How to Choose a Research Topic

I started off wanting to do ancient Greece, and now I’m studying 1700s literature. Weird, right? Hopefully the steps I took to get there will be useful for any of you who want to know how to choose a research field, what to do with a history degree, or even just how to choose a research paper topic! (I’m an undergrad history major working on my senior thesis, which is just a 20-page paper, but is important for graduation and often dictates future research topics).

Nezahualcoyotl statue

I wrote a paper about Nezahualcoyotl. Pic from Wikipedia.

Step 1: Assess interests

I’ve always been interested in ancient history. That’s just my thing… Maybe because I like questions more than dates! My trouble was, my Greek and Latin were both very rusty, and not offered at my school. I had rudimentary knowledge of hieroglyphics at one point, but have forgotten most of that too, and who ever gets clearance to go to Egypt? Then I took a class in Modern Latin America and realized duh — Latin America has ancient history too, and I do speak Spanish! (I’ve lost a lot of it since high school and study abroad, but could pick it up again very quickly.) I settled on ancient Latin America as my broad field, and figured I’d narrow it down later on. There were added benefits in that I had a professor of Latin American history available to me, and that it’s a growing area. Studying Greece and Egypt as a historian is kind of like studying sharks or dolphins as a marine biologist, if you know what I mean.

Step 2: Assess applicability

A year or two ago, I realized I didn’t particularly want to teach history. If I ended up doing that it would be okay, but I figure in an ideal world, people who teach kids are there because they WANT to teach kids, not just because they have nothing better to do. College would be even more palatable, but I still wasn’t crazy about the idea. I did some research into “What do you do with a history degree” — I wanted something history-related, not law school or other fields in which you get a history degree just as a generic research degree. Ta-da! Museum studies and public history!

If I was going to do museums, my choice of research field would matter a lot less. It wouldn’t be something I was locked into forever. Spending a lot of time and effort becoming an expert Latin Americanist looked less useful. So, it was back to the drawing board on assessing my interests: I’d gotten involved in Amnesty International while in school, and had been reading up on human rights and their history just because I was interested. While doing that, I read a fascinating book called Inventing Human Rights by Lynn Hunt, an expert in French history, who pinned the growth of human rights partially on the growth of novel reading as entertainment. That was a radically interesting notion to me, because when we’re talking about what I’m interested in, what do I always come back to? Books and stories!

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I just knew I needed a new research area, and I chose the history of human rights. It interested me, it crossed time/place restrictions (I always hated the idea of choosing one research topic and being stuck there forever), and I would love to end up in a civil rights museum of some kind! I knew I was on the right track and felt much more comfortable with this game plan.

Step 3: Assess resources

I initially wanted to research how animal rights led to children’s rights. It’s a weird story: Some people wanted to take a child away from abusive parents, but there was no system in place for that. They went to animal rights activists for help, and lawyers applied the animal rights reasoning to children’s rights. This was in New York — same thing happened in England. I found this story in The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. The trouble was a lack of sources. There were newspaper accounts that were very slippery indeed, and if I wanted to go further than that I’d probably have to get access to old ASPCA records and things like that, if those records even existed. I just didn’t have access to the sources I needed for a 20-page paper. (Maybe a blog post one day, though!)

That’s when I remembered Hunt’s theory about the novels making human rights possible. (She and her theory had also been mentioned at length in Better Angels, which I’d read for another class). A few quick searches revealed there were plenty of usable sources on the history of novels, history of literacy, history of human rights, and scientific studies of empathy, and surely with all those available I could smash them together somehow! Plus, it’s books. There’s no trouble finding primary sources, because you have the books themselves, plus often contemporary reviews of the books and letters from the author, because we authors tend to be wordy people.

Pamela Samuel Richardson cover

I wrote about Pamela for Banned Books Week.

Step 4: Reassess whatever you’ve ended up with

I took this step after I had the bones of my research paper ready. The novels/human rights intersection sounds smallish, but is really quite large, and I chose to focus on one transformative book. (Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson). I’d started out with ancient Greece, with a more firm beginning in the Aztec Empire, intending to become a world-renowned expert in some tiny aspect of it. It was something of a gradual, incremental change, but now I was about to start an entire paper on a women’s novel from 1740 England, with the intent of going to museum school afterward. This plan was totally unrecognizable from what it had been before. Did I really want to do this?

