Hugo Speech

Jim’s brain is currently experiencing technical difficulties as a result of five awesome days of Worldcon, which culminated in winning a freaking Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer!

Normal mental service should resume shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this transcript of Jim’s speech. (We’ve removed all of the nervous pauses and stumbles for ease of reading.)


Growing up, I was never what you’d call one of the “popular kids.” Shocking, I know. It turns out that sewing a Star Trek patch onto your jean jacket is not the best way to get in with the cool crowd.

It wasn’t until I was almost thirty years old that I finally discovered fandom, first through conventions, and then online.

It felt like home. Like any home, ours isn’t perfect, but this was a community where I could geek out about the things I loved, and people would jump in to say, “Me too!” I feel so fortunate to be a part of that community, to participate and learn and explore and hopefully, from time to time, to contribute.

There are so many brilliant and wonderful fan writers out there. I don’t know if there are enough rocket trophies in the world to recognize everyone who’s written passionate, insightful, clever, funny, and flat-out awesome articles and essays about our community. But I’d love to see us honor as many of those diverse voices as we can, and for that reason, I’ll be recusing myself from the Fan Writer category from here on out to make space for those other deserving writers.

Thank you. Thank you to fandom for welcoming me, and special thanks to my family back in Michigan, who tolerate Daddy spending way too much time on the computer.

Hugo Roundup

As a Hugo nominee, I think I’m required to do at least one reminder post that Hugo voting ends July 31. There’s now a countdown on the Hugo Voting Page.

I’ve posted my thoughts on various categories here:

While I didn’t get through all of the novels, I did have a review of one of the nominated works: Deadline, by Mira Grant.

I voted last week. There are a few categories I left blank, as I wasn’t familiar enough to feel right about voting, and at this point, I wasn’t going to be able to get through the rest. Here are my final, somewhat disorganized thoughts on the nominated works.

Graphic Novel – You’ve got Fables, a story that blends different fairy tale characters, including some kick-ass heroines and an interpretation that blends the two versions of Snow White. Then there’s The Unwritten, which centers on the magic of books and stories. After reading those two, I was half-expecting the next one to be all about an underdog fantasy monster and his pet spider. This was one of the categories I struggled with, trying to rank both the storytelling and the artwork/presentation. For example, the artwork in Digger might not be on the same level as the art in Fables, but I found myself enjoying the story and imagination in Digger more.

Best Editor – Long Form – As a DAW author, I can’t be objective here. Pat Rothfuss talks about his experience working with Betsy Wollheim here, and I think he says things better than I could. Last year, she edited and published a #1 NYT Bestseller (Rothfuss) as well as a World Fantasy Award winner (Nnedi Okorafor). Betsy has been editing for decades, and has never gotten a Hugo for it. I think it’s time that changed. (Pat’s post is also worth reading for the insight into writing-related stress and breakdown.)

Best Related Work – I think the online SF Encyclopedia is an impressive achievement, and worth recognition. Seanan McGuire’s album “Wicked Girls” is awesome, and the title song is award-worthy all by itself (in my not-terribly-humble opinion). I’ve been a guest on Writing Excuses and I think they’re great, but I found myself struggling with the question of whether it was better to vote for something aimed primarily at writers vs. works aimed at SF/F as a whole. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, and I don’t think “specialized” works should be excluded. Just something I had to work through as I was trying to decide how to vote.

Best Fan Writer – I have no comment, except to say once again that I’m honored to be on the ballot with these people.

John W. Campbell Award – This was a tricky one. One author had a fairly short story. Two others had novels. It’s hard to compare. I think that for the short story nominees, it’s a good idea to submit multiple stories, like E. Lily Yu did. It provides a larger sense of the author’s writing and range. I wonder how many people will vote for the novelists, simply because folks tend to see novels as more “valid” than short stories…

No Award – I didn’t vote “No Award” for any of the categories. I wouldn’t deny others their right to do so, but I find that option personally distasteful. The works on the ballot are there because a significant portion of our community feels they deserve to be on the ballot. Even if I disagree, I’m not comfortable saying I’d rather see no award given out than see it go to that person or work.


One of the challenges I struggled with was keeping my personal feelings off of the ballot. I know a lot of the nominees this year, which is awesome, but also awkward. I think I was able to judge each category on the merits of the submitted work, but it was hard. (It helps that I have some amazingly talented friends, so in many cases I could vote for them with a clear conscience.)

