The Lie of the Land – Doctor Who Review

I want to start by saying I enjoyed this episode a lot. It was very well written, the dialogue, for the most part, was snappy, natural, and drew me in. The cinematography and direction really brought out the best in Capaldi and Mackie as they delivered some of the most emotional scenes this series.

Having said that, there is something that worries me tremendously. It’s a concern I had right from the moment I saw the trailer and read the synopsis.

It Never Happened

Cast your minds back to 2007 and the series 3 finale, Last of the Time Lords. The Master took over the world and the Doctor was locked in a cage for a year while Martha Jones walked the earth. But then, at the end, it was all erased. It never happened. Nobody but the Doctor and his friends could remember the events of the whole episode. And people got angry.

When you erase an entire episode’s meaning and importance for the world its set in, it feels a bit like a cheat. You set up high stakes and your characters must face the challenges not only of ending the horrors, but dealing with the aftermath. To take that away can often feel like a let down.

I was somewhat miffed at Last of the Time Lords, but it had a few saving graces. Firstly, I thought it was a very good episode on its own. But more than that, the lasting effects on a personal level for the Doctor, Martha and Martha’s family were felt long after the episode ended. The events may have been forgotten for most, but they stayed with the main characters. I was eventually okay with that

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Asexuality in SFF

I wrote a piece for Fox Spirit Books about Asexuality in sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve talked about it before, but this is very much an updated and better version of stuff I’ve said in the past. A topic somewhat close to my heart.

Asexuality in Fantasy

AceBy Joel Cornah

Writing characters is so often about letting the reader know what they are, rather than what they are not. In our world, so much of how people’s identities are perceived is bound up in ideas of sexuality and romance that, in the words of comedian Charlie Brooker;

We’ve become so accustomed to seeing characters pairing off with one another that it’s now almost impossible to see a man and a woman together on screen at once without internally speculating about whether they’re going to have sex or not.”

 Indeed, the trope of having two people (often of different genders) who do little but argue and despise one another but end up falling madly in love is incredibly prominent. I might even go so far as to say that for a lot of people, seeing two characters bicker has become an almost sure-fire way of predicting if they’ll end up together. But even in these cases, the writers will often tie them together through some reconciliation scene that ends with physical intimacy of some sort. Just to hammer home the point.

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Thin Ice – Doctor Who Review

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Thin Ice – Doctor Who Review

There’s a monster living under the Thames, and it’s eating people.

An ice covered river, street urchins, and the Doctor in a top hat – this episode has it all.

A definite improvement on last week, resolution-wise, but somewhat lacking in a grand climax. There are some wonderful moments, and once again the spark between the Doctor and Bill is the star of the show.

“Slavery is still a thing”

The episode opens with Bill addressing something that people have been talking about especially since The Shakespeare Code. The fact that the history of Britain is less than kind to non-white people. The Doctor takes a moment to acknowledge the horrors of slavery, a haunted look passing over his face, before moving on. It wasn’t much, but somewhat better than the 10th Doctors ‘Just walk like you own the place’ attitude.

A little later, Bill comments on the fact that Regency England is a lot more black than they show in the films. The Doctor’s “So was Jesus” response was pretty much perfect. The episode then introduces us to a group of street urchins of various skintones and despite some initial setbacks – namely the death of one of them – the Doctor and Bill soon forge a friendship with them.

When, somewhere towards the third act, the Doctor and Bill confront a racist aristocrat, it should come as no surprise that it does not end well. This is a good bit of build up and pay off from writer Sarah Dollard – having established more of a healthy relationship between the Doctor and diversity, when he is faced with a truly awful man, he reacts accordingly.

Punching racists is nothing new for the Doctor. Fans of the Third Doctor – Jon Pertwee – may remember his fondness for Venusian Akido. Though he would often seek a diplomatic solution, he wasn’t beyond dealing out the occasional chop to the neck.

In this instance, with the Doctor very much choosing to side with the marginalised against the upper crust, it is very much a case of the Doctor’s true qualities coming through. As the Seventh Doctor once said, ‘You can judge a man by the quality of his enemies’.