Yes. Unqualified yes. Check off this step and move on.

Intermediary step before paper: Identify pitfalls

 

I knew right off the bat, and especially after doing my preliminary research, that writing about this topic might be tricky. It would be very easy to verge into literary analysis, or even sociology, rather than writing a real history paper. Those would be pretty interesting too, but NOT my field, and I wouldn’t be able to write a proper sociology paper even if I wanted to do that. I need to incorporate some literary analysis and some sociology or my argument won’t make sense, but I can’t let them take over the paper. Having these things written out beforehand was really valuable when it came time to do a detailed outline and research.

So, there I am! I’ve finished a first draft of the paper in question, and am just starting on a second draft. I hope this was helpful for y’all, and I’m happy to answer any questions about history major-ing or the topics in question.

Doctor Who Review: “Flatline”

“Flatline” was a pretty normal “freaky idea of the week” type of Doctor Who episode, but channeling Flatland. The monsters are two-dimensional. It’s a creative idea, but… meh. Maybe my undying love of Flatland is to blame, but it was kind of disappointing. Episodes (and horror-ish sci-fi movies) like this are always a let-down for me, where you spend the whole story curious about the premise and then you never find out anything about the aliens. I’m left with no idea who they were or what they wanted, so why should I care? What’s the point? It’s just a big shaggy dog story. In this story in particular, there are some cool effects to start with, but then they use a lot of questionable “this is a de-flattener” type science trying to make the concept work, or they just spend a lot of time running away from 2D monsters that have been needlessly rendered as 3D.

The other bit of creativity in this episode is to trap the Doctor away from the action and give Clara his position of leadership. It doesn’t make me like her any more, but it is a clever plot device, and nothing really happened to make me like her less. I’m just annoyed that the Doctor was constantly telling her “You can do it! You’re stronger than you know!” etc. The Clara we were told we had wouldn’t need that kind of a pep talk, she’d just DO it. To be fair, she really is sort of “doing it,” she doesn’t act like she needs constant propping up, it’s just THERE for some reason. Of course, at the end she’s convinced she pulled it off wonderfully and that it doesn’t take any particular skill or fortitude to be the Doctor, which isn’t true. (So, I guess something did happen to make me like her less).

The episode also continues the “Am I a good man” theme by giving Clara the Doctor’s role and effectively letting him watch himself — or at least be forced to listen to what Clara thinks of him. He finally passes judgment — he says she made an exceptional Doctor, but “goodness had nothing to do with it.” I think he’s decided he’s not a good man, and that both worries me and makes me sad.

A few bits and bobs:

  • First, they kept on repeating “listen!” — coincidence? Probably, depending on how well the creators predicted the response to “Listen.”
  • Second, the episode culminates in Twelve’s attempt at an Eleven-style “I am the Doctor and this plane is protected!” speech. A lot of people seemed to love this, so more power to y’all, but it fell totally flat for me. (So to speak). It worked for Eleven, but when Twelve did it, he seemed more lost than ever about who and what he’s supposed to be. (This is a comment about Twelve, not about Capaldi).
  • Third, I echo the observation on Brotherhood of Evil Geeks that the Doctor seems to be “trying out” new companions this season, even with Clara standing right there. He’s done that before, often just before a supporting character dies, but it does seem to keep on happening in this season. Surely he can tell that Clara’s time is running out.

All told, it wasn’t an awful episode. I really enjoyed the creativity involved with the shrinking Tardis, the graffiti artist fooling the 2D beings, and whatnot. I just don’t think it’s the best Who has to offer.

Sunday Summary 10/18 – Coffee style!

I have two blogs to add to my blogroll: Geekritique and Scifi Jubilee. They’re both great pop culture blogs that I’ve been following and interacting with for a while, and really I just thought they were already on the list… Sorry!

Halloween coffee mug

Getting into the Halloween spirit.

I’ve got my coffee and my muffin this morning, and no theme or big event to talk about, so this is a more casual If We Were Having Coffee type of post.

