Sunday, November 24, 2013

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

Rarely is there such hype for one episode, even when that episode is marking an extraordinary 50 years for a television show. The expectations for "The Day of the Doctor" were sky high. Here's the amazing thing: The special doesn't disappoint. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's fantastic. One of the best Doctor Who episodes since the reboot. There is so much going here on that 24 hours later, my brain is still processing. But I'll do my best to set aside the squee! and share some thoughts on what we saw and what's coming next. I have a lot to say, so here we go.

From here on out ... massive spoilers!

The Doctors
All 13 make an appearance in some form or another, but I'm going to focus on the big three: John Hurt, David Tennant and Matt Smith. The Warrior, the Hero and the Doctor. My main joy from this episode came from watching the three of them interact. Tennant steps back into the role of Ten like he never left, and Hurt makes for a great addition to the canon, especially when he voices his curmudgeonly disapproval for the "younger" Doctors' antics. I'd love to list all the wonderful lines and exchanges among these three, but then I'd be transcribing quotes all night.

The actors and the writing are equally good when the tone goes serious and Hurt's War Doctor comes to understand how his destruction of Gallifrey affects his future selves. Ten carries the immense pain and regret with him, and Eleven tries to convince himself that it never happened.

Then, of course, they choose to rewrite their own history (sort of, seeing as it really always happened that they time-locked the Time Lords instead of killing them, but only Eleven remembers it correctly, and my head hurts thinking about it) and it's happy and hopeful and gives the Doctor (and the show) new purpose for the next 50 years. Or at least the next four or five.

The companions
Let's talk about Bad Wolf Rose first. Billie Piper isn't playing Rose, for starters, and I am so glad of that fact. Rose's story as it relates to the Doctor is done and should be left as it is. So, Rose is actually the sentience of a Time Lord weapon called The Moment that Hurt's Doctor is threatening to use to end the Time War. In that way, she's a lot like the TARDIS. The Moment chooses a form from the Doctor's future. It makes sense that she settles on the companion who arguably has had the biggest personal impact on the Doctor -- or in the War Doctor's case, will have an impact. She plays the Ghost of Christmas Future to the Doctor's Scrooge. There's a tiny part of me that wishes she and Ten had gotten the opportunity to interact, but I can't see how it would have gone well. After all, this isn't really Rose. Ten's double-take upon hearing the term "Bad Wolf" was enough.

Now onto Clara. I complained last spring that Clara wasn't a character so much as she was a plot device, i.e. The Impossible Girl, a mystery for the Doctor to solve. Dalek Clara and Victorian Clara had purpose and personality, but current-day Clara did not. I had hoped that would change after the Impossible Girl mystery was solved. Since this is the first time we've seen her since then, this was the test. And she kind of, sort of passed. There's an understanding between her and Eleven now that she has seen the whole of his time stream. They are comfortable with each other, and that seems to give Clara more confidence to be her own person. She has a job as a teacher. She drives a motorcycle into the TARDIS and shuts the doors with a snap of her fingers. She steals Jack Harkness' time vortex manipulator. She persuades Eleven to change what happened to his people. It's a step in the right direction. I like this Clara. I hope she hangs around.

I'll admit it. I let out a spontaneous crazy-sounding laugh when a 13th TARDIS joined the others around Gallifrey and we were treated to a half-second shot of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Or rather, Capaldi's distinctive and fierce eyes. I am more excited than ever to see what he does with the role after he makes his first official appearance in December.

I was spoiled on the Tom Baker appearance, unfortunately, so that wasn't as much of a surprise. And -- don't all throw tomatoes at me now -- but I have never watched a Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who. Still, he was great here as the Curator, and I love the strong implication that in some future incarnation, the Doctor becomes the keeper of Britain's secret trove of alien artifacts.

The one cameo I really wanted to see that didn't quite happen was Christopher Eccleston as Nine. When Hurt's Doctor started his regeneration, I had a moment of hope that all we had heard about Eccleston wanting nothing to do with the 50th was a lie and we were about to get a glimpse of Nine. Then the scene cut away, darn it. If there's a letdown in this episode, that was it.

Where do we go from here?
To Trenzalore. When Eleven answered Ten's question about where they were headed, he was setting up the final chapter in his own story. And as we saw in the preview, the Doctor will be taking a Christmas holiday, unintentionally, on the one planet he wants to avoid above all others.

