Saturday 3 December 2022

Carruthers Ten Years On: December 2012

December 2012 amounted to a single post. I've just re-read for the first time in ten years and it's better than anything else I wrote for the Carruthers blog in 2012, probably longer. It articulates my disappointment that there wasn't more to write about and manages some gags along the way that I still like.

So, that's it. No more Carruthers Ten Years On posts and probably no more Carruthers posts at all. Looking back at the Carruthers blog with the distance that a decade can provide has brought a lot of things back. The frustration that we didn't manage to do more. The pride in some of the things that we did achieve. I'm enormously grateful to Andy Cartwright and Mike Everhard for all their hard work on scripts, sketches, songs etc. We had fun, but I think we should have had a lot more.

Monday 14 November 2022

2020 Vision

About this time in 2019, I pitched an article about how the futuristic sounding year of 2020 had been depicted in science fiction:


Sci-Fi predicts the New Year
(Originally written for Hero Collector, published 30 December 2019

Science fiction is full of predictions about the future and with 2020 stretching ahead of us now seems like a good time to take a look at what to expect from the year ahead. David Black plays Nostradamus.

People of Cwmtaff, Wales, don’t walk on the grass! The ground will begin swallowing people up after a large drilling installation bores down to over 21km beneath the Earth’s surface. As Doctor Who proved in The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood that the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory Williams will discover a subterranean Silurian city. Humanity and Homo Reptilia will clash and in an effort to prevent an all-out war the Silurian elder will order his people back into suspended animation for a millennium. As a result of the conflict, Rory will be killed for the first time and then wiped from history altogether by a crack in time. Back on the surface, the drilling operation will be destroyed in the explosion. The Doctor will give humanity an ultimatum to be ready to share the planet by the time the Silurians reawaken.

Unremittingly bleak 1987 children’s TV classic Knights of God shows us a Great Britain in the grip of a fascist religious order. Resources are scarce, fuel shortages abound and agitators are sent to workcamps or re-education centres. In 2020, the resistance fights back from bases in the Welsh mountains and what the Knights have dubbed ‘the Wasteland’, formerly known as Yorkshire and Lancashire. The Archbishop of Canterbury will be killed by the Knights of God for protecting the sole surviving member of the Royal Family. The Knights will begin to fight amongst themselves and the resistance will take full advantage of the opportunity. They will press home their attack and the upper echelons of the Knights of God will be slain. The resistance will restore the monarchy and the people of Britain will rally around their new king, Gervase I.

Reign Of Fire warns that dragons will render humanity almost extinct, but that this is the year that a small group will finally rise up and slay the dragons in Great Britain and begin to rebuild the human race. A note of doubt comes from polygon role-playing video game 7th Dragon 2020, however, which predicts that dragons will maintain a stranglehold on Tokyo.

It’s usually good advice to be yourself, but the Dollhouse finale, Epitaph Two – Return, informs us that by 2020, it’ll be much more of a challenge. Half the world’s population will have had their identities wiped by technology that originally came from the Dollhouse in Los Angeles a decade earlier. These blank canvasses are known as ‘Dumbshows’ and they wander the world ready for an imprint of a different personality. They are often hunted by ‘Butchers’, individuals imprinted with violent tendencies. Only a handful of ‘Actuals’, people with their own personality inside their own head, remain. A small group including ‘Dolls’ and staff from the LA Dollhouse will risk life and limb to use a pulse-bomb device designed to wipe the remaining population to return everyone’s personalities to their original owners instead.

If you find yourself on the opposite coast of the USA, make sure you don’t need saving. Arno Stark, a relative of Tony Stark, will inherit Stark Industries and use its resources for unscrupulous ends as witnessed in Iron Man 2020. Rather than using Iron Man’s armour to achieve anything superheroic, he will instead use it to commit acts of corporate espionage to cripple his competitors and to act as a hired mercenary for the highest bidder.

250 men, women and children will live and work in Sealab 2020, an underwater complex built atop Challenger Sea Mount a submerged mountain. Under the command of Captain Mike Murphy, the oceanauts will face red tides, green fever, blue whales and white sharks, but they will make no mention of microplastics or rising sea levels.

Book your holiday early this year as intricate time-travel thriller Dark has shown us that the apocalypse will begin in the German town of Winden on June 27. The day before the local nuclear power plant is due to be decommissioned, a police investigation will unearth a repository of toxic waste in an old mothballed reactor. A ‘God particle’ will form and will be influenced by similar particles in 1921 and 2053. The particle expands exponentially destroying the power station and its surroundings. Only a handful of people will survive in underground locations and alternate realities.

