New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! J (the fiancé) and I have been on vacation since Christmas Eve, and I currently have the world’s crappiest internet connection. But I wanted to wander out for a m-oment to say farewell to 2015, and get my 2016 resolutions down in writing.

In 2016, I resolve to:

–Publish a book! (Okay, so that one’s kind of a gimmie. But I needed an easy one.)

–Be nicer to myself. I tend to be very hard on myself, and my confidence sucks. I don’t deserve it. I will treat myself, and my body, better.

–Read books I wouldn’t normally read. Time to expand my mind!

–Write The Demon Within, part 2, which is tentatively titled Embracing the Demon. I need to have it to my editor by about November/December 2016 for a spring 2017 publication date.

James MarstersI can’t believe 2015 is over already. It’s been a big year. I got engaged, bought a house, finished my book, and met James Marsters and David Tennant. I got to tell them both how much their work means to me, which was awesome.

Next year, I will get married, publish my book, and maybe I’ll shell out the cash to get a picture with David Tennant. Worth. It.

Burning Questions About Star Wars: A List

star-wars-movie-poster

So here’s the thing: I love the original Star Wars trilogy. Love, love, love. My fiancé and I are going to see The Force Awakens tonight, and in anticipation of that, we’ve been re-watching the movies. (Not the prequels. I wouldn’t do that to myself again.)

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a few gaps in Star Wars that didn’t matter so much to me when I was 13. Lingering questions. Unclear motivations. Illogical actions. And after months of digging into my own book to find these types of things and fix them, they bug me more than they used to.

Maybe some of these would have been answered if I’d gone back and watched the prequels again–though I did read the Wookiepedia entries on them–but to me, by and large, the prequels created more questions than they answered. It was like Lucas made the prequels without re-watching his original trilogy.

Maybe some of these are answerable. I’d love to hear thoughts. But here are my burning Star Wars questions.


  1. Why didn’t Obi-Wan or Yoda remember R2-D2 or C-3PO when they encounter the droids again in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back? Maybe there’s an easy answer to this one, like the fact that Obi-Wan and Yoda spend most of the original trilogy flat-out lying to Luke, but…
  2. Why doesn’t R2-D2 remember Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Darth Vader? C-3PO’s memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, so he gets a pass. But R2? Not so much. You think he would have mentioned to Luke while they were flying into the Death Star together, “Hey, you know that guy in the goofy mask behind you? The one that killed Obi-Wan? He’s your dad, BTW.” Guess R2’s supposed “friendship” doesn’t mean that much.
  3. If ObiWan and Yoda are trying to hide Luke and Leia from Vader, why do they hide Luke on Anakin’s home planet, with Anakin’s stepbrother, sharing Anakin’s last name? Honestly, this just seems like poor planning.
  4. If Luke and Leia are the only hope for defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader, why don’t Obi-Wan and Yoda begin training them sooner? So Obi-Wan just waits for the battle against the Empire to fall into his lap, and then takes a naïve, untrained farm boy to face off against Darth Vader—who, unbeknownst to Luke, is his father? That’s just poor planning. I mean, I know Uncle Owen would have been against it, but Obi-Wan couldn’t have managed to Jedi Mind Trick him?

    StarWars

    “Hey kids, did we ever tell you about that time your mom almost banged your uncle? That was hilarious!

  5. If Luke and Leia were always intended to be siblings, what was with all the flirting and kissing and making out in the first two movies? Because seriously, those would be some awkward Thanksgiving dinners…
  6. How the hell has Boba Fett developed such a cult following? Because from my perspective, all he did was capture Han Solo and get eaten by a sarlaac.
  7. Why are the Jedis so anti-sex? Because seriously, Anakin might not have turned to the Dark Side if they just let him get laid every once in a while.
  8. How the hell does Leia remember her mother? Leia implies in Return of the Jedi that she remembers her mother vaguely. But we all know that Padme died like, two seconds after Luke and Leia were born.
  9. Are we supposed to sympathize with Obi-Wan and Yoda? Because from where I’m sitting, they continually lie to and manipulate Luke to kill Vader. (See also: Dumbledore.) Earlier, Anakin turned to the Dark Side because Obi-Wan and Yoda were so damn controlling (and, again, because they wouldn’t let him get laid.)
  10. When the first Death Star was such a miserable failure, why did the Empire build another Death Star? Someone should have chimed in and said, “Maybe this whole Death Star initiative is a bad investment,” amiright?