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Return of the 10th Planet

The original Mondasian Cybermen return to Doctor Who as filming begins on the final block of the forthcoming series

Return of the 10th Planet

tenth-planet-cybermen-245x300The BBC announced this week that the series 10 finale will feature not just Cybermen, but the original incarnations of the Cybermen. Other photos from the filming on location revealed other incarnations in the mix, too. My initial excitement was incredible to say the least. I have long been a fan of the original 10th Planet Cybermen and to see their return is something I’ve long hoped for. Their pale, fabric faces, their fleshy hands, and their haunting voices are all pure nightmare fuel.

However, my enjoyment and excitement soon gave way to trepidation and worry. I was reminded of a similar feeling from just a few years ago.

Do you remember Asylum of the Daleks?

Back in 2012, series 7 of Doctor Who opened with an episode bringing back the Daleks. All of them. The episode promised the return of all the old favourites, including my personal love and joy – the special weapons Dalek – which I love for its over the top ridiculousness. I even went to a special big screen showing in Manchester to watch, and sure enough, tucked away in a corer, was the special weapons dalek.

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Rebel Genius by Mike DiMartino – Review

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Rebel Genius by Mike DiMartino – Review

I am a great fan of Mike DiMartino’s work on Avatar the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra. His book, Rebel Genius, is a solo effort and I approached it with great expectations. Will it live up to those standards? Can Rebel Genius mark the beginning of a new, great young adult series?

The Background

dimartinoIt is difficult to approach this book without making reference to DiMartino’s creative history. His background writing for Avatar and Legend of Korra went hand in hand with his working relationship with Bryan Konietzko.

Between the two of them they developed an incredible world, deep and complex characters, and some unbelievable visuals.

I had often wondered what each member of team ‘Bryke’ brought to the table in Avatar, so this solo effort appealed to me as the chance to see just that.

I will try to treat this book on its own merits rather than making continuous references back to Avatar. But that is difficult for one so familiar with them, and so I will limit my commentary on that. After all, DiMartino has seemingly gone out of his way to distance Rebel Genius from Avatar in a few instances.

Where Avatar was based mostly on near and far eastern culture, history and mythology, Rebel Genius is much more of a Renaissance-inspired world. Moreover, the magical system is less based on martial arts and more on artistic talent and imagination.

That being said, there are still some similarities. There is an evil overlord, much like Fire Lord Ozai; there is a suppression of certain magical abilities, and there is a ‘villain’ who may or may not turn good in the end.

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Joel Cornah Nominated for Gemmell Award 2017

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Hey folks!

So, exciting news! I got nominated for this year’s David Gemmell Awards! The Sky Slayer is up for the Legend Award and also for the Ravenheart Award (for Evelinn Enoksen’s amazing artwork).

VOTE HERE

Please drop me a vote if you like my stuff. It would help out tremendously! I don’t know how much of a chance I have, but to be on the longlist alone was a massive surprise.

So, if you’re a Miliverse fan, or like my novels, help me keep doing weird stuff by voting.

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Janet Varney Interview

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Janet Varney: The Legacy of Avatar Korra

It was my tremendous pleasure to interview Janet Varney! She is an Emmy nominated actor, voice artist, musician, writer, producer and dog-owner. You may know her from The Thrilling Adventure HourStan Against Evil, and as the voice of Avatar Korra in The Legend of Korra!

We talked about the impact of playing a character like Korra, who has such a huge impact on so many people. How that changed her as a person and as an actor. The wider legacy of the show in the upcoming comics, how Korrasami affected animation at large. Also, we delved into how women are treated in the industry and what sorts of roles are becoming available.

Check it out here, and there’s an abridged transcript below.

korra comics 1The Korra Comics

JC: It’s been 2 years since Korra ended, but it’s still a big deal and attracts huge crowds at conventions. I couldn’t get into the panel at New York Comic Con!

JV: Yeah, that was a fun one, but the room was a little small. That was something Dark Horse was thinking was ‘did we do the right sized room for this?’ And I was like ‘I don’t know! It might be a little small!’

JC: That was introducing the (Legend of Korra) comics. How much of the comics have you seen?

JV: I haven’t seen anything more than the rest of the world has seen. The stuff that we were playing around with at the panel was just stuff that’s since become available, or has been out there for people to enjoy. We gave away a bunch of fun Avatar and Korra related books. The poster book was pretty new and that’s just absolutely stunning.

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