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The Fannish Life: My Favorite Villain

Ann Morris tells you what villains haunt her dreams

If you haven’t seen the "Doctor Who" episodes that feature the new villains in town, the Silence, you might be a bit lost. But I think you can catch up without running to Wikipedia.

Of course, if you like running to Wikipedia, please do so.

The other night, I dreamed that I was having dinner in a restaurant with someone and suddenly I saw one of the Silence from "Doctor Who" standing by the table. I started yelling at it that I could see it, could hear it and could remember it. Apparently, I was making such a fuss in my dream that I vocalized in reality too. My husband woke me and told me I was having a bad dream. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed more of the same.

You might conclude that I have too much of The Doctor on the brain or that the Silence really creep me out. It is highly likely that both things are true. Or maybe not.

The Silence are truly eerie and, to me, more scary than even than the Weeping Angels from the episode "Blink." They remind me of something I read in a book by Carlos Castaneda, lo those many years ago when I was young. He wrote about trying to see the things that exist just beyond the corner of your eye. These things were there but you had to work to see them and then, you might not realize when you had seen them. Kind of sounds like the Silence to me.

There’s something really frightening about a creature that is watching, watching, watching you but whom you cannot see. It puts you on edge. It’s like walking down a dark street alone and feeling you must constantly look back over your shoulder to be sure nobody is creeping up on you. Steven Moffat played upon our primal fear when he created the Silence.

When I first saw them, I didn’t immediately pick up on this but after seeing them a few times; I realized that their appearance is as threatening as the idea of them. Think about the pictures you see of what is commonly called the gray alien, with its bulbous head, pointed chin, large dark eyes, and small –- or no -- mouth. Now, think about what the Silence look like. Creepy, huh?

It gets even creepier when you think about the implications of them wearing the same kind of black suits as Men in Black.

Oh, yeah, Mr. Moffat knew what he was doing.

Fans may argue about who the most frightening villains in "Doctor Who" are but I can’t think of any that come close to the Silence. Daleks are just funny. Cybermen are no more scary than my cell phone and the Master is just this guy, you know.

Recently, I was on a panel Necronomicon -- a Florida science-fiction convention that was an unabashed "Doctor Who" love fest. The panelists and the audience dished about all of our favorite things about the show. When asked the question about which villains were the baddest bad guys of all, three out of the four panelists named the Silence. The audience seemed mostly to agree.

It may be unfair to pit villains created for a show that was in its former incarnations more for children than adults with the villains of the show as it is today. The villains that the doctors faced before the ninth Doctor came along had to be more straightforwardly evil because the target audience had to be able to understand them.

If you talk with people who were children when the original "Doctor Who" was on, they tell you that the Daleks struck great fear into their hearts. They often could be found hiding behind the sofa, taking peeks at the television screen, afraid that the Daleks might see them and find them if they came around to sit in front of the screen.

The return of The Doctor, after a long absence, was aimed at a basically adult audience with the ability to take in subtle undertones and not be sent behind the sofa by villains such as the Silence.

Because I was an adult when I saw the original series, I found the villains rather simplistic and I’m inclined to like the newer ones best. The ninth, 10th and 11th Doctors have had some amazing adventures and dealt with some tremendously scary things but, for me, the Silence just can’t be beat.

Hmm … maybe I do see why I dreamed about them the other night.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Flying Spaghetti Monster December!

About the Author

Ann Morris imagined visiting other worlds and dimensions in her childhood play but didn't 'officially' begin living a fannish life till the early 1970s when she was a founding member of the Stone Hill Science Fiction Association in 1979 and remains active to this day. She lives in Plant City, Fla., where she writes from her geekosphere.
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