    LeiaGoldBikini

    Or maybe it’s just the Star Wars creators who were sexist…

  11. Are the Jedis sexist? Because seriously, did everyone forget about Leia? By the time A New Hope begins, she’s already a monarch and an Imperial Senator, and she’s actively fighting the rebellion. Luke is a speeder pilot and would-be moisture farmer on a middle-of-nowheresville planet. Seems like she would be in a better position to be the Jedi savior. Yet Obi-Wan has been covertly monitoring Luke his whole life. Hmmm.
  12. How come Obi-Wan and Yoda both disappeared when they did, but Qui-Gon and Darth Vader did not? I mean, it could have been that whole “Dark Side” thing, but I thought Qui-Gon was one of the good guys?
  13. If the overarching story of the Star Wars prequels was Anakin’s descent into the Dark Side, why does The Phantom Menace focus on Anakin’s path toward the Dark Side, why does The Phantom Menace focus on a trade dispute that takes place 10 years before any of the events that lead Anakin to the Emperor’s side occur? It’s like that entire movie is one really long prologue.
  14. Why exactly does everyone hate the Empire so much? I mean, yeah, they’re kind of control freaks, but if I’m just a moisture farmer on Tantooine, it doesn’t affect me much. (Of course, I guess if blowing up Alderaan is an example of their governmental policies, then…yeah, they suck.)
  15. Why are Luke and Leia the only hope for defeating Vader and the Emperor? An entire rebellion has formed to defeat them, but it all comes down to one barely-trained Jedi–and his completely untrained sister as a backup plan? For that matter, where the hell have Obi-Wan and Yoda been for the past two decades? Like, instead of waiting around with their thumbs up their asses for Luke and Leia to grow up, why didn’t they take their immense Jedi powers and use them to aid the rebellion sooner? Just think of this, kiddos: if it hadn’t been for Obi-Wan and Yoda’s incompetence, none of this would have ever happened.

 

 

 

Is Ilona Andrews Punking Us?

So I am a huge Ilona Andrews fan.

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team, and their books are amazing. Seriously. The Kate Daniels series has some of the best worldbuilding and characters in the urban fantasy genre. It took me a couple of books to get into it initially, but now its one of my auto-buy series. In fact, Andrews is one of my auto-buy authors, and when they release something–whether it’s the more romance-centric Burn for Me or their kooky, unclassifiable Innkeeper serials, I’m there.

Well anyway, last April, Ilona (the wife half of the team) played a prank on her readers, giving us a book blurb with Hugh D’Ambray as the protagonist. In the Kate books, Hugh is very much, unapologetically the bad guy–but a sexy one. Ilona has implied that he’s a sociopath. But their characters are so complex and interesting that I’m not sure it matters. I think they can plausibly redeem Hugh and turn him into a romantic figure. Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll just stay the mostly bad guy. Or all bad guy.

Look at Kresley Cole’s Lothaire. Lothaire had been the ambiguous villain in that series since the beginning. He’s still the villain after it’s over. Yet it’s one of Cole’s highest-rated books. We like our bad guys. Maybe it’s a little bit of wish fulfillment.

So anyway, today Ilona wrote a blog post, and I caught this in the comments:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 19.37.17

Ummm….does that say what I think it says?

Anytime the possibility of a Hugh book has come up in the past, Ilona has denied the possibility.

It’s not April 1 again, is it? *Checks the calendar.*

It’ll be a tough sell, convincing readers that Hugh is still “good” enough to be a hero, in any way, shape, or form. (Like I said, basically a sociopath.) But I think if any authors can do it, it’s the Ilona Andrews team. Count me as one fan hoping this one is true.

 

“Doctor Who” Series 9 Wrap-Up

Doctor Clara pic

Wow. So that was quite a season.

On the plus side, I got almost everything I wanted. More callbacks to earlier seasons, including those that weren’t written by Steven Moffat? Check. The amazingness of Maisie Williams’ character? Peter Capaldi really being given a chance to shine? HUGE check. Clara’s exit? I think we’re checking that one twice. We’ll get into that in a second.

But first, I’ve got to give a shout-out to Peter Capaldi, who was friggin’ amazing this season. If anyone remained unsure whether Capaldi could embody the Doctor the way, say, David Tennant did, this season should have answered that question. I could never get into Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. While there were some standout episodes (“Amy’s Choice”; “Vincent and the Doctor”), I just couldn’t connect with him the way I did with Tennant. But I think that had more to do with Moffat’s more fairy tale style of writing–following Russell T. Davies grimmer take–than Smith’s performance.

So I was a little concerned when Smith transitioned into Capaldi. But in the 12th Doctor’s era, Moffat’s direction has taken a darker tone, and I like it. But Moffat is, I think, kind of an optimist at heart, and so while individual stories might be dark, the ultimate trajectory will be more hopeful.

Shhh! Spoilers…

Which brings me to Clara’s departure.

Two weeks ago, I praised “Face the Raven” for doing what very few “Who” episodes have been bold enough to do: kill a companion. It was a brutal episode that left me inconsolable. It was also a fitting end to Clara’s character: the mortal woman who aspired to be the Doctor finally overplayed her hand. The callback to Danny Pink was so appropriate for her character, and you get it: Clara had never really stopped mourning Danny, and to hide from her pain she threw herself into her adventures with the Doctor with total recklessness. That recklessness ultimately gets her killed.

Last week’s episode, “Heaven Sent” was just a brilliant piece of television. Hands down. It will go down as one of the best episodes in “Who” history, of any season. Peter Capaldi did almost the whole episode solo, and you see his grief, his pain, his fury, his fear, all rolled up into this wibbly wobbly timey wimey Doctor-y ball.

