Welcome To The World of Wolves: At The 2014 Toronto After Dark

What are wolves? Are they solitary predators that attack the weak and helpless? Are they a pack of monsters? Or are they a family that merely tries to survive their environment? David Hayter’s Wolves explores these ideas well and, dare I say, quite subversively.

Of course werewolves are subversive in themselves. I mean, think about it: historically they are generally portrayed as human beings with animals inside of them, or at least as something Other that only comes out under a full moon. They are the hunger, the passion, and the violence that are parts of us and the natural world that we keep at bay until such a time as they have to be unleashed. But that, of course, is not the whole story and I will get back to that thought soon, I promise.

Wolves starts off not unlike the 1985 comedy film Teen Wolf. You have a popular student named Cayden, who seems to be a fine specimen of a young man in all ways — a good student and football player — who finds out that there is a beast inside of him. However, there are no kindly secret werewolf parents to guide him or girls attracted to his occasional hairiness. There is fear though: and blood, and horror. The first part of the film is like watching the wolf take off his human skin, his bland human life, or — if you’d like — stepping out of the sheep’s clothing and leaving a great sense of bloodstained shame, and a fear of one’s self.

It’s like watching teenage angst: only with the trappings of tropes shed and murder.

Naturally, Cayden wants to know where he comes from and what he actually is. And then we are introduced to the small town of Lupine Ridge. And David Hayter continues to play with your expectations. He presents you with the first-person narrative voice-over and perspective of an otherwise decent young man who seems to have committed horrible atrocities when he isn’t himself, and then a town of seemingly hostile people in a bar who, well, you expect to act in a certain way.

Frankly, I was surprised that Cayden didn’t get into a physical fight right away in that setting and leave battered and bleeding at the onset. And I haven’t gotten to the character of Connor yet. Connor, for all intents and purposes, pretty much rules Lupine Ridge as something of an Alpha Male. Jason Momoa certainly, in terms of physicality, fits into that role but even he is subversive.

For instance, you might expect Connor to be a thug or a beast that pummels and rips apart anyone in his way off the bat. But you would be wrong. Instead, Connor watches. He watches. He waits and he extends all of his senses out and tries to reason things through his mind even as he subtly intimidates. And for an obvious antagonist who could easily fit the thug mold, Connor has, if you will pardon the pun, a rather biting wit and a sense of honour and personal rules not unlike someone of the Lawful Evil variety. You can see a little bit of Khal Drogo in Momoa’s mien in addition to some StarGate Atlantis Ronen with his sarcasm. He does terrible things but, as you watch the film, you will begin to figure out why. Momoa’s performance as Connor is impressive and entertaining.

Just don't make him angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
Just don’t make him angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

I also like the addition of Stephen McHattie as the farmer John Tollerman. I admit when I first saw him in the bar I didn’t know whether he was a friend or foe. He was once Gabriel: an antagonist in the Beauty and Beast television series. So in a way it’s fitting that he would be dealing with a beast of a different kind in this story and he really grows on you. And you know, you definitely know when you see the enigmatic one-eyed, metal-braced Wild Joe that there is going to be some craziness and there is something strange about that man.

Some dogs don't like to follow orders. Sometimes they just like to do what they want.
Some dogs don’t like to follow orders. Sometimes they just like to do what they want.

I think I would have liked to see more character development with the female character and interest Angelina and some of the other characters. Certainly, at first she does seem very resigned to being “mated with” by Connor as only other “Pureborn” werewolf in town, though — granted — she is only doing so to make sure he doesn’t kill her loved ones, and somehow ends up liking Cayden for some reason: as what seems to be a stereotypical love interest. And while she starts off as far more advanced than Cayden is in knowing who she is, she ends up falling a bit into the powerful female assisting the protagonist trope. Still, I do appreciate the fact that Angelina sets a lot of facts straight for Cayden. She has roamed these woods, metaphorically or otherwise, before and her insights make you begin to doubt some of Cayden’s own perceptions of things: particularly about himself.

I suppose sometimes someone just knows you.
I suppose sometimes someone just knows you.

But I think what really strikes me about this film is how Hayter handles werewolves. He starts us off making us think they are monsters because of their bestial nature. We find out about the differences between Mutts (who are humans affected by the lycanthropic bites of werewolves and are always weaker than real werewolves) and Pureborns (who are born werewolves). You can also observe that even in their human forms there are tells: such as the occasional luminescent glint in their eyes, demonstrations of acute senses as well as extraordinary reflexes and strength. In addition you begin to realize that there is a difference between werewolves that stay as wolves and those that have stayed in their human forms for quite some time.

In addition, Dave and Lou Elsey are masters of makeup. They manage to combine the grace and elegance of a wolf and the symmetry and proportions of the human form.

In other words, Dave and Lou Elsey make these film werewolves  distinct and beautiful.
In other words, Dave and Lou Elsey make these film werewolves distinct and beautiful.

And David Hayter plays with film expectations of the werewolf trope. I like how werewolves apparently come from “back east”:  seemingly a reference to their origins in Eastern European folklore for this film’s purposes. Yet I think my truly favourite scene was when John, his wife, and Cayden are watching television and The Lone Ranger is playing. If you didn’t think Hayter was winking at you before, he definitely does so at that point.

And just wait until you see what comes from that.

This is actually a good point to get into one other aspect of Hayter’s werewolves: mainly their nature. One expectation of the werewolf is that it is their wolf nature that ultimately makes them into monsters. Time and again we horror film watchers see this primal instinct destroy humanity and cause nothing but suffering in its wake.

But what if it isn’t the animal — the wolf — that is the monster?

