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Squeeing Over Supergirl: Episode Seven

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 7, “Human for a Day”

TEHANI: I have watched this episode three times and I’m still struggling to come up with anything terribly *interesting* to say about it! I mean, it wasn’t awful. The dialogue didn’t suck horribly. The effects weren’t eye-rollingly bad. The characterisation stayed true to the established story so far. So why do I feel so “meh” about it?

DAVID: I don’t know! There was actually a lot happening in this episode, and some really good moments.

TEHANI: There were some very cool bits. I LOVED the reveal at the end that Hank is J’onn J’onzz – I got goosebumps! Although tell my why Alex has to keep it secret from Kara? And I teared up when Supergirl talked down the thugs in the store, and James’s face when he took those photos was great.

J'onn J'Onzz DAVID: Well, I am big enough to admit when I am wrong! I didn’t see that coming at all, so it was a great reveal to me. Now that it doesn’t matter, a bit of background. Hank Henshaw is a scientist/astronaut who is rescued by Superman when a space mission goes wrong, but his wife dies and he goes insane and blamed Superman—it’s a bit like the story they gave for Reactron. He comes back as cyborg, and is one of the Superman impersonators in the Death of Superman story arc. So, when I heard the name and saw the red glowing eyes, you can imagine what I assumed.

J’onn is a great character, so I am excited to see what they do with him. But, I am a little worried that it will suffer in comparison to Smallville where he plays a similar sort of protector/guide role. I am going to suspend judgement though.

TEHANI: Here’s where my advantage of not having seen Smallville pretty much at all comes in handy – no preconceptions! I think maybe it was just that the episode felt a bit scattered? Even after my second watch I still had to go to Wikipedia to find out what the explosions were from – I couldn’t figure it out myself, and had assumed some villainous incident that wasn’t explained. And some things actively made no sense – a fire on the floor above but not a problem for Kara and her crew? What?

DAVID: They were from an earthquake, right? That’s what I assumed, anyway. With most of these television shows, though, you they don’t always bear close examination! But, the disaster was really a plot device, rather than being the main focus—it was just there to give the rest of the events a reason to happen.

Stand OffTEHANI: Yes, they were, but I couldn’t TELL. I did like the exploration of Kara without her powers, and the parallel of Cat inspiring people to do good, and be good. It was also nice to see James, Winn and Cat making stuff happen, which dovetailed neatly with the idea that a superhero at your service doesn’t necessarily equate to a populous unable to save themselves, as sleazy (but over-qualified for everything) Max Lord suggested. Also, pretty heartbreaking to see Kara realise she can’t save everyone.

DAVID: Those are two things that every superhero story needs to explore—are they more than simply the sum of their powers, and dealing with the realisation that they can’t save everyone, that they aren’t God. I thought they handled both pretty well in this episode. I found the scene where Kara was almost begging someone to save that heart attack victim more powerful than the one with the robber, but they both were very well done.

TEHANI: Agreed, they were well done.

HelplessDAVID: And, I have to say, a superhero with Kara’s idealism and hope is a breath of fresh air given the current focus on grim and gritty! I like the fact that her failure to save that guy, and her loss of powers, reinforce her desire to help rather than diminish it. Maxwell represents cynicism, and the “if you can’t save everyone why bother,” and Kara represents hope and the “make whatever difference you can and if everyone does that it will all add up”.

TEHANI: The DEO parts were a bit odd – just one long set up for Hank’s reveal, I think, and it showed. Overall? A bit of a meh episode, with a fantastic payoff in the reveal, and then finally some more Kryptonian presence to cliffhang us into next week!

JailDAVID: Perhaps that’s why you thought it was a bit “meh”? It really is two episodes in one, and the jump between the two is often quite jarring, throwing us out of the episode a little every time it flicks back and forth. But, the DEO stuff was worth it if we got J’onzz out of it in the end!

“Pilot”
“Stronger Together”
“Fight or Flight”
“Livewire”
“How Does She Do It?”
“Red Faced”

 

My 2015 in Review

Wow – another year is just about to say good bye! Where has it gone? It has been an action packed year for me, so maybe that’s why it seems to have flown past. It’s been pretty successful year, too, with lots of highlights, but before I get into that, let’s look at my goals from 2014 and get the unachieved goals out of the way! Then I can move on to the good stuff…

The big goals for 2015:

  • Get that elusive pro sale!
  • Finish the YA novel and get it off for submission.
  • Catch up with Doctor Who.
  • Get my solo novel done.
  • Start another conversational review series about a series of books that are very dear to my heart
  • Try and get involved in some sort of news/discussion podcast

Let’s see:

  • Nope. I came close with one sale at 5c a word, and an anthology that would have given me a pro sale being put on hold.
  • Nope, but as you will read in the achievements section I made some good progress with this one
  • Nope. Don’t even want to talk about that!
  • Nope, but again feel happy with what I did achieve in that area.
  • Started a conversational review series, but not that one!
  • Nope, but have found the idea and other person, so that’s a start

So, as you can see, I didn’t do so well with the goals. But, now that the self flagellation is out of the way, here’s what I did achieve in 2015!

