Tag Archives: science fiction

I couldn’t help myself, I just had to make up another “Bad tempered oath (9)”

As usual, there are a few Whoey clues and/or answers mixed in with the less Doctorly ones.

7. See 12
8. Insectoid buzzin’ but no “hi” (5)
10. Time Lord, perhaps the Doctor? (3,5)
11. Short logician in mature occupation – of Steed, perhaps? (6)
12, 7. Swirly time hid swirly bus driver and possible Time Lady (4,9)
13. Sign ran back to kill polymath (8)
15. Sort of crisis for health care professional when primary welfare is left out and left in (7)
17. Feelings shown by half-smirks and falsehoods (7)
20. 32 below freezing in the US, shirt and newspaper necessary on many occasions (8)
22. Obligation, may involve interest (4)
25. 23 players dubious and disdainful (6)
26. Notorious Italian city almost within ring, almost (8)
27. Race in the manner of a crib (5)
28. Sir loses head, wears dress – at 18? (9)
1. Place in toilets for comedian and actor (5)
2. Thing back in, was on horseback – correct me if I’m wrong (6)
3, 18. Murder mystery from 14, or sound of sapphire waterfall? (6,2,8)
4. Beryl – aunt and ‘arbinger (7)
5. Add extra large 5 for Gerry-built spaceship (8)
6. Overheard plan to imprison a ruminant aboard ship – he’s not quite general (9)
9. Friend of 16, owned joint in the past (4)
14. Story lovers use mature protection (3,6)
16. Friend of 9 with lo-calorie appendage (8)
18. See 3
19. Advanced type of paper, almost like Robin (7)
21. Can first Mesoamerican culture (4)
23. Game found after 6 and mostly mythological river, and before New Zealand island (6)
24. Legal judgement from noted airline (5)

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Filed under Brain Teasers, crossword, cryptic crossword, doctor who

Another CrossWHOrd

Thanks so much to The Androzani Team for describing me as having a devious and cruel mind, and for saying that they enjoyed my Jumbo Crossword immensely. Now that I have some worthy opponents, perhaps I should ramp up the difficulty slightly…


Filed under Brain Teasers, crossword, cryptic crossword, doctor who

A Jumbo Winter Solstice Crossword!

This crossword has a theme, which means that a reasonable number of answers relate to it, as do some of the clues (though clues that relate to the theme don’t necessarily have answers that do, and vice versa). The theme can be found by answering this clue: “TV series that if treated as a command could lead to another one (from the 70s)” (6,3)

(There is also a secondary, related theme to do with clues 23 and 11, which should in itself be a clue!)

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Another crossword



1 Old fashioned entertainment during Xmas? Questionable! (6)
4 Limit thanks in rank of immortal (7)
9 Shaken heroes met troilism (9)
10 Mongolian tribe, or operating system? (5)
11 Unit of illumination, or planet of robots? (5)
12 Combat area where Zoe had ten, roughly (5,4)
13 Miss Hawthorne’s kind lose head, get Doctor’s – you can dig them? (7)
15 Superfan goes past end of line due to wind (6)
17 Seers like Basil’s other half’s (6)
19 Voltage and current rage for Great Enemy! (7)
22 Hope novice actress arrives before end of Tom (without Mark) in Maryland (9)
24 Favourite sheep thrown into jail heartlessly (5)
26 Dole out plenty, I’m told (5)
27 Being like a geek, siren ends break (9)
28 Where Flash Gordon was shot, in Hotel Street (7)
29 Nothing a rock band can’t back out of, as was recognised by Ancelyn (6)


1 Wilfred went first, well spotted (7)
2 Holy man, god, unknown one of the 23 7 9 (5)
3 Bend next to numeral suffix, like Susan! (9)
4 Make about its start: what Doctor did to Master’s body (7)
5 Bear found round pole lost moon (5)
6 Minor and Major planets, also evil woman swallowing fantasy world (9)
7 See 23
8 Short day on the German planet (6)
14 9s of edges? Figures! (9)
16 Fruit drink, or The Third Man’s black market drug? (4,5)
18 Poetic license due to fall (7)
19 See 21
20 Macpherson’s broadcasting, so to speak, to SF writer (7)
21, 19 Skills ‘ave crazy morning backed by one of the 23 7 9 (6,6)
23, 7 Forum contributor, a bird during prayer (5,6)
25 Ancient invention found in space (5)

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May 26, 2013 · 11:47 pm


This is a cryptic crossword, but not too difficult (i.e. not quite up to Araucaria’s standard).

The theme is given by the solution to this clue:

Empty dude goes through door and finds most of prostitute (no, it isn’t “Torchwood”) (6,3)

(Which indicates the level of difficulty, I guess. Alternatively, you can just look at the blog header!)

Or if that’s too easy, this might be a bit more of a challenge.

The theme this time is given by the answer to this clue:

Programme returns fish to rock outcrop? Head off cries of joy! (6,3)

Note – clues in quotes share a common attribute, and star the (slightly concealed) person to whom they are attributed.

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May 25, 2013 · 11:06 pm

Magic! Science! Magic! Science, Miss Hawthorn!

I occasionally get into robust discussions as to whether “Doctor Who” is or isn’t science fiction. A pretty important point, up there with global warming and the decline of the West, as I’m sure everyone will agree. I generally take the view that it is SF – more or less, give or take. After all, when the announcer said “And now, the BBC presents a new science fiction series…” was he pulling our legs?

