Fearsome Critters – Toren’s Guide to Everything Podcast Episode 8

Around 1900 there was a tradition among lumberjacks in North America to ascribe mysterious noises and happenings to a growing menagerie of fabulous beasts that became known as ‘fearsome critters.’ If there was a strange noise in the woods, it was attributed to the treesqueak. If a windstorm knocked down a tree, it was the splinter cat. If a ‘punky’ branch fell on or near a lumberjack, it was the agropelter. In episode 8 of Toren’s Guide to Everything I go into great detail about these and many more folklore cryptids.

Listen to the podcast:


Post-Apocalyptic Miniature Crafting Stuff

for Ruin Nation: Survivors in the Wasteland

Ya Got Stabbed! A Ruin Nation Interactive Fiction Game


I created this game in early 2020 as part of a community project organized by The Papercut Arcade, using Twine, a free and open-source tool for making interactive fiction in the form of web pages. Originally I was going to create a Spaceship Zero game but decided to go with one based on my post-apoc Mutilator tabletop roleplaying game. This had the added benefit of spurring me to create more artwork to use in both Mutilator and the interactive fiction game Ya Got Stabbed!

Stranger from “Ya Got Stabbed!” Interactive Fiction Game by Toren Atkinson

My methodology for creating the game was just to start doing it. This diving in method would help me learn the Twine tool in a trial-by-fire kind of way. It was a fun-tastic learning experience and what I would change if I had to do it all over was to plan it out better. I would also go to the next step of making a custom interface rather than just the blue text on black background that is the twine default.

I came to know the stranger in the game well enough that I decided to make a 3D print on Heroforge.

Click the link above to play the game.

Writing by me, artwork by me, voiceover by me. Thanks to Kay Slater, Carl Upsdell, Thomas Falk and all the other playtesters

Below are some of the new drawings I made for the game. SPOILER ALERT!

Let’s Talk About the Rights of Composite Beings

Although a few years back on my blog I had rated and given snarky mini-reviews of the complete Voyager series, there were a few episodes outstanding that I needed to finish up. One of those episodes was from the second season: “Tuvix.”

This episode deals with another transporter accident (*sigh*), this one involving Tuvok and Neelix, and a symbiogenetic orchid that fuses their DNA while in flux during transport. This doesn’t explain how their two uniforms are fused during transport, but let’s not dwell on minutia.

While the Doctor is working on a way to undo this process, the fused being – Tuvix – lives his life as a crewmember over the course of several weeks, and his crewmates (Janeway and Kes, primarily) try to come to terms with the whole situation.  When the “cure” is found, Tuvix refuses to submit to the procedure, stating that he “does not want to die.” After hemming and hawing, Janeway forces him to undergo the transport procedure which which ends the existence of Tuvix but restores Tuvok and Neelix.

This is an interesting episode not only for the concept but the way the writers handle Janeway and the crew. Throughout the episode we’re meant to sympathize both with Tuvix and with Kes. Without Neelix, Kes lost her loved one. Without Tuvok, his wife and children will never have a chance to be reunited with their husband/father (not that we as an audience have much investment in that, but it’s a point well made by Janeway).

Tuvix is portrayed as his own man, and it’s showcased how well he integrates into the ship (problem solving faster than Tuvik, cooking better than Neelix)

For much of the episode, Kes is understandably weirded out by Tuvix’s overtures toward her, and she distances herself from him until the last act when she reaches out to him and invites their friendship to grow. This is of course the point where the Doctor announces he’s found a way to restore Tuvok and Neelix, so we can never see the Tuvix/Kes friendship grow. When Tuvix refuses the ‘treatment’, Janeway transforms into stern executioner, complete with a scene where Tuvix is frogmarched down a corridor complete with military snare drum marching soundtrack. 

Since Voyager is an episodic show (right?) we of course have to end this episode where we began. But I can’t help wondering, what if…

What if it went for an entire season with Tuvix as part of the crew, and the crew and audience had more time to adjust. The episode focuses so much on Kes, Tuvix and Janeway that we don’t get any input from the other crew. In fact they’re just as cold to Tuvix when he is pleading for his life on the bridge. As Janeway stated in the episode, “if we had a way to separate him as soon as the merging accident happened, I wouldn’t have hesitated” — with even more time to accept Tuvix among the crew, would Janeway have honored Tuvix’ wishes when the separation option became available?

