Before I get to the critical analysis of the ending, which I consider problematic, (although others disagree) let me just take a moment to say ‘Wow!’ Overall I loved it. Actors David Tennant and Matt Smith were in top form, and their characters played off one another well, sometimes arguing, sometimes working in perfect synchronicity. The episode offered a ton of little in-jokes and payoffs for diehard Whovians–we finally find out what happened between the tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I. There was a lovely, convoluted, timey-wimey plot with a healthy dose of Doctor angst revolving around his role in the end of the Time Wars.
Which leads me to the big problem I had with the movie. (and before anyone starts screaming, I’m not negating the achievement of the episode, or the joy and wonder and genuine awesomeness that is Doctor Who.) But a lot of what I loved about the new Who, and what sets in apart from classic Who (which I love for a different set of reasons) is the underlying edginess that comes from a Doctor haunted by his past. He’s still dancing through the universe merrily saving planets and civilizations with a minimum of bloodshed. But now there’s a sense of what he’s capable of if pushed. And there’s a shadow of grief and guilt and loneliness under the happy-go-lucky. Marshmallow fluff with a core of black iron.
Writer me was in awe. Good writing teachers tell you to find the thing that’s worse than death for your protagonist and make him or her face it. To give your protagonist an impossible choice where anything he does, including doing nothing, has unbearable consequences. Setting up opposed-to-violence, every-species-has-a-right-to-live Doctor with a scenario where he has to utterly obliterate the Daleks and his own people, or else let them destroy the universe with the war between them, to make him violate everything essential to his core personality or let billions and billions suffer and die through his inaction– wow. Just, wow. I bow before my masters.
At least, I bowed before my masters before they took a sledgehammer to their own work. Giving the Doctor an easy out, letting him go back and rewrite his own history so he doesn’t have to destroy his own people, feels to me as lame as the ‘it was all just a dream’ device clumsy beginning writers use.
And that’s quite apart from the issue of crossing one’s own timeline. Which has been winked at before, I know. But this isn’t asking the viewer to wink. It’s asking the viewer to put out both eyes with a hot poker. Which I could still forgive in favor of a greater narrative good, but this is not a greater good.
Yes, OK, they tried to salvage it by saying that the ninth and tenth Doctors will still remember having destroyed Gallifrey, even if it now no longer actually happened, but to me it feels hollow. It feels too much like what writing teacher (and NY-Times bestselling author) David Farland cautions against. Victory with little or no real cost. The Doctor no longer had to choose between two horrible outcomes. Now he just gets to pull a happy ending out of a hat like he does in in so many other episodes.
So, still loved the movie/episode. Still glad I went to see it in 3-D. But I felt they missed an opportunity to take it from good to beyond amazing. Imagine the emotional impact if the Doctor, after struggling to change things, after thinking he’d found a way– is again faced with the same dilemma, having to make the choice anew to destroy two species, his own included, in order to save the universe. Chills run down my spine.
Um, Samhain-kitty just reminded me I should probably let you know I wrote an honest-to-goodness blog. (Shut up, Samhain, it isn’t *that* rare.) It’s over at Here Be Magic: http://herebemagic.blogspot.com/2013/11/ravens-evermore-ravens-in-fact-fiction.html
OK, so I was going to do the long, obligatory con report, but then I figured, no. Most of my readers know about cons. (For those of you who don’t, short version, cons are fun and full of cool people. Go to one.)
Instead, I thought I’d share with you the 2.5 things I learned at Orycon this year.
1) BBC did not deliberately destroy the film for the lost early episodes of classic Doctor Who. They were stored in the same room as old newsreels legitimately slated to be recycled, and unfortunately there was a mix-up.
Not that it makes the lost episodes any less lost, but at least I feel better knowing that they weren’t lost due to deliberate disregard for one of the best TV shows in existence.
2) Someone has managed to create an actual sonic screwdriver. It is reportedly ear-shatteringly loud and only works in one direction, but yes, it is possible to drive a screw into a hole using only sound vibrations.
Which leads to 2.5), an extrapolation from 2): At least one Doctor Who fan has entirely too much time on his hands.
Just as a final Orycon note: I only day-tripped this year. I was gone for less than 24 hours. Sheesh. Pay no attention to Samhain-kitty’s claims of neglect and abandonment.
Ravensblood was launched on Halloween, and readers are already asking about the sequel! (In about a year, if all goes to plan.
This is an indie release, so word-of-mouth is especially important. Please tweet, mention on Facebook. review on Goodreads and Amazon! Your support is always appreciated.
A real blog will come soon, I promise. As soon as my brain recovers from book launch. Or whenever Samhain-kitty gets at the computer again.
Too busy trying to get Ravensblood out to do a real blog. But I just wanted to share my excitement. The Stolen Luck is a finalist for the Epic E Book Awards!
OK, Samhain-kitty wanted me to give away something in her honor, since her day is coming up. (Actually, I think she’s just worried that the Halloween release date for Ravensblood will steal her thunder.)
