‘Doctor Who’ fans gather at local shop for science fiction event

By Jen Weddle

Girls are making strides in proving their rightful place in science fiction fandom.

Babs & Coco’s Tea Emporium, 818 W. Lincoln Highway, hosted Tea in the TARDIS on Sunday. The emporium was filled with Doctor Who fans donning TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) T-shirts. The TARDIS is a spaceship driven by Doctor Who, a time-traveling alien who saves different species from extinction.

These fans eagerly listened as Lynne M. Thomas, curator of rare books and special collections at the NIU Founders Memorial Library and co-editor of Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, spoke about the book and her involvement in Doctor Who fandom. Thomas won a 2011 Hugo Award for her work on Chicks Dig Time Lords, and she won her second Hugo last month for her involvement in SF Squeecast, a collaborative monthly science fiction podcast, and Chicks Dig Time Lords.

Before the event began, Thomas and attendees discussed the current and classic Doctor Who series and their excitement for upcoming conventions. Thomas told the crowd she wore her convention-famous Chicks Dig Time Lords T-shirt, the shirt that started the book, so she could be easily identified.

A true fan of the series, Thomas has been to the Chicago TARDIS convention every year since she entered Doctor Who fandom in 2001. She said Chicago TARDIS is just like home to her and her family attends every year during the Thanksgiving weekend.

“It’s moved to the middle of the mall this year, so now I can get my Black Friday shopping done, too,” Thomas said.

Trying to explain the show to someone outside of the fandom can be difficult. Words like “time-traveling police box” and “British science fiction” arise, and people may not understand a fan’s love for Doctor Who. “It has an overwhelming attempt to be positive, and it’s unabashedly silly,” Thomas said. “The point that the show wants to make is that we’re all here to make things better.”

Not everyone who attended the event was a fan of the Doctor Who series.

“I’m a huge supporter of the Tea Emporium,” said senior communications major Sarah Chung. “I drink a lot of tea, and the atmosphere is wonderful. I’ve been surrounded by Doctor Who my whole life, but I came to this event as an introduction into the series.”

The point of Chicks Dig Time Lords is to say female fans of the series have been present the whole time, especially female fans from the U.K., where the fandom is predominantly made of males.

Thomas also helped edit Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them and Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them. She also recommended the second installment to Chicks Dig Time Lords, called Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey through Every Season of Doctor Who.