Let’s be realistic, if we were having coffee, we’d end up talking about our blogs a lot to avoid awkward silences. I’d tell you how I’m never sure exactly what I’m doing here, but I like it. I’d tell you how I didn’t have time for more than one essay post last week, but I never have time for all the posts I want to write… I’ll get to that villains post eventually! You don’t even wanna know how long my list of possible posts is getting, but I’ve had this post kicking around for a while called “When is a Villain Not a Villain?” Maybe I’ll get to it this week, but there’s no theme for this week’s posts — the next few weeks will be more typical for me in that regard, with a blend of past/present/future posts. You can expect to see some posts about my research paper this week, though! I haven’t received any feedback on my first draft yet, but over the next couple weeks I’ll be posting some resource reviews, how the first draft went and what I learned, how I chose my subject, and stuff like that. (Discussion of what I learned from my first draft will probably wait until I get some feedback from my authority figures!)

We’d chat about all the things keeping me busy this week instead of blogging. It’s not been “busy” the way I think of it, full of deadlines and more things to do than I have time for, but it’s been a week packed with events. There was a Phi Alpha Theta initiation at school — it’s a history society, our idea of “crazy” is “professors doing dramatic poetry recitations,” so in that sense, things totally got crazy. There was a wizard-themed event at one of the libraries I frequent, which was mostly for little kids, but hey, I share many interests with little kids! These interests include snacks and Frozen, so I had a good time. Then last night I visited Sloss Fright Furnace, one of the local Halloween haunted house thingies. I mentioned last week that I wanted to do that, so, success! I didn’t think it was scary, maybe I’ll try a different place next year, but it was fun!

I’m ready to get back to the text-based life of a recluse, though. Homework and paper revisions are looking pretty good right now, coming up right after I bang out a few novel pages! That’s really exciting but nerve-wracking too. It’s never very easy for me to just jump back in, especially because I know I’m not writing at the top of my game the first couple days back, and it’s a struggle to keep on going when you know for a fact you’re not writing very good stuff. Just have to remind myself it’s temporary, and the only way to do it is do it.

What would you like to chat about if we were having coffee?

My Top 14 Indie Comic Books

My definition of “indie” is extremely loose here: Basically anything that’s not Marvel or DC, including some DC properties. It’s just an easy way for me to distinguish between “Marvel/DC” and “everybody else,” but I’m on the hunt for better terminology if you have any suggestions! 

1) Abadazad by J.M. DeMatteis

A three-volume series designed for middle-grade readers, combining prose with comic-book illustrations. The prose happens in our world, and the (gorgeous) art represents the world of Abadazad…

Out from Boneville cover2) Bone by Jeff Smith

If you like comics, or you WANT to like comics, you’ve gotta at least TRY Bone! It’s cute and funny, but if you read the whole series, it builds into a pretty awesome fantasy epic.

3) Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh

A cute-goth series that achieves both cuteness and gothness. This is another one that seems directed toward middle-grade readers, but is super intense. Several volumes.

4) Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

Thanks to Outright Geekery for recommending this one! It takes one man, a Brazilian writer, and shows all the most important days of his life. Unfortunately, he dies on each one. Intrigued? You should be.

5) Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

This is a newspaper comic strip about a cat. It’s kind of a less-cartoony version of Garfield, maybe? The misanthropic Bucky is paired with a sweet Shar Pei named Satchel to create hilarious shenanigans beloved by cat and dog owners alike. Lots of collections!

6) Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred

A single-volume sci-fi comic, in which aliens have arrived on Earth and “uplifted” gorillas to sentience. (They offered it to the dolphins first, and they said no.) The story follows a human and a gorilla on a defense station above Earth, where they’re mechanics assigned to an all-female squadron of space fighters. Space opera does not get better than this!

Herobear Vol. 1 cover7) Herobear and the Kid by Mike Kunkel

It’s superheroes, it’s Christmas, it’s fantasy about toys coming to life, it is adorable! The first volume is a couple years old now, but there was another series published this year.

8) Hypothetical Lizard by Alan Moore

This is an Alan Moore short story adapted into a graphic novel, set in a brothel that caters to specific magical needs. The viewpoint character has a permanent mask over one side of her face, allowing her to observe but never translate her observations into verbal statements since she’s only seen things with one side of her brain, which allows her to cater to magicians who don’t want their secrets told. It’s everything Alan Moore — philosophical, fantastical, traumatic. (CN: Rapey abusive situation.)

9) I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura

A story about a girl who kills giants. The crying is strong with this one. (CN: Bullying, cancer.)

10) Icon by Dwayne McDuffie

This was a series published by Milestone Comics, a company that was designed to create minority superheroes that’s been folded into DC and is generally being ignored. (Static Shock came from Milestone too!) Icon is kind of black Superman. It’s a fascinating story cancelled after two volumes.