So here’s a fun little Halloween story to get everyone in the spirit of the season:
Of all the places to break down, The Bitch had to pick a lonely road across the field from an ancient pagan tomb. Danny wasn’t a superstitious bloke, but sitting in a dead truck by the side of this particular road in the dark of All Hallow’s eve gave him the willies. Across the empty fields the garish artificial lights they’d put up at Newgrange shone out in the darkness. And there was Newgrange herself, hulking in the shadow, pregnant with mystery.
Of course, his Gran always insisted that Newgrange wasn’t a tomb, even if archeologists found cremated remains inside.
“They buried people in St. Patrick’s cathedral, too,” she always argued. “Folks aren’t calling that a tomb, now, are they?”
Just what Gran thought Newgrange was, she’d never said. Likely it wasn’t something he’d want to know, out here alone on the night when ‘the veil between the worlds grows thin’.
Come to think of it, an ancient tomb was bad enough.
None of this was getting The Bitch moving. Cathy was waiting, and Danny was already running late. He could picture Cathy now, checking her watch, her pretty mouth turned down into a frown. Of course, his cell phone was dead and the cigarette lighter and the car charger weren’t on speaking terms tonight.
He cursed the truck soundly and hit the steering wheel a few times for emphasis.
Not that The Bitch would care, but it made him feel better.
Danny grabbed the electric torch from the glove compartment— The Bitch had taught him the virtue of being prepared. Hopefully, this wasn’t going to be one of those nights where she also instilled the virtue of long walks. Cathy wouldn’t forgive him if he stood her up for her brother’s Halloween party. Not after he missed her parent’s anniversary dinner last month when the rear differential went spare.
“Damn, you, Bitch, are you trying to break us up?”
Then again, maybe she was. He’d bought The Bitch from a friend of his Gran’s, and Gran didn’t care for Cathy.
The thing was, Danny did care for her. A lot. Cathy had every reason to be impatient with his unreliability. The cold shoulder Gran had giver her when he’d brought her by for tea hadn’t helped.
Still muttering a string of words that Gran would not approve of, Danny got out of the truck and zipped his jacket against the misting rain. Then he popped the hood and played the light around the truck’s cavernous engine compartment to see what he could see.
Danny was a pretty fair mechanic, but what The Bitch needed was an exorcist.
The distant hum of a motor broke the silence. Danny looked up. A single headlamp, a pinprick of light growing larger as it approached.
Oh, please, be a Good Samaritan and not a hooligan.
The motorcycle slowed on approach, then came to a stop behind The Bitch. Its rider was clearly dressed for the evening’s festivities, and Danny had to smile at the image of a faun on a motorbike. Really, the bloke should be wearing a helmet, though he supposed it’d ruin the elaborate, shaggy hair, not to mention the extremely realistic horns.
The stranger wasn’t a local, though Danny couldn’t place the accent. Still Irish. Kerry, maybe?
“Yeah. Reliable as a drunken fiddler, The Bitch is.”
“Let me see what I can do.”
The stranger reached into the truck with his furred hands. Damn, but that was a good costume. He must be in theater, or else he had a friend in the theater.
Light flashed like The Bitch was channeling Dr. Frankenstein. Danny cried out in fear for the stranger— his old truck had never done that before. He had less than a second to think about the flammability of fake fur before the engine started up and the stranger stepped back, unharmed, laughing.
“Your Gran may know about Newgrange and fairy circles,” the stranger said. “But I’d never take her advice on a car. Or a woman. Dump The Bitch and keep the girl.”
A friend of Gran’s? Danny stared at the man, trying to place him, although the costume made it difficult. His mind was still trying to process what had happened with the truck. The first explanation that popped into his mind made him question his sanity.
The stranger returned to his bike and mounted. “She was wrong about one other thing. It’s not true that my kind aren’t any good with cold iron.”
Danny drove as fast as he could on the narrow roads to reach Cathy before she could decide he had forgotten her. He would see what he could do about trading in The Bitch tomorrow.
After all, Gran always said it was dangerous to ignore the advice of the Fair Folk.
(With apologies for the formatting. WordPress does not like tabs, so I had to make do.
I have a confession to make. I’m waay behind on Doctor Who. As in, I’m working my way through the David Tennant episodes. (A friend of mine threatened to stop talking to me when I revealed this shameful secret, until I pointed out that this means *I* still get to watch new-to-me Tenth Doctor episodes.)
It’s not that I don’t love the show. It’s just that I watch very little TV (and by TV, I mean anything that moves on the screen, movies, Youtube, streamed shows. I don’t even have access to regular network TV because there’s no reception where I live and I refuse to pay for cable). One hour a week is a *lot* for me. I can go for weeks on end with no video entertainment. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with it. I just have too much going on.
So when I watched five hours of Doctor Who plus the first Thor Movie over one three-day weekend, this constituted a serious binge. I’ll admit that the whole time a voice in the back of my mind was saying that I really should be writing, or at least cleaning the house.
