Milly 4, the Ice Ship Escapade

This has been a long time coming. I finished this book last year, and finally, time for some of my notes on it! This will contain some spoilers, so please go read it! It’s free for everyone here.

For this post, I’ll talk about the design of Vias, the Ice Province as well as some other stuff later on. For Vias, I had a choice between a large tundra and an ocean with ice floes. I decided to go with the ocean. It also plays into another fun setting I enjoy, cruise ships! I know I didn’t spend a lot of time on the ship, but I had a lot of fun writing it.

Additionally, it helps the theme that certain provinces preferred to be much more controlled about their visitors while others allow anyone in. Vias is one of those less welcoming ones, so a tour ship is a great way to make sure no one wanders around. Of course, it didn’t help with Milly and her friends.

Having them go on an adventure wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I just had to get them off the cruise ship fast, otherwise it would be pretty mundane. Perhaps I glossed over a lot of the sailing parts, but I don’t know that much about it.

With Vias doubling as an ocean province, I could also do any of the fun fantasy things people do in oceans too, only in a winter theme. I had islands that move, massive sea monsters and all that fun stuff. The cruises are usually really safe and fun. It’s just that Milly needed an adventure!

Towards the end of the story, there were some stuff that needs to be changed. I already did part of it but not all of it, so anyone reading it at the time this blog is posted might notice some plot inconsistencies. I decided to make the portal opening a once in a hundred year thing. Before, it was an all the time thing as long as they could make the device. Hopefully, once my changes are done, it will hit a fantastic aurora scene.

That’s about it for the setting of Vias. Next time, I’ll talk about the kundun. Oh about the weather, it’s always cold and snowy there. Aretto, the wizard city in the center, is the only place with seasons. That happens when prevailing winds blow. Vias gives them winter. Other provinces gives them summer, fall and spring. Some places are neutral, such as Murt.


Star Wars, The Last Jedi

Hmm, I have a lot of say about this movie, but most of that is going to be spoilery. I’ll start off with the non-spoiler thoughts, of course.

This movie does differentiate itself from the previous films. It’s more low-key, I think. Yes, there’s still giant space battles and light saber action, of course. Plus, there’s a planet that fits really well into the prequel trilogy, and I say that as a good thing since the prequel trilogy has some great locations. But overall, things feel more small scale and close.

The characters are all split up, which I didn’t like. They work well together, so it was a bit sad not to get much of that for most of the movie. Even in The Empire Strikes Back, only Luke was split up. Here, Rey, Finn and Poe are all doing separate things. But I like them fine. They do a decent job.

Kylo Ren, though. He drives this film. He feels like the most changed over the course of the film, or the most developed. I’m uncertain of which. He has some great scenes in TLJ.

Luke is interesting here. You know, for him, I’ll not say much. Find out for yourself.

The other characters are mostly there. Admiral Holdo is a new character. I sort of liked her and was sort of annoyed by her at the same time. I’ll get into it in the spoiler section. Rose is a character that gets paired with Finn for his mission. I liked her a lot, actually. She seems a good contrast with Finn, and they work together well.

For casual fans, this movie has the space battles, the light saber action, the romp through the new and fun planet. It’s entertaining all around. There is more humor and quips in this movie, some of which doesn’t work. But I don’t think it got distraction. And the new animals are cute and will sell lots of toys.

Alright, onto the spoiler section.

There are so many stupid decisions in this film! Okay, so here’s what’s happening. The last few rebellion ships are running away from the First Order. They are running out of fuel, can’t escape because they are being tracked, so they’re just heading along in a straight line while the First Order chases them. Alright, that’s fine. General Leia gets put out of commission for a while, meaning Admiral Holdo needs to take over.

She is presented as Shady and comes into conflict with Poe. For some reason, maybe her being the boss and Poe being recently demoted, she doesn’t tell him the plan. That leads to Poe making a new plan with Finn and Rose to try and disable the tracking. The result is a plot, that, while I enjoyed, turned out to be less than useful to the overall story. Just a bit of communication would have solved a lot of problems!

