Sunday, April 16, 2017

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!
It's been a while since I wrote about the Doctor, but this month I have something to write about concerning both the latest series premiere and the re-release of my original Doctor Who-inspired series, Loving Who.

My wacky sci-fi romantic-comedies, beginning with the novel Loving Who, are no longer in print from their former publisher (due to a change in business model). The good news is they will be re-released with new cover art and new editing in all new editions from Devine Destinies Books. I'm excited because I really enjoyed revisiting my old friends Cici Connors and the alien John Smith from Loving Who, Leaving Who and Losing Who. I know a lot of new Whovians will enjoy their wild adventures in time, space and fandom, too. I can't wait to introduce them to these new Who-fans.

I don't have an exact release date yet for the first title, but I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, I'd like to ask you favor... Would you be interested in reading and writing a short review of Loving Who and then posting your review to Amazon and Goodreads? I'd sincerely appreciate it, as the old reviews posted there will no longer be associated with the new release. So, if you're interested, please email me at cynthianna @ hotmail.com (no spaces) and let me know if you're able to help me out with a review. Thanks.

Now onto the quickie review of the opening episode, The Pilot. I must say Peter Capaldi is looking great and  seems very relaxed in the role of the Doctor. His hiding out at a university and teaching physics seems up the Doctor's alley, and it gave me a flashback to the partially filmed Douglas Adams' story, Shada, where the Doctor met an old friend who was hanging out as a professor at an English university. The TARDIS in the corner of his well-appointed office fits the decor perfectly.

The reasons why the Doctor has settled down for a spell to teach--and why the alien Nardole is still with him--aren't given, but I'm willing to give it a pass for now. The university professor situation is intriguing,  and the young woman he meets and encourages to study science is intriguing as well. "Bill" isn't your typical college co-ed, as she's not officially a student, and yet she's bright and eager to learn. (After seeing say some rather dumb lines in the trailers, I wasn't sure if I would like her, but she's much more intelligent than those short blurbs indicate. Whew!) About the only criticism I have of Bill after the first story is her horrible taste in clothing and unkempt hairstyle. Nothing she wears is flattering for her body type, in my opinion. I hope the costume and makeup department get to work on improving her look.

We learn in snippets that Bill (Pearl Mackie) is a foster child and never knew her mother. She's a sympathetic character and seems to have the ambition to make something of herself despite her poor circumstances. The Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) seem to be protecting a "vault" in the basement of the building where the Doctor's office is located, but for what reason and from whom are still a mystery. The opening story isn't overly complicated, but it flows at a good pace and introduces Bill and the audience to the TARDIS and the idea that the Doctor is much more than meets the eye. This is always a good way to restart a series after it's been in hiatus for a while.

I'm looking forward to episode two, and hopeful Moffat doesn't derail the more positive and helpful Doctor to bring back his morose persona of the past seasons. Peter Capaldi announced this will be his last year to play the Doctor, and I'd rather he go out on a high note than a low one, wouldn't you? Fingers crossed!
P.S. My short story, If You Give a Time Traveler a Cookie, featuring Cici and John from Loving Who, will also be available from Devine Destinies. Keep it tuned here for details.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Olivia's Return (BloodDark Series Book 2)

It's good to return home--or is it? A year after Olivia Brown's abduction by vampiric aliens, she isn't sure where she belongs anymore.

Cover art by Gwen Phifer.

Olivia's Return
by Cindy A. Matthews and Adrian J. Matthews
Desert Breeze Publishing, February 2017
(Click on cover for direct purchase link)

On Earth, Olivia's told to forget her adventures and go to college. But evidence of wrongdoing by the Pure Bloods prompt fellow Resistance fighter Annara to concoct a plan to spy on Clan Alpha. Are the Alphans dealing with billionaire Roland Grundfest, a man willing to supply "vampire brides" for a price to serve their needs for fresh DNA on BloodDark?

To become a spy, Olivia must do more than dye her hair and change her clothing tastes--she must lie to both her parents and her Quadsang boyfriend, Hernando. A little white lie can't hurt, can it? Once again on BloodDark, Olivia realizes she needs friends like Valori, whose psychic powers can incapacitate hired killers. Will Olivia return to Earth ever again?

