Viewing posts tagged colony in space

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"The colonists shouldn't be here," says Dent. "My Corporation has been assigned the mineral rights on this planet. Our preliminary survey indicates a very rich concentration of duralinium. You know how the Earth needs that mineral."

"Earth, or your corporation's profits?" asks the Doctor.

Dent and his mining corporation will go on to prove that they will do literally anything, including mass murder, to obtain the duralinium they want.

"What's good for IMC is good for Earth," says Dent, echoing a famous statement once made in the real world.  "There are one hundred thousand million people back on Earth and they desperately need all the minerals we can find."

"What those people need, my dear sir," asserts the Doctor, "are new worlds to live in like this one. Worlds where they can live like human beings, not battery hens."

What nobody mentions during this conversation, or during any of the conversations anybody has about the controversy, is the notion that no non-Uxarians might have the right to appropriate Uxarius.  There are people already living there, you see.  But those people don't count.  They're "primitives".

This story is a reiteration of Western ...

Liberty in Space

From the October 2011 issue of Panic Moon.  Very slightly edited and revised.  This piece really only scratches the surface of its topic.  Please think of it as a 'place-holder' for something longer that I haven't written yet.


"In the end, the liberals always do what the empire wants."
- Christopher Hitchens (I got the quote via this.)

No story better demonstrates the ambivalence of Doctor Who’s liberal ethos than 'Colony in Space'.  It's an anti-corporate eco-parable.  Industrial technology has destroyed Earth’s environment and so the industrialists want to get their claws into other planets.  IMC even fit claws to their mining robots.  They lie, bully and kill for profit.  Interplanetary law seems to favour such corporations, even without Time Lord supervillains impersonating Adjudicators.  Big business is thus depicted as legal gangsterism.  Strong stuff for Saturday tea-time, as you’d expect from Malcolm Hulke.

"Here comes another one looking for a lost droid...
he'll feel the edge of my gaffi-stick and no mistake!"
Thing is, 'Colony' is also a sci-fi reiteration of the frontier Western genre.  Poor settler townsfolk versus unscrupulous railroad men.  And ...

Skulltopus 9: Signs of Progress and the Progress of the Sign

You can rifle the Pertwee era for tentacles and find relatively few.  They only crop up in stories in which capital looms.  They only fully-materialize as a major threat where capitalism is a systemic presence, threatening - even if only obliquely - to connect up various social and political nightmares.

That isn't to say that social and political nightmares are thin on the ground.  Far from it.  But it's only when those problems are connected to capital, commodification and trade as exploitative or destructive, that they sprout tentacles.


Evidence of Absence

The reason why 'Spearhead from Space' builds to an unexpectedly tentacular conclusion is because all sorts of things within it hint obliquely and elliptically at deep problems in the Britain of the late twentieth century, problems which seem to build towards a connection that must be occluded: namely the connection of all these problems at the economic base of society, the productive forces, the capitalist factory, the commodity form itself.  'Spearhead' is saturated in depictions of hierarchy, domination and class.  The story hints - albeit very quietly - at imperialism, and at racial and gender hierarchies.  The monsters are stalking emblems of alienation and commodity fetishism, manufactured things ...

Skulltopus 7: Tentacle, Plastic and Bone

The first fully-fledged tentacular monster in Doctor Who - in the senses of being both properly cephalopodic and of being a central monstrous antagonist of the Doctor's - is the Nestene entity at the end of 'Spearhead from Space'.  That's seven years in before the show does a proper tentacular monster with real plot significance.

Apart from 'Image of the Fendahl' (which we'll get to one day) and the Cyber-head in 'The Pandorica Opens', 'Spearhead from Space' is also the closest Doctor Who has ever come to merging or (horrid word coming up, but needs must...) juxtaposing the skull and the tentacle.  If you don't know why I think that's significant, please go back and read my other Skulltopus posts, starting here.

The Nestenes manifest as a tank full of tentacles...

Yes Jon, pull a comedy face and go cross-eyed.
That's the perfect way to express mortal terror.

...inside which we can see a pulsing, vaguely obscene-looking anus/oesophagus/lung thing.  Meanwhile, the same story's main images of the monstrous are unfinished-looking plastic replicas of human beings.  There is something faintly but definitely skull-like about their faces, especially when they're not wearing wigs ...

Anxiety Satellite

The indefatigable Mr. Oliver Wake has put together and released the latest issue of the print fanzine Panic Moon.  It can be ordered here.


It contains (amongst other things) a judicious appraisal of the 'Day of the Daleks' Special Edition, a look at the way Hartnell's shade has taken to haunting the recent series, a clever thing about the way Daleks always seem to get some new physical ability in first episodes, an interesting look at the pre-Who 60s Pathfinders serials which are now out on DVD and an excellent analysis of 'The Sun Makers' which identifies some of its roots, going beyond the usual stuff about Bob Holmes being annoyed by a tax bill.

Once again, I've contributed two articles.  In one, I identify a blind spot in the lefty-liberal creds of 'Colony in Space' and try to tease out some of implications of this, leading me to briefly consider something badly amiss with liberalism itself.  In another article, I have a good old ramble about the various ways Doctor Who has creatively misrepresented evolution, often using it was a way of re-encoding mythic themes or addressing political concerns... though there is, I ...

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