Mind you, it certainly isn’t “hard” SF, at least in my humble opinion; but surely a programme about a time-travelling alien is either SF or fantasy, and IMHO Who has generally tended to emphasise the science rather than the fantasy side. At least, it did so when I used to watch it, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

However, I may have to revise my opinion. I recently came across an interview in which a certain person said:

Traditionally, women aren’t the primary watchers of science fiction, so I’ve addressed this imbalance by filling the series with strong female characters.

Yes, it was dear old Russell T Davies. The problem is, I have compelling evidence that RTD doesn’t know science fiction from a bar of soap, so this really counts as evidence against the whole idea. 😀


My view is that Doctor Who fits very well into the science fiction genre – and that that shouldn’t be taken as in some way detracting from either the programme or the genre. Those who object that Who isn’t SF often say that this is because “the science isn’t the point” (and nor, they may add, are trivia like plot mechanics and self-consistent resolutions). However, this seems to me, at least, something of a straw-man attack. What they’re really saying is that they have read some SF and didn’t like it, they do like Who, therefore Who isn’t SF. QED.

However that seems a narrow view of SF, which is a hugely diverse field, encompassing many sub-genres. It has been, perhaps rightly, characterised as the most important literary movement of the 20th century; perhaps its defining literary form. Of course we aren’t very far into the 21st century as yet, but it looks as though that identification may continue to hold for the forseeable future (with perhaps a swerve towards the post-apocalyptic side of the genre after 2050…) It’s hard to come up with many significant events from the last century that haven’t had at least a passing connection with SF. Obviously one of the biggies was the Apollo moon landing, but also the nature of war, society, politics and religion in the 20th century were all influenced by, and commented on by, works of SF – the best known examples being “1984”, “We”, “Metropolis”, “Brave New World”, “Player Piano”, etc, but there are many others.

Also notable, by the way, is the way that SF has permeated into other genres that wouldn’t have given it the time of day 50 years ago. It is now perfectly respectable to make use of SF tropes if you are a mainstream author (Martin Amis’ “Time’s Arow”) or making a romantic comedy movie (e.g. “Peggy Sue got Married”).

Back in the mists of time, SF was seen as “geeky”. When Doris Lessing started writing it, for example, she found it a very enclosed, ghettoised field, snobbishly looked down upon by the literati. People would talk about it dismissively as being all about space ships and ray guns. And that attitude still clearly lingers in some quarters.

But the fact that Doctor Who is SF (if it is) isn’t something to be ashamed of. SF long ago came out of its ghetto, into mainstream literature and film and popular culture.

Doctor Who clearly has borrowings from many other genres, e.g. fantasy, horror, social comment, satire and so on. But SF that includes elements of other genres doesn’t stop being SF; no one would claim that “Alien” isn’t SF because it’s also a horror film, that “Foundation” isn’t SF because it’s based on “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” or that “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” isn’t SF because it’s full of humour and satire.

But does it really matter? So long as you enjoy watching the programme, who cares what label is hung on it?

Well, of course, that’s perfectly true. The problem of definitions only arises when you stop just enjoying the programme and try to discuss it with other people, perhaps on one of those new-fangled internet forums. At that point it does help to know what you’re talking about. To give a parallel, does it matter that we identify “Ozymandias” as a poem? Well, not unless someone starts claiming it isn’t. “It can’t be, because I don’t like poetry!” he might say – at which point he might find himself engaging in a robust debate.

Or perhaps the key component is the Doctor, and the other trappings largely irrelevant? It could, one might argue, equally well be set in the time of Marco Polo or the French Revolution, or even on someone’s back lawn with bizarrely shrunken heroes (are you taking notes, Mr Moffat?) – and it wouldn’t matter, because the key thing is the character of the Doctor, and what he represents.

Hmm. I must admit that stopping the Doctor being a 900-year old time-travelling alien and making him, say, own a bookshop in Paris is the 1920s might work. Making Sherlock Holmes Maori or James Bond female might work, too – but would it be the same programme? I must admit to having my doubts. I think too much of “what he is” comes from “what he can do,” personally.

But perhaps I’m misrepresenting the counter-argument here. As the Master said, he’s the Doctor, he makes people better. Does it matter that he does so in a world of SF trappings? The important thing is, as it were, the moral: if everyone thought “What would the Doctor do?” it would be a better world. Whether the science works or not doesn’t matter a jot.

This last point (about the science) is a view with which I broadly agree. In fact, my problems with “new Who” have been almost exclusively to do with the stories and characters; I care not a jot for the technobabble, so long as it’s embedded in a good story, which all too often it hasn’t been since that fabulous day in 2005…

But anyway, let’s see what the new showrunner has to say on the subject.

Doctor Who is not a show for beginners, it’s a show for people who really know what they are doing and who also really ‘get’ Sci-Fi. — Stephen Moffat

Yay! Thank you, Stephen!

Oh, but wait…

For me, Doctor Who literally is a fairy tale. It’s not really science fiction. It’s not set in space, it’s set under your bed. It’s at its best when it’s related to you, no matter what planet it’s set on. Every time it cleaves towards that, it’s very strong. Although it is watched by far more adults than children, there’s something fundamental in its DNA that makes it a children’s programme and it makes children of everyone who watches it. If you’re still a grown up by the end of that opening music, you’ve not been paying attention. — Stephen Moffat

Although, actually, I happen to agree. I think fairy tales have had a bad press (or should that be a too-good press?) since the Brothers Grimm and Disney got their bright, breeezy, sugar-coated hands on them. If Moffat is talking about the real thing, then I totally agree. Doctor Who at its best is a fairy tale which also happens to be SF.

Curses, foiled again!

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