Have you voted yet? What was the hardest category for you to decide on? Which category or categories did you end up leaving blank?

Hugo Novellas, Part 2

When I registered for Worldcon, my goal was to read/watch/listen to ALL THE THINGS on the Hugo Ballot, and to review them as well. It was a good goal. A noble goal. A goal which, with less than a month until the July 31 voting deadline, simply ain’t gonna happen.

That said, I did get some reading done over the past few weeks, starting with the rest of the nominated novellas. (I reviewed the first three here.) Remember that both attending and supporting memberships give you voting rights and access to the Hugo Voter Packet.


The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary, by Ken Liu, really stuck with me. Doctor Evan Wei, a Chinese-American historian, develops a form of time-travel technology that allows an individual to observe the past, but not to change or interfere. The catch is that any given moment of history can be seen only once, after which the Bohm-Kirino particles that allow you to reconstruct that moment are gone forever.

The story focuses on Unit 731, a Japanese biological and chemical research facility during World War II, in which thousands of people as many as 200,000 people, primarily Chinese and Korean prisoners, were killed in various experiments.[1. Ken emailed me to clarify that the number of prisoners killed in Unit 731 is unclear, but estimates are in the thousands. The 200,000 number is the lower estimate of people killed by biological weapons developed in Unit 731. My apologies for my mistake.] Dr. Wei’s goal – and Liu’s as well – is to bring to light the atrocities that were committed, atrocities which have been suppressed and ignored.

Liu documents his sources, citing various texts, testimonies, articles, hearings, and other accounts to support his story. And while the story of Wei’s efforts and the political and personal backlash is a good one, in the end I think it’s overpowered by the history lesson.

The science was, I felt, the weakest part of the story. Liu provided just enough detail about time travel to make me question it, and to erode my suspension of disbelief. But from a thematic perspective, particularly when it comes to the danger of erasing history, I thought it worked well. “We cannot avert our eyes or plug up our ears. We must bear witness and speak for those who cannot speak. We have only one chance to get it right.”

The Man Who Bridged the Mist, by Kij Johnson, tells the story of Kit Meinem, an engineer and architect charged with building a bridge to connect the towns of Nearside and Farside. The river of mist that separates the towns is thick and dense enough to support boats, but it’s also home to dangerous fish-like creatures, some of which are enormous enough to destroy the ferries and their passengers.

The mist is fascinating, but it’s never fully explored or explained, and that works. The story isn’t about big flashy battles or the magic of the fantastic; it’s about the magic of Meinem’s bridge, the long process of construction and the ways in which that bridge will change the world. It’s a story that shows the triumphs and the costs of progress. Some of the costs are obvious, like the deaths among Meinem’s crew.

Others are subtler. Rasali Ferry is skilled at crossing the mist. She knows the dangers, but the mist is where she feels at home and at peace. Meinem’s bridge will put an end to her way of life, a fact she struggles to accept throughout the course of the story.

I liked this one as much for what it wasn’t as for what it was. Instead of big magic and effects, Johnson gives us Meinem’s love of engineering, his passion for his work, and the lovingly detailed process of building the bridge and changing the world. (And as a writer, I can’t help thinking about the bridge as a metaphor for stories.)

The Ice Owl, by Carolyn Ives Gilman, is the most traditional story of the three. The city of Glory to God is described as a city of rust, a city of religious rule and corruption. In the opening pages, the Incorruptibles – the “army of righteousness” – enter the Waster enclave where Thorn lives and burn down a school. Thorn sets out and finds a tutor, a historian called Magister Pregaldin who turns out to be far more than just a teacher.

I liked a lot of the worldbuilding and ideas in this one. Lightbeam travel means Thorn is 145 years old, at least by sequential time, due to time spent in transit. The titular ice owl is fascinating and symbolic and tragic, the last of its kind, hibernating in Pregaldin’s freezer.

Underlying the events of the story is the Holocide, a SFnal parallel to the Holocaust. Pregaldin deals in looted and lost artwork from that time. Thorn’s mother is seeing a man named Hunter, who pursues war criminals from the Holocide. As Thorn begins to suspect her tutor of being connected to the Holocide, she sets out to learn what role he played both then and now.