11) The Masterplan by Scott Mills

Another one of my favorite sci-fi comics, one volume. It’s got time travel, mad scientists, all my favorite things!

Owly Vol. 1 cover12) Owly by Andy Runton

An adorable wordless-comic series about a little owl in the forest, kind of a Winnie-the-Pooh type setup. Appropriate for all ages, from little kids up to adults!

13) Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire

A six-volume series you’ll find in the “mature” section of the comic shop. It’s a dystopian future following a boy with reindeer attributes — the children born after a certain point all have animal qualities. It takes a supernatural turn later in the series, but it pulls off a stylistically satisfying ending. Kind of a Walking Dead tone here only with more child deaths.

14) We3 by Grant Morrison

This is a slim volume about three cyborg animals — like, real-world animals, not anthropomorphized ones. The crying is strong with this one too, it’s awful. Why do I do this to myself?

My Top 10 DC and Marvel Characters

Just for funsies, here are my top 10 superheroes and supervillains! (It’s only limited to DC and Marvel because I’ve got another list coming…) As with any favorites list, these are entirely subjective, and the explanatory notes are merely veiled iterations of “I just like ‘em.” They’re on this list because when they appear in a story, I go “YES!” and want to read it!

1) Batman

Hey, I had to include Batman! A character of perennial interest, who I believe represents a perfect balance between simplicity of concept and variability of story.

Beta Ray Bill

marvel.wikia.com

2) Beta Ray Bill

This guy was, I believe, the first non-Thor personage to wield Thor’s Hammer for any length of time. He’s basically awesome, but what I really love about him is what I read in the writer’s explanation of him: There was an idea to create someone else worthy of wielding the hammer. The first thought would be another hunky blonde bro, but they chose to go a different route. They made Bill physically monstrous, but a virtuous and honorable person nonetheless.

3) Detective Chimp

Yeah… He is indeed an excellent detective, but he’s on this list because he’s adorable.

4) Lori Lemaris

An obscure love interest of Superman’s, way back in the day. She still appears occasionally in Aquaman-related media, and I feel like she should have her own series. Just sayin’. (Can I spoil a decades-old comic? —- She’s this random girl he meets as Clark Kent, but she turns out to be telepathic… And a mermaid.)

5) Magneto

He’s my go-to example of a villain who really believes his own schtick. He has valid reasons for feeling the way he does, but he never seems to realize that his methods are only making the mutant/human situation worse instead of better.

Pied Piper

villains.wikia.com

6) Pied Piper

A minor Flash villain-turned-antihero. People always talk about Batman’s rogues gallery, but the Flash has some seriously undervalued gems… Pied Piper is also notable as one of the older gay characters in DC, and sometimes I wonder if that’s why he doesn’t get many appearances.

7) Saint Walker

The most-featured Blue Lantern, a bearer of the power of hope! I think he was one of the great successes coming out of the whole spectrum-of-lanterns event (along with Larfleeze, who was a close contender for this list). I feel like Saint Walker gives me the feeling he’s supposed to give people around him, that unwavering commitment to hope and feeling that everything will be okay.

8) Swamp Thing

I’ve never really had the experience of being asked to prove my geekdom,  and sometimes I think that’s because I lead with “Oh, who’s my favorite character? Swamp Thing.” It’s true, though. I mentioned the other day that I came to comics via Alan Moore, so I read his run on Swamp Thing pretty early on, and that led me into my love of Swamp Thing in general.

9) Thanos

Again hearkening back to that post about how I got into comics: After the first Avengers movie came out, with its glimpse of Thanos at the end, I went off and read everything I could get my hands on about the guy. He turned out to be a remarkably compelling character, a bloodthirsty tyrant who does what he does because he’s trying to win Death’s love. They gave a nod to that in the “it would be to court death…” line, but I’ll be interested to see if they keep that as a central part of his character!

10) Wonder Woman

A pretty new addition to my ranks of favorite characters, and almost entirely because of the old Lynda Carter series! (I also mentioned some good comic versions of her in my Strong Female Characters in Comics post.)