The First Order decides to follow along waiting for the rebellion to run out of fuel. Not how space works, but I’ll go with it. Sure, they were pretty confident that it would work. But they could have easily called in some other ships to block the front of the rebellion and ended it. That part didn’t bug my as much since I didn’t have that thought while watching the film. It would be tactical to do, but didn’t seem necessary.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes on with Luke and Rey that I won’t talk much about. Lots of force lessons and Luke being curmudgeonly.

Then there’s Snoke. He feels so wasted in this film. We learn nothing about him at all or about how the First Order has any of the things they have. Sure, that wasn’t important in the original trilogy where the Emperor was just the Emperor and the Empire had a lot of cool stuff. But Luke, Leia and Han fixed that! So I want explanations of where these new guys came from! But we don’t get any. They are just frustratingly there. It seems they have no interest in providing answers, either.

So, that’s The Last Jedi. A fun film that logically doesn’t hold up well and leaves things unexplained that should be. I had fun watching it. The scenes and locations were cool, but it could have a much stronger plot.

Second thoughts. After thinking about it some more, I have come to the conclusion that the movie is fine if episodes 4, 5 and 6 didn’t exist. But since they do, this movie practically invalidates any actions that have happened there. That’s my largest problem with it.

The Orville

This show, this is my favorite new show of the season. Almost everything about this makes me happy. The marketing for this show misrepresented it as a comedy. It is not. This is a serious show about a union that explores the galaxy and tries for diplomacy first. The show is serious, the characters are more laid back, despite being military. It’s a lot like scrubs. The situatiions that characters are put into are dangerous and potentially dire, but the characters themselves are jokey and more like regular people.

Alright, I admitted this in my Star Trek movie reviews (I think) but I only saw a few episodes of Star Trek. From what I hear, this show really captures the tone of the show, including some of the cheesiness. It’s also hopeful and optimistic about what we can achieve in the future along with our alien allies. There are a lot of world, or rather, galaxy-building hints dropped in this first season that I really want followed up on, but they have built an interesting place that I want to explore and know more about.

The crew are all great. Each episode focuses on one or two of them while the other’s act as backup. And I like everyone. While the show is written by Seth MacFarlane, and he also plays the captain, the show doesn’t focus on him more than anyone else. He plays Captain Ed Mercer, a likeable guy that is sometimes awkward, but he shows off multiple times why he’s the captain. He is does his job well and tries to treat everyone fairly.

His first officer is Kelly Grayson, who is perhaps the most serious member of the crew. She mostly has great scenes with other crew members, but she’s also really good at her job, and we get to see that a few times over the season.

Next up is Bortus, the second officer. I think he has the least amount of focus, but his mannerisms are great. And he pretty much steals the scene whenever he’s the focus. Sometimes even when he’s not. Alara is the security officer, and I think she has the second-most development out of all the cast. She’s a great character, too. Great at what she does, but insecure about other things.

The pilot is Malloy, who perhaps has the second-least amount of focus. But he is great friends with everyone, and that plays well across the show. There’s Lamarr, the navigator, who initially starts out pretty normal, like anyone else. He gets a bit of focus later on that could build into something cool. We’ll have to see next season.

Doctor Finn is the ships medical officer. I think she has some great moments now and again, and I actually enjoy the scenes with her kids. They start off annoying, but they quickly become endearing. I think some more scene of her and them together will be great. The last crew officer is Isaac, the science officer. He’s perhaps my second-favorite of the crew. He’s a robot trying to study human life and interactions. Much like Bortus, he’s a scene-stealer, but he also has his science knowledge that I like.

The show goes to a lot of interesting scenarios. I say scenarios because most of the places they visit still look vaguely earth-like. Probably budget and stuff. But the crew has to deal with something interesting each time, and there’s not always a good solution to the problem. They just have to do their best.

This season was far too short. I really like The Orville and want more of it! It is not a parody, it is an homage and a serious show about a group of explorers and the situations they need to handle.

Psych, The Movie

This is going to be a shorter review, but it’s back! Come on, son! You have not heard it both ways!

Psych has not missed a beat since it’s return. This movie is full of callbacks and jokes from the original series. The characters are back in full force, and the catchphrases are back, too. Shawn and Gus are the heart of the show, and their interactions are as great as ever. Shawn and Juliet are still great, and they have fun scenes, but it’s always going to be Shawn and Gus in the end. Not since Cory and Shawn has there been a friendship like Shawn and Gus. And of course Turkanjayde.

Everyone is back, too! Some only for a few moments. It’s unfortunate that one of those characters is Lasseter. I heard he was not well during filming, so that’s why, but I hope they make another one of these and he’s back full time.

This movie hits all the right notes of the series. It is funny in the best Shawn and Gus way. Perhaps I would have liked the antagonists to be more serious and threatening, but the other parts were all great. If you are a fan of the show, this movie is great. If you haven’t seen the show before, watch the movie, decide you want much more of the craziness, and go check out the show.

Murder on the Orient Express

A classy investigation on a cool train. What more could I want? Let me say some stuff not about the movie first. One, I have not read the book. Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t read, though I do know about the ending already. Two, I am inclined to like this movie because I really enjoy a great train setting. You set a movie mostly on a train, especially an awesome one like the Orient Express, and I want to see it.

So how does this murder mystery stack up? It stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Piorot, famed detective. And I really liked him in the role. The movie starts off showing a bit about Hercule, both his intellect, deductive skill and his compulsive tendencies. It was cute and fun. Though Hercule does come off all-knowing at times. I think the issue is the movie length. There’s not enough time to show a proper investigation, so sometimes he says where he got his information in quick sentences and then moves on. I really liked watching Hercule work. He’s smart, but he’s not overly condenscending. Just a bit.

After that, the movie takes a bit before it gets to the actual murder part. I think the front of the movie was paced too slow and the back paced too fast. There are a lot of scenes setting up the other characters on board the Orient Express before we even get boarded. I think the only one that’s needed is Bouc’s. What we saw of everyone else really had little to do with their character later. We could have established them as Poirot was getting to know them for the investigation.

Then, later on in the movie, things sort of just start falling into place withou much changing. When I saw changing, I mean, it’s not like Poirot found a new awesome piece of evidence or did some super sleuthing. Things sort of just happened.

In between, though, that part was great. First off, the train is gorgeous to look at and really evokes a great feeling. From the exterior style to the interior fineries, it just sets up the mood so well. I want to go on a train like that someday.

Anyway, moving on from the train, the investigation and interview parts were really well done. The characters all felt good to watch on screen, though due to being so many of them, they didn’t stand out that much. Josh Gad did do a great job, though. That’s what I was talking about earlier, instead of random scenes of the passengers, we should get more of them on the train, where all of the important action is. But as a whole, they all worked well.

I liked the movie. It had great style with a protagonist that is smart without being too snarky. The time period gives everything a refined, elegant feel. They captured that part well. The beginning and end could use some pacing changes, but it’s a solid murder mystery.

I can’t comment on how obvious the answer was because I already knew it, so I knew what to watch for. But I enjoyed it all the same.

Crisis on Earth-X

The four-way crossover of CW’s superhero shows. It has Supergirl, Arrow, Flash and The Legends of Tomorrow and is pretty much a long, made-for-TV movie. It’s great, fun, charming and embraces the wackiness of multiple universes and heroic deeds. I can only imagine what this would be like with a greater budget and effects. That would be so awesome. What we got as great, though.

This time, the crossover feels like a real crossover. Not everyone is there, but the main characters are in all the shows all the time instead of sometimes dropping out. It’s more cohesive than last year’s crossover. Supergirl is featured a lot more, here, and she’s not the only character from her show to show up!

I’ll go episode by episode. There will be some spoilers here, so I hope what I had above was enough to entice comic show fans to see it.

Part 1 starts off a bit slow, but it’s more of a laid-back introductory episode where everyone gets to know everyone and have some fun. All of the heroes are going to Barry and Iris’s wedding, and I almost said Barris. They meet up, they have fun, Sara (from Legends of Tomorrow) and Alex (from Supergirl) get to know each other. Everything is great. Until suddenly Nazi invasion.

Yes that’s right, it’s an attack from Earth-X, the one place every other dimension wants to ignore and forget because it’s too horrible. The episode ends with a big fight between our heroes and the bad guys, and it was great.

Part 2 is the heroes recovering and wondering what’s going on. I’m pretty surprised that Alex gets a lot of development here. It makes these crossovers feel more important than just being their self-contained thing. Jax and Stein (Firestorm from Legends of Tomorrow) also gets a lot of time spent on their story.