For some reason, this story didn’t quite come together for me as well as the others. I liked Thorn’s character: she’s smart, impulsive, and determined. I liked her investigation into Pregaldin’s past. I liked her family conflicts, her frustration with being the responsible one for her mother. But while there were a lot of great pieces, there were times they still felt like pieces instead of all fitting into the larger story. I’ve seen some very positive reviews of this one, so it might be a matter of taste, or maybe I just didn’t read it carefully enough.


So there you have it, the rest of the novellas. For those of you who’ve read them, what did you think?

Hugo Novellas, Part 1

I’m splitting my Hugo Novella reading into two parts, on account of novellas are long, so it’s taking me more time to get through them.

My other Hugo reviews/thoughts so far:


Kiss me Twice, by Mary Robinette Kowal – Reading this story made me think of Asimov’s Robot Detective books with Elijah Bailey and his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw. Both present interesting mysteries. Both explore the relationship between human and artificial intelligence. Both question the implications and possibilities of artificial life, the rules and the loopholes.

I liked the Asimov books, but I like Kowal’s story even better. Much of this is due to the character of Metta, the police department’s A.I. I love how Kowal developed this character, the way Metta adopts a different persona for every police officer (much as a human might change clothes depending on the situation), the Mae West quotes she uses to joke with Huang, the way she’s simultaneously supercompetent and aware in the way only a computer can be, but also vulnerable and, if you’ll forgive the conceit, human.

Detective Huang is a good protagonist, too. A decent, determined, well-developed character who treats Metta more like a partner than a machine, which means he’s invested on all levels when something happens to her.

This is a fun, well-paced story which asks interesting questions, presents various nifty and shiny SFnal ideas, and made me blow off several things I needed to get done so I could find out how it ended. I’ve told Mary that 1) she should turn this into a book and 2) I want to write a blurb for that book.

Silently and Very Fast, by Catherynne Valente – I’ll be honest, Valente’s skill with language and imagery made me question whether I was a good enough writer to review this one. (I decided to do it anyway!) This is a wonderfully layered story. It’s retold fairy tales and romance and tragedy and poetry and the power of story/myth and post-singularity science fiction all woven together.

Like Kowal’s story, “Silently and Very Fast” deals in part with the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. Elefsis is a program who started as the virtual keeper of a house, but grew into so much more thanks to the love and attention of a child, Ceno. It’s a relationship that can’t be forced into human terms. Ceno is Elefsis’ parent and lover and sibling and so much more. Thanks to the neural hardware, they’re literally a part of one another.

Over the years we see Elefsis grow and pass from one family member to another as the humans age and die. We learn how the world has evolved during this time, and the lengths they’ve gone to in order to protect Elefsis.

There were parts I didn’t understand at first. Only as I kept reading did some of those earlier scenes and stories slip so beautifully into place. I strongly recommend reading this one twice, because the parts become that much more gorgeous and powerful once you’ve seen the whole.

Countdown ($2.99), by Mira Grant – “Countdown” is a prequel to Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy (including her Hugo-nominated novel Deadline). Having read the first two books of that trilogy, I enjoyed getting all of the background information on how the zombie uprising began, and seeing characters who until now had just been mentioned in a historical context.

I think, if you’ve read and enjoyed the books, then this will be a good, powerful story, one you should definitely check out. The pacing and voice are similar to Grant’s other books, but the structure is different: “Countdown” is broken into lots of smaller segments from various characters’ perspectives as the inevitable undead uprising unfolds.

If you haven’t read the books, I don’t know if this will work as well. (Or if you read the books but they weren’t to your liking.) Some of the power of the story comes from knowing what happens later on. For example, seeing the Masons as good, determined, loving people and knowing what’s about to happen and the kind of people it turns them into was simply tragic. On the other hand, much of it works just as well in isolation–like the stories and fates of those involved in creating the original viruses.

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is up for four Hugos, but I think this one might be a long shot. While “Countdown” does stand alone, I think it will be more powerful and effective to fans of the books.


Comments and discussion are very much welcome, as usual.

Hugo Novelettes

Most of the Hugo-nominated novelettes are available online, and I’ve linked to them where I could. Attending and supporting members of Worldcon can read them all through the Hugo Voters Packet.