Honorable Mention: Alfred Pennyworth

Ah, Alfred, the unflaggingly understated gentleman, without whom I rarely enjoy a Batman story. Seriously, the ones without him are just not as much fun for me. ;)

Alfred Pennyworth

batman.wikia.com

Review: Ms. Marvel #9

If you’ve been waiting for Ms. Marvel to be collected, wait no longer! Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal is available TODAY. It collects the first arc, issues #1-5, and you’ll save about a dollar an issue if you buy them in the collection. (Captain Marvel Vol. 1, She-Hulk Vol. 1, and Hawkeye Vol. 3 all come out next week!)

Ms. Marvel #9 cover

Back in our monthly release schedule, though, we have Ms. Marvel #9. As usual, it is top-notch. This issue is more action-packed than some of the others, opening in the midst of a giant robot battle, introducing Kamala to Medusa of the Inhumans, and tossing her into another fight with the Inventor’s goons. It moves pretty quickly.

Kamala handled the news about being an Inhuman, i.e. having alien ancestry rather than being a mutant, really well. She’s stunned, but she keeps on going. As she did with Wolverine, she knows her worth and refuses to be sidelined in the fight against the Inventor, even though it was just sort of happening rather than being done to her on purpose, if that makes any sense.

Bruno also gets a chance to shine here. When the giant robot is smashing their school to bits, Bruno runs straight toward danger to help his friends. Then he goes with Kamala to New Attilan and holds his own there as well. And, of course, Lockjaw remains adorably awesome.

Ms. Marvel #9 Lockjaw

I’m not having any trouble following Ms. Marvel as a newcomer, I think G. Willow Wilson is doing a great job of introducing things while simultaneously assuming many readers will have an existing base of knowledge. If you’re curious you can read up on the Inhumans on Wikipedia or wherever, but you don’t have to before enjoying this series. (I was familiar with Lockjaw already from Pet Avengers, but not with the greater existence of the Inhumans).

Newbies Aren’t Ruining Anything: A Comic Book Memoir

On this day in 2008, I read my first comic book. It was Watchmen. 

I’d loved several superhero movies, specifically X-Men and Spiderman — and by “loved,” I mean “was obsessed with beyond all reason.” (My mother will gladly attest to this). My attempts to read real comics hadn’t gone well, though. They were too complicated, and too boring. (I now realize that X-Men comics are notoriously self-referential, and that the black-and-white Essential Spider-Man collections, while entertaining in retrospect, are not actually the best the genre has to offer, but I didn’t know that at the time!)

Watchmen DVD coverI saw the trailer for the Watchmen movie, and thought it looked like something I’d like, but oop! Based on a book! I couldn’t possibly watch it without reading the book first! I figured it was a standalone comic book, so why not give it a try? I had no idea what I was getting in for. It honestly still stands as one of my most intense experiences.

I decided I must like comics after all, it just must not be ongoing superhero comics, the ones that were so complicated and confusing and boring. So, I ate up other kinds of comics: The first volumes of Sandman, the sequel comics to the Angel TV show, V for Vendetta, Bone. I even loved superheroes, like the ones in Watchmen and Astro City. Just not DC and Marvel. Too confusing, too boring.

And then I saw Batman Begins. 

It had been out for several years at that point, and I was vaguely aware of it, but hadn’t ever felt the need to see it. I loved the old Adam West show, though, and I was vaguely aware of Batman as a cultural item in the same way that I knew about Superman despite having never seen him in anything. So, I checked Batman Begins out from the library at some point and watched it.

The details in my memory are sadly vague, except for the part where I became obsessed with Batman beyond all reason. If only there was some other media about Batman I could consume! It was such a shame that I didn’t like superhero comics!

Kingdom Come coverI’ve always worked in libraries, and one afternoon I was bored at work. I have no idea what my reasoning was, but I didn’t have any work to do or I was going to lunch, and I wanted Batman, so I decided to grab Kingdom Come off the shelf and read it. I’ve since given it to other newbies and they were hopelessly confused, but for me, it was serendipitous: Kingdom Come is basically Watchmen with real DC characters instead of stand-ins, and I loved the heck out of it!

At that point, the dam was broken. I went on to read every single DC book in the entire county’s library system, and begged-borrowed-traded-or-bought more, probably in the hundreds. And here I am now, with “comic book nerd” as one of my most dearly-held identities! The Watchmen movie finally came out in March of 2009, and I went to the midnight showing. (It seems like such a long gap that maybe what originally sparked my interest was some kind of teaser or even news article well in advance of the movie). I was less than impressed, but by that point, it didn’t matter at all, because I was a comic book nerd and there was no going back.