Away from Earth, 2000’s Mission to Mars showed us not one, but two Mars missions that will land on the red planet, where the astronauts will discover a crystalline formation which they believe to be a sign of subsurface water. Further investigation will find that the crystalline structure is part of a large humanoid face and the weather will be decidedly inclement. The construction of NASA’s Mars base will be completed this year. The base will then be promptly destroyed by an army of androids from the planet Guk. The androids, led by an individual named Zelda, will set up a base of their own on Mars as a bridgehead to an invasion of Earth as seen in Terrahawks.

According to some sources, this is the year that dormant Daleks from a spacecraft crashed in the mercury swamps on the planet Vulcan (not that one) will be reactivated by a scientist from the nearby human colony. Doctor Who’s The Power of the Daleks shows us that the metal mutants will initially act as servants to the colonists until they are able to reproduce themselves and then they will attempt to take over a human colony. Only the efforts of the newly regenerated Second Doctor will prevent them from being successful.

Elsewhere in space and, centuries before it will collect Captains Kirk and Picard in Star Trek: Generations, the Nexus will cross the universe again as it does every 39.1 years.

In sports news, Super Baseball 2020 has shown us that ‘America’s Pastime’ will see many upgrades made to the game, including robot players, body armour and jetpacks. Real Steel reveals that boxing will also see the Queensbury rules expanded as robots replace human competitors. Whether this need for automation will spread to other sports is, as yet, unclear.

On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, arachnophobe Jack Robertson, fresh from his appearance in Doctor Who’s Arachnids in the UK, will challenge Donald J. Trump in the 59th quadrennial US Presidential Election, however, Years and Years has shown us that he will be unsuccessful and that Trump will win a second term. The defeat of the Democrat party will be blamed on Russia, Florida will become embroiled in a voting scandal and France will refuse to accept the validity of the election.

A virus will wipe out most of humanity with only a handful of survivors. Believing himself to be The Last Man on Earth, Phil Miller moves into an opulent, gated community and when not hoarding priceless artworks and pornography, he proudly uses a swimming pool as a toilet.

2020 is the year in which you will almost certainly die whether under an oppressive regime, a virus or quantum physics gone rogue. If you manage to survive then existence will be tough and the best places to wait for civilisation to get back to normal are either outer space or at the bottom of the ocean. Steer clear of dragons and Daleks and stay close to some decent sanitation.

Happy New Year!

- - -

The obvious elephant in the room is that a fatal virus did hit humanity in 2019, but after I submitted this. I got very ill at the end of 2019, months before Covid officially reached the UK and long before the vaccine and testing, so I'll never know if I had it then. Covid didn't wipe out the human race in 2020, but it has killed 6.61 million people at the time of posting.

Trump did not win a second term, he was beaten by Biden. France did accept the result of the election, but enough Republicans pretended not to have lost that Trump was able to promote a conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from him, despite a conclusive absence of proof. He monetised this lie and raised $250 million which he then did not use as promised. Trump supporters seeking to overturn democracy were responsible for an armed insurrection on the 6th of January 2021. Faith in democracy is at a depressing low.

Monday 31 October 2022

Halloween on Screen

I wrote this for Hero Collector in 2019, unsurprisingly for Halloween:

When Buffy, Star Trek and more do Halloween
(Originally written for Hero Collector, published 31 October 2019

Tonight’s the night that ghosts and ghouls come out to play, and TV shows embrace the occasion. David Black shines a light on things that go bump in the night and the world of genre.

The Twilight Zone
The Grave (1961)

Originally filmed as part of the second season of Rod Serling’s anthology series, The Grave was deemed a better fit for the Halloween period and was held over until the third. It’s a tale of regret and retribution. Hired gunman, Conny Miller rides into town to learn that his quarry, the outlaw Pinto Sykes, has been killed and buried in the spectacularly creepy cemetery nearby. Miller is disappointed and had hoped to kill Sykes himself.

The talk in the town’s saloon is that Sykes said if Miller “ever come anyways close to his grave, he'll reach up and grab you”, and this quickly turns into a wager. Miller must visit Sykes’ grave and stab it with a bowie knife borrowed from the barman as proof. Miller stabs the grave and promptly falls out of shot. Was he dragged under? Did he flee? We’ll never know. Serling himself says “You take this with a grain of salt or a shovelful of earth, as shadow or as substance. We leave it up to you. And, for any further research, check under ‘g’ for ‘ghosts’, in The Twilight Zone.”