My thoughts on the short story ballot are here, along with links to the stories.


Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders. The opening line is, “The man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.” I really like this setup, and the conflict it creates between the man who sees a fixed, unavoidable future and the woman who believes she has free will to choose from various possibilities. I love how Anders presents the characters, both of whom have known for a long time that this relationship was coming and how it would go, but who still stumble through the same awkwardness as the rest of us. I loved the details, like the game Judy plays with her friend, picking random destinations and predicting what would happen if they packed up and went there that very day. Anders’ characters are so very human, and the conflict between them — is the future really fixed (Doug), or can you choose your future (Judy)? — is thoughtfully explored.

The answer Anders gives to that conflict is simultaneously tragic and scary and hopeful, and felt right for the story. This is the first story I’ve read by Anders, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Fields of Gold by Rachel Swirsky. “When Dennis died, he found himself in another place.” While exploring the possibilities of the afterlife isn’t exactly new (really, what is?), I like a lot of what Swirsky did here. Structurally, the things Dennis did and didn’t accomplish on his various lists of goals worked well, giving insight into his life and character. I particularly loved the celebrities who showed up, not as actual dead famous people, but as collective manifestations of the mundanes.

Overall though, the story didn’t work for me as well as it might have, because I didn’t really like the characters. They tended to be a bit too unpleasant for me. It’s a stylistically interesting and well-written story, but purely as a matter of personal taste, not my favorite.

The Copenhagen Interpretation by Paul Cornell. Instead of giving you the opening line, I’m going to jump to this bit about Isaac Newton:

“[O]ld Isaac’s in his garden, an apple falls on his head, he picks it up and sees this tiny worm crawling across its surface, and so he starts thinking about the very small…”

I read this as a key to the alternate history Cornell presents, one with carriages exploring the solar system, spies manipulating what act like tiny wormholes, and a very different and well-detailed present-day (I think?) world. Jonathan Hamilton is a spy who encounters a woman named Lustre Saint Clair, a woman he knew fifteen years ago…who appears no older than eighteen years of age.

This draws Hamilton into a plot involving twin arms dealers who have been exploring space, discovered the relativistic effects of near-light-speed travel, and made not-so-successful contact with aliens. (Though the ending calls all of this into question.)

I believe this is the third of Cornell’s stories about Jonathan Hamilton. I’ve not read the others, which might account for some of my disorientation. I love the ideas and the worldbuilding, but I felt a bit disconnected from the story. I may reread this one if I have time, to see if that helps.

Ray of Light ($1.49 on Kindle) by Brad Torgersen. “My crew boss Jake was waiting for me at the sealock door.” Max Leighton is one of the thousands of surviving humans who fled to the ocean bottom after aliens blotted out the sun for reasons we never knew. His daughter is part of the first generation to grow up never having seen the sky.

I liked the classic SF feel of this one. Torgersen does a nice job with mood, conveying the sense of desperation and desolation on the sea bottom. And I thought the idea of the children developing their own religion/cult, and setting out on a possibly suicidal mission to the surface ice, made for a good story.

But it wasn’t a great story. I think my main complaint was that it felt a little too easy. I didn’t feel the urgency, and the reward at the end of the story felt … unearned, if that makes sense. The weight of the setup didn’t match the weight of the resolution.

What We Found by Geoff Ryman. This story won the Nebula award for Best Novelette. Set in Makurdi, Nigeria, it presents two intertwined narrative threads. One of Patrick and his family, which includes a schizophrenic father, an abusive grandmother, and a brother I’d describe as a bit of a trickster. The other story shows Patrick as a researcher who discovers that stress and trauma are passed down from father to son. But over time, other researchers lose the ability to duplicate his results, leading to another revelation:

“Simply put, science found the truth and by finding it, changed it … Some day the theory of evolution will be untrue and the law of conservation of energy will no longer work … Atoms will take only 50 more years to disappear.”

The science is a fascinating game of “What if?” and also presents an interesting lens with which to examine family, whether we inherit the flaws and pain of our ancestors, whether recognition could give freedom from such inevitabilities.


Having read through the short stories and novelettes, I have a lot of respect for the ambitious stories, and for authors who push to explore new ideas and possibilities, even if the end result isn’t perfect.

For those of you who’ve read them, what did you think?

