News & Blog

Not Cool, Readercon

Readercon is dead to me until this situation is fixed. It’s too bad, too. I really loved Readercon for a while there.

“You Were the Noblest Romana Of Them All”

British actress Mary Tamm passed away at the age of 62 after a long fight with cancer. Tamm appeared in a number of films and TV series, but to me she will always be Romanadvoratrelunder (Romana for short) on Doctor Who, the Doctor’s only other fellow Time Lord (Time Lady?) companion after his granddaughter Susan. Romana was assigned to the Doctor (then played by Tom Baker) to assist him when the White Guardian sent him to collect the six pieces of the Key to Time in one of the classic series’ few season-long story arcs.

(Romana, seen here with K9 Mark II. The orginal K9 stayed on Gallifrey with Leela when she married Andred. K9 Mark III was gifted to Sarah Jane Smith in the failed series pilot, K9 and Company. If you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, you led a much more eventful childhood than I did and probably got outdoors a lot. But anyway, that’s Mary Tamm in the photo.)

After one season, Mary Tamm decided to leave Doctor Who because she thought Romana was becoming just another traditional companion rather than something special, and that the character couldn’t be developed further. (John Nathan-Turner, true to form as a controlling megalomaniac, started a rumor that she left the show because she was pregnant instead, which she was not.) However, she was wrong about the character not being able to develop further!

At the start of the next season, Romana regenerated. Not because her body was injured or dying, but because she simply wanted to. She even went through a selection of possible new bodies (including the first completely alien body a Time Lord had occupied on the show, and, if I’m not mistaken, the first black body, too) before settling on the charming, pixieish form of Lalla Ward. (Continuity hounds have been arguing over this for years. Can female Time Lords control their regenerations? Can all Time Lords, and the Doctor is somehow different? Nobody knows the answer. Probably because there isn’t one.) Lalla Ward’s Romana went on to be the best companion since Sarah Jane Smith, in my opinion. Part of that, of course, was due to the chemistry she shared with Tom Baker, whom she went on to marry a few years later. (And then divorce. Shut up, haters!)

Not to be reductive, but Mary Tamm was possibly the most glamorous actress to play one of the Doctor’s companions. Sure, there were cute companions and beautiful companions along the way, but there was something truly regal about Tamm. Couple that with her obvious talent as an actress and she was a real powerhouse of a performer. The world of acting, and the world of Doctor Who, has lost one of its greats.

The cast of classic Who seems to be dropping like flies these days. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but still. If anyone is listening, I’d appreciate a reprieve.

Also, as always, cancer can go fuck itself.

Regarding the World Fantasy Convention

There’s a World Fantasy-related poll over on my LiveJournal. Won’t you kindly take part?

NECon 32

I always have a good time at the Northeastern Writers Conference, or NECon for short, and this year was no exception. Well, there was one thing that made it exceptional. This year, I was Toastmaster.

I opened the festivities Friday night with a short speech that was both funny and touching, relating in part the story of the infamous Bikini Top Incident of 2002, which believe me is nowhere near as sexy as it sounds, and ultimately dedicating NECon 32 to the memory of Les Daniels, a NECon regular who passed away last November. On Saturday, it was my great honor to interview the Author Guests of Honor Heather Graham and Jeff Strand. Heather is as gracious, charming, and kind as anyone you’ll ever meet. I adore her. As for Jeff, the less said about him, the better. (Nah, he’s great. I had a wonderful time with him this weekend, especially when we went duck pin bowling together Friday morning.) It was not my duty as Toastmaster to interview the Artist Guest of Honor, Matthew Dow Smith, but I greatly enjoyed meeting him as well. We spent the majority of the Artists Reception geeking out over shared memories of watching the original Doctor Who on public TV when we were kids.

Saturday night we roasted Darrell Schweitzer, the longtime editor of Weird Tales and the scourge of convention dealers’ rooms everywhere. Our usual roast MC, Christopher Golden, couldn’t join us this year, so I took over as host. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but afterward people told me it was one of the best roasts they’ve ever seen at NECon. Of course, part of that is because Darrell is such a rich target. I wish I could share some of the amazing jokes from that night with you, but I’ve been warned not to let them slip beyond the boundaries of NECon itself.

In other news, a complete stranger came up to me at the convention and asked if I was the Nicholas Kaufmann who wrote Chasing the Dragon. It totally made my weekend. Any time someone who isn’t a friend or family member mentions they read my book, I consider it a win! (Someone also had a copy of Bell, Book & Beyond for me sign—the anthology that contains my very first published story. Talk about a blast from the past!)

Alas, I think I was fighting off a cold all weekend and started to lose my voice the night of the roast. By Sunday I was sounding like a frog. Today I’m in recovery mode, and hope my voice will be back to normal soon.

Being Toastmaster was a huge honor, and I’m glad so many people felt I did a good job. F. Paul Wilson suggested I should be Toastmaster for Life, but next year it’s Rio Youers‘ turn, and I wouldn’t want to miss that!