Who Needs Villains

So far, this season of Doctor Who has been… “unimpressive”. The set design mostly lacks imagination and scope. The stories feel like they were cribbed from better, or at least more ambitious, episodes in previous seasons. The Doctor’s monologs are being written by Captain Obvious and The Campus Socialist. The new companion got a decent intro, but has done little of note since. And as for the monster of the week, well, so far we’ve had:

  1. a puddle. (but an alien puddle)
  2. a swarm of nano-Legos.
  3. a strawman capitalist.
  4. a mama’s boy.
  5. strawman capitalism.

The ideas and characters in each episode are undeveloped. There’s no supporting cast to speak of, just the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole, and Nardole spends most of his time delivering ominous foreshadowing with the delicate grace of a firehose.

Dear Doctor Who…

Now that I’m caught up to episode 10.5, I have only one question:

Will the entire season be written by interns copying scenes from their favorite episodes?

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

They should have just called it “Tiny Groot Adventures”.

The movie is 2 hours, 16 minutes, and I don’t know if that counts the multiple before/during/after-credits scenes. It definitely doesn’t count the 20 minutes of trailers I had to sit through with earplugs in. I should have just showed up 15 minutes late; the theater was pretty empty at 10:40 AM on a Monday.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that I don’t think it had 136 minutes of story to tell. The celebrity cameos felt forced, Kurt Russell’s performance turned to crap when he (spoilered), and the extended dance mix of (spoiler’s) (spoiler) at the end just went on and on. I was catching Pokemon for most of it.

Also, while the Stan Lee cameo in the previous film was amusing, his first scene in this one was a bit too wink-wink-nudge-nudge, and the second was just dumb. Howard the Duck’s performance was less annoying than Stan Lee’s.

Apart from the three major cameos, nothing really threw me out of the film, and those bits were short enough that I was able to forget them and enjoy the ride. I wouldn’t go see it again, even as a matinee, and I don’t think I’ll buy the Bluray. I’ll watch it again with friends when it comes out, but just the once.

Note: yes, that’s Ben Browder. And Ving Rhames. And Michelle Yeoh. And even Michael Rosenbaum playing someone bald…

Emotional Aiz, Creepy Sagiri, Doctor Bugfix

DanSora, episode 4

In which it is revealed that Aiz once had a full range of emotions, before something as-yet-unspecified happened to her parents. Less time is spent on Lefiya’s desperate crush, but instead we get Tione going vigorously dere-dere over their pint-sized boss.

Speaking of which, I saw someone commenting that he had trouble remembering which name went with which amazon. The answer is simple: the last letter is their cup size. Tiona, DFC; Tione, boin!.

What really doesn’t work is splitting the party and having the annoying Loki annoy the annoying Bete. Their scenes advance the plot, but I just don’t enjoy the voice acting for either character.

By the way, this episode puts them about halfway through the second light novel, and it looks like book 3 wraps up the current plot. At the current pace, I’m guessing they’ll make it through book 4, at least, which includes Bell’s minotaur fight from their point of view.

How did Finn survive speaking the truth about every woman in the party? Given how slapstick they’re playing this series, I expected some sort of hysterical overreaction.

Eromanga-sensei, episode 5

Okay, so Sagiri is a creepy middle-aged man in the body of an adorable loli, Our Hero is her pimp, and they both really need to get out more. The episode improved once Elf arrived, as usual.

I don’t think Our Hero has told bookstore-chan that his little sister is Eromanga-sensei, and he seems completely oblivious to just how creepy his request was. Also, logic fail: Sagiri wants to see a wider variety of real girls so she can draw them, and bookstore-chan is a candidate because they spent animation dollars making sure the audience knew she had big bouncy ones. But Sagiri specifically wants to see her panties, which is less about reference material and more about her being an adorable little perv.

Meanwhile, she spends most of her time on the Internet, which is not exactly lacking in big boobs and panties. This reinforces the impression that her request is more personal than artistic. Maybe Our Hero needs to get her a debit card so she can subscribe to live cam shows?

Oh, almost forgot. WTF is up with the time-wasting shots of the fat jogger? Could you not find a better way to pad out the episode, like maybe animating the Elf-catch instead of showing a still?

Doctor Who, episode 10.4

Honestly, the best thing about this season is that it’s Steven Moffat’s last as showrunner. I don’t have a lot to say about this episode, except that, like the previous one, it feels like they’re just filing the serial numbers off of stories they did a few years ago and adding in a likely-disappointing season arc.