After the season finale last spring, I said if that episode was intended to wrap up the Silence Will Fall arc, it was a seriously disappointing way to do it. Turns out "The Name of the Doctor' was the appetizer. We get the main course one month from now with the Fall of the Eleventh and the Silence and, finally, regeneration. This won't be a sweet Christmasy special like the past few years but rather something akin to "The End of Time." Bittersweet as we say goodbye to Eleven but also hopeful with the introduction of Twelve.

But that's still four weeks away, and Steven Moffat and Co. have given us plenty to chew over until then.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary weekend

I started watching Doctor Who with the Eleventh Hour, which was Matt Smith's debut as the Doctor and Steven Moffat's debut as showrunner. It aired (according to Wikipedia) on April 3, 2010. That makes this weekend more like my 3 1/2 year anniversary with Doctor Who. It seems like it's been longer than that, in a good way. I enjoyed my first taste (of fish fingers and custard) so much that I plowed through every episode since the reboot in a matter of weeks.

But unless you're living under a pop culture rock, you've heard that Doctor Who is 50 years old, and this weekend is the birthday bash. The highlight of the festivities is the airing of the anniversary episode "The Day of the Doctor," which will air at the same time across the globe. That's early Saturday afternoon here in Denver. Whovians across the U.S. and probably the world will be gathering to watch it in theaters. Several theaters in Denver are taking part. Alas, I will be at work and will watch on the plain old television in my plain old living room when I get home that night. I just hope I can avoid spoilers all afternoon.

Beyond that:
  • There's "An Adventure in Space and Time," which is a documentary drama about the early days of Doctor Who. BBC America is airing that Friday evening. Once again, I'll be watching it on DVR after work. (Are we seeing a trend here?)
  • Google is doing a fantastic Doctor Who doodle and game that will go live here in the states at midnight Saturday. But you can play it now by going to Britain's Google homepage.
  • If you haven't watched them yet, there are two new minisodes online, "The Night of the Doctor" and "The Last Day," both of which are easily found on YouTube.

To sum up, it's a good weekend to be a Whovian.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sale! To Abyss & Apex

I found out today that my flash story "To See Sarah" will be published in Abyss & Apex in the issue that goes live in January. I'm glad to finally share this sale on my blog. I received the acceptance in June but held back on the announcement until the contract was signed. I did that today. It's exciting that one of my stories will appear in this great magazine that I've been enjoying as a reader for many years.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Royals" parody

If we old-fashioned newspaper journalists had a theme song, this would be it. I'm not going to type out the lyrics because someone else already did it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Publication Day! at Fireside Magazine

It's a beautiful sunny November day here in Colorado, and it's also publication day for me at Fireside Magazine. My science fiction story "Catch a Fallen Star" is the featured short story of the month. The story takes place on a planet that crosses orbits with an asteroid belt. During the time of the Pass, no one is allowed above ground. But when a clever boy breaks curfew, it's up to one of the planet's "rat catchers" to bring him in, while meteors are falling from the sky. If you're not already a Fireside subscriber, you can buy the individual issue or a subscription for the whole year. It's a good deal for a lot of great fiction every month, and, of course, you get to read my story.

In related writing news, Diabolical Plots has posted their list of the Top 10 podcasts at Every Day Fiction, and my story "The Spinners," read by the wonderful Folly Blaine, comes in at No. 4.

Monday, November 11, 2013

On the 37th anniversary of my birth

Happy Veterans Day! And happy birthday to me. Thirty-seven is an odd number. Prime. Somewhere in the hinterlands between 35 and 40. Not young anymore, but not old either. Except for the occasional bodily pain, I don't feel 3/4 of the way to 40. So there's that. I treated myself to seeing Thor: The Dark World this afternoon and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't care whose names are on the movie posters, Tom Hiddleston's Loki is the best thing about the Thor movies. Also my family gave me a couple of new Blu-Rays and a totally fantastic stuffed Dalek who says "Ext-term-in-ate!" when you squeeze him. That's going on my work desk next to my TARDIS lunchbox.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary trailer

Geronimo! Allons-y! The trailer for the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who is here, and it makes my inner geek so very happy. My favorite parts: Doctors comparing their hardware, i.e. TARDIS interiors and screwdrivers. It's difficult to judge from this, but it looks like Matt Smith and David Tennant are having a roaring good time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bits and pieces

