Doctor Who and Consent

I finally got the latest episode of Doctor Who. Thanks to Google Play, I’ve been dodging spoilers–in the internet age–on forums entirely full of science fiction fans–for four days. And I survived. But barely.

You may have noticed I don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about pop culture around here. I’m not one of those people who can name every Jefferies tube on the Enterprise, and I don’t usually have a whole lot to say beyond “Did you like it?”

I’m uncomfortable with the latest episode, and the current monster of the week’s insistence on “consent.” I’m uncomfortable with the–highly questionable–definition of “consent” the show presents.

And if there’s “more” to it, I’m not crazy about a lecture on consent being spread over two weeks so that the kids who miss part two are left with the questionable version.

So, in the beginning, the Doctor is Blind. (Pause for commentary from the Blind community, who in all likelihood are not crazy about the idea that Blindness has to be fixed for an extremely clever, time-traveling alien to save the world.)

So, the story is basically this–a short time until the end of the world, and a highly suspicious, probably evil group of aliens offers to help–if only the people in power consent to this. (And to being ruled by the aliens afterward.)

In the course of the episode, various powerful people try to consent, and are told that Fear is not consent… strategy is not consent.

The punishment for improper consent, by the way, is to be incinerated into a nifty pile of dust.’ I think we ran up a consent body count of four.

In the end, as a blind Doctor stands stymied by a combination lock, Bill–his current companion–bargains with the evil aliens to get his sight back and save the world.

As it turns out… The evil aliens say that love is consent.

Uhm… NO. That comes disturbingly close to if you loved me, you would. If you don’t consent, I will incinerate you.

I’m concerned. The truth is, that this is a badly mangled version of consent. And while it’s true that I’m mostly thinking about sexual consent (which is not stated explicitly in the show) I’m not sure this works for any other form of consent.

Imagine a hospital refusing to take a consent form because you figure that an appendectomy is the best strategy for staying alive. Gee, I’d really like to help your kid, but if you don’t consent because you love the surgeon, it doesn’t count.

And conflating love with consent is just…


You do love Uncle Humbert, don’t you? You do want to make him happy, don’t you?

I absolutely think that we should be talking about consent more often, but using the word to mean things other than consent is not helpful.

At best, it’s a modern morality table. You MUST love someone in order to consent. At worst… well, I don’t think every kid who loves Uncle Humbert needs to be told that love, in itself is consent.

How to Survive, Break Out of Jail, and Join the Revolution

Today, my novel’s primary antagonist is breaking out of jail. She’s moving from being one of the many people who work for her particular government–very high up, actually–to being disillusioned by her recent experiences, and generally willing to fight for what she believes in.

Yep. I said “antagonist.”

She’s done fairly well for herself, considering she was more or less just the faithful maid when I started.

I don’t actually have themes, but if I did, this one would probably be about figuring out what you really believe, and then being true to yourself. I think everyone in it is re-evaluating their oldest beliefs and basic assumptions.

Maybe the theme would be something along the lines of beliefs changing with time and experience. I don’t know. Ask an English teacher. **adds another explosion**

This particular character could be the main character of her own book, and sometimes, I think maybe she should be. If I wind up doing a series, she probably will be.

Science Fiction Politics

film, projector

I’d love to be able to ignore politics entirely. In the perfect world, I’d be in the doomsday bunker with all the other intellectuals and artists, reading a book, and checking the periscope to see if it’s time to come out and repopulate, yet.

In the real world, stuff happens, and you realize…

The whole pre-season training camp presidential campaign can be expressed in terms of clips from your favorite sci-fi franchises.

And if you’re having trouble with some of the words on that teleprompter, buy a dictionary!

Conspiracy Theory: JFK committed suicide by means of a second gunman on the grassy knoll.

Fact: FDR used a wheelchair.

Unilateral Marriage Problems

A lake, Which has nothing to do with Unilateral Marriage

I’m working on one of those unintended consequences that come up with fiction. I invented unilateral marriage, and then unilateral marriage invented a dozen other things that are obvious, once you start thinking about it.

I’m not good at the whole true love thing. I either fall in love far too often, or not nearly enough. Either way, the score’s pretty bleak. True love, zero; interesting stories… well, more. I once gnawed off my own finger, escaping from a jeweler’s store.

So, obviously, I’ve created a culture in which one person decides they’re getting married whether the other person marries them back or not. Talk about commitment.

Never mind that. Unilateral marriage impacts the culture. Obviously. Now, being quite honest, most people are going to have some vague idea of their love interest’s **ahem** interest level before they marry them. So, in most cases, he marries her, and she marries him back rather quickly.

Not in all cases. And in those cases, where her affections are still up for grabs, more than one man might marry the same woman. (Who doesn’t have to marry either of them.) Interesting household.

Marriage affects paternity, property rights, and family reunions. And new things pop up all the time. (My Muse works on a sealed-orders, need-to-know basis.)

About the photo:

I have a leftover photo or two, so I’m throwing them out here as I go. This is a happy little lake that lives next door to the steel cranes I posted a while back. You’ll note there’s an extremely over-excited red barn in the background. He was so happy to be noticed, I just didn’t have the heart to tell him to get out of my shot.

I got a little bit of sun today, too. Nothing worth mentioning. Before the rain came.