In Marked Contrast to My Retraction Regarding Gotham

The Misgivings I had regarding the Season 6 finale of Castle http://tariencole.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/so-im-not-saying-the-season-6-cliffhanger/ were born out by the Season 7 opening.

Warning, if you have not seen the episode yet, SPOILERS ENSUE. You have been warned.

The point of a cliffhanger is to heighten drama, and thus attention to your production. Thus it behooves one, when using this device, to ensure that said drama can support the weight of additional attention. The Season 3 finale of Castle did this well, with Beckett shot, maybe dead, and Castle’s admission of love just before she faded to black.

But a bad cliffhanger can backfire. And this was one. Why? Because it seems the writers were caught between their urge to continue to play will-they/won’t they with Caskett, and the fact that realistically, at this point, the only way to jeopardize their relationship is to make an end with one of the characters. Really, they’ve survived Bracken, separation, their own polar opposite personalities, Beckett’s thick skin and Rick’s worst jackwagon behavior. What was going to separate them, other than flat out death?

The other problem is with all the angst threats to Beckett the last few seasons, there was a real–and correct–need in the writers to restore balance. To make Castle the star of his own show again. The problem is, you cannot KILL Castle. We know this. Castle dies, show’s over. (OK, we might have a couple wrap-up episodes, but that’s the end of the story.) So the whole car-crash at the end of Season 6 was obviously not a ‘death.’ It would be a pathetic way to end the series, and if the series comes back, Rick comes back. Period. So the drama is supposedly in who takes him.

Oy, and here’s where things go haywire. There’s the whole “Castle wasn’t kidnapped” line. Yeah. Because a guy whose never roughed it in his life would WILLINGLY live in a tent. So either the tent is false, or we know he was held there under pretense. The dinghy has bullet holes in it. Yeah, he tried to put those in it himself. Erm, do recall, we’ve seen Castle shoot before, he’s proficient. So somebody did the shooting. And then there was the ‘questioning.’ Yeah…wait. Pardon me…the people who spent 2 months taking and holding Castle, leaving a false trail for Beckett & co to chase the entire time, suddenly up and vanish the day after speaking to them, and let all the real people come back? No…really. So they had all the resources and money to make a false trail, only to fold it up literally the DAY after Beckett talks to them. So they have limitless resources and are incompetent. Gee thanks for that.

Oh wait, they’re going to have WANTED Rick to go back to Kate? So why did they try to take him away in the 1st place? Meh. That doesn’t work. Either way, it reeks of incompetence. Which makes it strange that they would so efficiently whisk him from the world. Hmmm. Could be two different groups…I suppose. Maybe. But why would group 2 do the charade at all then? Still stinks.

Executive Producer Andrew Marlowe, who left at the end of last season as Show Runner, conceded they were going to ‘take their lumps’ early on as they introduced this ‘new mythology.’ But here’s the thing: It wasn’t necessary. There was a simpler, cleaner way to do it: End the Season with a wedding, but right before the end, cut away to the villains talking about how ‘the target is moving’ as they go to their honeymoon.

Note, this is no less effective than a Cliffhanger. They did it this way at the end of Season 4, where Beckett and Castle faded to black, and then we saw Beckett’s tormentors still at work. It made sense. Happy ending, and yet not ‘the end.’ Give them their moment, and then bang, on the island, while they’re alone, separate them. After all, it would’ve been a whole lot easier and more efficient to get them while it’s just the two, then to evade an entire police force, FBI, and everything else, on the mainland. The logic of the plot follows better. You still get the hint of the new mythology at the end of last season (in fact, more of it). And yet the fans don’t have a reason to go, “huh”? for months.

And after last night, to be honest, we’re still going ‘huh’? And how long can viewers scratch their heads before the ‘lumps’ the writers take translate to lost viewers? The show’s ABC’s biggest cash cow, so they’ve done something right. But mind the golden goose.

I Have to Admit, I May Have Been Wrong About Gotham

When I first saw the premise, I was convinced it would be just like the listless 1st half of Agents of SHIELD’s 1st season. A ‘superhero’ universe with no superheroes, and a monster-of-the-week premise that was done to death by Smallville over a decade ago. At best, I thought it would be another of the overdone Police Procedurals, and God Help Me if I know whether we’ll see NCIS or CSI reach Little Rock 1st.

But instead, it’s gone a fascinating direction. Without utterly overthrowing the classic Batman mythology, it’s exploring two taut psychological plotlines.

1) How could a city become so dysfunctional that not only would the city embrace a masked vigilante righting its wrongs in the night? But how could it fall so far that it could be beset by supervillians that would DRIVE someone to become that superhero?

2) The eternal question, “How did Bruce Wayne learn to channel everything he was into becoming the Crazy-Prepared Determinator known as Batman.”

Now the problem the series is going to have is point 2 is going to be a long, slow burn. No matter how much tragedy Bruce saw, and the knowledge we have of where he’s going, can we really stay interested long enough in him to see him become the Batman? Related to this, we known James Gordan isn’t going to have a lot of wins on the way. What can we see on the way to make us want to walk through the slime with him?

Are they willing to do a time jump at some point to bring us closer to the day Bats arrives? Or are they really hoping to have a self-contained pre-superhero series fans will follow? I have to believe that it’s going to be a struggle to maintain the myth-arc without bringing us to the origin. So I still have my concern that in the end, this will degenerate into a police procedural, with perhaps some corruption and mob angles thrown in.