Also available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Olivias-Return-BloodDark-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01N9XRMZ2/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486166534&sr=1-4&keywords=Olivia%27s+Return

Excerpt

Something wasn't quite right. It was quiet aboard the small aircraft. Too quiet. A cold shiver of dread tingled up her spine. Olivia glanced around. Leaning across the narrow aisle, she whispered to Hernando, "Where are all the families? This is a holiday weekend, so you'd expect there would be more people than just us, your driver and those big beefy guys in the black suits and ties in the back... Oh, no."

Annara rotated in her seat and rose up slightly on one knee to gain a better view of their fellow passengers. "I wish they hadn't made me pack my bow and arrows."

Hernando frowned. "How many of them are there?"

"Counting your driver, six," Annara replied, returning to face forward. "These tight spaces will make it difficult to defend ourselves, especially if they have weapons."

"Don't forget we're in an airplane. Chances are they won't have guns. There's too much risk of shooting a hole through the fuselage which will endanger us all." Olivia swallowed a large lump in her throat and tried hard not to sound frightened. "The pilot is either one of them, or this is a hijacking."

"What is a hijacking?" Annara asked. "Does this mean they can make this aircraft go to where they want it to go without our say so?"

Olivia nodded. "Kidnapping ambassadors isn't unknown. You'd think all this extra security the government puts people through at airports would prevent something like this."

"Unless they are working for the government. It explains a lot." Hernando's grim tone didn't inspire confidence. Olivia reached out, took his hand and squeezed it. His expression grew darker. "We're at their mercy," he continued under his breath. "Should we announce ourselves? Or should we pretend we're oblivious to their plans?"

"The longer they don't suspect we're onto them, the greater the element of surprise when we turn on them," Annara suggested. Smiling, she stood up and turned around, pretending to re-arrange the seat pillow behind her back. "They're watching us. We should wait until we've landed to make our move. That way, we won't have to worry about dropping out of the sky."

"The soaring lizards of the deserts soar so high on BloodDark," Valori whispered, "and many years ago in the days of my youth the great ships lifted by hot air and the fiery gas..."

Olivia startled and turned to her seat mate. Valori stood, her petite height allowing her to turn about in her seat area and not hit her head on the overhead bin. Olivia had thought her friend was engrossed in reading the fashion magazine, unaware of what was happening. Was I ever wrong. How do you keep secrets from a psychic?

"They are working for an Earth organization friendly with Clan Alpha," Valori explained in a calm and reassuring tone. "I sense their loyalty is more to the money they are promised if they bring you to their employer unharmed, however, and not the honor of the clan or their organization."

"Valori, sit down, please." Olivia took her friend's hand and tried to pull her into her seat, but the older woman resisted.

"Their lack of honor will be their undoing. They're going to sleep now for a very long time." Valori closed her eyes and concentrated, her brow wrinkling.

What on Earth is she doing? Can she use her mind as a weapon? Olivia and the others stole quick glances at the rear of the plane and were surprised to see the men in black slumping in their seats. A couple of them began to snore. The limo driver, sitting several rows behind them, stood up. He looked at the sleeping men in astonishment. A nervous sheen of sweat dotted his brow.

"Where do you think you're going?" Valori addressed the quivering chauffeur in her typical calm manner. "This aircraft soars very high in the sky. You wouldn't want to open the door by accident and fall out of it."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sherlock: This is The End?





Sherlock: This is The End?
(Caution: Spoilers)

I thought I'd write a quick review of Sherlock: The Final Problem since my Doctor Who reviews get quite a few reads. I have enjoyed this mystery series loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories over all, but this last (and it seems to be the very last) episode was quite a let down on many levels.

I realize that the leads, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, are very busy actors and very much in demand these days, but it's not that fact which was a let down for me. It was the fact that, since this was probably the very last episode for the duo as Holmes and Watson, it should have been of higher quality to match their terrific performances over the years.

What to really say about The Final Problem? It was simply... a problem for me. It didn't come across as a mystery worthy of the great detective, but a gimmicky, cheap shot at trying to hook an audience with gratuitous violence and silliness. Previous episodes were based on the classic Sherlock Holmes short stories or novellas, and they seemed to work fine with their 21st century twists. This time, there was none of the charm of Conan Doyle's original characters coming through in the writing. 