Star Trek
Catspaw (1967)

The crew of the USS Enterprise discover fog, a haunted castle with dungeons, a trio of witches and a black cat all on a planet where they have no business being. The crew encounter a pair of aliens from another galaxy with seemingly limitless power to control matter and manipulate thought.

They attempted to tap into the crew’s conscious mind to learn more about them, but they missed and drew their imagery form the subconscious instead. They weren’t trying to frighten the Kirk and his crew, they genuinely believed that ghosts and witches were the norm in their civilisation.

This episode was the first filmed for Star Trek’s second season, but it was delayed so that it could be broadcast at Halloween. Kirk even says, “If we weren't missing two officers and a third one dead, I'd say someone was playing an elaborate trick or treat on us”, as a nod to the audience at home. Spock is unfamiliar with the concept of trick or treat, causing the captain to add “You'd be a natural.”

Quantum Leap
The Boogieman (1990)

Sam Beckett leaps into the body of writer, Joshua Rey, on October 31, 1964. As he, his fiancée and a young Stephen King organise a ‘Spook House’ to celebrate Halloween. In quick succession three people die, Al is of no help to Sam and a goat that only Sam can see keeps appearing and disappearing. It’s revealed that Al is not himself and Dean Stockwell’s performance is truly terrifying.

Quantum Leap fans are a superstitious lot. Many of them believe this episode is cursed. There were many reports of VCRs failing to record this episode and signal failures at local TV stations and cable companies during broadcast. They claim it has caused power failures, car breakdowns and job losses. It appears to be Quantum Leap’s Macbeth. It’s not uncommon to see this episode referred to as 'The Halloween Episode', 'Episode 3.5' or 'The Boogiem*n', rather than by its proper title. Sometimes there are so many asterisks in 'The B**giem*n' that it’s almost unintelligible. You have been warned.

Ghostwatch (1992)

This pitch-perfect horror mockumentary was first shown on Halloween Night in 1992. Presented as an earnest attempt to examine a haunted house in North London. Ghostwatch features familiar televisual elements of cosy studio fireside chat, phone-ins and outside broadcast interviews, but uses all of them to ratchet up the horror. A triumph of using the mundane to express the paranormal.

The banter of the first few minutes gives way to a much darker story. On the face of it this is the story of a family living with a ghost that they’ve nicknamed Pipes. There’s a possibility that one of the daughters is faking it all, but the sheer wealth of evidence makes that obvious possibility seems less likely than the supernatural alternative. Along the way we learn of a baby farm, cats eating the body of a suicide victim and a playpark strewn with canine foetuses.

Nothing is ever definitive in Ghostwatch. You are never certain whether you’ve actually seen Pipes on screen. So much is achieved with so little actually happening on screen. It’s a triumph of the power of suggestion. The four celebrity presenters playing themselves really sell the reality of the film. Michael Parkinson says at one point, “we don’t want to give anyone sleepless nights”, but that’s exactly what did happen as swathes of the United Kingdom were convinced that Ghostwatch was the genuine article. Children, who probably should have been in bed, were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, people called the number on screen in their droves and the BBC complaints department were kept very busy.

Ghostwatch is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The X-Files
Ghost In The Machine (1993)

It’s strange that for all the supernatural-themed episodes that The X-Files gave us, the only one that takes place at Halloween is the techno-thriller Ghost In The Machine and as such the ghost in question is technological rather than paranormal. The end results, however are much the same.

While the offices of the FBI are brimming with Halloween candy, a computer that regulates systems within a corporate building achieves sentiency and turns to murder. The artificial intelligence kills two people and makes attempts on the lives of Mulder and Scully. Ultimately, a computer virus programmed by the machine’s creator proves to be its undoing.

SeaQuest DSV
Knights Of Shadows (1993)

The deep submergence vehicle discovers the sunken wreck of the R.M.S. King George on the sea floor. The ship has been missing for 105 years, yet the lights are still on and there are improbably huge air pockets. Braving nitrogen narcosis, the seaQuest crew board the ship. They encounter bleeding doors with flaming handles, more skeletons than the ship’s manifest can account for and one of the crew becomes possessed.

The supernatural elements are not nearly as interesting as the more mundane ones. One of the 21st-century sailors takes comfort in naval superstitions. As soon as the ghost ship is sighted, he is spitting on the deck for good luck and pouring salt on the threshold to ward off evil spirits. All in all Knights of Shadows seems like quite a daft ghost story, but the question it poses is: is any of it real, or is it all some sort of bends-related shared hallucination?

