This week The Parker Institute for Time Travel Studies (The PITTS) takes a hard look at three major changes that rocked the science fiction and fantasy world this past week. And when we say “hard look” we’d like to make sure you understand that this is serious. And by “serious” we mean sober. Except that it’s not really healthy to be too sober, so maybe we’ll have a cocktail to cut through the pressure. And if we’re going to have a cocktail, then we might as well have a glass of wine with our dinner, and if we’re going to have a glass of wine with dinner then there’s really no reason we can’t have an after-dinner cognac. And that’ll pretty much mean that we aren’t taking a “hard look” at anything at all. Instead, these are simply post-buzz ramblings devoid of emotional or intellectual depth …
So, without further ado, what happened? Well, primary to this blog is that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, creating a vacuum in the incredibly rich story that’s developed over the past four years, with an intense, mysterious chemistry between The Doctor and Clara Oswald, and a parallel mystery about the doctor’s name and (eventual) demise. Another occurrence in speculative fiction circles was the passing (read: violent, bloody death) of certain character(s) in A Game of Thrones.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we lost one of the true giants of fantasy literature recently. One of the last of the Golden Age Science Fiction writers, Jack Vance, died on May 26th. If you’ve never read Vance, you need to run — not walk — to your nearest e-book reader and devour his writing. You can find his catalog here: http://www.jackvance.com/ebooks/shop/?q22_category_filter=dying
Bad things come, they say, in threes.
Is that the case here? It seems like it. Which makes me wonder about one of the main reasons I write this blog: time travel. What would happen if I went back in time to May 25th? If I were to do this, what could I possibly do to change these three events? Nothing. I desperately wish Matt Smith were not leaving Doctor Who, but even if I were to go back prior to his announcement, and if I cashed out my retirement and bought a plane ticket to the UK, and if I were to successfully track him down, what good would it do? Odds are, he made his decision weeks, if not months, ago. Or what if I went a different direction and landed my steam-punk Wellsian on the set of HBO? Could I actually do anything about the second season finale of AGOT? And then what about Mr. Vance? I do not know the circumstances surrounding Mr. Vance’s death, but he was 96-years-old, and had achieved status as one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy authors of the 20th Century. What exactly needs to be changed?
If you’re wondering who, as it were, I think the new Doctor should be, the thought that keeps circling back to me is that we need another Tom Baker; we need an actor or actress who is, in essence, the embodiment of the Doctor the way that Baker was. More than any other Doctor, the line between the character and the actor was very fine in those days. Beyond that, I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter. And I’m not sure it’d matter if I did …
And that is a segue into my closing thoughts: I’ve often said time travel is a form of wish fulfillment, but in this case the wishes don’t come true, do they? And maybe that’s a good thing, because I’ve developed a quasi-Buddhist attitude toward life in recent years and putting myself in a state of angst really does no good. The reason we suffer is because we try to control those things that are out of our control. I do not know if this is truly “Buddhist” but it was the best that my Western mind could come up with as I studied that beautiful philosophy. As the author of Elephant Journal put it:
- If it can be fixed; why worry? If it can’t be fixed, what’s the point of worrying?
And, of course, if you’re looking for a more “Western” approach, there was a Galilean who said something similar:
- 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
- The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 25:34
My goal is not to preach. My goal is to espouse optimism, to let you know it’ll all be okay. And to let you know that I think we all need to laugh more. Along those lines, let me redirect you to one of the funniest authors in the blogosphere. He goes by the pseudonym Mirkin Firkin, and writes some of the most outrageous and hilarious blog posts I’ve ever read. You can find his blog here: http://justjigglethehandle.wordpress.com.
Until next time, “Don’t Panic!”
Owner, Fish and #TARDIS Sauce
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