If you look at ancient werewolf folklore, werewolves were often depicted as humans — sometimes witches and sorcerers —  that took on wolf skins and committed horrible acts of cannibalism and murder. Human minds, twisted by their greed, lust, and madness do horrific things. Wolves are generally more straightforward and attack humans when they are attacked, sick, or starving. Humans kill for power and revenge.

He will make you wish that he just ripped you apart.
He will make you wish that he just ripped you apart.

Think about that when you see the end of the film. Think about what you actually see in the film. And then remember something else. Remember that Wolves, like its lycanthropes, has more than one skin and it doesn’t always show you its entire story … until something goads it into raw and bloody revelation.

Do What You Fear. Do What You Desire. Write For Clive Barker

Sometimes what you’re scared of the most is the very thing that you desire.

This is the first lesson from horror and fantasy writer Clive Barker: a lesson that branches off into mystery and mythos. So many of his stories have inspired countless other writers and creators. Jovanka Vuckovic, for instance, is in the process of creating a film adaption of Barker’s short story Jacqueline Ess. In fact, last year Clive Barker called out writing submissions for an anthology based on the world of Night Breed.

And now Clive Barker wants to read your writing.

Yes. You read that sentence correctly. You see, Clive Barker is not only an excellent story maker, but he is a talented artist as well. Your task prospective writers, should you accept it, is to look at and keep track of Clive Barker’s drawings on Deviantart, activate or make your login and write a story of anywhere up to two thousand words. Barker will go through your posted entries and decide which words capture the spirit of his artwork the most. He will read all of these stories by October 31.

Now if this isn’t a Halloween Event, I don’t know what is.

I’ll be honest with you ladies, gentlemen, and other beings. The idea of this event both terrifies and excites me. I myself am a writer and I have many projects that I need to do. And it is a rather intimidating prospect to have Clive Barker look at something I wrote. There is a part of me that is actually afraid to try this: for fear of whatever I make not being good enough. But then this is Clive Barker we are talking about here and not only would it be awesome for me to see something I made — even if it doesn’t embody his work — but he gives all of us writers something even more valuable than readership and potential critique and suggestions.

He gives us an excellent prompt to keep writing brilliant stories.

Sometimes that old lesson is true. Fear and desire are often the same sides of the coin, and when they are embraced, that’s where some of the best stories come from. I hope to see everyone in the Deviantart Comments. Oh and the above graphic in this article? It’s taken from the site. And that is your first prompt.

Image Credit: Clive Barker

Interviews and More Writing

I’m still doing my writing, but I just thought I’d go into a little more detail about what I was talking about in my last post.

If you remember I talked about an interview I did for GEEKPR0N. That interview was actually with Larry Wilson: the co-writer and co-producer of Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and the writer and director of Tales From the Crypt for six seasons. Our interview centred around his current project the web series Cindy: a twenty-first century retelling of Cinderella with elements of Reality TV parody, dark humour, and just plain weirdness.

To be honest, I never dreamed that I would be talking to one of the people integral in creating a large feature of my childhood. I first got to know Beetlejuice through the cartoons and it goes without saying that while I knew about The Addams Family before the film, I recall spending a recess in the corner of my elementary school reading its novelization. And I’m not even going into the time where I would to sneak up late and watch some Tales From the Crypt on Fox.

And I will tell you right now that if I had the money and even basic screenwriting experience, I would definitely take up Larry’s script consultation reward. I honestly hope that if I can’t, someone else does.

I’ve also written a little something for Clive Barker. Yes: that’s right. You read that correctly. Basically he has put a challenge out there to write a story for an image he painted and posted on Deviantart. I will link to the image and I’ll post what I wrote here: because one requirement was placing the narrative in the Comments section.

ON WHOSE DREAMS

They built cities to keep them out.

People will tell you all manner of more pragmatic reasons for the creation of cities. They will mention the intersection of culture and trade, of the need for propaganda art to cow enemies and citizens alike, of a place to better house the billions of human beings being born every day.

But some will tell you something else. They’ll inform you, secretly where they think no one else can hear, that all of that art and architecture, the arrangement of the paths, streets, and buildings, and even the placement of certain homes and peoples were arranged as a pattern: to ward them off.

Yet ultimately it is the enclosures that are the thing.

They are no new innovation. It’s well known that ancient humans and their predecessors would hide in their caves during the night after saying farewell to their loved ones, their friends, and their enemies. And even now they would like to forget the howling outside, the scraping against the rock walls and their paintings of animal blood,  the hunger deeper than the tunnels in which they hid and the pleading: to be accepted back among their people.

However, all of them are wrong. They remember it all wrong. Cities weren’t made for the living to hide and hoard their food against the seasons and the predators. The lost weren’t put outside to roam around for eternity. No. The tribes often placed their lost in their homes: sealing them up and painstakingly maintaining them. They would bring them food, tools, and the results of trade. Over time they bargained with them, prayed to them … worshipped their memory and what yet remained.

Caves like wombs became camps. Camps became villages. Villages towns and towns cities. The monuments grew higher each day: growing from the foundation of countless generations and those that tended their ground: which they still do to this very day.

So now do you understand? Do you know why sometimes you feel so tired: so drained? Even as the symbols lengthen like shadows into the sky and expand across the land, nothing truly changes. It is amazing how, simultaneously, you are cramped and alone: like you are the one living in the coffin. You are the one that’s trapped here.

No. Cities were not built to keep them out, but to keep them in.

For cities are not built for the living, but for the dead: in which everything within truly belongs.

So to say I’ve been busy would be something of an understatement. I’ve already told you about the fact that I’m going to be covering the Toronto After Dark. I actually tried to do this last year with Mythic Bios and for my efforts I got an invitation to view and write a review of their opening night. This time, however, I’m attending on behalf of GEEKPR0N. Expect to see me there for the Sunday and Thursday showings.