What if Tuvix had resigned as a Starfleet officer? Would Janeway still have marched him to sick bay for the procedure against his will? 

What if the merging of two crewpersons involved different genders? What if Neelix and B’elanna became B’elannix? 

It may not be accurate to say that Tuvok and Neelix died during the initial transporter accident, because in a way their memories and personalities both live on in Tuvix. But certainly as individuals they ceased to exist. And it wasn’t anyone’s fault. So does Janeway or anyone else have the right to force someone to ‘die’ (or become undone) so that two other people can be ‘resurrected?’  If Tuvix is both Neelix and Tuvok in one, then does that count as two votes? 

My take is that Janeway was wrong to force Tuvix to be separated against his will. And worse than that I think this was one of many missed opportunities this series could have made to grow and better itself. Imagine if Tuvix remained even though the procedure existed for him/them to be separated at any time. And then perhaps over the course of a season his personalities started to fight with one another, or his cells began to break down, or he started to turn into an orchid creature (sounds like something Voyager would do)… and so after coming to terms with Tuvix, now they have to come to terms with losing him, and then Tuvok and Neelix come back onto the show and they have to deal with all the fallout. I feel like this would be just as dramatic – even more so – than Janeway making the call to end Tuvix’s existence. 

But I think we all know that the only reason Tuvix died was because Voyager was episodic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against episodic at all. Discovery & Picard made me pine for it.

How to Watch Classic Doctor Who

This is your guide to what episodes to watch during the first 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989, featuring the first seven Doctors.

(In Progress)

For the first two seasons of Doctor Who and most of the third (1963–1966), each episode carries its own title. At story #26 “The Savages” episodes are simply listed as Part 1, Part 2…etc.

Episodes are about 25 minutes.

Due to the BBC’s 1970s junking policy, 97 episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s are no longer known to exist. As a result, 26 serials are currently incomplete, with one or more episodes represented only by audio and, in many cases, clips or still frames. For commercial release, some episodes have been reconstructed using off-air audio recordings, paired to surviving visuals or newly commissioned animation.

FIRST DOCTOR: Crotchety curmudgeon William Hartnell

Years: 1963-1966
Number of Seasons: 3ish
Theme: A lot of visiting Earth history
Best companions: Susan, Barbara and Ian
What to watch:

Story #1 “An Unearthly Child.” Four episodes
Story #2 “The Daleks.” Seven episodes. First appearance of the Daleks.:

Story #9 “Planet of Giants.” Three episodes

Story # 29 “The 10th Planet.” Four episodes. First appearance of the Cybermen. Final appearance of the first Doctor

SECOND DOCTOR: “Space hobo” Patrick Troughton

Years: 1966-1969
Number of Seasons: 3
Theme: more space, more action
Best companion: Jamie
What to watch:

Story #30 “The Power of the Daleks.” The originals are lost, there is an animated version (more like a motion comic). The Doctor regenerates for the first time.


Story #38 “The Abominable Snowmen.” Six episodes.
Story #41 “The Web of Fear” Six episodes. Introduces Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart

Story #46 “The Invasion.” Eight episodes. Introduces U.N.I.T.

THIRD DOCTOR: Aristocratic secret agent John Pertwee – IN COLOR!

Years: 1970-1974
Number of Seasons: 5
Theme: Earthbound James Bond vs Aliens
Best companion: Sarah Jane Smith
What to watch:

Story #51 “Spearhead from Space.” Get to know the new Doctor. (4 eps)

The Master

Story #55 “Terror of the Autons.” The first appearance of The Master (4 eps)

Story #65 “The Three Doctors.” The three incarnations of the Doctor (so far) reunite to thwart the revenge-seeking Omega. (4 eps)

Story #70 “The Time Warrior” Introduces Sarah Jane Smith and the Sontaran race (4 eps)

FOURTH DOCTOR: Whimsical and warm Tom Baker

Years: 1974-1981
Number of Seasons: 7
Theme: Gothic horror
Best companion: Romana
What to watch:

Story #76 “The Ark in Space.” (4 eps) – Alien before the movie Alien.
Story #78 “Genesis of the Daleks”