Black Archive #43 - Robots of DeathBookmark and Share

Sunday, 17 May 2020 - Reported by Marcus
Black Archive #43 - Robots of Death (Credit:  Obverse Books)The latest release in the Black Archive series looks at the Fourth Doctor story Robots of Death.

The series, from Obverse Books, explores in detail the making of the story first shown in 1977.

That's impossible. Robots can't kill.

A literate science-fiction mystery set in an elegant, multicultural future society, The Robots of Death (1977) represents a synthesis of a witty script, beautiful design and clever, sympathetic casting.

This Black Archive examines these elements contributing to the story’s alchemical brilliance, alongside the themes of artificial intelligence, class and power in the works of scriptwriter Chris Boucher, and the titular robots’ legacy, including their reinterpretation in audio and stage plays.

Asked why she chose Robots, Fiona said

I have been fascinated by it since I first saw it during the late 1980s. At a time when even the best of 1970’s TV appeared “dated” rather than “retro,” The Robots of Death stood out because it looked, and sounded, fresh and timeless. Many of my interests as a SF historian and critic may well owe their inspiration to The Robots of Death: the influence of Expressionism; the representation of women and ethnic minorities in SF television; the ambivalence humans feel about robots; and how SF deals allegorically with class, power, and capitalism.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to explore these concepts in more detail through writing for The Black Archive.

Fiona Moore is a writer and academic who has written guides to Blake’s 7, The Prisoner and Battlestar Galactica.
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Black Archive #20: Face the RavenBookmark and Share

Saturday, 2 June 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Black Archive #20: Face the Raven (Credit: Obverse Books)The latest edition to the Black Archive series investigates the Twelfth Doctor story Face the Raven.

Sarah Groenewegen looks in detail at one of the key stories of the Capaldi era, the story that saw the departure of companion Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman.
In a series where violent death is prevalent but the regular characters generally immune, Face the Raven is a rarity in featuring the demise of the 12th Doctor’s longstanding companion Clara Oswald. While Doctor Who’s basis as a time-travel series means that the audience will see Clara again, everything after her death here is borrowed time.

The figures reintroduced by Face the Raven all play unexpected parts: Ashildr, a Viking woman made immortal by the Doctor, is a mayor; Rigsy, a graffiti artist befriended by Clara, is a murder suspect; and numerous monsters from the series’ past have become refugees. Scripted by Sarah Dollard, an Australian living in the UK, the story uses the tropes and imagery of Doctor Who to comment on real-world issues of immigration, asylum and the penal system, its narrative leading directly to the Doctor’s own incarceration in the following episode.
This Black Archive draws on the history of London and its presentation in fantasy, on queer and feminist theory and on the mythic and folkloric symbolism of ravens to examine this haunting story. It is the first of three books dealing with the final episodes of the 2015 season of Doctor Who.

Sarah Groenewegen BEM has written numerous essays on Doctor Who, gaming, and being queer. She obtained her Master of Arts from the University of Western Sydney in 2000 by researching into Doctor Who and its fans. Her first novel, Daughters of Earth, was published in 2017 in the Lethbridge-Stewart range published by Candy Jar. In 2016 she was awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to law enforcement and LGBT+ diversity.

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