Title: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It
Editors: Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea
Publisher: Mad Norwegian Press
Release Date: March 15, 2009
Whether you watched it with your family as a child, heard about it from a friend, married a fan, or stumbled across it one night flipping channels, if you are a fan of Doctor Who (or any other fandom, really) you probably have a story to go with it. Mine goes like this: I found Torchwood on BBC America as part of their “Supernatural Saturday” offerings and decided it was a pretty good show, without a clue that it had any connection whatsoever to Doctor Who until I went digging around on the Internet to find out more about John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and company. When the next set of Who episodes came out after that, I started watching them as well — my first Doctor/Companion duo was Ten and Donna Noble — and now I’m hooked. Each person’s journey is different, but all roads lead to the same place, and that’s the point of Chicks Dig Time Lords, a collection of 23 essays, three interviews, and one cartoon edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea. They have assembled quite a treasure trove of stories that documents the history of Doctor Who fandom through the individual journeys of women in what has traditionally been a predominantly male world.
Or maybe it’s just been perceived as a fanboy’s world, because the various writers represented here reveal that while fangirls were in fact an anomaly in the early days in the UK, the fandom in the United States has always had a large female presence. The show itself had a woman, Verity Lambert, as its first producer, and many a young girl found a strong female role model in one of the Doctor’s many intelligent and capable female companions through the years as well. The topic of favorite companions appeared frequently throughout the essays — Sarah Jane Smith was a popular one, especially because she was a smart, accomplished woman with an actual career — as well as various interpretations of the show from feminist perspectives.
It doesn’t stop with companions, though. A wide variety of women were asked to contribute, from writers (science fiction and otherwise) to academics to cosplayers to people closely involved with running Doctor Who-themed conventions. They tell stories about when they first started watching (whether on the BBC from the beginning or courtesy of American PBS stations in the 1980s), how they have contributed through submissions to Doctor Who magazines, novelizations, audio plays, and fan fiction, what conventions they have attended and been a part of, how they coped during the “wilderness years” when there were no new episodes to see, and what being a fan has meant in their lives. Of course the requisite Doctor Who fan question (Who is your Doctor?) is answered many times, but it goes far beyond that, giving the reader a very interesting collection of thoughts and ideas related to the fandom.
Being such a recent fan, I learned a lot about “Classic” Who and the history of the fandom through all of the stories, many of which were delightful. One of my favorites was the essay written by Carole E. Barrowman, the writer/English professor who also happens to be the big sister of Doctor Who and Torchwood’s own Captain Jack Harkness. It cracked me up to read how she would make 3-year-old John stand outside of shops in their native Glasgow, Scotland, and watch the mannequins in the windows to make sure they weren’t Autons. Other essays that I especially enjoyed are “Marrying Into the TARDIS Tribe” by Lynne M. Thomas and “Two Generations of Fangirls in Middle America,” which is Amy Fritsch’s story of being a fan, introducing the fandom to her daughter, and their shared enjoyment of the show. There were a few essays that tended towards the long and dry, particularly those that go into great detail over the history of written fandom, and I would have liked to read some essays by people who, like me, did not become fans until after 2005. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable and fascinating book.
I highly recommend Chicks Dig Time Lords to all fans of Doctor Who, male and female, “Classic Who” and “New Who” alike. It’s a great history for new fans, as well as a great reminder for the fanboys that we’re not all shippers who go “squee” over the latest fanfic about what Nine and Rose were up to behind closed TARDIS door, but some of us are, and that’s perfectly fine, too. No matter who your Doctor is, how much you participate, or what sector of the fandom you like the best, the common thread throughout the book is that it’s OK if we don’t all agree about every aspect all the time, because Doctor Who fandom is a huge, diverse, family that’s big enough for all of us.
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars