings, while us grown-ups have to make do with buying steampunk jewellery and talking to internationally famous authors. 

Robert Rankin is here, promoting his latest book Retromancer, and happily having his photo taken with librarians.  We talk about kiwi book events, and he says he is astonished and appalled at book prices here.  No wonder we don’t buy his books in the shops here, he says – he wouldn’t either, at more than $40 for a paperback.  He is charming, and witty, and we rush off to the library to get a FREE copy of one of his books to take home. 

We also stop by the main stage to hear Paul McGann talk about Doctor Who, Hornblower, Withnail and I, Aliens and dozens of other movies and shows he’s been in.  The level of fan love is scary, but also kind of inspiring. 

There are signing tables with voice actors from Naruto, X-Men and Dragonball Z, comic artists Christian Gossett, Michael Allred and Francis Manapul, and, mesmerisingly, a large wrestling ring with mostly naked men leaping around and yelling a lot. 

Best costume of the day:  my pick is L from Death Note, just because he really does look just like him.  Most classic moment:  a fan asks Paul McGann to sing the Doctor Who theme tune, AND HE DOES. 

Day Two brings the cosplay competition, panels with Star Trek and Heroes stars, an Easter Egg Hunt and a giant pillow fight.   And possibly some more of that steampunk jewellery …

Long live the 10th Doctor

David Tennant has stepped out of the Tardis for the last time, leaving me (and many other fans) mourning his departure. 

His final outing saw The Doctor saving Earth from being knocked out of orbit by his home planet, Gallifray, which had been brought back in time, and sacrificing himself to save Donna’s grandfather, Wilf.  Sound confusing?  You’re not alone. 

It was a great episode with Tennant showing the range of his character but it was one of those storylines that you really needed to concentrate on and if you missed one subtle hint you ended up being very confused.  There seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions, such as who really is Wilf, why was he so special, and who was the woman who kept appearing to Wilf?  There seem to be plenty of theories out there, including that he is actually a Time Lord whose memories are stored in a pocket watch or some other amulet, similar to The Master in an earlier episode.  If anybody can astonish me with their Doctor Who knowledge by helping to answer some of these questions it’d be greatly appreciated.

David Tennant has been a great Doctor and I’ll miss his wit and humour but I’m sure Matt Smith will bring something new to his character so I am eagerly awaiting the new series.  If you can’t wait for the new series and need a Dr Who hit we have plenty of the DVDs  as well as Dr Who books available at the library.

Dr Who, I miss you…

This year, so far,  we’ve had two of the promised four Doctor Who special episodes and while they’ve been sufficiently Who-ish; Planet of the Dead featured a BBC budget Lara Croft-esque character called Lady Christina and The Next Doctor with an anatomically ambivalent CyberKing, the knowledge that this is  the delicious David Tennant’s protracted swan-song has made it a miserable experience so far.

Oh yes, Mr Tennant I’d climb into your TARDIS any day of the week  but I’m not so sure about this new chap Matt Smith, there is something vaguely unnerving about an actor born in 1982-the Peter Davidson era- playing a 900 year old time-lord. There is also a new assistant in the pipeline and with almost unimaginable self-restraint the new ginger –haired, Scottish lassie has been named Amy rather than the infinitely more obvious Heather or Agnes, this may yet prove a mistake as no-one likes a stereotype better than your average telly viewer and Scottish stereotypes are just so much fun, usually corrupt coppers or whiney, malnourished druggie/ crims.

We won’t be able to enjoy the next series for some considerable time here in far-flung NZ so in the meantime the library has oodles of Dr Who DVDs, audio-books, novels and magazines featuring the Doctor in his many guises. Yes, the vintage TV series sets do wobble and every second story-line was filmed in a quarry in the Cotswolds but for sheer nostalgia and a chance to hide in terror behind the couch again, they are well worth another watch. And although I must confess to having become a little fatigued by story editor Russell T Davies’s plots, the latest Doctor Who series have lots of famous acting faces, racey plots and fantastic CGI.  The empty child and The doctor dances with Chrstopher Eccleston are two of my favourite episodes and won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic presentation.

Beeb drama at its very best!