And I am going to be interviewing someone else. Again, I’m not going to go into any details as of yet but I will say that it will be my first in-person interview ever and I’m both cautious and excited over that prospect.

I remember once being the person that never even dreamed of having these opportunities or being this person as immersed in geek culture as I am now: even when people encouraged me to do so. And well … here we are.

Don’t worry. I will take time to peer in here and update all of you. I just thought you’d like to know about this. And please, read my articles and tell me what you think. It means a lot to me. Yet again, take care everyone. 🙂

Larry Wilson’s CINDY Kickstarter Campaign Needs Some Dust

Larry Wilson is the co-writer and co-producer of Beetlejuice, co-writer of The Addams Family, and writer and director for six seasons of Tales From The Crypt. Many of these shows informed our childhoods as geeks. Certainly, they did mine. Larry is working on a new Kickstarter Project. It is a web series called CINDY: a quirky dark fantasy and comic twenty-first century retelling of Cinderella. Larry has been good enough to take the time to tell us more about his current work and some details about his crowdfunding campaign.

GEEKPR0N:  So Larry, what is it about the story of Cinderella that motivates you to use it as the basis of your show? 

Larry Wilson: Once I had a “body of work” and enough years to look back on it, I realized that almost everything I write has this dysfunctional family at the center of it. (I’ll let you figure out what that means about how I grew up!)  For me that what’s Cinderella is really about.  If you watch the CINDY preview you see that Cindy’s first line is “I’m an orphan with no friends.” Family doesn’t get more dysfunctional than that!

GP: What inspired you to include elements from the Reality TV medium in CINDY?

LW: Well, Reality TV is the Zeitgeist, right?  And a certain amount of it makes me cringe!  So I thought it would be fun to satirize and I think we’ve done a really good job!

GP: Why have you chosen a web series as your show’s medium?

LW: I chose a web series because of the flexibility and creative freedom and also because I am HONESTLY BORED with pitching things in Hollywood the way it’s always been done.  Thanks to DIY & the Digital Age the “put your hat in your hand and go beg for money” pitch is slowly becoming archaic.  Hurray to that!

GP: To what extent do you think that your previous projects, your work with “the strange and unusual” might influence the spirit of CINDY

LW:  CINDY is full of “the strange and unusual”.  It’s the creative world I inhabit.  Again, looking back, the couple of times I’ve written “straight” comedy or drama, it’s not been bad, but it’s not been particularly good either.  So I’ve typecast myself and embraced my weirdness.  Guess what?  I like it!

GP:  Let’s talk about a reward on your Kickstarter for CINDY. Is it true that not only will you sign some of posters for your previous films, but Caroline Thompson — writer of Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas — is going to sign some movie posters of her work as well? 

LW: Yes.  It’s very true.  Caroline is not only my sometimes writing partner but my all the time good friend.  She wants to help CINDY succeed, God love her!

GP: Two of CINDY‘s Kickstarter pledge tiers revolve around screenwriting: one a screenplay development consultation and a personal development session with you. Basically you are offering to help donors for those tiers look over their script ideas and drafts. Many of us, including myself, are writers. Can you give us more information on what both of these rewards entail?

LW: I’ve taught screenwriting, in various classes, for over 25 years now.  I teach when my writing career is hot, cold and every temperature in between.  I’m not a screenwriter who staggered into teaching after an epic screenwriting career fail!  I teach because I love it and I think my methods are unique & inspirational.  It’s a bit of hype but not much to say I think the CINDY screenwriting consultation premiums are the biggest bargains on our list of goodies.

Fairy Manual

GP: What can fans do to help in funding your Kickstarter and making CINDY possible?

LW: JUST SEND MONEY AND SPREAD THE WORD, PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE!

GP: These are some very impressive incentives to back CINDY.  You can find more information about CINDY on its Kickstarter Campaign page as well as some actor, staff, and character interview snippets on its Youtube channel the Cindy Series. At the moment this show is still trying to fit into some glass slippers. You still have time to donate more than a pair … along with a little bit of Dust: for fairy motivation.

Writing Time Again: And More To Come

Hello everyone. I’m glad I got to spoil you with two articles last week, but this will probably be an exception and not the rule. Still, for a while there it felt almost like old times and it was all creative writing: as I obviously have Doctor Who on the brain.

Basically I am going into writing and deadline mode again. So I am going to be focusing a lot of my energies on my current assignment and, when it’s done in some way or form, I’ll be back in force. But before I go, let me tell you a little bit about what has been happening with me so far.

Very soon you are going to be seeing a lot of GeekPr0n articles. In fact, you already have in some ways. Cyan Worlds even retweeted my article on their plans to make a Myst television series. Myst was prevalent in a lot of my young adulthood and there is something very full circle about being recognized by its creators: especially as it is an article about worlds — Ages — linked to by Writing.

But that all said and done, it’s the season of Halloween and I found a lot of current news to talk about. As the zombies moan, spread the love and you know where to follow me.

There are two things of note that I’d like to mention, though, to this regard. First, I had an important interview with someone who has informed many a geeky childhood and is currently doing some good work. The second thing I’d like to mention is that I will be covering some of the upcoming Toronto After Dark for GeekPr0n.

And it’s funny. For years I had nowhere to go and nothing to for Halloween night proper and now I have two events around that time which I am going to attend. I’m excited and I feel different these days. There is still a lot I have to deal with but, and I think this has been happening for a while, I am not the same person that I used to be.

It’s hard to explain and it doesn’t involve spiritual or alien possession, cloning, mutations, or the dark side of the Force as far as I know. I’ve been producing words like a fiend and even though I didn’t get to undertake my Twine projects like I planned, I still haven’t ruled them out and they will be in my thoughts for the future.