Did it occur to anyone that they just left a huge colony of murderous alien bugs on a piece of prime real estate that’s sure to be built on again soon? Also, maybe be a little less on-the-nose at casting Creepy Old Guy What Creeps At Midnight? Finally, perhaps a tiny bit of sympathy for the companion who just lost everything she owns, including the photographs the Doctor went to such lengths to create for her?

Dear Wen Spencer,

Your novel Eight Million Gods is a pretty good read. I spotted the occasional spell-check-editing error of the sort that is increasingly common in the genre, whether traditionally published or indie, but none of them were severe enough to obscure the meaning or knock me out of the story.

No, that was reserved for the error that I hope was introduced by an inept editorial assistant, because your knowledge of Japan is clear enough that I’m sure you know there’s no such thing as a hundred-thousand-yen bill, and that it would be ridiculous for a young woman to carry such a thing and use it pay the cover charge at a host club.

Also, someone needs to tell your cover artist that katanas are not swung like baseball bats. And that a collage of details from random pages in the book is not the same as drawing a scene from the book.

So far: Doctor Who, season 10

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Not a lot of rewatch value, but a fun Christmas special, and nice to see Nardole again.

1. The Pilot

Not a bad intro for the new companion, but the snippets-of-mystery season arc has an uncomfortable whiff of how they handled Missy in season 8, where the revelation wasn’t worth all the time spent setting it up. I spent a lot of time wondering who Bill’s step-mom was (last seen having kittens in season 3), which was distracting enough that I almost didn’t get the point behind the box of pictures.

I had to turn on closed captions to catch all of the dialogue. Also, I’d like to see the actress who played Heather in something that shows a little more emotional range. Or a little more skin. Either way, I’m good.

2. Smile

I can’t decide whether this should have been shorter or longer. Shorter, for the material as they used it; longer, if they’d actually put some real thought into it, and maybe given some personality to one of the walk-on parts. Not impressed.

3. Thin Ice

Dear Writer, if you’re going to put Profound Words into the Doctor’s mouth, could you try to make them a bit less trite? And avoid trendy buzzwords like “privilege”? Kthxbye. As for the plot, I’d rather not.

How not to sell me a book…

If you’re a novelist, and I’ve never heard of you, the fastest way to get knocked off my maybe-read list is to include anything in parentheses or after a colon that even hints that this is not a standalone novel. Saga, Series, Trilogy, Book N, A something something, whatever.

A series title that’s significantly longer than the book title guarantees that free is too much to pay for your work. Also, price over $7 for an ebook; I’m willing to go over that for writers I like, up to a limit of $9.99, but that’s it, and only if that’s not higher than the paperback/hardcover price.

A colon followed by the words “A Novel” is a no-shit-sherlock way to guarantee that I’ll cross you off my list, except in the extremely rare case of the moronic publisher who puts it on recent Tim Powers novels. But you’re not Tim Powers.

I read a lot of SF and fantasy novels, but you need to remember that when you put your book up on Amazon, you’re not just competing with this week’s best-sellers. You’re up against decades of novels by Ray Bradbury, Gordon Dickson, Gene Wolfe, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Andre Norton, Clifford Simak, Poul Anderson, Tim Powers, Diane Duane, Lois McMaster Bujold, Vernor Vinge, C. J. Cherryh, George Alec Effinger, Barbara Hambly, Patricia Wrede, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, John Varley, and Doris Piserchia, to give a partial list of whose books I’ve bought on Kindle over the past few years. And I’ve left out a lot of lower-tier names.

Admittedly, some of their publishers are imbeciles who think that a badly-OCRd thirty-year-old novel is worth $12.99 despite the easy availability of used paperbacks for $0.99 plus shipping, but enough of the stuff is out there for a decent price that I can afford to assume that your ambitiously-titled series is crap.

Update: Amazon has started showing a lot of recommendations that include a new warning label, the use of LitRPG in the subtitle. If your work is so weak that you need to call out its obscure genre in the listing, I want no part of it.

How not to sell a book to me

I’ve been a big fan of Patricia McKillip’s stories since the ’70s, and I’ve been generally pleased to see her stuff come back into print.

But I’m not going to pay premium prices for reprints, and even more for a DRM’d ebook, so “fuck you, Random Penguin”.

Fuck you, Random Penguin