Instead, we were presented with the portrait of an adult female with mental illness that was less than flattering. Somehow she is Sherlock's older sister that he never knew he had, which, of course, is not canon. Misogynistic portrayals of women characters is a problem area for producer/co-writer Steven Moffat.  It has been written about by yours truly (see my Doctor Who reviews from a year or so back) as well several other feminists. 

Why Mr. Moffat comes across as "tone deaf" when it comes to writing female characters is a mystery in itself, but it is a consistent problem he has in most of his scripts. He views women as objects to be used to further plots, but they have few, if any, positive characteristics. Psychopathic and sadistic Euros is the winner of  "The Universe's Worst Woman of All Times Award." She has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (Correction: My husband reminded me Euros is an excellent violin player. She does have one redeeming quality.)

Other female characters aren't depicted much better in this script. Poor Molly, who has had a crush on Sherlock all these years, is shamed by Euros's trickery and made to feel bad about her love for Sherlock. He, in turn, is ashamed of his affection towards her. How "unromantic" and "un-gallant" is that?

Shooting and drowning unarmed and tied-up hostages is Euros's idea of fun. She's supposed to be related by blood to Sherlock, Mycroft and their seemingly very gentle parents? (I guess the violin playing ability demonstrates the shared genetics?)  If we had never met Sherlock's parents before in a Christmas story and seen them as "human," maybe we could have believed they spawned a she-demon in Euros. But we have seen their parents, and they came across as "normal." So, there's no real satisfactory explanation of how Euros's psychosis came about and why Sherlock and Mycroft are not also insane. 

Five year olds don't usually become "The Bad Seed" all on their own. It takes quite a lot to drive any person to those types of behaviors. Children who are physically, mentally and sexually abused over and over again can suffer a mental break down and act out violently. Are Moffat and Gatiss in their co-authored tale implying all three of the Holmes children had a horrific and abusive childhood?

Yes, it's a real let down of a story. To be fair, I'm looking at it as a professional writer and a person with a psychology degree and some knowledge of what abuse can do to the individual. But honestly, there was nothing particularly uplifting, redeeming or even accurate in any of the character portrayals as written. This lack of logic in the story wasn't enjoyable.

I really do enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson and Mark Gatiss's Mycroft Holmes. They are superb actors. I was  looking forward to a better send-off for all three characters. Let's hope they have the time and energy to make at least one more positive and hopeful Holmes-like mystery so I can forget this episode as easily as Sherlock can forget his young friend whom Euros chained to the bottom of a well. 

(However did a five year old girl  managed this physical task is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Holmes helped her dispatch and chain up the little boy, and they truly are monsters? Ugh.)




 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio



 Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

I haven't written a TV episode review in some time, so I thought I'd dust off my reviewing skills and dive in once more with a very short critique.  

The Return of Doctor Mysterio was, on the whole, much better than I'd thought it would be. First off, it wasn't one of those "I hate Christmas!" holiday specials that Moffat seemed to enjoy writing in recent years. In fact, other than a brief allusion to the Doctor possibly being Santa Claus in the opening act, there was nothing Christmasy about the story. That's a good thing, in my opinion. It's best to stay away from a subject you don't like as a writer, especially with Steven Moffat's hang ups.

The tone of the tale was upbeat and positive throughout, and we were introduced to a pair of very likeable characters in Grant and Lucy. New York as a location was fine, although it could have been written to take place in any large city, really. Why not Chicago or Denver or Cleveland or St. Louis next time? It's nice to get out of London and the British Isles occasionally, but there are other cities in the U.S. besides New York, you know?

The evil aliens who are invading Earth this time around were very cool. Zipper heads? Replaceable brains? Aliens substituting themselves for government leaders and getting away with it at the people's expense? I find it a plausible enough premise after our recent election, so I'm all in for this sort of monster-of-the-week.

I wasn't too sure about Matt Lucas' character of Nardole in the script at first. (When did he join the Doctor and how?) But since he didn't detract from the action or the growing romance of Grant and Lucy, and brought about some genuinely funny moments, I was okay with his addition. 