Hugo Short Stories

First off, happy book day to my friend Lisa Shearin, whose book All Spell Breaks Loose [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is out today. And last week marked the release of Mira Grant’s Blackout [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy].


This year will be my first Worldcon, and the first time I’ve voted in the Hugos. I’ve been diligently downloading and devouring the Hugo Voters Packet, starting with the short stories, because … well, they’re short!

Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue, by John Scalzi. I wonder how I’d feel if a story I wrote for an April Fool’s Day joke made the Hugo ballot. On one hand, it’s delightfully random and unexpected. At the same time, I think I’d have this nagging sense of, “Wait, what about all the stuff I wrote that wasn’t a joke?”

As a joke, this was marvelous. Tor and Scalzi went all out, including cover art, and the story was an amusing read. It’s nice to see humor on the ballot. And there’s an actual story here amidst the jokes and the over-the-top fantasy tropes. I can honestly say that when I finished reading, I wanted to know what happened next.

You could tell Scalzi was having a good old time with this one. That said, some of the humor felt a little forced. While it’s a fun read and you should check it out, I don’t see this one taking home a rocketship.

Movement by Nancy Fulda. This is a first-person SF story set in the near future about a girl named Hannah with temporal autism. Hannah’s parents are trying to decide whether to pursue a new technology which could help her integrate into society, but becoming more “normal” isn’t always a good thing. This made me think of Elizabeth Moon’s award-winning novel The Speed of Dark, which I reviewed here. Like Moon, Fulda does a very good job of capturing her protagonist’s voice, showing us the world through Hannah’s eyes. As the father of an autistic child, it’s hard for me to be entirely objective about this story, but I really appreciated it, and I thought the ending worked well.

Also, even though Hannah doesn’t think it’s terribly effective, I totally want to invest in shoulder-mounted mosquito-killing laser technology!

The Homecoming by Mike Resnick. Resnick is one of the most prolific writers in our field, and “The Homecoming” has a lot going for it. It’s an emotional story of an estranged son (Philip) coming home to visit the father who wants nothing to do with him. His mother has Alzheimer’s, and has only a few lucid minutes each day. Philip left Earth years ago, after radically redesigning his body into an alien form, in order to explore another world. His father took it as a rejection of family and humanity.

To me, it felt like a metaphor for a father unable to accept his son’s sexuality. I could be reading into it, but this is how the story resonated for me — the father mourning his lost grandchildren, hating the life his son has chosen, while the mother takes on the role of peacemaker, bringing them together despite her infirmity.

While the SFnal elements were wonderful, the ending felt too quick and easy, and didn’t really work for me. It didn’t feel true.

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. This is, in my mind, a good example of that sense of truth I’m talking about. Jack’s mother was a mail-order bride from China. When he’s young, she makes origami animals and infuses them with life: a paper tiger purrs and prances, the tinfoil shark swims, and so on. It’s amazing and beautiful. But as Jack grows older, he rejects his Chinese heritage, wanting to fit in with his “American” peers. In doing so, he rejects his mother as well. Only after she’s gone does he learn the rest of her story.

There is no neat ending here, but there is … understanding. Movement. Regret and loss, but with a thread of connection through the story’s magical element.

One of the things I admire about this one is that it’s not overstated. Jack has little understanding or compassion for a mother who sold herself in a catalog, but there’s a line later on where he’s prepping resumes and says, “I schemed about how to lie to the corporate recruiters most effectively so that they’d offer to buy me.” It’s just one line, and Jack doesn’t see the connection, but the reader does. One line is all it takes.

This story has already won the Nebula award, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take the Hugo as well. Yeah, it’s really good.

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu. Let me put it this way: this is a story that made wasp nests beautiful and magical in a mere two paragraphs. It’s a story of clashing civilizations, in which the wasps colonize the less powerful bees, a situation with many real-world parallels. The wasps take tribute from the bees, but offer them “the honor of watching us elevate [you] to moral and technological heights you could never imagine.”

This kind of story could become preachy, but it never does. It is what it is, unapologetic and disturbing. Yu takes advantage of the shorter insect lifespan to show the evolution of a new line of bees: anarchists who set out to create a new future.

Like Liu’s story, the ending isn’t neat or happy, but it feels right. There’s a sense of movement that feels circular even as it moves forward. There’s a lot going on in this one, and I may have to reread it to catch things I missed my first time through.


