25 September 2011

Doctor Who: Closing Time (mild spoilers)

Overall this was a solidly-paced, fun episode. 

Good points:

- The old cybermat to the throat.
- Funny.
- Great odd couple dynamic.  Craig makes a fun companion, and it's a pity we didn't get to see him take a regular stint in the TARDIS.
- Craig making the straightforward point that the Doctor doesn't so much BRING danger, as save people from danger which already exists.

Bad points:

- The power of love saves the day.  Again.  I need some more "the power of science and ingenuity saves the day" episodes or "bravery and determination saves the day".  [And not the power of the magic sonic screwdriver that can do anything.]
- The Doctor visiting his companions before he dies.  Again.
- The audience totally knowing that there's no way the Doctor is going to really die.

I was a bit 50/50 on the advertisement with Amy.  It certainly echoed Amy's waiting theme.  But it's also a perfume ad, linking her back to "the goal of the girl is to find her man and get married".

Then, of course, we move on to River Song - a youngish River Song who has lost all her ability and chutzpah in the process of obtaining an archeological degree.  And then on to next episode, and it finally occurs to the Doctor to have a look into who these people who are trying to kill him are, and why they're doing so.

Why he didn't do this in the two hundred years he's apparently been travelling, I couldn't guess.

I am presuming this will be a timey wimey cyclical episode where the Doctor's investigation into why these people are trying to kill him will actually be the primal spark which causes these people to try and kill him (because otherwise we haven't really seen the Doctor do anything nearly epic enough to justify all this).  Not even the moon landing hypnotism to kill the Silents can be the explanation, since their kidnapping of baby Melody predates that.

There's no doubt that the Doctor will find some way to not die for real this time for sure, even though this is supposed to be one of those fixed moments in time (just one he happened to be ignorant of).  There's no tension in that part of the story, so what we are waiting for is the how and the why.  Why do these people want to kill the Doctor, and how will he stop them?  Will he make a big speech about how scary he is, causing his enemies to hesitate at a critical moment?  Gather all his allies to make a big distraction while he sneaks in the back?  Get his flesh copy to die in his stead?

My biggest problem with this season is without doubt the fact that Amy, Rory and the Doctor are no longer desperately searching for infant Melody, that they're okay with her living a torturous infancy being brainwashed by the Silents in an orphanage, and then living on the streets before inserting herself into her parents' childhood, simply because that leads her to grow up to be River (after, mind you, a life of crime and defiance which can no doubt be linked directly to how she's been raised).

My one hope for this season is that the Doctor will actually regain some of his competence and recover baby Melody.  Which will mean that River, the River sewn through the last three-four seasons, will cease to exist.

And, you know, I'm good with that.

22 September 2011

Interview at Adarna SF

My first ever interview!  Frida at Adarna SF took me into the nuts and bolts behind what I write and why.  A very interesting process which left me with a question of my own - WHY are there so few fantasy novels with egalitarian societies?  It's not uncommon to see it in SF, but rarer in fantasy.

Can anyone recommend to me some good fantasy novels set in egalitarian worlds?

And on a related note, anyone interested in Indie SFF (or, indeed, just SFF) should definitely add Adarna SF (formerly Frida Fantastic) to their blogroll.  I've been really enjoying the level of analysis in the reviews!

18 September 2011

Status Report - September

At current rate, Caszandra should be out by mid to end November.

Cass gets to be a good deal less action-y in this last volume - much to her frustration.  On the flip side, she gets to pull off a very cool stunt which makes me chortle because it's so...gratuitous.  She has a very flexible power set: the problem is the price she pays when using it - and, more important, how people can use her.

On a spoiler-ific note, it will be interesting to see how people take to the way the relationship which developed in Book 2 plays out in Book 3.  It's rare that I'm in the mood for unnecessary relationship angst, so I'm not generally inclined to manufacture some bizarre reason to split people up.  It's far more interesting to me to see how the characters cope with staying together.  With making little compromises for each other.  Avoiding arguments.  Dealing with things the other suddenly wants to do.  The huge decisions and the little things, and how you become different people because you're committed to each other.  [A theme I'm also working through in The Sleeping Life.]

I'm now getting "search terms leading to this site" of "When will Andrea Host finish Caszandra" which is certainly motivation to get my rear in gear!

After Caszandra is out, I'll be on to Hunting, which is a "girl vigilante" book I wrote ages ago (in a hissy fit after a problematic Georgette Heyer novel).  It's one of my "the gods are real" books, and I'll be underlining that a little more clearly in the edit.

Pyramids keeps trying to steal my attention.  The main character has two rather overwhelming nieces, one of whom wants to be a Lady Adventurer, and the other who has decided to marry Heliotropus' princess.  I suspect I'm going to have to consider a sequel to cover all that.

Doctor Who: The God Complex (Spoilers)

Very atmospheric and creepy with an unexpected tie-in to larger themes revolving around Amy's faith in the Doctor.

Good points:

- Creepy!
- Rita.  Great character.
- The link to the Nymon - nicely done.
- The suggestion that the TARDIS/loss of the TARDIS was what was in the Doctor's room.

Bad points:

- A policewoman who shrieks.
- Rita.  She was so good it was inevitable she would die.
- Putting the untrustworthy character in a position of trust.  It would have made infinitely more sense to leave the guy tied up there alone.
- "Amy Williams" used as an affirmation that Amy's faith in the Doctor is now broken.  As if Amy wouldn't have stayed Amy Pond even if the Doctor wasn't a factor in her life and that without a "second man" to confuse their loyalties all women would automatically change their names to that of their husband.
- Rory's jokes about Amy hitting him.  Not funny.  If she is seriously hitting him, then he should leave her.
- THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY!!!!!!