But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. Because Bruce Wayne is still my favorite superhero, and seeing an origin of him well done is not a bad thing.

Building Your World: Economics Overview for Fantasy Writers (non-technical!)

tariencole:

A fascinating article, and as someone whose fantasy worlds often delve into questions of economics and the associated intrigue, I approve of the questions.

I’d nitpick slightly on the issue of Medieval cities not being built around castles. Venice was built the way it was largely because it made it virtually unassailable. And many places that later grew into crossroads or had canals dug to them (Berlin) began as festering swamp holes that were chosen because no one would be able to attack them. England is distinct in a lot of ways because the island gave the entire Kingdom security. On the continent, and in ancient Mesopotamia as well, finding an easily defended location was its own currency.

Originally posted on Novel Ninja:

Yep, I’ve been away for a while. I had some personal-life things to take care of. Nope, I’m not going to describe them here, because they don’t have to do with writing or fun stuff. This ain’t no LiveJournal or MySpace here, bub! (Aaaaand I just dated myself. Moving on.)

I was going to make my first post back be a book review, but instead I decided to get off my duff and start the worldbuilding series I’ve been meaning to do for months now. The reason is that two parts of my life have converged on the same topic very recently. The first is that my workshop at Christendom College has restarted; the second is that I play World of Warcraft on the side.

What’s the relevancy? you might ask, and rightly so. Warcraft players might be able to guess, of course, but I’ll address the workshop angle first. Most…

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Gentlemen, You have no Idea why People Read…

tariencole:

I have to admit, I was never a big fan of Asimov. Mainly because I felt like it was catering to boring sci-fi for a LOOONG time. In fact, it’s pretty hard for me to name a single Spec-fic dead-tree magazine that I can endorse these days. They ALL want to be ‘literary.’

Originally posted on Cedar Writes:

This is a guest post by a friend and very articulate man, who posted this letter he sent to the editors of Analog, explaining why he felt compelled to cancel his subscription and end a three-decade relationship with that venerable SF institution. I will add to it that he touches on a theme you have seen here before, and will see many more times: fiction ought to be fun, enjoyable to read, and possess hope. Nihilism is never fun. 

Hated to do it – well, mildly regret really – but I’ve cancelled my subscription to Asimov’s SF Magazine. And here’s the email I sent them about it. (Warning – spoiler for one story in the magazine… and it’s a fairly long rant.)

—-

It’s been a pretty good run, guys. I’ve subscribed on and off since your first issue in the ‘70s, and usually gotten my money’s worth.

But lately…

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So I’m Back on the Mainland

And going back to the 7-3 grind again today. Loved the week in Hawaii, wish it could’ve been more than that. Yeah, I know, big surprise there. :P

Good news is, I’ve found the writing groove again. Punched out a chapter last night. Also did a LOT of reading on vacation. Enjoyed most of it, and I think it refocused me well coming back. We’ll see how it goes.

I have a dozen links on Gamersgate, and I intend to post my thoughts on it in the next couple days. Until then, don’t let Grimdark drive you to despair!

Most of us are amateurs and thieves if you listen to some folks

tariencole:

Of course, I still technically *am* an amateur for a few more months. But still, it doesn’t matter. The only “real” writers are the ones who work for ‘the cause.’

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

Last week, I wondered if we were in a perpetual full moon phase because of all the craziness that seemed to be going on. Little did I know that the craziness was just beginning. In the time since that post went live, we’ve seen an author on Amazon taking the fight to reviewers because they didn’t like his book, another author going on a rant because of another writer’s politics and espousing the fact that you aren’t a “professional writer” if you self-publish on Amazon and then the latest from HarperCollins, once again proving that legacy publishers look at their customers as thieves. Foolishness, just foolishness with a sense of entitlement thrown in.

Starting from the top. . . .

For years, Sarah and I have inflicted on our friends and people we’ve done workshops with a certain book we found at an RWA conference. This book has been…

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Book Review: Hounded

A fun read, with a fascinating set of characters and an ‘all myths are true’ premise. Atticus o”Sullivan is the last of the Druids, and the narrator of this urban fantasy set in Tempe, Az. It’s not as gripping as Dresden or Kate Daniels, but it certainly got me turning pages.

Pros: The narrator is witty and enjoyable to listen to, a must in any 1st person story. The setting is lived in without being loaded with extraneous details. The secondary cast is filled with characters who are enjoyable even when they’re only scenery for Atticus to bounce his thoughts and stories off of. And when they have their own motives, they’re believable and twisted, without constituting unbelievable obstacles. Nobody trusts anyone. But everyone knows what they need, and are willing to help whichever horse advances their cause. Also, the Druid Magic is described believably and very sensible.

Cons: That same magic seems a bit too overpowered. As a result, there’s never any serious threat level to Atticus. Not only didn’t I doubt he was going to get out of the jam, I never really wondered *how* he would do so. Second, Atticus seems a bit too modern nerdish for a guy whose 2100 years old. Really, he acts like he could be the stoner in the comic book store (a combination of HIS characterizations, btw). It seems rather incongruous for a guy who’s been creeping around longer than the Highlander.

That said, it’s still a fun read. And a very good start to a series I was honestly had some trepidation toward.