In the meantime, I have some other writing to do and I hope to see you all soon and well. Once again, take care everyone. You are all awesome.

Doctor Who: Gone In Sixty-Six Seconds

How much can a mystery cost you?

In the case of Doctor Who‘s “Mummy On the Orient Express”: five lives and sixty-six seconds each.

And now: beware spoilers.

From the beginning of the episode, on a futuristic space vessel bearing the name Orient Express, when you see that mummy lurching towards the old woman, a horrible spectre that only she can see and you look at the timer at the corner of the screen you think that you know what you’re going to be dealing with. It’s a monster: a rotting and dessicated creature of the horror film genre in a futuristic Agatha Christie murder mystery novel.

Of course, given the nature of Doctor Who, it is never that simple. In fact nothing is simple in The Doctor’s universe. I mean, there are mysteries, and then there are non-surprises. I suppose I really shouldn’t have been all that surprised to see Clara coming with The Doctor on this cruise: for what is supposedly going to be their last trip before she stops being his Companion… or so the plan goes.

You know that sexual tension we were told about? The one that wasn’t going to be happening between Clara and The Doctor? Well, it’s true: you can take their initial time together on the cruise as something of a father and daughter arrangement but it just doesn’t ring true. Perhaps sexual tension is the wrong term. Perhaps it is a tension of an uncertain relationship: of not really knowing where they stand after everything that happened in “Kill the Moon.” But there is just a way that, when Clara tells The Doctor she thought she hated him but realized she didn’t and never could while nestling herself on his arm that made, at least me, wonder what is going on here? Is this the final moment before a breakup as two people go their separate ways?

Doctor and Clara Orient Express

I admit I really did like the interplay between them: though I personally think Clara came back far too quickly. In my last review I totally thought they would be separate for at least one episode. That said, I’m glad there wasn’t a scene where he had to apologize to her or vice-versa. We got thrown right back into them being together. But I suppose it’s something we all should have seen coming: that this is not over yet and that this “last voyage” is not as it seems.

Just like everything else in this episode.

Here is what I’ve noticed about Doctor Who episodes should I ever want to write one. Basically, you start off with a weird premise of two ideas that ordinarily wouldn’t go together, but eventually blend well and do. You focus on interpersonal relationships and working dynamics as the characters realize something is strange and try to navigate their way through the situation. The Doctor, in the immortal words of the musician Voltaire “makes some shit up” after a while or throughout the episode while making weird references and banter, the situation becomes inverted and you discover what is really going on. The Doctor tries to reason with “the monster” who becomes relatable as a selfish, pitiable, or misunderstood being, whom he either saves that being or lets it destroy itself, while sometimes he is confronting with his dark side in the process. He ends up resolving some crisis through taking a major risk, there is some wrap up with regards to the other characters, and he and his Companion go off to a new place like “Barcelona” or he leaves alone to deal with his demons: all of which to emphasize just how important a Companion is to getting him to relate to existence. And this doesn’t even include the strange moments of workable paradox that you get by including time or time travel in some of these scenarios.

Does this sound about right to you? I suppose that transdimensional “mummy” only comes for you in sixty minutes instead of sixty-six seconds, but “Mummy on the Orient Express” pretty much follows that strange, weird, and wonderful formula: the invisible mummy on the space liner, the relations between Clara and himself, Clara and Danny on the phone, Clara and Maisie, the suspicion that he and Clara both come to as they sense something is wrong, the reveal that the liner is actually a hidden laboratory to gather scientists (who have been gathered there as guests) to seemingly replicate the effects of the mummy for war-like purposes, the sarcophagus that Clara finds is supposed to be where they put the mummy after successfully capturing it for their kidnapper and jailer, the horror and cruelty of the fact that the mummy attacks those who are sick or have psychological trauma, The Doctor brushing with his dark side in letting all those people die just to find out how to stop the mummy, finding out that the mummy is very pitiable (what is with this theme of soldiers fighting eternal and horrific wars?), and then The Doctor risks his life to deal with the situation.

I will leave the rest to your imagination if you haven’t watched the episode. But let me just add this bit. There is a reversal from “Kill the Moon.” This time, after almost putting Clara in another difficult place and making her think he is using her, while revealing some information that may have been pertinent for Clara to know beforehand, he decides to take it all on himself and put himself on the line. The episode ends where The Doctor is genuinely expressing regret for his seemingly callous actions. And for all he criticizes Clara for displaying two emotions at the same time at the beginning of the episode, he does the same through displaying both clear self-doubt and grim certainty over how he would have attempted to save as many lives as he could: even if some had to die for him to do so.

Doctor Talks To Clara

As for Clara: she still needs to find a healthy medium between her relationships and work on her honesty. A lot. In addition, we are left with more questions as to who arranged this entire situation: especially considering that he seems to have received a call about it at least once on the TARDIS when he was with Rory and Amy as The Eleventh Doctor. Is it Missy and her servant that arranged this? Or someone or something else entirely?

And I wonder if every climax and moment of crisis in Doctor Who has resolved itself in at least sixty-six seconds? Well, look at it this way: at least I didn’t make the obligatory mummy joke.

Are you my Mummy

Until next week, fellow travellers.

Seven Day Children

Jenny

It’s easy to lose track of time when you are on an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about time and space since that first day, on what could’ve, and should have, been my last mission: the last day of my last war of my last life.

I had a lot of learning to do and, to be honest, that much hasn’t changed at all. After Messaline was finally changed and united, I just had to … well, run. I took a shuttle and ran through the stars. And I saw so many different things: different people, places, societies … I thought the Hath and the Humans were strange and diverse on their own, my fellow soldiers, my former enemies, but there is so much more.

