Saturday, September 3, 2011

The problem with writing

is that it is an inherently solitary pursuit, and nowadays I don’t seem to get all that much time to be solitary. Even now, with my wife just out the door for an evening shift, there is a litany of things I should be doing including, but not limited to, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car, scooping the poop, setting up the cat house, vacuuming, washing the floor making dinner, tidying up, finding that lost prescription, get caught up on work emails and generally taking care of the two cats and two huskies currently clamouring for my attention.

I have no idea how my friends who have families still find time to play video games or do their hobbies. I don’t even have kids, besides the fuzzy ones, and I barely have time to read anymore. Being a grown up sucks.

My wife bought me ‘I Shall Wear Midnight” by Terry Pratchett for Xmus of last year, and it is only come to the top of my to-read pile recently. I quickly buzzed through the first three books in the Tiffany Aching series (‘Wee Free Men’, ‘Hat Full of Sky’ and ‘Wintersmith’) and had forgotten how solid the series is overall. Yes, it is suppost to be a young reader’s series, but it is a highly mature one. ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ starts out with some of the darkest stuff I have ever read in a “Kids’” book, and I am not talking about fairy tale dark like cannibalistic witches or the devil taking a soul, this is real life, horrific stuff. The other theme that runs through the series is the loss of self or loss of memory, which given Sir Pratchett's battle with Alzeimers is absolutely hearbreaking.
My wife also picked up “A Dance with Dragons’ because she works in a book store and the hard cover has dropped to 30% off, which meant I had to load in the complete Game of Thrones into my e-reader and start getting caught up all over again. I was surprised at how reluctant I was start into the series again since I must have read it at least three or four times in the past and I still genuinely love it, but I think I’m getting a little gun shy over the sprawling plot and multiple threads.
I know that the series had gotten away from Martin a bit (my original copy of ‘Game of Thrones’ has the series as a ‘coming soon’ trilogy), and I sincerely hope that he has taken these five years to hammer out a conclusion to the series that lives up to the build up. I dread another “The Wheel of Time”, or a television series like ‘Lost’, “Battlestar Galactica” or even “The X-Files” where the series become almost impossible to watch over again because you know the ultimate finales are such a let down.
In my heart, LOST ended like this

When I have time I also go skimming through Netflix for old Doctor Who and MST3K and as I write this “Doctor Who and the Aztecs” is on in the background. This is an adventure with the first Doctor and it is interesting to see how much, and how little the series has changed. The Doctor is a cantankerous old bastard with a mischievous gleam in his eye and is generally smarter than everyone else around him, but he does make some serious mistakes. His companions are often more of a nuisance than help, and sometimes treated with outright contempt, and he obviously plays favourites, treating Susan, his Granddaughter with more care than his human companions who are more or less just along for the ride. The issue of the Doctor’s family is one that comes up from time to time and it is known that he has a cloned daughter and Susan, who by all accounts is his natural Granddaughter, both running around through time and space somewhere. I’d like to see this addressed at some point (both where some of my first guesses for River Song), but I’ll live if they aren’t. Sometimes a little mystery is a good thing.

What is interesting about ‘Doctor Who and the Aztecs’ is that is just the Aztecs. Modern Doctor Who has conditioned me to look for the aliens, but this series comes from a time when Doctor Who was also a history show and the ones where he went back in time where meant to introduce kids to history without having to throw in an alien monster and a lot of running. It’s a little refreshing actually.

The plot is fairly simple, The Tardis appears inside an Aztec temple and Susan and her teacher Barbara wander out first, marvelling at the artefacts and finding a hidden door. They are followed shortly by the Doctor and Ian to find that Barbara has been deemed a goddess and the rest of them her servants because only gods can come OUT of the temple. The problem is that the door is one way, and they know have to find a way back to the Tardis before a treacherous priest discovers that Barbara is not a god and sacrifices them all.

There is some of the silly, ‘oh, look at the colourful primitives who don’t know any better’ stuff here, especially from Susan’s teachers, but it is actually countered by the fact that every time Barbara tries to "improve" things she makes things worse and and by the Doctor, who lectures her and Iam on trying to interfere or alter the past.

The appearance from the temple would make a good hook to introduce characters to a setting like Talislanta or Tekumel.

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