  • I finished watching Homeland season 1 last night. Yes, I'm behind. My husband and I turned to each other when the credits rolled, and he said something along the lines of, "That was messed up." I couldn't agree more. I was yelling at Saul when he was telling Carrie about Nazir's son: "Say his name! Say his name, damn it!" And when it comes down to it, everyone thinks Carrie's theories are crazy, including Carrie, when in reality she is a Cassandra, doomed to speak the truth and never be believed.
  • One of my fellow Launch Pad classmates from this past summer, Jamie Todd Rubin, has an article about the experience in Clarkesworld this month.
  • Chapter 3 of my Sleepy Hollow fan fiction is posted at, and I'm still having a ball writing it. I've churned out more than 7,000 words in a week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sale! to Every Day Fiction

My e-mail box was a happy place this morning, with an acceptance on my science-fiction flash "An Unauthorized Tree" at Every Day Fiction. This will be my fifth publication there (you can find a list of some of the other EDF stories here) and will probably go live sometime in December. I also had a few notifications of reviews and "follows" on my Sleepy Hollow fan fiction, which is very gratifying. It was a good start to the day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing fan fiction

Sometime over the past couple of weeks, I've hit a wall on writing. It might have been because of the almost-but-not-quite from Writers of the Future. I don't know. Anyway, I've been trying to put on an optimistic face and work through the blockage, but my strategy hasn't been working. Or rather, yes, I have been writing, but no, I haven't been enjoying it. Putting my butt in the chair just hasn't been fun lately. It has been a chore.

This isn't good. First and foremost, I got into writing because it's fun. Because I love to tell stories. When it's not fun anymore, it's time to take measures to remind myself of why I'm doing this. It's time to make it fun again. And that means dropping the original fiction for a week or two and writing fan fiction.

Fan fiction is where I started more than 15 years ago. It's my first love. I've written tens of thousands of words about my favorite television shows. About five and a half years ago, I switched to original fiction and have hardly written a word of fan fiction since (except for a couple of Dollhouse one-shots). That is changing this week.

The chosen fandom for my fan fiction binge is Sleepy Hollow. I love the premise and the dynamic between the two main characters. (And I should feel guilty about shipping for Ichabod and Abbie, because he's married to someone else, but I don't, because his wife is boring. Also, she's not technically alive.) I have written 1,000 words or more each day for five days running without breaking a sweat. There's no pressure. I don't worry about living up to any editor's expectations. I don't worry about where I might sell the story. I'm not thinking about aiming for SFWA qualification. All I am thinking about is telling the story. It's freeing.

Now, if only I can translate that to my original fiction ...

If you'd like to read the Sleepy Hollow fan fiction I have titled Possession, I'm posting it at right here. Chapter 1 is up. Chapter 2 will follow tonight.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October stats and other stuff

Goodness, my submission stats for last month were horrible. But here's the thing: I have eight stories out on submission and five of them have been waiting for a response for more than 31 days. Another one, my Writers of the Future finalist, is on hold until the end of the year. That left two stories to make the rounds in October. So ...

Submissions for October: 2
Stories out on submission: 8

I expect some of those longer wait times will be coming back with responses soon, so November will be better for submissions. Also, for the year, I'm now at 39 submissions, which ties my total for all of 2012, and there are still two months left in the year. That's going to make 2013 my best year ever for number of submissions.

I lost a lot of momentum on writing last week. That's partly because I'm to the climax scene of my work-in-progress, and although I know what is going to happen, I'm not sure yet how it will happen. I need to sort that out before I write it, but I plan to have the story finished by Tuesday night, the end of my weekend.

I also lost momentum because of some semi-binge television watching: Homeland Season 1, and catching up on Sleepy Hollow on Hulu. Very different shows but both very enjoyable. I'm especially geeking out over Sleepy Hollow. Fun premise and great characters who actually have unforced chemistry with each other. It's alternately scary and hilarious. The cast is nicely diverse without drawing attention to it. And, yes, Tom Mison is nice to look at.

And finally, a few days ago, I got to see the artwork by Hugo-winning artist Galen Dara that will accompany my story in Fireside Magazine when it gets published Nov. 15, and my God it is beautiful. Captures the story perfectly. I couldn't be happier.