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer
Halloween (1997)

Contrary to what you might expect, Halloween is apparently the one night of the year that vampires avoid. The Scooby Gang make plans to enjoy themselves on what Buffy defines as “come as you aren’t night.” However, this being Sunnydale the streets still aren’t safe. A costumier moonlighting as a warlock casts a spell that makes everyone become whatever it is that they are dressed up as. He calls it “the very embodiment of be careful what you wish for.”

The spell turns Buffy, Xander and Willow into a helpless fainting 18th-century lady, a marine and an insubstantial ghost respectively. They are out trick or treating with a group of children, some of whom change into little monsters. Willow is the only one who retains her memory and she spends the night trying to keep her friends both together and alive.

Defying convention, Big Bad Spike is stalking the streets looking for a neutered Buffy and an easy kill. Just as he is about to end her, Giles breaks the spell and everyone reverts to normal, including the slayer who kicks Spike’s arse.

The Curse of Frank Black (1997)

Frank Black tries to enjoy Halloween. He goes trick or treating door to door with his daughter but tastefully shot black-and-white flashbacks to his past keep interrupting him. The first flashback sees a trick or treating Black as a child confidently informing a World War II veteran named Crocell that ghosts don’t exist. Another flashback, from a few years later has Crocell committing suicide and Black’s gift for seeing things from the killer’s perspective is born.

He is subconsciously and repeatedly led to the Bible verse: “why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” He encounters the ghost of Crocell, presumably shaking his youthful assertions on the subject, who attempts to persuade Black to give up on the Millennium Group.

Broadcast on Halloween night itself, the episode features many of the more benign features of Halloween, but all are twisted into something more sinister. It begins with the most graphic pumpkin carving ever filmed. When Black discovers teenagers telling ghost stories about him in the basement of his old house, he sneaks up on them in the dark and his sudden appearance scares the bejeesus out of them. He then throws eggs at his own home in a move that makes him seem unhinged. The episode takes a minimalist approach to its scares. There is barely any music and far less dialogue than usual. Lance Henriksen’s performance is much scarier than any of the ghosts or demons on offer here. Halloween is sometimes scarier for those that aren’t observing it.

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer
Fear Itself (1999)

“Creatures of the night shy away from Halloween, they find it all much too crass” says Giles and he’s wrong again. Take one mystical symbol and add a few drops of werewolf blood and suddenly a college frat party has accidentally summoned a fear demon.

Buffy and her friends attend the party in costume. Buffy as Little Red Riding Hood, Xander as James Bond and Willow as Joan of Arc, but the real contenders for the best costume prizes go to Oz for his God namebadge sticker, Anya for her bunny outfit and Giles in a massive sombrero.

This time, however, everything but the costumes change. The plastic skeletons, rubber bats and the peeled grapes posing as eyeballs are all replaced by the genuine article. The partygoer’s fears themselves become real: Buffy ends up alone with only monsters for company, as a result of feeling ignored Xander’s friends are unable to see or hear him, Willow worries that her spells will be too much for her to handle and Oz fears losing control of the werewolf within and hurting his girlfriend.

Ultimately, the demon is despatched very easily and this causes the immediate effects to subside. What’s really scary about 'Fear Itself' is that while the episode seems fairly trivial, the fears displayed by the characters here will have ramifications for them for the rest of the series.


The Honking (2000)

The Planet Express Crew attend the funeral of Bender’s uncle and the reading of his will. They are forced to spend a night in the family’s castle. This being Futurama there are robot ghosts that try to lure Bender to his death. They fail, but Bender is run over by a were-car and becomes a were-car when a virus was transferred through its “demonic headlights”. Bender is doomed to transform into a murderous automobile at midnight and will reportedly eventually kill his best friend. Fry is offended when Bender attempts to run Leela over instead and then flattered when he finds himself sat inside Bender being choked by the seatbelt.

The only way to free him is to kill the original were-car, which will “beam out the virus's uninstall program, thus ridding you of the curse.” The crew discover that the original were-car is an evil car named Project Satan, built from components of cars owned by Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Ed Begley Jr and Michael Knight. Project Satan is accidentally destroyed and so Bender returns to normal, whilst Fry was in the passenger seat. Somehow, he is unharmed.

