Getting Angsty?

In a recent book review I mentioned that angsty teenage books aren’t my thing. It’s nothing personal, I’m not into romance for the sake of romance either. For me, the stakes aren’t high enough, or at least I don’t care enough about them, for either to draw my attention.

Which is why I was really surprised when I found that my own writings and also the TV shows that I prefer watching have plenty of super angsty moments.

What’s the difference?

For me it’s motive and reach. In all stories the main character has a really big problem that he or she needs to overcome. In teenage angsty novels these problems tend to revolve around the internal needs of the teenager. She needs to feel accepted. Her boyfriend is cheating on her. She is dying of a terminal illness. He is a wimp. Her boyfriend is a vampire. Not all in the same book, although that would be awesome.

None of the problems extend beyond the main character or their immediate friends. If the worst should happen, yes it’s devastating for the character, but it the effects rarely leave the community.

In my preferred fandoms, and also in my fiction, the scope tends to be larger. The problems affect whole cities, worlds, or even universes. When something goes wrong, it threatens more than a few emotional teenagers, civilizations are at stake. The problems can include anything including universe eating temporal rifts, demon fueled armies, megalomaniac wizards, and gods squaring off against each other.

That’s not to say that the same internal problems don’t exist, they most certainly do. But they exist layered along side much bigger issues.

Last night I had my own personal angst fest with non other than our friend the Doctor. Doctor Who is a great example of how layering massive universe-sized problems alongside intense personal conflict makes for some very compelling stories.

I have a few favorite doctor moments, specifically with the 10th doctor.

In the episode Journey’s End, the season finale for the fourth season, there are lots of different angsty elements at play. It’s touted as the most tragic episode – guaranteed to give anyone the feels. The villainous Daleks have kidnapped planet Earth to create a reality bomb that will in essence destroy all matter in every universe. The Doctor has found several of his previous companions to come help avert the crisis. These include Rose Tyler, the companion he loved and lost; Donna Noble, the closest person he’s had to a best friend; and Martha Jones, the woman who loved him but he didn’t love back.

In the course of the episode a second Doctor is created, who is essentially a clone except for one vital difference – he is not a Time Lord and will age and die like a human.

I’m a sucker for a good tragic character. I love Hamlet, Frodo, and now, the Doctor. In Journey’s End. The angst comes from the multitude of problems that can’t be solved without sacrifice. The Daleks must be defeated to save Earth. Rose must be returned to her own parallel world. Donna, being human, cannot sustain having the knowledge of a Time Lord.

The Doctor must sacrifice his love for Rose by sending her off with the clone doctor to repair the rift in time. To save his best friend Donna’s life, he must remove all knowledge of himself from her mind, and lose her forever. His clone has committed genocide on the Daleks, getting him, a man who abhors violence, named the Destroyer of Worlds. In essence, everything that is important to him is ripped away and he is left alone once more. doc who rain

Take that teenage angst! I know it’s unrealistic, but it’s oh so good.

TV Talk: Once Upon a Time

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Because I write in speculative and fantasy it would seem like watching Once Upon a Time would be an obvious choice.  It is loaded with magic, which I love, and fairy tale characters, which I have a love/hate relationship with. However, the small snippets I have seen haven’t yet appealed to me mainly because it feels so much like a fantasy soap opera.

So, I’m giving it a try.

From what I’ve gathered so far there is a fairy tale world and the real human world. Neither of the world’s populations know of the other world’s existence except for the Evil Queen Regina and the naughty Rumpelstiltskin. The queen curses the people of the fairy tale world to live in the real world with no memories of their past.  They live in a small quiet community in Maine called Storyebrook.

There is one who can break the curse, the daughter of Snow White, Emma Smith, who managed to escape the curse by being sent to the real world as an infant before it happened. Her son, Henry has a book with the clues to help unlock the memories of the fairy tale characters.

Once_upon_a_time_season_three_castI haven’t watched more than the first episode so far but I can see lots of promise. There’s good storytelling and cool costuming and that’s enough for me to stick around a bit longer.

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Are you a fan of Once Upon A Time? What is your favorite episode? Favorite Character?

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Before I forget – the awesome folks at Xchyler Publishing have released a knock-your-socks-off trailer for this year’s fantasy anthology that features my story Breath. Check it out!

Movie of the Month: Guardians of the Galaxy

Over Christmas vacation we finally got around to watching the latest movie offering from the world of Marvel Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy. I know, I know, it’s been out for ages, relax already. After hearing so many good things about it I’ve been eager to sit back and put my feet up and enjoy.

And I did.

[Warning: Spoiler Alert!]

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Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, is a space scavenger seeking his fortune and he believes he has found it when he is commissioned to find a valuable orb on the dead planet of Morag. He’s not the only one who wants it either. When he finds it first he becomes the target for the universe’s most despicable baddie, the megalomaniac Ronan, who sends his assassin Gamora to hunt the orb down. Peter has also double crossed his partner Yondo Udonta, who now will do anything to hunt him down. Lastly, bounty hunters Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon, and Groot, a sentient house plant/tree, want Peter as well but ultimately they end up joining him for a share in the money. Peter is captured by the benevolent Nova Corps on Xandar and thrown into prison where they meet Drax who has a score to settle with Ronan. Long story short, Peter, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax end up joining forces and become the Guardians of the Galaxy. They escape the Kyln prison and try to sell the orb to the mysterious Collector, who finally tells them what it actually is. Because of the orbs immense world-destroying power, the Guardians decide that the orb must be delivered to the Nova Empire for safe keeping from Ronan. Ronan, however, has other plans, and intercepts them at Xandar in his mammoth ship the Dark Aster.

If you want to know how it turns out, you’ll have to watch it!

As for me, I loved it. It was a highly entertaining romp through the galaxy with a cast of super-likable characters.  Someone told me that it was essentially the Space Avengers, and they’re right.  Each of the Guardians match up to one of the Avengers.  Rocket is Iron man, Gamora is the Black Widow, Drax is Thor, Groot is the Hulk, and Peter Quill is Captain America.  We can even stretch it to say that Yondo Udonta is Hawkeye with his super cool psychic arrow.

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If I were to choose  favorite, it’d be Rocket.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he seems to know what’s going on long before the others, he’s even cute and furry.

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News!

I have a book release coming up on January 31st! The book is “The Toll of Another Bell” a fantasy anthology from Xchyler Publishing.  You can pre-order a copy on Amazon today. There will also be a release party on Facebook with lots of great prizes. Check out the links for more details!

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New Favorite Musicians – The Piano Guys

Pop culture has everything to do with the latest and best incarnations of our favorite things, and music is no exception. In my high school years I loved the piano music of Jon Schmidt almost as much as I loved and still love soundtrack music.

Yesterday I found the best of both worlds – Jon Schmidt playing awesome mixes of some of the best soundtrack music out there along with his awesome buddies in The Piano Guys. Here’s my new favorite mix, Batman Evolution.  Not only do they weave the best of the Batman theme songs from across the years, but they have been allowed to borrow three of the original Bat mobiles as set pieces.

Check it out: