Internet Daleks


Anyone who is familiar with the BBC’s long running science fiction television series Doctor Who knows what a Dalek is. Even if you don’t watch the show, you may well be aware of the Daleks and what they are.

For those who don’t know, Daleks are the most feared enemies in the Doctor Who universe.

The Daleks are merciless and pitiless cyborg aliens bent on conquest of the universe and the extermination of what they see as inferior races; their catchphrase, “Exterminate!”, is a well-recognized reference in British popular culture. The Daleks were engineered by an evil scientist, genetically modified and integrated with a tank-like, robotic shell, removing their every emotion apart from hate. The Daleks view themselves as the supreme race in the universe and are intent on purging the universe of all non-Dalek life. Daleks are shapeless and defenseless blobs of flesh encased in armor so they are invulnerable. Though only armed with a single laser and a menacing suction cup, in the context of the show the Daleks are the deadliest foes that the Doctor comes up against.

Today on the internet there is a type of person known as a troll. An internet troll is a person who sows discord by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory or offensive messages in online communities with the deliberate intent of provoking readers or otherwise disrupting normal discussion for their own amusement.Trolls deface Internet tribute sites. causing grief to families. They attack groups and individuals online with sexual, emotional and intellectual harassment.

But maybe trolls is the wrong name. Perhaps we should start calling them internet Daleks. They surround themselves with technology and online anonymity, making them feel invulnerable. They travel about the various internet byways, swooping in and shouting “Exterminate! Exterminate!” and terrifying and infuriating online citizens.

Perhaps all vestige of humanity has been stripped away. Perhaps the echo chamber of their own ideas blared back at them has driven them mad over the years. Perhaps their bodies are slowly de-evolving into a soft and shapeless mush. Fearful of anything different from themselves, ensconced in the darkness of their parent’s basements, never seeing the sun or encountering any others that are not also Daleks, their hatred of others has grown like a cancer and is spreading.

Indeed, trollish, or Dalek-like behavior, is becoming ubiquitous online. Protected by the armor of internet anonymity they are compelled to attack any whose ideas or political affiliation is different from our own.

Internet Daleks hack their way into databases. laptops, smartphones and they pillage and rape the electronic landscape, making away with stolen emails, naked selfies or incriminating videos, which they eagerly disseminate far and wide. Privacy is laid waste by the rampaging Daleks. One’s most deeply hidden secrets are dragged screaming into the light like villagers being dragged from their burning homes by pitiless raiders.

They seem unbeatable. Just as the Doctor is the only one who can defeat the Daleks, only the most rigorous of intellects can stymie the internet Dalek. Even so, the Dalek will never be destroyed. They may scuttle off to their little home on the web but they will regroup and grow emboldened again, ready for another attack.

Just like on Doctor Who, the Doctor can never fully defeat his greatest enemy. No matter how many times he engages them, somehow they always come back.

That’s the thing about internet Daleks. They always find a way to come back to threaten again.


DC’s Legends of Tomorrow


I saw the first episode of the CW’s new show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

I doubt I will be watching the second episode.

It’s not that there’s nothing to like about this first episode… there is… but for me, there’s just not enough of it to outweigh the really awful elements.

I mean, take Arthur Darvill. Who didn’t love him as Rory Williams on Doctor Who? Who wouldn’t want to get to see him as rogue time traveling hero Rip Hunter? Seeing his take on the Doctor’s role was something that I was really looking forward to.

However, this isn’t Doctor Who. This is an American show and American shows have to have certain level of “hero-ness” in their heroes. Darvill provides, but clearly it’s not something to which he is accustomed. His performance veers crazily over the top at times, particularly in the introductory scenes. I almost turned it off at that point.

I liked Victor Garber’s character as Professor Martin Stein, one half of the hero Firestorm. His appearances on The Flash were some of the high points for me so it was nice to see him here as well. And Wentorth Miller as “Captain Cold” Leonard Snart. I liked his character on the Flash and, again, it’s good to see him here.

Same with Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer, The Atom from Arrow and the new characters Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I loved them in the comics and it was great to see them here.

However… A TV show is not a comic book. It has a different structure and different expectations (and, yes, physical limitations, despite the wondrous age of CGI in which we live). Those elements… the setting up of the parameters that will go towards defining the sories that the subsequent episodes will tell… well, it was just too tedious. The story arcs were obvious and the twist reveal three quarters of the way through came as not much of a surprise.

I wanted to like it. I really did. But I’m afraid I have to heave a heavy sigh and call DC’s Legends of Tomorrow less than legendary.

Time Like Broken Glass

Time Like Broken Glass_Cvr

Okay. This is the post where I say: Buy my book. You can click away if you want. I’ll understand.

On the other hand, if you’re on the hunt for a book for your Kindle or other e-reader and you like fantasy novels, then this just might be the post for you.

Time Like Broken Glass is a fantasy novel but it is also a time travel story. If you like Doctor Who, you might like this book. If you like fantasy novels with lots of magic, then you’ll like this book. If you like urban fantasy… if you liked Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere… then you may well like this book.

It has elements of Medieval fantasy, Elizabethan fantasy and Urban fantasy all mixed together. And it has time travel.

If you like any of those things then you may well like Time Like Broken Glass.

So… buy my book!

There. I said it. Now let’s move on to something else…

Attack the Block (2011)


I have been struggling with how to properly review this film and to do it justice and just last night I realized that I can’t. You see, the film has so much to say about racism and about inner city gangs and the unfairness of the society which creates them and yet punishes them for existing. It also has a lot of subtext about gender roles and what it means to transition from being a boy to being a man and taking responsibility for your actions.

I can’t speak to any of that. I do not have the skill and so many others have already done that, and done it so much better than I possibly could. There’s a great review here from a blog called LADY GEEK GIRL and Friends. Go read that.

However, the form that all of this social commentary takes is that of a monster movie… an alien invasion movie. And that… that I think I’m qualified to take on.

ATTACK THE BLOCK begins with fireworks… literally.

The film opens on Bonfire Night in Brixton, South London. A young woman is walking home to her flat when she is held up at knife point by a gang of young hoodlums. The gang take her cell phone, cash and a ring. As the robbery is happening the fireworks are bursting overhead and something comes down from the sky and crashes into a nearby car.

The leader of the young gang, Moses (John Boyega), goes to investigate. A strange little creature jumps out of the ruins of the car and attacks Moses, leaving him with deep scratches on his face before running off into the night. In the panic the young woman runs off but the young gang has a new focus now. Moses wants to hunt the little creature down and kill it.

This is where we get introduced to the gang. The gang that we just saw rob an innocent woman, the gang of hoodlums that only a moment before the audience held great antipathy towards, this is when we get to know them and, against all odds, begin to feel sympathetic towards.

They are young… very young… barely teens. Their exuberance over the hunt for the creature is infectious. You forget that mere moments ago these were faceless hoodlums who robbed an innocent woman at knifepoint.

They hunt down the creature which is white and hairless and most certainly alien. They kill the beast and take it back to their dealer (Nick Frost) who lives in their apartment block. The dealer works for the boss gangster, Hi Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). He owns the block and he can make or break the young gangsters who live there. He allows the alien corpse to be stored in his weed room and he singles out Moses, giving him the responsibility of dealing cocaine.

The gang is ecstatic with their kill and Moses’ newfound favor. Their jubilation is short lived, though, due to the arrival of the rest of the aliens. These aliens aren’t small, white and hairless like the first. These are big, black and full of glow-in-the-dark teeth. They are murderous and they mean business.

Fleeing the aliens, the gang are intercepted by two policemen and Moses is arrested, identified by Samantha, the woman he mugged. The aliens, following Moses, maul the police to death and attack their van, leaving Samantha and Moses trapped inside. Dennis reaches the vehicle and drives the van away, only to crash into Hi-Hatz’s car. Samantha runs away while the rest of Moses’s gang catch up and confront Hi-Hatz.

From here on, Attack the Block follows the general plot of most alien invasion movies. The gang has to contend with aliens, avoid getting arrested or murdered by the psychotic Hi Hatz.

As with all of these films, the gang is slowly picked off by the marauding monsters. That’s the way these movies go, but it is really heartbreaking in this case because you can’t help but like all the members of the gang. As a viewer of these kinds of movies you know that some of them won’t make it to the end of the film.

This film is produced by the same people who made Shawn of the Dead, and this has the same sort of sensibility about it. It plays with the conventions and sometimes subverts the audiences expectations. It’s familiar territory for a lot of us, and it is also more than a little violent. Despite the fact that the cast is as young as 9, this is certainly not a movie for the kiddies.

I won’t give away any plot points. Needless to say the film is entertaining and very satisfying on the level of an “aliens invade” movie, but there is also so much more in terms of subtext. The film deals with racism, with the class system in England, and with the problem of youth violence in general. It doesn’t preach at all, nor does it hit you over the head with it all. It doesn’t even offer up any solutions. It just presents it along with everything else and the viewer is left to sort it all out for him or herself.

Do watch this. I really can’t recommend it enough. The story is well told, the aliens are really well done and menacing, and the performances are all amazing. But I will give a warning for the squeamish — there’s some real over-the-top violence. Not quite Tarantino level, but certainly more than in your average episode of Doctor Who, so… be warned.

Five stars… ten out of ten… two thumbs up…


I’m the biggest geek…

I’m such a big sci-fi geek.

My daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks. It’s a very exciting time, of course, but today I’ve got some down time and I’m scrolling through some of my favorite sites and I stumble across this video clip.

It’s from the original Doctor Who series. The Doctor, played by William Hartnell, the first actor to play the character, says goodbye to his granddaughter Susan.

I know this clip. I’ve seen it many times but watching it just now… well… it really got me right in the feels, you know?

However, I might just incorporate some of what the Doctor says in my speech to the bride and groom. If only I could actually give it from the TARDIS control room.