And this week, in “Hell Bent,” we get to see how that all played out. The Doctor spent 4.5 billion years stuck in his own confession dial, for one reason and one reason only: to save Clara.

I’m not going to recap the episode–but if you’re curious, you can read about it here. I, personally, have mixed feelings about it. Moffat, ever the optimist, manages to (sort of) resurrect Clara. When last we see her, she’s traipsing the universe in a 1960s diner-shaped TARDIS, with Maisie Williams’ Ashildr/Me as her companion. She’s frozen in time, stuck in the moment right before her last heartbeat. (Amazing that she’s not a little bit pissed at Ashildr, since it was her harebrained plan that got Clara in that whole “death” mess to begin with.)

On an emotional level, it’s a pretty powerful episode. While the message is more hopeful than “Face the Raven” or “Heaven Sent,” Clara’s pseudo-death is not without consequences. Both the Doctor and Clara realize how bad they are for one another–the Doctor having nearly destroyed the universe to save her–and so in a callback to Donna Noble’s tragic departure, he resolves to erase her memory and deposit her back into her normal life. But in a twist, it’s the Doctor’s memory that gets erased, which makes those diner scenes all that much more terrible: he knows he’s missing something, but not what. And for once, it’s not the Doctor being left behind with just the memories.

But Clara will live, in this frozen state, having resolved to go back to Gallifrey to return to her death “the long way around.” I’m not sure whether it’s a cop-out or not, on Moffat’s part–maybe a little, but not entirely. The loss was still there, if not as profoundly as before. That’s not the main problem I had with the episode.

This episode was like a sweater (or a jumper, if we’re being British about it) with a piece of yarn hanging off of it. Once you start pulling on that yarn, the whole thing falls apart.

Writing wise, story wise, the episode crumbles. Clara gets her happy ending, but at what cost? Will the universe ultimately start destroying itself because she isn’t really dead? Does that mean she can come back? (Please don’t, Moffat. Let’s not cheapen this departure by bringing her back dozens of times, one of my pet peeves of the Davies era.) And now that the Doctor has ousted the president of Gallifrey, who takes over? And what happened to the hybrid? If the Doctor/Clara combo really was the hybrid, as was implied, doesn’t that mean that Clara’s newfound adventures will cost billions of lives? Is the show just going to ignore this??? And was Ashildr brought onto the show just to be faux-Doctor Clara’s companion? Would the Doctor’s fledging memories of Clara–he got a picture, after all–be enough to cause that universe-destroying rift?

And finally…the Doctor has lost companions before. Many of them. We even get a callback in this episode to Amy and Rory. He wouldn’t destroy the universe for Rose Tyler. He wouldn’t create final paradox for Amy Pond. So not only would he destroy the universe for Clara, he’d do something completely antithetical to his persona–pick up a gun and shoot someone.

But maybe that’s just the conceit of “Doctor Who.” Each companion becomes the most important being in the Doctor’s universe…for a time. But the companion changes, and the Doctor endures, which is why he is so lonely. Maybe in forgetting Clara, he got the good side of the deal after all.

Ugh.

But…I guess I can’t complain too much. This series gave us some amazing episodes. Besides “Heaven Sent,” which should immediately be propelled into the legendary category, we had “The Girl Who Died”/”The Woman Who Lived.” And then of course, “The Zygon Invasion”/”The Zygon Inversion,” which gave us the Capaldi monologue which, for better or worse, has never looked more profound than in recent weeks.

It was a pretty amazing season overall, with an amazing actor playing the Doctor. And we get River Song back for Christmas. Who could ask for more?

Final Thoughts

*Moffat, if you ever manage to get Coleman back, even if just for a short (especially just for a short), please, please, please show her having sexytimes with Jane Austen.

*Funny that two of the series (and the show’s) best episodes came after one of the show’s all-time worst: “Sleep No More” sucked. Big time.

*The sonic screwdriver is back!

*I wish we had seen more Missy, and I hope she’s back next season. She basically walked away with the first two episodes of the season, so much so that I worried that the Doctor/Clara combo alone just wouldn’t be interesting enough anymore. That was for about two seconds. Capaldi and Coleman nailed it this year.

*I’m glad that this season was Capaldi’s season, but I feel like a lot of Clara’s arc was neglected instead. Whatever happened to Orson Pink? Did that change because of Danny’s death? And the connection between Danny’s death and Clara’s recklessness was never explicit enough for me.

*Peter Capaldi has come to rival David Tennant as my all-time favorite Doctor. Just…wow.

Guess what I got?

Galleys!!!

To put it into layman’s terms: the galleys are a typeset mock-up of the book so you can see what it will actually look like. Back in the good ol’ days, those mock-ups were usually printed, but now they’re often created electronically.

And because they’re electronic, I can post screen shots!

I am completely in love. So amazing.

It still doesn’t feel real to me.

Screenshot 2015-11-29 21.00.10Screenshot 2015-11-29 20.59.53