It’s not just DC, either, although for a while I said “Okay, I just only like superhero comics from DC…”  but the more Marvel movies that came out, the more Marvel books I tried. I’m still a DC, but I like a lot of Marvel stuff too — even some X-Men comics!

So, this is the point of this post: I wouldn’t be into comics without Batman Begins. Really, I wouldn’t be into comics without that teaser for the Watchmen movie, whatever it was! People in every fandom get upset when a movie or other reboot brings newbies into that fandom. I get that — I put in my time loving Doctor Who and Star Trek, and I don’t always feel like those new fans love the same thing I did. Plus a lot of them drop out of the fandom as soon as that movie series or whatever is over. But that’s okay. New fans bring the energy and the attention and the money that’s needed to make new stuff. Sometimes, like me, they really do plunge into the old stuff too, or sometimes they just stay in the “new stuff” segment of the fandom, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real fans. New fans are people who had no idea your awesome thing existed, or may even have thought the thing wasn’t much good, but who have seen your thing and said “Yes! I would like to love this thing too!” and that should be celebrated! Maybe if they were more welcome, actually encouraged to explore the fandom, they wouldn’t be so quick to move on. Old fandoms have a treasure trove of awesome stories that newbies don’t know about, and may never know about if nothing sparks their interest. I intensely dislike the new Star Trek movies, but they’re like a big billboard leading potential new friends toward me and the show I do like, and it’s the same for comic book movies.

And with that, I’m off to celebrate my comicaversary!

You tell me: How did you get into comics, or your fandom of choice, and what’s your newbie philosophy?

Doctor Who Review: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

Well, that was disappointing. No, not the episode… the fact that Clara was in it. I never really thought she was GONE, but I was hoping we’d get a week off. Nope. That said, “Mummy on the Orient Express” was still leagues ahead of “Kill the Moon,” and I actually did enjoy it. A pretty typical New Who episode, but done quite competently.

I’m not sure how much else I have to say about this… But I’m sure I’ll think of something:

  • I liked the supporting characters, although I wish there had been more than one woman. Any of those people could’ve been genderbent without hurting the episode, and it might’ve made a few of them more interesting and less typical.
  • I liked the setting. I felt like they used the Twenties and the train well to create a mood and a closed-in space, and those qualities stuck around even after the trappings disappeared.
  • The mummy was creepy. Something about its inexorability, combined with how you KNOW you only have a minute to live, and that’s not nearly long enough to do all the things you realize you wanted to do, but just long enough for you to realize all those things and start to cry.
  • I loved the jelly baby case!
  • I REALLY loved the Doctor’s conversation with himself toward the beginning. He was basically being his own companion in that scene, and doing a way better job of it than Clara!
  • Good god, I just hate Clara so much right now. Even after everything that happened in the last episode, she thinks the Doctor will just come by for dinner sometimes? That this isn’t the last time she’ll see him? Yeah, he’s so obsessed with you he won’t be able to stay away. That’s totally gonna happen. Because it’s all about you.

On that note, I have two burning questions. (Spoiler alert.)

One, who asked who to go on this last hurrah? It’s painfully unclear. I assume Clara called him and he said yes. If it was his idea, I’ll be very unhappy. (If this was clarified in the episode, please tell me — I’m one of those people who can’t always understand their accents.)

Two, the Foretold has been a legend for ages and ages, yeah? And part of the legend is that if you say the right word, it’ll stop? But when the Doctor says the right word, the Foretold disintegrates. Are we to understand that there are many of these leftover soldiers wandering around killing people? Because otherwise, how would anybody know that saying the right word would stop it?

Regarding Clara and Maisie getting out of the locked room, it was locked because Gus wouldn’t open it without executive authorization. I figure when he realized Maisie was the next victim and he needed her in the lab, he gave himself authorization to open the door.

Here’s my final thought, firmly under the spoiler alert: 

I did like Perkins, the engineer guy, but I really thought he was the villain in the final scene. Nope, just being set up for a companion invitation so we can hear AGAIN that being a companion changes people. Oh noooo, not the changing! So dark and edgy! Somebody help!