It’s like the Source, that elemental ball of shifting and flowing energies back on Messaline released an entire universe before me. Expanding out and every outward I discovered new lives, saved worlds, revelled in my victories and learned from my failures.

Someone should have told me about the failures and the defeats. The machine that made me wasn’t much a teacher. If you failed during the War, you died. You died and the machine took your stored DNA and replaced you with someone else to fight and die: until victory or death. It seemed so sensible, so natural until I met my Dad.

Dad …

Perhaps Dad and his Companions were my first real teachers. One of them named me, you know? Jenny. Out of the word “progenation.” I’ve learned since then that other species do not necessarily reproduce like we did back on Messaline, though I’ve heard rumours about others …

You see, I knew — even before Dad would speak to me, not having expected me or even knowing what to do with me — that I was different from the other soldiers. I could see eddies and whirls around me. My reflexes were faster. There were angles in which I could perceive and move that our basic programmed training could not have possibly covered. And I just did them naturally.

Of course, having some hearts to hearts talk with my Dad really cinched it for me. The point is: even before I left I knew I was different.

I think my new adventure began when I found a vortex manipulator. It was an old one. Dad must have been a boffin: a quaint British word from Earth referring to tinkering and invention. You see, I learned something new when I travelled there back in the Sixty-First Century.

When I fixed, and dare I say improved, on the manipulator I realized something that not even Dad’s words could convey. The universe was not an expanding diaphanous cloak of velvet and glittering lights. It is a series of dimensions refracting off of one another: like a gem with different facets but all one gem. And I could, somehow, see those angles on this one surface: knowing that each was different but all of it was unified. In this kaleidoscope of existence, everything is connected.

That was basic Time Lord philosophy, but I don’t think I would have understood it from an Academy. This came later: a lot later or whatever constitutes itself as later when you are even a basic time traveler.

It was this basic understanding of time and my failure to protect so many lives that made me realize something. It’d been fun until it got serious, but I knew then that I couldn’t be alone.

And I did my best not to be alone. I looked for Dad, but I never found him. Sometimes I’d come at the tail end of his passing, or meet some people that knew him. As a soldier, because you never forget your basic training as a soldier, I didn’t inquire too closely as I knew from our brief time together that he had enemies. I wanted to help him. I remember how lonely he looked and how happy he’d been when I made the decision not to kill.

I came close once. One time I was actually abducted by one of his enemies. I briefly a few of his Companions. One of them even rescued me. But I had been taken during an important time and I had to go back. I don’t think I could have faced him if I’d abandoned all those people. As hard as that decision was, it was the right thing to do.

I had friends along the way. I suppose you can call them my own Companions. And they helped me in my new adventure. Perhaps out of a need to know where I came from, to know how I did what I did, and even out of a sense of needing some connection with my lost Dad I scoured space and time to discover more about my father’s people: the Time Lords.

There wasn’t much left.

When he said that their War had been bigger than the Seven-Day War on Messaline I had no idea. Even now, it boggles my mind to consider the horror of a war waged across space and time: obliterating places and people out of existence, warping and twisting basic matter, and creating literally endless and eternal suffering. From what I could gather, and from what didn’t kill me, I cried. I cried for my father’s people, for the races and civilians caught in that War.

And for my Dad: who must have suffered beyond any form of sanity. We had more in common than I thought, and I wish we hadn’t.

But my goal to know more became very important when, it was made clear, that the Enemy wasn’t dead. There were clues. I admit that in my quest to know more about Dad’s culture that I looked for the remnants of their enemies: particularly on a ruined world called Skaro.

I wish I hadn’t.

They literally are the Enemy. It was like seeing the attempted genocide on Messaline writ large and made into a whole other species. It’s the end result of war and hate. And I knew that Dad was their ultimate enemy. And despite what he thinks, he can’t deal with them alone.

So I had to jury-rig a people together. A family.

Messaline welcomed me back with open arms. I could’ve come to them in the future or even before the Seven Days, but it would have been disingenuous. The progenation machine had been shut down after my Dad ended the War. But I needed to look at it even if I didn’t want to get the Hath or Humans involved in this. However, I knew that if the Enemy and their … sickening puppets had gone as far as they have everyone was at risk.

All of us on Messaline are soldiers. My friends in the Human population knew I was something big and they were willing to help me. If my own people, my Dad’s people, were all dead then I would have to bring them back: in a way.

I learned something about Regeneration in my crash course through the remains of Gallifreyan history. It was like progenation — genes being reconfigured into genetic variation by a force that is both mother and father — except for the fact that it uses a pre-existing material template, a body, to create a new adult person. I always wondered how I came back to life after being shot by Cobb. One theory is that I got caught in the energies of the Source which was, in its own way, literally regenerating the whole of Messaline.

But I also know that right after Regeneration occurs for a Time Lord that they are filled with a bio-energy that, for a while, will repair wounds or even regrow lost limbs and organs. I realized that I had just been born the day that Cobb shot me. And even though it was one of my hearts, integral to Regeneration, that I was essentially a new “limb” or being with those same energies coursing through me. The Source might have helped as well.

Only a few on Messaline have even this basic knowledge of what I intended to do. It was risky, but worth it: to see my children born. The first ones had to be adults. I modified the training programming. While we have basic combat ability, there is more room for reasoning and thought. And, much to my mixed delight — as I don’t like being hurt or seeing one of my children in pain — I realized Dad passed on more to us than I thought. We can, in fact, Regenerate.

This makes things easier in some ways. My children have taken a variety of different forms and interests since that time. Where it would have been immensely hard for me to find a TARDIS Graveyard alone or with non-Time Lord Companions, they helped me. We are even developing something of a rudimentary telepathic bond: a shallow echo of the collective consciousness that the Time Lords, our Predecessors, used to possess. But it’s dangerous. I know enough that the Enemy has its own collective and should they ever find a way to access those of others …

In my own travels, I learned how to shield my thoughts and I’ve taught my children to do the same. We are less an army and more a series of cells through space and time.