Discussion is welcome, and since the stories are all online, you don’t even have to be registered for Worldcon to read them.

Who vs. Who vs. Who

Of the five items on the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category for the Hugo awards, there are three episodes of Doctor Who. I recently received season six on DVD for my birthday, which means I’ve been able to watch and rank all three.

Spoilers ahead…

Third Place: A Good Man Goes to War

I feel like this should have been the best of the three episodes. The setup was there: Rory and the Doctor have to rescue Amy and newborn Melody from a heavily guarded space station. To paraphrase River Song, this was an episode that was supposed to show us the Doctor’s finest moment, and then his darkest.

I wasn’t feeling it. It felt like the show was trying too hard, and cramming too many plot revelations into the episode. The Doctor was certainly clever and efficient, and it was interesting to see him calling in debts and putting together an interstellar A-Team. The Silurian and her human companion were my favorites. But it all felt rather by-the-numbers.

There were some great moments. Badass of the Year award goes to Rory for the scene when he marches onto the bridge of a Cyberman ship. I liked the “Melody Williams” vs. “Melody Pond” exchange between Amy and Rory. And I think it’s good for the show to explore the consequences of the Doctor’s “Basically, run…” reputation. But ultimately, while it was a quick-paced and exciting plot, I think that worked against the emotional side. It never stopped long enough to let me feel.

Second Place: The Girl Who Waited

I loved the central problem of this episode. After arriving at Apalapucia, we discover the planet was quarantined due to a disease that kills two-hearted species within a day. Through timey-wimey manipulation, they split off multiple timelines that allowed the sick to live entire lifetimes in that day, while healthy people could look in on them. Amy accidentally enters an accelerated timeline, and lives 36 years on her own before Rory and the Doctor find her. And since the robotic doctors would be deadly to a human, Amy spends those 36 years fighting to survive…

This was a “smaller” episode than “A Good Man Goes to War”: just our three main characters and a bunch of robots. I loved seeing Karen Gillan’s older, harder version of herself, complete with armor made up of the shells of old medibots, armed with a sword and club, and even her own cobbled-together sonic screwdriver probe. I loved seeing how she changed, and her hatred for the Doctor who once again failed to return for her. I loved that she stopped waiting for rescue, that she saved herself.

The last ten minutes or so were incredibly powerful. The Doctor can yank young-Amy from the timestream, but it would erase old-Amy from existence. I loved that old-Amy didn’t want to die. The moment when the Doctor shuts the TARDIS door on old-Amy was brilliant. I love that the show didn’t take the easy way out, that the Doctor knew what he had to do and did it. It showed the alien Time Lord side of him in a way I hadn’t seen in a while.

I did have some nitpicks. How did Amy learn to make a sonic screwdriver or a katana capable of decapitating a robot? What’s with this season trying to bypass the Doctor’s regenerations? (The plague would kill him permanently. Another episode referred to his regenerations being “offline.” Huh???) But overall, I thought it was a very good episode.

First Place: The Doctor’s Wife

I loved it. The plot itself was pretty typical — sentient superbeing called the House lures the Doctor past the edge of the universe in order to feed on the TARDIS. But first House has to remove the TARDIS’ matrix, and tucks it into a human form.

The relationship between the Doctor and Suranne Jones’ personified TARDIS was amazing. I loved their early conversations, when her perceptions were out of synch with normal time. I loved the history between them, and their obvious joy in one another. I loved the smaller moments, like when the Doctor is looking out at ruined TARDISes and seeing the parts he can use to rescue his friends, and Jones’ character points out that she sees the corpses of her sisters.

It was the ending that pushed this into the number one spot for me. Because a human body can’t hold the energies of a TARDIS for long, as we learned back at the end of season nine. And that means the Doctor will never again be able to talk to and interact with his longest companion the way he has in this episode.

In those last minutes, when he’s all but begging her not to leave, you see just how powerfully lonely a man the Doctor really is. It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s some of the best acting I’ve seen from Matt Smith so far.


For the Doctor Who fans out there, what do you think? Agree or disagree, or is there another season six episode you’d rank higher? (I haven’t seen the final few episodes of the season, so please don’t spoil those for me…)

Jim C. Hines