Actually no. Being a main character on a TV show changes people, because that’s how stories work. The Doctor is involved only in that he changes people into better people. Where did this idea come from that the Doctor changing you is a bad thing? In general, companions walk off the Tardis as more mature, more interesting, more compassionate people than they were when they started, so what’s the big deal? I guess his current companion is a pretty horrible person, but she was always that way.

Can you tell I’m sick of Clara yet?

Sunday Summary 10/12 – Paper Madness, Romance, and Halloween!

My first draft has been successfully turned in! I was shooting for about twelve pages, enough to give everyone an idea of what I’m doing, but I got that far and I just really wanted to have the whole thing done because the first half on its own made zero sense. It was planned to be a certain length and outlined to be that length, so “write twelve pages” turned out to be “write THE FIRST twelve pages,” rather than just a shortened version. So anyway, there was a mad dash to finish it, but now I’m substantially further along in the process than I expected to be right now! We’ll workshop this version on Monday, and then I’ll worry about revisions and the poster presentation.

I was about nine days behind on my reader, but I’m catching up this weekend, so if you see me wandering around liking and commenting on things in weird patterns, that’s why. ;) I’m also trying to catch up on various to-do lists, and I started working on What Dreams again yesterday, although not at full speed since I’ve got a lot of paper stuff left to do.

PICT0021I attended another romance novel signing event yesterday and had a good time. Very friendly fans who were easy to strike up conversations with, and I won a gift basket! There’s a novel from Vivian Arend, a novella from Hailey Edwards, and three-story book from Vivian Arend, Lauren Dane, and Kit Rocha to try out, plus some other goodies. I actually went for Jenn Bennett because I’ve been reading and enjoying her 1920s paranormal romance Grim Shadows — turns out it’s actually the second in her Roaring Twenties series, so I picked up a signed copy of the first one, Bitter Spirits. Yay!

Halloween-themed cool links: The Lobster Dance is doing a month-long Feminist Halloween series with recommendations. Horror tends to be one of those genres that’s very iffy where feminism is concerned, so it’s great to have some good recommendations. Also, Eclectic Alli is having a Masquerade Ball blog hop at the end of the month that looks like a lot of fun!

Personally, I’m hoping I’ll get to visit a haunted house thingamabobber this year, and I’m working on an Eleventh Doctor costume. Can anyone recommend a killer fitted tweed jacket for like… a dollar? No?

Coming Up This Week:

My comicaversary! On Tuesday it will’ve been six years since I read my first comic. You know what this means — another theme week! I can’t guarantee a post EVERY day, but you can expect a comic review or two, my “how I got into comics” story, a listicle about my favorite comic characters or LGBT comic characters or maybe the best comics for newcomers to the genre, and hopefully an essay post about villains (or something). Let me know in the comments if you’re particularly interested in any of those posts, that’ll let me know where to focus. :) Have a great week!

Novel Update #8 – Paused

What Dreams Update

What Dreams and Interesting Carictars have both been on hold most of September while I’ve been working on my research paper. I hate it, but you know how it is. I can multitask, but a novel and a research project both require a kind of permanent attention from me. It’s always got to be in the back of my mind for me to make progress, so I can only do one at a time. (And I just plain haven’t had time for IC.) However, as with last month, I left off WD at a good point where I’m happy with what I wrote and I know what comes next, and I’ve been itching to get to it for weeks. I’m making good progress on the paper and associated tasks, so I should be back up and running during the end of October and/or November.

I’m at 23,375 words, which is actually a bit lower than it was last month — I consolidated a few things.

Supplemental Reading

man who bridged the mist, johnsonI do have a good supplemental reading to recommend — the short story/novelette “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson. This was recommended on Speculiction and I found it in the 29th annual The Year’s Best Science Fiction. It’s a long short story about a man who builds a bridge over a river of mist filled with monsters, and how he falls in love during the five-year project, and how it changes lives. I loved it. I was impressed by the characterization — it’s hard to do character-based short stories — and the excellent worldbuilding. We get enough of everything, always, even more than enough, but not enough for us to stop wanting more. Kij Johnson did a great job of incorporating the mechanics and engineering of building a big suspension bridge, and I need to work on those technicalities more. Kij also does a pitch-perfect job of describing a character’s internal life, without just infodumping everything… Showing earlier and later times, showing emotions, showing thoughts the way people actually think them — invested with meaning. That’s the kind of tone I want to keep in mind. Highly recommended!