As is becoming commonplace on this list, The Honking was produced for Futurama’s second season, but instead opened season three during Halloween week. The concept is obviously bonkers and each development in the plot sees it get stranger and stranger, but the oddest thing about it is that within the context of the episode and the world that Futurama presents us with, all of the events contained here seem fairly plausible.

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer
All The Way 

This year the Scooby Gang takes Halloween far less seriously. This time only Xander, Giles and Anya dress up (as a pirate, a wizard and one of Charlie’s Angels respectively). Willow goes on a big rant about wiccan stereotypes, until a tiny child dressed as a witch asks for something and she immediately about faces to “let's go fill your tummy up with sugary nibblets.” Halloween is really only presented as commercial opportunity and Giles’ Magic Shop is heaving with shoppers keen to prove it.

All The Way sets up an obvious candidate for a villain in Mr Kaltenrach, the weird toy designer with a fondness for big sharp knives, before wrongfooting us and making him the victim. This is a coming-of-age story for Buffy’s sister Dawn. She kisses her first boy and she slays her first vampire on the same night. Unluckily for her they are both one and the same person. Buffy can’t decide whether she’s more disappointed that Dawn was kissing a vampire or that was kissing someone she’s just met.

Look Around You
Ghosts (2002)

“Ghosts. You may know them as ghouls or demons or spirits or spirims or spictrims.”

So begins Look Around You’s module on Ghosts broadcast on October 31, 2002. It’s a relief to see the scientific establishment finally taking ghosts seriously. Where else would we see an experiment conducted under strict laboratory conditions that would conclusively prove that a summoned ghost could drink a glass of orange squash? Elsewhere in the module we learn that ghosts can’t whistle and that ectoplasm takes like pig’s milk. We also visit the Haunted Laboratory and learn that ghosts make terrible lab assistants. All in less than ten minutes.

And remember “in the end you too will die and become a ghost. It may be in 50 years, it may be tomorrow. It may even be today.” Write that down.

Life of the Party (2003)

The Buffyverse continues its biannual Halloween tradition. Angel Investigations has taken over the running of evil extra-dimensional law firm Wolfram & Hart. Morale among the evil employees is at a very low ebb. To combat this, Lorne throws a Halloween party.

In order to be more efficient at work Lorne has his sleep removed, without it his empathic powers start influencing the behaviour of others. He tells Angel and Eve to get a room and they have sex repeatedly. When Lorne tells Fred and Wesley they should be drunker, suddenly they are without having imbibed any more alcohol. After he tells Spike to be more upbeat, he is. He tells Gunn to stake out his territory and he finds himself peeing on everything in the office.

It also manifests itself as a massive lumbering monstrous parody of Lorne which kills a number of partygoers and goes after Angel. Fred returns Lorne’s sleep to him and the monster dissipates just as it is about to kill Angel.

This time the only costume is a demon called Devlin dressing as a “human bean” with an argyle sweater and a mask made of human skin stretched over his own face. Halloween is a different experience for adults.

Halloween Special (2010)

“The problem with Halloween these days is that people treat it like Christmas,” Nurse Kenchington complains as she pushes drawing pins into muffins ready for any unsuspecting trick or treaters that might visit. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith constructed Psychoville’s ‘Halloween’ like a portmanteau film. It’s made up of several vignettes inked by a framing story concerning a TV researcher exploring Ravenhill Hospital as a possible location for Dale Winton's Overnight Ghost Hunt. His guide is a young man still traumatised by his own childhood memories of the institution.

The two swap scary tales featuring familiar characters from Psychoville’s first season: the haunting of Mr Jelly by a pair of trick or treaters, a practice which he does not condone: “all this trick or treat, penny for the guy, Cancer Research. I don’t do any of it. Go and beg somewhere else.” In another, Joy Aston struggles to clean up after her Halloween decoration and the cracks in her marriage are revealed by her inability to comprehend her husband’s elaborate recycling regime. The third sees the blind Mr Lomax get a new pair of eyes, but he sees their former owner’s murder and finds himself involved in a web of intrigue. In the final story, two people who know too much about serial killers than is probably healthy find themselves in a car with a monster who acts like one.

These sequences are told with a hefty dose of unreliable narration, this permits the stories to be turned up-to-eleven. They can flagrantly ignore established continuity and be equally disregarded by subsequent episodes. It also means they can prove fatal for the series’ protagonists. The core of Psychoville’s Halloween is that it is a night with no consequences.