The whole "superhero comes to life" humor and sub-plot was very entertaining. Who doesn't want to see "Clark Kent" woo "Lois Lane"? Who doesn't like watching a little boy fly about the skies of Manhattan in his pajamas? It was a storyline that younger family members could understand, follow and enjoy as well as us old-timers. The special effects and costuming were all superb as usual, and I loved seeing Peter wear a more classic Jon Pertwee-styled outfit with a velvet jacket minus the hoodie. Very dashing!


I hope the upcoming series keeps this episode's upbeat and positive focus, avoids the "teenage soap opera angst" of the Clara years (yawn!) and stays with emphasizing the Doctor's good traits of being hopeful and helpful to mankind. The moody, sometimes mean-spirited, Doctor didn't work well for me in the past season. I greatly prefer Peter Calpaldi's Tom Baker-like performance in The Return of Doctor Mysterio. No more endless crying over lost girlfriends--the classic era's dictum of "No hanky-panky in the TARDIS" worked much better for character and story development.

We need to see a return of strong  and intelligent female companions such as Leela, Sarah Jane, Liz Shaw and Donna Noble. It would be nice to actually like the Doctor's companions instead of cringing over them as we've done in recent years, so perhaps Grant and Lucy can make a reprise later on in the season? Nardole might even grow on me given time and decent writing.

My British husband, who gave up on Doctor Who after viewing the "Mary Poppins Master" (Missy) episodes, dared to watch this show. The verdict? He said he enjoyed it. Considering he has watched Doctor Who since the William Hartnell era, that's a good sign it has improved in quality.

What do you think of The Return of Doctor Mysterio?

Monday, November 21, 2016

As We Enter the Holiday Season...



As we enter the holiday season, let me be the first person to wish you all a very happy holiday season--whichever one(s) you celebrate. For Americans, most of us celebrate Thanksgiving in November and a holiday or two in December and New Year's Eve. So, please consider yourself "greeted" by yours truly. (If you like, you can return the holiday greetings in the comments below.)

I wanted to make this holiday greeting announcement fairly early on in the season so that what I'm about to say next wouldn't come as a shock to you: I've decided not to send any Christmas cards this year. Don't worry--I will give gifts to close relatives, and I will decorate my tree and house as usual. I'm not going to be a total "Scrooge." The reason why I'm not sending out holiday cards is to make a statement: Not everyone is going to experience a "Happy Holiday!" this year. I feel that the money I spend on postage and cards could be better put to use helping others have a happier, safer and more just 2017, so I plan on doing just that.


You might not be aware of what is happening at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation  with the Dakota Access Pipeline, but this would not be because I haven't shared this information frequently on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and on the weekly blog I edit, Our Revolution Continues and in several pieces I've written for Political Storm.  Since this is my general writing blog/web page I won't go into details here (you can easily click on the links provided for those), but I wanted to share the reason behind the statement I've just given. 


How can I say the words, "Joyous tidings of the season to you," or "Peace on Earth, good will to all mankind," when horrendous injustices are being inflicted on our peaceful water protectors of the Missouri River? I just can't.

Instead of mailing out hollow words of joy to friends and family, I will use those funds to help out the people of Standing Rock and elsewhere who are in need. If you feel inclined to help others in need this season instead of mailing cards and letters to the names on your Christmas list, please feel encouraged to do so. I won't feel slighted in the least if I don't receive a card from you. In fact, I'll feel very happy and proud to call you my friend for putting the needs of those suffering injustices--such as the water protectors of Standing Rock who strive to protect our precious land, sky and water--ahead of my feelings.


I wish you all a happy holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May it be a better year than we hope, or at least may it be one in which we all re-discover our humanity and humility and truly live out the Golden Rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Think: One day you may need your neighbors' help. How can you rely on them in your darkest hour if they can't rely on you during this season of light?

--Cindy






Update 11/21/16: Here's the first project I'm supporting for the water protectors at Standing Rock in lieu of sending Christmas cards this year. I've always wanted to build a straw bale home, so I'm glad to support Honor the Earth as they build a community hall for the Oceti Sakowin encampments. Check it out, and if you feel motivated, donate a little something toward their goal of $75K (they're about halfway there). They will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner there in a few days. https://honorearth.nationbuilder.com/makagioti
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