But when I was done, I had a fun topic for my turn at the Here Be Magic group blog (see link previous post– and before you start, no, I’m not watching the episodes in order.) More important, I felt refreshed, renewed, and ready to dive back in to writing with fresh enthusiasm.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what brought us to genre fiction in the first place– the sense of wonder, the willingness to be lost in a story, whether it be a book, movie, or TV show. I think I needed to re-find that young girl who read Tolkien over and over again and never missed an episode of Doctor Who. I needed to renew my commitment to creating that magic for others with my own work.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, The Doctor is waiting.
Sorry I haven’t been updating. . .been madly writing on a new project that’s really got me, heart and soul. There’s bardic magic and impossible love and the horrors of war and a lot of things that are not as they seem to be.
But I did write a blog on compelling villains over at Here Be Magic. Read my thoughts on attractive villains, why we love them, and why they make stories better. See me compare Loki of Asgard to the title character of Harry Potter! http://herebemagic.blogspot.com/2013/09/normal-0-microsoftinternetexplorer4.html
No blog this week. Too busy being happy. The Kickstarter for Ravensblood funded. I am awed and humbled by the support, and look forward to setting that novel loose in the world this Samhain/Halloween.
Bigger news yet: The Stolen Luck won a silver medal in the Global Ebooks Awards in the category of other world fantasy! So very proud and excited.
A year or so ago, I went to see the movie Cave of Forgotten Dreams. (If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an absolutely stunning documentary on a recently discovered cave filled with generations-worth of Paleolithic art. Go see it. In 3-D if you can manage it. I have chills running down my spine just recalling it.)
One of the first things that came to mind watching it (the very first thing was Oh, WOW. And the third. And the fifth. . .) Ahem, yes. One of the first things that I thought about was that whoever made the images on those cave walls had worked hard at his craft. There was shading, texture, suggestion of depth and movement. No matter how talented you are, learning these things takes time.
Now, remember, these images were painted in a time long before take-out food and cozy brick-and-mortar homes. Human beings spent virtually all their waking hours trying to find something to eat, and trying to avoid being eaten themselves. Yet someone from the tribe was taking time away from these essential pursuits to make art. And music, since bone flutes were found from the same period. And, one could guess, storytelling, though there is no proof from a time so long before written language.
We know very little about the people who used those caves. There is no record of their social structure or economic system. Yet I cannot imagine that, in a time of such bare-bones existence, a single person could devote so much time to developing art unless he or she was supported in some way by the community. Think about it. In a world of little to eat and a lot of chance of being eaten, the community said ‘this is important to us. This is life and death.’
Over the centuries, human societies have come up with many arrangements to support their artists, musicians and storytellers, from the patronage system of the Renaissance to the government grants of the New Deal right through to the raw capitalism of the record labels and traditional publishing houses. All of them had advantages and disadvantages to both the artists and the society.
Now, I have nothing against traditional publishing per se. My debut novel came out with Carina Press and overall it was a pretty good experience. But traditional publishing does have its drawbacks, especially now when many publishers are either looking to fill a certain marketing niche or looking for a novel that will not only give them reasonable sales over a few years, but a novel that will be an instant blockbuster.
The publishers need to make money to stay in business. I understand this. Changes in how books are sold make it harder for them to do this with books that are slow-and-steady sellers rather than instant blockbusters. I understand this too.
But if you’re an avid reader, I’ll bet that you have books that you have read until they fell apart, only to buy a new copy. Books that you have a relationship withthan runs longer and deeper than many marriages. If you’re like me, not all of those books have ever seen the top of a bestseller list.
Not that I have an issue with bestseller lists. I’d like to be on one someday, myself. My point is, not every novel on the bestseller list has merit, and not every novel with merit makes the bestseller list. When you look at traditional publishing, you’re removing things one more step, to books that someone else thinks might make the bestseller list (and may I remind you that many of these someones sent form rejection letters out on the first Harry Potter book.)
To my mind, this is where crowdsource funding comes in. Crowdsource democratizes the publishing process. It allows you, the reader of books, the one who listens to music or looks at art, to have a voice in what you think is worthy of being produced.
Crowdsource isn’t perfect. It is subject to popularity contests and the cult of personality. But given the choice of allowing all publication decisions to be made by an ever-smaller group of New York publishers, I’m glad that other alternatives exist.
I’ve just started my first Kickstarter. It’s still anyone’s guess whether it will fund. I’ve also supported crowdsource projects through Kickstarter and other venues. From the creative side, it’s both thrilling and humbling to see people, some friends , some acquaintances, and some perfect strangers, come together to make your project happen. From the supporter side, it’s empowering and exciting to be part of bringing a book or CD into being.
At the risk of sounding overly mystical, crowdsourcing is a way of connecting with those unknown humans from the dawn of time who though that creating was as important as food and shelter, and essential enough to the community for the community to support.