Inside No 9
Dead Line (2018)

Sticking with Pemberton and Shearsmith, Inside No 9 gives us a live Halloween special, but “by the way, it can’t actually be on Halloween night!” It’s a tale of a found mobile phone and a mystery that begins to unfold, but before long ghosts play havoc with the filming and broadcast of the episode. Sound issues and transmission breakdown cause the intended story to be abandoned and the behind-the-scenes drama begins to unfold.

The ghosts take charge and fill the screen with CCTV, elements filmed by the cast and found footage apparently chosen by the ghosts themselves. They reveal that Granada studios is built on a mass grave and that they want to be left alone. To that end they torched the studio in 1984, attempted to kill Bobby Davro in 1992 and successfully murder the cast of Inside No 9, not even the continuity announcer escapes unscathed, with the assisted suicide of Stephanie Cole being particularly shocking.

“Let us be.”

- - -

A confession: when I first watched the Inside No 9 Halloween special, Dead Line, on its initial broadcast and the live episode reached the transmission breakdown I was completely fooled and changed channel. I realised my mistake later while the programme was still being broadcast, but having missed a huge chunk of it, I had to catch up later on the iPlayer, cursing my attention span and feeling as though I had missed out on a real televisual event.

Monday 24 October 2022

Outside In Walks With Fire

I had planned to write extensively about the released and writing of Outside In Walks With Fire, ATB Publishing's tribute to Twin Peaks, which I have an article in. I failed to mark the book's release, so I'm posting about it now.

More details about my article soon. Outside In Walks With Fire is out now and available here.

Monday 17 October 2022

The Many Deaths of Janeway

With the demise of Eaglemoss and the subsequent disappearance of its website, I'm going to start posting my articles for them here. As many of the articles were written to coincide with the dates of particular anniversaries, I'll try to keep to those dates, but the evergreen ones I'll try to post on here regularly.

Here's the first: 

How many times has Janeway 'died'?
(Originally written for Hero Collector, published 18 April 2019

David Black adds up the many times the Voyager captain has met – and survived – her end.

Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager is a woman of great achievements. She has travelled across the Delta Quadrant, made first contact with dozens of new species and hyper-evolved into a salamander. One of the most amazing things about her time aboard Voyager is how often she died and how little it affected her career. Let us count the ways...

Death #1
Time And Again

Cause of Death: Polaric explosion.

While investigating a planet that is the site of a polaric explosion, Janeway and Paris are drawn back in time to the day before the explosion. During a search for evidence of Janeway, Kes, using her newly discovered telepathic abilities, says “She was here. This is where she died.”

Janeway realises the attempts by the Voyager crew to rescue them from the future are the cause of the explosion and prevents her own rescue, which prevents the explosion and therefore she never visits the planet and this renders that timeline redundant.

Death #2

Cause of Death: Explosion when Voyager self-destructs.

As a result of a journey through a plasma drift to avoid a Vidiian ship, all the matter on Voyager is duplicated, including its captain and crew. However, the antimatter remains unaffected and with two ships drawing on it, supplies quickly run low. One duplicate Voyager is badly damaged and suffers losses, the other seems largely unaffected. The undamaged Voyager is boarded by the Vidiians and its Janeway sets her ship to self-destruct and is killed in the resulting explosion and freeing the other to continue the journey home.

Death #3

Cause of Death: Strangulation

Janeway and Chakotay are on a mission in a shuttle when electrical interference forces them to crash on a planet. The captain sustains critical injuries in a shuttle crash, but Chakotay revives her with CPR. They are captured by the Vidiians and Janeway is strangled by a Vidiian in a cave.

Death #4

Cause of Death: Shuttle explosion

Janeway and Chakotay find themselves back aboard the shuttlecraft in space and suspect a time loop, when they are again attacked by the Vidiians. They are both killed when the Vidiians destroy their shuttle.

Death #5

Cause of Death: Asphyxiation

Again, the captain and her first officer are in the shuttle en route to their mission. When the Vidiians show up again, they return to Voyager. Janeway has contracted the Vidiian phage and unable to find a cure, the Doctor uncharacteristically euthanises her with a neural toxin.

Death #6

Cause of Death: Massive cerebro-vascular collapse

Once more, Janeway finds herself on board the shuttle, but only briefly. She has an out-of-body experience as she watches Chakotay perform CPR on her prone form. He is unsuccessful. Janeway wanders Voyager’s corridors like a ghost, while her crew search for her and eventually give up looking. She attends her own memorial. An alien, masquerading as her father’s ghost, is inhabiting her cerebral cortex, attempting to convince her to relinquish her life willingly, but she fights back, denies him sustenance and awakes on the planet.