We’ve suffered some setbacks. During our attempts to salvage from the few Graveyards we could find, and to harvest and grow the necessary coral for our vessels, we began to discover that all Time Lord knowledge and relics vanishing throughout the universe. Even the black markets, which were usually somewhat lucrative in the past and who I’d dealt with somehow forgot about any of our dealings. There was so little of it left to begin with and, to this day I’m not sure what was responsible for this: the Enemy, Dad, or something else entirely.

But we keep working. We’ve been trying to repair some of the damage that the Enemy, and the War, did to other civilizations and time periods: but always behind the scenes, always on the move. Dad’s First Rule: Always run.

And we kept working. We worked when something old, powerful and on fire with rage materialized for a few moments in our minds: just to vanish back into past flames. We even took time to deal with the cracks in existence that began to appear before memory failed us and, somehow, we were back in reality: with the multiverse repaired and somehow better.

Somehow I know Dad did that.

I wish I could thank him, but I have other concerns now. My vessel, Unity, has grown to something the size of a station and has seen and protected us from the very beginning. I decided to make the timeline of 6012, Vector N-6012 of the Multiverse, our home. I have, at least unofficially, made Messaline a protected-planet under my jurisdiction. Our vessels grow as do my children and theirs: who are allowed to be children and to choose their path as I did all those years ago.

I’ve gone through a few Regenerations since passing a few centuries and surviving more than a few scrapes. I’m Mom to an entire people. We are not Time Lords, but while not as powerful we are something else: something new. My descendants have taken to calling us the Travelers: for all the exploration and running that we do.

Looking back, it’s miraculous when you think about. From the seed of a soldier grown in one day of seven, not meant to last for even a week, we’ve created a people that might one day live for thousands of years. I just hope that, one day, instead of living short lives in war we will all live long lives in peace.

I never found my Dad, but I’m proud of my Travelers, my Seven Day Children, as we continue to explore, to defend, to help, and to keep running: together and as a family.

Jenny and The Doctor

Myst: A Television Series

It was 1995. I was finishing elementary and headed for high school and I had a major need to fill myself with epic fantasy. I remember going on yet another shopping spree through Coles and I came across a book. It looked like a battered brown notebook with a strange crest in its centre. For me, Myst: The Book of Atrus contained all the elements of a brilliant world: a universe with Descriptive Books that led to alternate worlds — called Ages — linked to by the imagination and skill of a writer through the lost art of D’Ni writing. Just the idea of a civilization that could create worlds through writing books was enough to get me hooked: that and the character of Atrus as he deals with the intrigue behind his family and the reconstruction of an entire way of life.

I was hooked. As I read The Book of Ti’ana and discovered just why D’Ni fell and then The Book of D’Ni in which we get to see an adult Atrus attempt to rebuild D’Ni and uncover more than he bargained for, I was left with many more mysteries. Then I played Myst. Oh yes. I played Myst and Riven and kept writing in the notebooks thoughtfully provided by Cyan as I found alternate amounts of wonder and frustration in navigating my way through both games. I got to discover what happened to Atrus, his father Gehn, his grandmother Anna, his wife Catherine, their children, and the fate of D’Ni. I had a very different experience playing the games after reading the books and it made me both sad and curious to know more: to interact with the world that Cyan created.

I didn’t play the other games due to technological constraints, but I followed what happened in them. I was on a forum about Riven and I always wanted a Book of Gehn: to know about the years between the fall of D’Ni and his own travels and his fateful meeting with his wife Keta. I even created a fanfic idea: a lost Age and enemy as it were.

Myst is a world of possibility. I was lucky in that just last year I backed the Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of Myst and Beyond Kickstarter and got to write a scenario for that table-top version of the universe I love. Just once, for a moment in time, I got to be part of the D’Ni Guild of Writers that I dreamed so much of joining when I was young. I got to make the Age I dreamed of making so many years ago.

I also wanted to see more of Myst. I’m one of those people still waiting for The Book of Marrim to come out: however long it takes. And I’ve heard about the Mandalay Television Pictures program, the Delve Films DVD movie adaptation of The Book of Ti’ana, and even the Dark Horse comics prequels to Myst that never materialized or simply didn’t work out.

But they are trying again.

Legendary TV & Digital Media has made a deal with Cyan Worlds to create a Myst television series and make a companion video game: perhaps to make the show more than just a viewing experience, but an interactive one as well. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m guessing that they are making the game a mobile app to interface with during, before, or after the airing of the program. Or hopefully something that can be on a computer as well. It is definitely an interesting idea and something that I would very much like to see happen.

When you think about it, we live in a world of linking now. The Internet is all about hyperlinks and mobile apps only increase the experience. In Myst, traveling into other Ages through Descriptive Book is called linking. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will all soon be able to link to another world of Myst.

Doctor Who: That’s No Moon …

It’s hard to resist titles like that: even when they’re misnomers.

This weekend, on Doctor Who, we got to see “Kill the Moon” and the mess — the real mess — that came from it. And I’m not talking about the moon crumbling in 2049.

For me, the episode started off fairly slowly and, quite honestly, in a very predictable manner. The Doctor, Clara, and the young girl from “The Caretaker” episode Courtney Woods decide to travel onto the moon: so that Courtney would feel like she’s special and not just the misbehaving young girl that threw up on her first time in the TARDIS.

