When Worlds Collide 1: Introduction

So some of you will have noticed the relative lack of discussion of things like comics and Doctor Who in recent weeks – it’s been all politics and links, partly because the election coming up has made things seem a little more urgent.

That’s going to change – I’m starting a second series of posts like my Hyperpost series. This is going to be called When Worlds Collide, and will cover the influences behind the gigantic novel I’m plotting out in my head. Over a series of a dozen or so posts, I want to talk about (amongst othes):

Final Crisis
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Comics
The Invisibles
Zenith
The Faction Paradox books (including Dead Romance and Lawrence Miles’ Doctor Who books)
Manicheanism
Frank Tipler’s frankly bonkers ideas and the somewhat saner ideas of Max Tegmark
The Doctor Who stories The Tenth Planet, Dalek Invasion Of Earth, Inferno, The Deadly Assassin and Trial Of A Timelord
Alan Moore’s Doctor Who and Captain Britain comics
Peter Milligan’s Animal Man run (if I can recover the .cbr files from my trashed hard drive – I’ve never been able to track this down in paper form…)
The Prisoner

Basically, all these things share at least a few of the same handful of ideas, and I’m interested in why they should all keep getting mixed up together (even accounting for influence). Why do planets being moved out of position go so well with shadowy conspiracies? Why do stories about two conspiracies which are each secretly controlling the other tend to involve parallel universes? What happens when you try to tell the same story in two versions in parallel, as Morrison did with the Invisibles and JLA? Is there a difference between a computer simulation of the real world, a computer that knows everything about the real world, and the real world itself? Does evil really contain the seeds of its own destruction? Can one be a number *and* a free man?

These are going to be long posts – several thousand words each – and the first one will be up on Sunday, after tomorrow’s post about Mark Thomas’ People’s Manifesto. The first one will be a reply to plok’s latest challenge. Once these are done – once I’ve finished outlining these ideas, I will be doing two things. I’ll be starting the big novel, and I’ll also be creating a website for the universe it’s set in. That universe will be a collaborative one, and more people than myself will be writing on it.

This site has been a little dull for a while. That’s changing as of now.

(I also promise as of now to get *far* more involved in replying to comments…)

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7 Responses to When Worlds Collide 1: Introduction

  1. Bill Reed says:

    I am excited.

    Also, I think I’ve got those eter-Pay illigan-May Animal-ay an-May iles-fay, if you need them, eh.

  2. Alex Wilcock says:

    Ooh, that looks very exciting. I’ll look forward to those (I imagine you can guess which in particular)!

  3. Thoapsl says:

    Speaking of “Trial Of A Time Lord” … I’m very curious to read your take on that, because I always felt there was something really off about that story. Even keeping in mind that Valeyard-is-tampering-with-the-matrix-playback excuse, I think a lot of things in ToaTL just don’t make sense. But it occurred to me there was a much more obvious & consistent possible explanation for the whole story – so here’s my own little piece of fanon (fwiw):
    (& if anybody has seen this explanation or something like it anywhere else, please let me know – I’ll be surprised if it’s actually original & unique…)

    Ever since his difficult regeneration, Doctor #6 is somewhat mentally disturbed. We’re supposed to think that he simply “got better” after his homicidal-insanity episode in The Twin Dilemma, and let’s say okay, he did, mostly – but not entirely, right? It’s not the kind of thing you just completely “get better” from, surely? There’s an undercurrent of his continuing mental disturbance and instability in every episode that follows, if you look for it …

    So – when we see Peri die, that’s not the Valeyard’s fakery: it’s what actually happened. Except that the Doctor was never teleported away by the Time Lords to go to a trial, of course; he was just too late to save her. Or maybe his homicidal instability resurfaced at the crucial moment, and he really did betray her to the Mentors to save himself. And in a later moment of clarity, when he realised what he’d done, his already-fragile mind kind of snapped.

    Unable to deal with Peri’s death, the Doctor’s mind hallucinates the entire Trial as a way to think his way out of a realisation he can’t face. The Valeyard isn’t an “evil future Doctor” – which never made much sense, anyway – it’s a kind of dissociative persona, imagined by his mind in order to deflect away the responsibility for his own failure. It wasn’t the Doctor’s fault she died, it couldn’t possibly be his fault! It was the Time Lords’ fault! It was the Valeyard’s fault! (And yet the Valeyard secretly IS The Doctor, even his own mind can’t escape that; except there’s nothing “potential future” about it.) The Doctor insists he’s not responsible, but the Valeyard tells him the truth: “In your mind, perhaps not. But the reality is somewhat different, Doctor.”

    The Trial is the desperate argument waged inside his own fractured mind: a mindbroken Doctor #6 versus the truth he can’t accept – and the Doctor wins.

    Mel is either another figment of Doc’s tortured imagination (& I know I’m not the only one who wishes she never actually existed, right? *boom-tish*), or else his adventures with her take place while he’s still not completely in touch with reality (hence her presence in his ongoing, ever-elaborated mental fantasies of a “Trial”). And maybe this is why he regenerated into #7 after what looked like only a simple knock to the head: it wasn’t just the physical trauma that triggered the regeneration, so much as the prolonged mental trauma of the hallucinatory months beforehand.

    What do you think? Plausible? I’m pretty sure it’s contradicted by the “further adventures” novels, but I don’t think it directly contradicts anything in the TV series continuity. Anyhow, I enjoy believing it. (Mind you, I also think that Hamlet is a more interesting play if you imagine that Hamlet is hallucinating his father’s ghost, and Claudius is actually innocent the whole time ;)

    Also, speaking of the difference between computer simulations of reality & reality itself: it takes a while to make its point, but this argument has an interesting perspective on the problem, I think.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      That’s not my take on it, but it is an interesting one (and I’ve always argued that Claudius was innocent – caused lots of anger from the other students in my Eng. Lit. A-Level class…).
      Reading that post was one of the things that sparked me to start this series of posts ;)
      And you might like Millennium’s take on Trial – http://millenniumelephant.blogspot.com/2008/03/day-2625-mysteries-of-doctor-who-15.html

      • Thoapsl says:

        Cheers, milleniumelephant looks like a good read. I’m not surprised the troublesome Trial inspires multiple reinterpretations …

        And it’s nice to know that someone else thinks poor old Claudius deserves a break! I’m also not surprised to hear about angry Eng Lit students – in my experience, too, it’s definitely not a popular interpretation :)

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          Millennium is one of the two or three best bloggers out there – at least if you’re interested in either Doctor Who or British politics (from a Liberal Democrat perspective).

        • Tilt Araiza says:

          The “Hamlet’s hallucination” interpretation would require some adjustments to the text. Hamlet isn’t the first person to see Hamlet Sr.’s ghost and Claudius, while thinking he’s alone, soliloquizes about his guilt and remorse (sufficient remorse that Hamelt can’t bring himself to kill him). For a while I thought it was a weakness of Shakespeare’s not leaving it more ambivalent, but I suppose he either deliberately blocked that possibility off or simply wrote an unambivalent structure because otherwise it would have distracted from what he intended his story to be about.

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