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Genesis of the Daleks

Genesis of the Daleks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once, as a boy barely in middle school (when it was called junior high school in the late 1970s), I had a plan to take over the world. It wasn’t a very good plan, and the details were fuzzy and a little silly, but it was my plan and a useful thought experiment.

It went kind of like this:

Step one: Wait until I’m older, so people will take my Ebil Ultimatum™ seriously. No would-be world-beater wants to have their demands for appointment to Planetary Dictator for Life dismissed and laughed at because they’re barely into their teens. It’s also difficult at that age to acquire slavish minions to do one’s bidding for the same reason.

Step two: Get access to nuclear missiles, direct or indirect, preferably ICBMs housed in a mobile platform, like a nuclear submarine. It doesn’t matter how, or with what assistance I get access, as long as I have full control over if, when, and where the missiles are launched.

Step three: Make my demands for global surrender to the world’s governments once access to and control of the missiles is cemented. Tell them I’ll launch the warheads, not at cities, since that would be destroying the population to be ruled over which defeats the purpose of world domination, but at geological fault sites across the planet, possibly triggering earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which while disastrous, would have the benefit of destroying structures at vulnerable spots without a lot of collateral damage from direct explosions in densely populated areas like cities.

Step four: Stage demonstration with one or two missiles at a prominently visible but less populated area (that would have been tricky, and would have required the region be both less well-traveled and easily seen by the technology of the time, like satellite surveillance. This would have the effect of maximizing the number of people left to rule

Peacekeeper missile after silo launch, Vandenb...

Peacekeeper missile after silo launch, Vandenberg AFB, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

over, while showing that I meant business.

There’s another element I left out at the time, before step two: Being a ruthless but pragmatic evil bastard. Unfortunately, to paraphrase what Davros once said accusingly to the Fourth Doctor in “Genesis of the Daleks,” I’m “afflicted with a conscience.” Big handicap there. Which leaves:

Step five: Repeat stage four as needed. Then wait for the world’s leaders to capitulate to my demands. Next was kind of tricky, assuming they didn’t send a special forces team to assassinate me for the threat I posed…

Stage six: Organize the world’s governments to my liking. Needless to say, this was the sketchiest, though I was going to organize along military lines, but I had absolutely no clue how to do that. They didn’t have world dictator civics classes in the schools at the time, and I don’t think that’s changed since then.

This was all well and good, but while silly, led to one of my most enduring fictional characters: An evil mutant guy with the silly name of Kestalus Magnus, who with considerable time has moved out of the pseudo-Galactic Roman empire and morphed into my wandering destroyer the Mirus.

Times have changed. Characters have been re-imagined. But if it hadn’t been for a potentially fruitless exercise of thought (the plan wouldn’t have a chance in today’s world, even at my current age), I’d have never set in motion the creation of the best, and the worst, characters of my own, and cultivated an interest in science fiction and science that lasts to this day.

ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile) Comp...

ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile) Comparison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The imagination is a tool. Use it as needed. Even if you can’t see the destination at first, it will take you far once you travel the distance, though the road may be very bumpy.

doctor who logo 2010-

Image via Wikipedia

As a long-time fan of the Doc, having begun watching during the 1970s with Tom Baker‘s brilliantly reimagined 4th Doctor, it seems that from the beginning, Gallifrey‘s prodigal son has had a liking for humans.

Arguably the least significant species in the universe and with no cool powers of our own, possessing technology often poorly matched with that of other species, like the Doctor’s friendly little pals the Daleks, and his own species, the Time Lords, humans often get put on the galactic endangered species list with frightening regularity.

Nonetheless, the Doctor, even at his most grim, like his 5th and 9th incarnations, has a soft spot for us ‘stupid apes,’ and has often expressed a belief that humans are potentially the greatest force for both good and evil in the entire universe, that we as a species are capable of fantastic achievements.

Now, having access to virtually all of time and space, the Doc seems to have a point, since he’s been to worlds where humans are almost extinct and also journeyed to periods of thriving galactic human empires.

He’s seen firsthand what humans are capable of, from our very worst to our most brilliant best…

I enjoy the series tremendously, and while it’s sometimes campy and often ridiculous, well, it’s meant to be. Never mind the frequent use of rubber-suited actors as aliens, or the current use of humanoid CGI aliens, after all, DW has a tradition to uphold…

…a tradition going all the way back to the original series in the 1960s with William Hartnell as the title character.

My personal fav is Chris Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, one of the more dark and brooding versions I’ve seen, the revenge-consumed tragic warrior, and Eccleston was a good choice for the role when the BBC decided to revive the series since its cancellation in 1989.

Doctor Who has always, considering it’s use of contemporary culture as an element in the series, drawn upon much of what it is to be human.

Even when the nonhuman status of the lead character is sometimes thrown into sharp relief, like with Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, and shows more of the alien in his nature, this serves if anything to celebrate the humanity, and show us, as viewers, just what we may achieve, at least in fiction.

It shows a hint of the greatness we can accomplish in the here and now, or even the near future. That is, the great things in store for us if we don’t kill ourselves off first.


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