Death #7
Before & After

Cause of Death: console explosion to the face

An elderly Kes in a state of temporal flux finds herself jumping back in time to earlier points in her life. At one point, she jumps back to the beginning of the “Year of Hell” (see below) and witnesses a Chroniton torpedo hit that causes a bridge console to explode killing both Janeway and Torres. However, what we see here is merely one possible future.

Death #8
Worst Case Scenario

Cause of Death: Phaser malfunction

A holographic tactical-training program concerning a potential Maquis mutiny takes on a life of its own. Tuvok’s program was rewritten by Seska before she left the ship, including a malfunctioning phaser rifle that kills the hologram of Captain Janeway.

Death #9
Year of Hell, Part II

Cause of Death: Explosion

After 257 days of Hell, that have left Voyager beyond repair and the crew forced to abandon ship. Janeway singlehandedly pilots what is left of Voyager during a battle with the Krenim Time Ship. With the weapons unavailable, she rams the other vessel, and the resulting explosion completely destroys it. The captain goes down with the ship. A shockwave erases the Krenim ship and the timeline it created from history.

Death #10

Living Witness

Cause of Death: Unknown

Some seven centuries after his time aboard Voyager, the Doctor’s back-up module has been discovered by archaeologists. He is reactivated in the Museum of Kyrian Heritage. Accused of war crimes and the Doctor is forced to defend his crew’s reputation for their role in the conflict between the Kyrians and the Vaskans. Either way, after seven hundred years Janeway is presumably pushing up daisies. As the Doctor himself puts it “Somewhere, halfway across the galaxy, I hope, Captain Janeway is spinning in her grave!”

Death #11


Cause of Death: injuries sustained in a crash landing

In an effort to get home quicker, Paris and Kim create a quantum slipstream drive. On its maiden flight, the Delta Flyer piloted Chakotay and Kim makes it all the way home, but Voyager is pushed out of the slipstream and crash lands on a frozen planet killing everyone aboard.

Fifteen years later, Chakotay and Kim return to the crash site to discover their dead crew mates, including the captain, frozen solid. With the help of the Doctor and Seven of Nine’s corpse they manage to send a different course correction back in time which collapses the slipstream and saves Voyager.

Death #12

Course: Oblivion

Cause of Death: Acute cellular degradation

Radiation from an enhanced warp drive employed by a bio-mimetic duplicate of Voyager causes a loss of cohesion. Captain Janeway’s duplicate dies on the bridge and her ship and crew are not far behind her. The real Kathryn Janeway is completely unaware of their sacrifice.

Death #13


Cause of Death: Explosion

The USS Voyager is destroyed by a temporal disruptor while Janeway is on the bridge, however Seven of Nine and Janeway are recruited by a Starfleet ship from five hundred years in their future to prevent the device being planted in the first place. They successfully apprehend the saboteur and the events of this alternate timeline never come to pass.

Death #14

Barge of the Dead

Cause of Death: stab wound to the neck

The entire senior staff are massacred by a couple of Klingon warriors. Captain Janeway is cruelly, and dishonourably, cut down from behind whilst making a speech paying tribute to the achievements of the Klingon Empire. It’s all in B'Elanna's dream and so Janeway lives to fight another day.

Death #15

Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

Cause of Death: console explosion

In the very next episode, another crewmember fantasises about Janeway’s death. It would be hard not to take that personally. The Doctor daydreams that he takes over control of the ship and to do that requires the captain to be out of the way. During one of his flights of fancy the Borg attack and one of the bridge consoles explodes killing Janeway, but once again it’s only a dream.

Death #16


Cause of Death: Unknown

When a spatial rift causes time aboard to become fractured, Janeway and Chakotay meet by a Naomi Wildman and Icheb from an alternative future. They are told that they died seventeen years earlier, but they are given no details about how they met their demises. Janeway, Chakotay and their crew are reunited from across various time periods and successfully bring the ship back into sync. This renders the alternative timeline potentially null and void.

Death #17


Cause of Death: neurolytic pathogen

Captain Janeway encounters an Admiral Janeway from 26 years into her personal future. The captain injects her future self with a neurolytic pathogen, with her permission, and the admiral allows herself to be assimilated by the Borg Queen. The pathogen infects the wider Borg Collective and they fail to prevent Voyager arriving home via a Borg transwarp hub out of the ashes of a Borg shipwreck. Captain Janeway gets her crew home early and that changes the timeline, so the future that Admiral Janeway came from may not come to pass.