The made-up-as-you-go-along explanation for River Song's origin destroyed this episode.  I'm sorry, but Amy has complete faith in the Doctor because the Doctor has never failed her?  Not only does this come off the back of an episode of the Doctor failing Amy, but making Amy okay with losing her baby because she one day turns into River is...just not on.

The Doctor failed Amy massively.  He failed to stop her kidnapping.  He failed to stop the baby's kidnapping.  He failed to retrieve the baby.  But because the baby one day grows up to be River Song, we're supposed to believe that Amy still maintains complete faith in the Doctor?

No.  Suspension of disbelief has gone SPUNG.

Additionally, the theme of faith in the Doctor is undercut by the Doctor's actual history with his companions.  The Doctor has always been an incredibly arrogant guy, who has a tendency to leave his companions behind when they bore him, and sometimes snaps into self-righteous judgmentalism (of the genocidal level) which is part of the reason he needs his companions "to tell him to stop".  But he now for some reason seems to be genuinely acting on the belief that most of his companions die.  Unless he's had a whole heap of companions "off scene", then this is far from true.  For the most part they have gone on with their lives enriched by a precious experience - sometimes very annoyed with the Doctor, but with an overall net of exciting adventures.  Often they only had lives at all because he came along at an opportune moment and saved them.  And, big picture there, SAVED THEIR WORLDS.  And yet the Doctor is tormented by his endless failure for all those companions whose lives he transformed, enriched, broadened, and kept whole?

I feel like I've been watching "Doctor Who and the Endless Guilt Trip" for two seasons (and several specials) now. 

12 September 2011

Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited (Spoilers)

Good points:

- Apart from the hand wavey convenience of the start (why the hell didn't Amy just go back to the Tardis room?), this had something resembling a coherent plot.
- It was very powerful emotionally.
- The garden was lovely.

Bad points:

- This is a plot we have seen before.
- Girl companion being rescued once again.
- It kind of sends a message of "old" = "disposable".
- This meme of "The Doctor lies" is really beginning to disturb me.  I lost respect for the Doctor in this episode.

"The Girl Who Waited" is basically "Turn Left" without the (Donna) nobility.  Alternate version must be sacrificed so that "right" timeline can be resurrected.  But where alternate Donna - horrified, agonised - stepped into the breach, alternate Amy - bitter, betrayed - demands to be saved as well.  And the Doctor agrees, the Doctor lies, then the Doctor shuts the door in her face.

It's one of the worst things I've ever seen the Doctor do.

09 September 2011

Still playing with covers

Just loved this picture.  And I guess it does suggest that there might, just maybe, be some kind of battle in the book somewhere...

06 September 2011

Ebook v TPB Covers

One of the things it took me a few months to realise is that my ebook covers don't have to be the same as my trade paperback book covers.  Indeed, in some cases, it would be far better not, since one is designed to represent the book as a tiny thumbnail and the other is the place to indulge fancy games with fonts and rich, detailed images.

However, I wanted the covers to be visually linked, and have finally gotten around to playing with potential ebook cover versions for a couple which don't work well as tiny thumbnails.



The second version of these are much more readable in thumbnail.  I haven't decided whether to go ahead and change them, but it's definitely something I need to think about when preparing covers.

Unpacking Medair

Frida Fantastic, a blog site which focuses on Indie science fiction and fantasy novels, has posted a really wonderful, in-depth review of The Silence of Medair.   It's a great site for readers looking for Indie SF&F.

04 September 2011

Cover Play Continued

Hm, for the moment going with option 3 for Touchstone.  Now I'm playing with the titling and placement of the stars.

And on an unrelated note, this week's Doctor Who was a return to good, solid story-telling.  Only real glitch was the complete emotional disconnect between this and the previous episode.

02 September 2011

Compilation Covers

Now that I'm moving on to working on Caszandra, one thing I'm turning my mind to is a compilation of the entire Touchstone trilogy - for those who want their rambly SF diaries in one gi-normous block.

Now the covers I have for each of the individual books are painted covers which really match the content of the books - to me.  But I'm well aware that for the market these books are theoretically aimed at (Young Adult) they don't fit the current cover fashions at all (most people think they're aimed at younger readers, because that's where painted covers are being used at the moment).  So (since I'm too cheap to commission another painted cover, and it's going to be ebook only) the compilation is a marketing opportunity to direct the books at the audience which theoretically will most enjoy them (though Stray and Lab Rat appear to work equally well for any gender or age).

Anyone who has gone near Young Adult books lately will no doubt know that the current trend in covers is striking photographs of improbably beautiful girls in gorgeous floaty dresses, looking pensive or anguished (or, well, blank). 

While gorgeous floaty dresses don't quite feel SF to me, Cass does at least frock up a couple of time during her adventures.  Could I combine current trends in Young Adult covers with the book content of Space!  Ninjas!  Bubble worlds!?  I set out on a quest for a photograph of a space ninja in a floaty dress, but they seem a bit thin on the ground.  So I focused on the bubble worlds concept.

Which version works best for you?

The girl in the photo (before I dropped the Blue Eagle nebula on top of her) does in fact appear to be wearing a floaty dress.  So all elements met!

[What do you mean 'no ninjas'?  There's more than enough shadow there for any half-competent ninja to take full advantage of.]

Edit: Fourth option:

01 September 2011

"Voice" Release

Finally hit Go on Voice of the Lost.  It's up already on Smashwords (and Amazon) and will take a couple of days to a few weeks to get to various other venues.

I'm really liking the way the cover turned out.  It's eerie and beautiful.  Not representative of any scene in the book, but symbolic of Medair facing her past - or seeking a future.

As usual for my blog followers here's a first week Smashwords discount coupon - 75% off until 8 Sept.  ZK74L

Heh - and now the fun part where I wait to see what people think of it. :)