Courtney Kill the Moon

Then we find said company on a space ship where scientists have gone to the moon to blow it up with explosives because it is endangering the Earth below. Of course you have your obligatory monsters and a truth about the moon, that is the moon and yet not, that you begin to glean almost right away when The Doctor calls the aforementioned monsters — the spider creatures — bacteria.

Then humanity has a historical decision to make and …

The Doctor says screw this, leaves Clara, Courtney and the scientist Lundvik to decide whether kill a potentially innocent in order to save the Earth or take their chances with its survival, and leaves them. Just like that.

Yeah.

Clara Kill the Moon

You could already tell that there was a conflict coming to a head in this episode and, as I said before, it is not the moon: unless you consider The Doctor’s ego and Clara’s self-righteous indignation as small orbital satellites in and of themselves.

The episode begins with Clara wanting to make The Doctor confront the fact that he made Courtney feel like she was “not that special.” Of course getting The Doctor to do anything, even on a good day, is slightly less difficult than herding a thousand cats. It also presents another conflict. Clara is not a tutor or babysitter any more. She is not a character is “born to save The Doctor.” She is a teacher and she has a responsibility to her students, including Courtney. The issue is that The Doctor does not, in fact, have a responsibility to Courtney or anyone despite Clara’s relationship with him: save for being captain of his own ship and being in charge of the safety of everyone in it. It is this tension between them that only gets worse as the episode progresses.

Much like The Doctor perceives Time and its eddies at the best of moments, and with further description of this Time Lord sense in the episode, you can see this moment coming a mile away. Courtney being exposed to danger is a failing on both The Doctor and Clara’s parts: The Doctor not being aware in this incarnation of what a child can perceive and Clara for, frankly, not telling Courtney to stay on the TARDIS sooner after they landed on the moon and she got what she wanted: being the first woman on it. Certainly, when straits look dire Clara gets another reality check when, in asking Courtney to call her by name, Courtney prefers to keep calling her “Miss.”

Make no mistake: Courtney is a child and Clara is supposed to be her teacher. They are not friends in that way. Clara is the adult and has to make her own decisions and take her own responsibility. And it seems as though that, by extension and according to The Doctor, so does all of humanity.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. While I do believe that The Doctor genuinely thought humanity should consider the moon’s fate, and that Clara exemplifies humanity in his eyes, there is a fairly large part of this that was the result of him being quite fed up with Clara’s attitude: at least in regards to their dynamic. The events that reached their crux in “The Caretaker” with regards to Clara, Danny Pink, and The Doctor, as well as Clara’s professional and traveling lives definitely affected The Doctor’s decision here.

The fact is, it’s quite clear that The Doctor is tired of babysitting children and, by extension, humanity. He may even be resentful of how Clara tried to hide Danny Pink from him and initially involve him in their dynamic against his knowledge and will. Perhaps he thinks that Clara still unfairly compares him to the Eleventh Doctor who, let’s face it, coddled Clara quite a bit or at least comparatively so. Perhaps he is fed up with Clara thinking he should take responsibility for sorting out her own priorities.

Dr. Who Kill Moon

And Clara, at least how she has been written since The Doctor’s Regeneration, is also fed up. She can’t seem to deal with this new change of personality. In addition, what he does to her in “Kill the Moon” is just a large scale version of what he did to her in “Deep Breath”: seemingly abandoning her and breaking their trust. Her angry monologue at the end of the episode hits a lot of points home as to how this Doctor treats humans and what his place should be on Earth: at least from her perspective.

It’s painful to watch. Both characters seem to have regressed into immaturity and misunderstanding. I remember once thinking that The Doctor had grown up a lot since his early travelling days, but he is now more of a throwback to those more immature times. That said, I think that Clara has had to grow up for some time now. Travelling with The Doctor isn’t all fun and games and indulging his Companion’s whims. He asked her to act like an adult on behalf of humanity. And she did.

And it cost them.

Clara's had enough

Perhaps, in the end, it’s best that The Doctor travel alone for a while. He clearly has things that he needs to do and others seem to just be getting in his way at the moment. And as for Clara, she knew to some extent the potential consequences of traveling with The Doctor. She could have left him any time when she started her career and her relationship. I think that she has to ask herself just what she wants from him just as, conversely, The Doctor should give her some space to make those decisions.

It’s not a one-sided situation and I hope that when it comes up again, it’s dealt with in a mature manner without one side expecting the other to simply apologize.

That said, I think Danny Pink has been the only character who has been acting even close to rational between the three of them: becoming the voice of reason for this episode and I want to see more interaction with him. Even though the relationship between Clara and The Doctor was the highpoint of this episode for me, I truly appreciated that Bechdel moment where three women: a school teacher, a student, and a scientist decided the fate of the Earth and for some time talked only about the consequences.

I can be snide and make a reference to the title of a Heinlein book and state that “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” but sometimes it is something simply that heralds the end of the day and the promise of an interesting night.

Continuity

I am Alaya. The irony that I’m going to have a lot time to write in this journal does not escape me. I suppose I should be grateful. Our sister Felicity and myself are relatively safe, all things considered, and I still have this psychic paper journal that Mom got me into my first century.

If you can read this journal, our language, and the unseen ink which it’s written, then you are hopefully a fellow Traveller and you will materialize this journal and its contents at Home Vector N-6012. I don’t have to tell you that family is important and I want our Mom to know what happened, and what we have done.

Our original quest from Mom was to help repair the damage done to the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire around Vector N-200,000. It was a worthy goal, but we had to be careful. Navigating the soft, grey areas surrounding the fixed points in time is difficult at best. Perhaps the Predecessors might have had an easier time: with more technological aid at their disposal along with skill and experience.

Mom likes to remind us that we lost much: so much that even she, during The Reconstruction, “a jury-rigging of civilization” she said that Grandfather might have called it, still hasn’t found everything. We even lost our own sense of calendar and chronology if, indeed, they can even be called our own all things considered. But we make do. We have to.

Felicity was particularly adamant about helping the Empire. I understand. It fell victim to the temporal machinations of outside forces. When the Council sent us on this mission, Mom made sure to have Parity, one of our oldest and most honoured vessels, to carry us. She made it a point to warn us against the potential of … puppets or agents left behind even after all this time.

I had my reservations, you understand. We are still finding out more about where we came from and what we are capable of doing. Does it make sense to help others rebuild when we are still in the process of reconstructing ourselves? Still, that drive to help — which came from Mom, and from Grandfather before her — burns through my veins too and my protestations were one-hearted at best.

Again, another unintentional pun about time. It took very little of it, all things considered, to begin the process. Felicity has a knack of seeing the eddies and whirls around particular situations, and specific individuals. But it was me, using Parity’s natural resources, that helped to create the crude prototype tectonic manipulators that would begin to give the humans some idea of what to do. It was perfectly plausible. Frankly, they should have developed this technology ages ago and if they want to take the credit for it, that is perfectly fine with me.

So aside from materializing some supplies and upgrading infospikes into something less intrusive and far more miniaturized, at least by our standards, we were about to leave. But I would be disingenuous if I said that we didn’t notice the anomaly within the area.

There were strong temporal energies situated around an old satellite. We knew enough about this Vector that our Enemies had managed to manifest here. After Mom’s own researches, we also knew that Grandfather had been involved in stopping that threat in this very spot.

All of you know just how much Mom wants to find Grandfather. In all of her travels through finding coral, the Graveyards, the ephemeral remnants of the War, and saving all the lives she could she never found him again. Even as she trained her senses, she couldn’t find his mind. And for all our small number, we are nevertheless more than one and our tenuous collective will still couldn’t find any others.

We still couldn’t find our Grandfather. Perhaps we weren’t at his level: at the place we should be. Or perhaps he is gone.

Whatever the case, Parity needed some time to recharge. Unlike the Great Behemoths we found in the Graveyards, she is still small and sleek. Her circuit hasn’t grown in quite the way our gifted sister The Geneticist planned, yet more things we don’t know — yet more — but she manoeuvres well and, unlike the others of the past, only requires two pilots to assist her. Besides, in case of discovery she makes due with the perception filters for which we’ve all been equipped to utilize.

It was fortuitous for us that the site of Satellite 5 was powerful enough a spacerift to feed Parity. We took the time to examine the station . Other Travellers had come here and taken the Satellite’s logs to Mom already, along with samples of cosmic dust and irradiated bodies. We meditated here to honour the sacrifice of the humans and focus on the hope that we would make their lives better for it. Mom gained so few scraps about Grandfather from this venture, but something was different this time.

Parity had recharged ahead of schedule. The rift was simply that powerful. And it was fluctuating. Something happened. Something changed somewhere. Even after hearing Parity’s quiet, silvery tone, I began to … perceive things. They were almost after-images: blurring, merging, and separating from each other. Sometime in environments like this, we see resonances of the past and future. But this was different.

It’s … imagine possibility. There are an infinite number of different things that can happen. And then somewhere in that something does happen or will happen. But the quantum branches of potential actions and reactions still occur. We see it, sometimes, out of the corners of our eyes but it’s always so far and out of reach. But not that day.

Even as my senses expanded out farther than they’d ever done, Felicity saw the rift open first.

It bloomed like a flower of flux and twilight in the darkness of space. And after a while even I could see the golden energies surrounding it. It reminded me of my Mom’s vessel, of great Unity herself and the times under her control panel when something pulsated and thrummed: a slumbering but active power.

Like a heart.

And I could even see it resonating in sympathy from Parity’s control panel. Something was calling to Parity. We could feel her responding to the call even as this wave of possibility rushed into us. It was impossible, you understand. Mom and the Council only heard rumours that, once, there were Other Ways. We had only just learned to travel through space and time. Most of us still use reverse-engineered and augmented vortex manipulators. That was how Mom began adventuring and rediscovering even a fraction of what we know.

But only the Predecessors knew how to travel to alternate realities. I examined the frequency and programmed it into Parity for future reference. It will be included in this journal’s equation and music section: transmitted through the mind through tactile-mode.

Felicity was excited. We found a gate to an alternate reality near one of the places where Grandfather and his vessel left a definite imprint. And then she perked up at something else. It took me a while to feel it too. It was … for lack of a better word, it was the shadow of a mind. It felt confused somehow. Muddled. Felicity could probably feel more, but from what I understand it is old. It is very old. Sad? Content?

And so familiar, like Mom but … different.

We debated this. Our mission to the Empire had been a success though the seeds of our work, like coral, would take a little more time to grow. Parity’s communications weren’t strong enough to pierce the fluctuating veil around us. I wanted to wait and deliver our findings, but there was no guarantee we would get another shot at this.

So we decided to go forward. In one of our best vessels and a copy of the temporal signal to go on, to perhaps replicate for our return and future explorations, we not only decided to investigate a rift to an alternate reality, but also fulfil a lifelong unspoken quest.

To find Grandfather.

It’s funny. In our dealings with Vector N-200,000 and others we had to make everything seem plausible. Felicity is good at finding errors and inconsistencies. I excel at creating possible solutions to those issues. Continuity is the key.

Continuity …

It never occurred to us, as we entered that rift, as it flashed and closed behind us, just how like editing — like writing — our quest had been.

Everything seemed so neat and tidy as the birthright of our wanderlust took us. There was only one other being we knew about who could have possibly had even a shadow of a psychic feeling of that kind.

It’s too bad. Because what we found beyond that rift wasn’t Grandfather.

He wasn’t Grandfather at all.