There you have it, Janeway has cheated death on no less then 17 occasions. If you hope to learn from her example and you find yourself in a potentially fatal situation, ideally make sure it is an alternate future you that dies instead, or it’s a dream, or maybe reveal you were a hologram all along, then you’ll be fine.

- - -

I knew that Eaglemoss were releasing a bust of Captain Janeway, so I pitched this in the hope that they wanted an article to tie into it. 

Originally entitled The Many Deaths of Kathryn Janeway, my pitch read: Captain Janeway holds the record for being the character most often killed in all of Star Trek, no less than seventeen times. This article details each and every time she kicks the bucket and how she manages to carry on regardless.

At the time, I had completely forgotten that Harry Mudd had killed the crew of the USS Discovery in Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad no less than 56 times, and when I remembered, after this article was commissioned, I neglected to point it out to the editor.

This was the second article that I wrote for Hero Collector, but it was published third, possibly due to the release date of the bust. Oddly, this meant it appeared on the website just before Easter, which could have seemed a little controversial.

When I wrote this, it seemed pretty unlikely that we would ever see Janeway again, but the fortunes of the Star Trek franchise have changed significantly and now she has featuring been given a new lease of life in Star Trek: Prodigy, and could also return in Picard, Lower Decks or another as-yet-unannounced Star Trek series, therefore there could be another chance for her to die (and probably survive it) in her future...

Friday 30 September 2022

Carruthers Ten Years On: September 2012

September 2012 was when I finally lost interest in the Carruthers blog. The Riddle Of The Sands came to its natural conclusion and I managed a couple of posts using photos that I took like in the old days: Snake Bake and Charge!, neither of which were particularly impressive. I clearly intended to do more and something got in the way.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Phil Reed

My friend, Phil Reed, is dead and the planet is poorer for it.

He was one of the wittiest people that I’ve ever encountered, so supportive of anything that I did and I can't quite believe that he's gone.

 We bonded over a mutual love of Red Dwarf and Alan Partridge. We never met in person, but emailed each other almost weekly. From thousands of miles apart, we plotted a podcast that neither of us knew how to record, an epistolary novel that we convinced ourselves already existed somewhere and a series of books about underrated art which failed to set Kickstarter alight. I was never disappointed when these things didn’t come to fruition, because there would always be another idea. Until now.

Phil was so modest and interested in people. He used his corner of the internet to review geeky independent publications and interviewed those striving to make their own work, alongside more mainstream fare. He was also incredibly talented, but please don’t just take my word for it. His website is a treasure trove of the best literary criticism that the internet has to offer.

We can all react to a piece of art, but far fewer of us can create another in response to it. Phil elevated criticism. When he wrote about Alf with the same integrity and intention as he did Breaking Bad. I initially thought it was a one off joke, but when he went on to write hundreds of articles about the alien puppet, each funnier than the last and far better than the source material, it became apparent that Phil didn’t just see Alf as a trivial TV footnote, but as a wasted opportunity.

Phil's articles would make you think. He always had an angle that I had never considered, even on a text that I was very familiar with. I didn't agree with him about Alien³, but I really had to think about why. His Fiction Into Film articles on film adaptations and those on the films of Wes Anderson are frankly peerless. He wrote extensively and enthusiastically about computer games that meant nothing to me and I was gratified when Triple Jump hired him to write for them on the subject.

I wrote a handful of articles for his website. I still owe him one about Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. The sense of guilt I feel about that is utterly pointless and yet punishing.

I proofread one of his novels. It was so good. It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege. I presume that the final text is languishing on a hard drive somewhere and I find myself thinking about John Kennedy Toole’s mother.

Over the years he had expressed an interest in coming to the UK, sometimes to visit, sometimes permanently. In recent weeks this had stepped up a gear and I had been researching visas. The reversal of Roe vs Wade had been a turning point for him and although I knew that the grass wasn’t really any greener here, I wanted to help him in any way I could. I knew he was fragile when we talked over zoom and I didn’t imagine he could outrun what was worrying him, but I confess that I thought if he was here the novelty might be a welcome distraction and arrogantly I thought I could help better in person.

 I’m trying to take solace from the fact that in some way this is what he wanted, but it’s much easier said than done. It’s fitting I suppose that someone who lived so much of his life online, would post his suicide note there, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read.

I will miss him.