The rest of the episode is about our heroes trying to figure out what their evil versions from Earth-X are up to. Oh yes, there’s evil Green Arrow, evil Supergirl. The last one is Reverse Flash, who is actually the one from Earth-1, somehow still alive and making trouble.

I think the episode feels the least impactful out of the four, but it does have quite an ending.

Part 3 is really great. They add a lot of fun characters and we get to see what Earth-X is like! I think more time could have been spent on seeing the normal parts of Earth-X, but we did get to see the military parts, both of the bad guys and of the resistance.

The parts on Earth-1 were weaker, though. It’s mainly Felicity and Iris somehow beating out trained soldiers while all of the heroes that were not captured to Earth-X were imprisoned in the pipeline instead.

While it started in Part 1, I really enjoyed seeing Earth-X Green Arrow and Supergirl. They care for each other, have strong beliefs based on the world they grew up in and are pretty good representations of how the characters could turn out if their world was really dark and bad. They make for more compelling characters than the dominators, that’s for sure.

And wow, the entire assault sequence on the portal facility was great.

And now, Part 4. Our heroes are back and they are ready to defeat their evil dopplegangers. All of the Legends are here now. I can understand why Nate, Amaya and Zari weren’t invited to the wedding neither Barry nor Iris really knew them. But Ray wasn’t invited either! He comes out to help in an awesome way.

Jax and Stein’s storyline comes to a conclusion here, and it really tugs at the heart. It was emotional. I would have liked something happier, but that’s my preference.

Everyone else takes the fight to the Earth-X invasion force, and we get a fight scene worthy of the climax battle. While the tactics of the enemy could be better, the action and special effects was top-notch all throughout.

This crossover felt like it had some real meaning and thought put behind it. There was more than just an excuse to get everyone together for a fun teamup. There were smaller storylines running through things, some that worked well, some that didn’t. It feels like what happened during the crossover will impact the characters for a while.

Whether that’s the case or not is to be seen, but this event really feels important to the development of the characters. And it was fun all around.

NaNoWriMo 2017 End

Well, not quite yet, but it is ending this week. I hit 50,000 words a bit before that, but I wanted to keep up the pace of writing for as long as I could. So I am going to continue trying to write at least 1700 words per day (which I know is higher than the needed words per day).

So, how did I find this experience? Well, pretty much the same as my previous NaNoWriMo times. It was a lot of fun, but it also took me a lot of time to get my words in. That’s not helped by me watching internet videos when writing, so I probably take two of three times as long to get things done. It’s fun and interesting.

I will talk a a bit about my general NaNoWriMo strategy. For me, it’s all about quantity over quality. I have to get my word count in, and I will edit that down later (if ever). I chose a certain style of book, one that allowed me to do whatever I wanted. A children’s fantasy book seemed like a great choice for that. I can throw in whatever I wanted and have it make sense for the world. It really allows me to fill up the book with fun events that don’t necessarily have to connect to the main plot.

One thing I could really do better in the books is some character developing. At the time, they are mostly having fun and going on adventures. I think that’s alright, but all the stuff I’ve read have the characters learn and grow every book. It’s already tough enough trying to give all the main characters a cool event to do, now I have to have them grow and change. It would be nice if they could just change slightly. It’s not a huge lesson, just a slow growth.

For NaNoWriMo, I chose not to use an outline. I have a general plot in mind, but that’s it. In this instance, I had no idea how I was going to resolve the story until I was about 10,000 words in, but I really liked the idea I came up with. Usually, I would suggest knowing how to resolve things before writing. It just worked out well for me this time.

I also write every day. I think it’s important to keep it up. I find I’m more likely to continue if I do the proper word count each day rather than do a lot one day and take a break the next. That’s how it works for me, but it might be different for you. Everyone has different strategies that work for getting the proper amount of words. I just find it easier to make writing that much a habit.

I think NaNoWriMo does require a different tactics compared to normal writing. Since it’s so fast and furious, you either need to plan out every detail before the start, or you need a story that can handle anything. I chose the latter. It made for a fun experience where I don’t question if something would fit before I add it in. Now, if I ever want to edit my stories, that’s going to be real tough.

If you’re a writer, you should give it a shot next year. It’s not about completing the story but just doing your best at it.