#NotEnoughSciFi: Feels, Facts, and Reason

#NotEnoughSciFi is an occasional series looking at works of science fiction and fantasy which I think might be useful for organisations, institutions, companies and communities which are trying to get ready for the shape of things to come. See previous entries here.

These days, it can feel as if reason, facts, and truth themselves are under assault. As if the institutions and professions – the academy, journalism, research, librarianship – which have allowed many of us to understand and discuss the world on common ground are beleaguered.

In pop culture, can we find new ways of imagining these figures for the coming world? Do science fiction, fantasy, and the study of our society overlap and can this overlap help us?

I’ve just finished a couple of books which turned out to converge in weird and useful ways: William Davies’ Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World and Una McCormack’s production history and critical response to a 1980s BBC TV serial, The Curse of Fenric. Read more

Return of the Mouth on Legs

Today, the State Library of Queensland released its interview with Janet Fielding, the actor who played Tegan in the BBC’s Doctor Who from 1981 to 1984.

I discovered that both Janet and Tegan were Queenslanders while researching for an instalment of my newsletter, Marvellous Electrical.

Brisbane-born Janet accompanied Peter Davison’s Doctor as they battled monsters, cyborgs, and spooky snake spirits. After her time on the show, Janet went on to a career as a theatrical agent and an advocate for women in film and television. Today, based in the UK, she is director of a community venture, Project Motorhouse.

To celebrate both Janet and Tegan as iconic Queenslanders, the State Library teamed up with Spencer Howson of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to conduct a ninety-minute interview capturing her adventures across time and space. This will now form part of the Library’s lasting oral history archive.

Read more, and listen to the interview with Janet Fielding, at the State Library website.

Writing, Designing and Acting Doctor Who – Holiday courses at NIDA Sydney

Australia’s Cockatoo Island has a chequered past as a former shipyard and prison turned nature reserve – but recent school holidays saw it transformed once more. The UNESCO world heritage site in the city of Sydney became the scene for intergalactic adventure and time-travelling mystery as the BBC’s Doctor Who came to Australia in a whole new form.

Work from NIDA's Designing Doctor Who Course
A monster design from Designing Doctor Who at NIDA

For three years, NIDA, Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, has offered a range of Doctor Who-themed holiday courses for children and young people, taught by industry professionals. I dropped in to see what was on offer and speak with the team behind this unique education programme.

This year, Designing Doctor Who students spent three days creating their own detailed alien worlds and artefacts, while Writing Doctor Who students got the opportunity to devise mini-scripts performed by students on the Acting on Screen: Doctor Who course in front of an audience of parents and friends.

The holiday activities including location shooting on Cockatoo Island, where one student-penned adventure saw the Doctor and his companion Amy pursued by Fashion Police opposed to bow ties and short skirts!

Peter Mountford, Manager of Youth and Holiday activities at NIDA, said, “This was the third holiday program at NIDA to feature Doctor Who themed courses and I am pleased to say that it was the most successful yet. Both tutors and students had a fantastic time filming their self-devised Doctor Who stories out at Cockatoo Island – a setting that is perfect for time-travelling adventurers!”

Read more