WRITING

Considering I only had one short story published in 2014, 2015 was a pretty good year on the writing front. I’ve given a comprehensive breakdown on my writing statistics here for those of you who love graphs and stuff, but the upshot was that I had:

  • Five short stories published
  • Managed to crack couer de lion, a market I have coveted for years
  • Sharing a ToC with David Morrell AND Margaret Atwood AND Chelsea Quinn Yarbro AND Tanith Lee (in what was sadly her last appearance) – all in the same amazing book!
  • A reprint
  • A story turned into a podcast at the most excellent StarShipSofa

While I didn’t meet my goal of having my own original solo novel published, the big news was that my first novel length work came out.

9backcountry_

This has led to more tie-in work, and I am looking forward to being able to announce what I think will be my biggest news yet.

While the Secret Young Adult book isn’t finished yet, we made real progress, with the first ten chapters refined to the point we were happy to send them off to test readers. I got the first feedback email today and it is look good!

2016 is already shaping up to be an even bigger year, so stay tuned for more news as it comes.

CONVENTIONS

2015 was a bit of a jetsetting year for me. I was lucky enough to get visit New Zealand for their Natcon, and discovered that NZ fandom is incredibly welcoming and friendly. I also met some wonderful authors, and made some new friends.

Having fun with some new writer friends!

Having fun with some new writer friends!

I had a great time at my home con of Continuum, getting to be on some great panels and generally just having fun.

This panel on Religion in Spec Fic was much more fun than I am making it look here!

This panel on Religion in Spec Fic was much more fun than I am making it look here!

I managed to make it back to the US this year for an incredible 4 week trip that took me from LA to New York, and plenty of places in between. While over there I went to Sasquan, the Worldcon in Spokane, Washington. As well as hanging out with the Brotherhood Without Banners, the greatest fan group in the Universe, I had the honour of accepting a Hugo for Galactic Suburbia. The Hugo Awards night will be indelibly etched in my memory, it was a truly wonderful night that was capped off with the Hugo Loser Party to end all parties!

Sasquan

And, last but not least, I went up to Canberra for Conflux, and as usual had a great time. There were many highlights, like a Paying for Our Passion panel, and experiencing the Cabinet of Oddities performance, where I had the privilege of hearing one of my stories set to music composed especially for it and played on flute.

Conflux

The “Paying for Our Passion” panel

So, not a bad year for conventions!

AWARDS

I was lucky enough to be nominated for a couple of Ditmars this year, including another Atheling nod. I was a little sad that the Snapshot didn’t win, but given the quality of the category it was in I am not complaining–any of the winners would have been deserving!

BLOGGING

While we didn’t finish the New Who stuff, we did get some reviews done, and I also started a new series of reviews with Tehani as we Squeed Over Supergirl!

By far the most successful series on my blog was Paying for Our Passion, and again I must thank all the writers and editors who were willing to make themselves so vulnerable with some excellent posts on the sacrifices we make to pursue or passions.

PODCASTING

Galactic Chat had a quiet end to the year, but I did get the chance to interview some amazing people. If you haven’t already, you should check out the podcast. I also had my first ever podcast interview when I appeared on it myself.

GOALS FOR 2015

So, looking back, it was a pretty good year! Despite my abject failure to meet last year’s, I am going to set some goals for 2016:

  • FINALLY catch up on Doctor Who
  • start the new podcast I have planned
  • get the full version of the YA book out to test readers, if not an agent
  • make that elusive pro sale

And that will do for now. :-)

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the course of the year, and to those who have supported and encouraged me in so many ways. I couldn’t have achieved any of the things I have listed without you. Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and hoping that 2016 is your best yet!

Squeeing Over Supergirl: Episode Six

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 6, “Red Faced”

DAVID: Well, we are now at Episode 6, and in some ways the show is starting to hit its stride—but in some ways not so much. I feel like the show is trying to say some really important things about sexism and equality, but I’m afraid that sometimes the execution doesn’t measure up. I know the feeling, sometimes when I am writing I feel like I can’t do certain subjects justice, that I don’t have the the necessary tools or ability, and it can be incredibly frustrating. But, I am not a professional screenwriter, either!

TEHANI: Did you catch the line about the President being a woman? It was blink and miss, but cute. I agree though, the spirit is definitely willing in what they are trying to do but the flesh is sometimes weak. Having said that, I think it’s great that the attempt is being made, particularly considering the audience the show is aimed at.

Stupid Motorist

DAVID: I liked the exploration of acceptability of being angry, and I think Cat nails it when she says women can’t be angry in the business world. You only have to look at the difference in terminology that people use to describe the same mood depending on gender, or even the jokes about hormones etc that men never get, to know how true this is. James makes a good point though, about black men not being encouraged to show anger either, and I think that is probably one of the best lines of the episode—subtly inserted in to point out an inequality, lacking some of the clumsiness of other equally valuable societal observations.

TEHANI: Agreed! This stuff was handled well, I thought. Cat Grant is totally my favourite thing ever – they are using her as a mouthpiece and doing it quite successfully. And isn’t it just so fantastic that we HAVE James to be able to say these sort of things? Red-headed, white Jimmy Olsen wouldn’t quite get away with it. Oh look, diversity, see what can be done?!

Promo Picture

DAVID: The romance elements were handled quite well. Seems that maybe Maxwell Lord will be a love interest—but not for Kara!

TEHANI: I like to hope Alex is smarter than that – surely she’s just playing him, right?

DAVID: I thought the scene with James and the Kara was excellent, where their friendship and willingness to be vulnerable with one another was the focus, rather than the URST, and Kara had a bit of an epiphany about what she is looking for. This scene felt much more real to me than some of the others we’ve seen with these two. And, of course, James and the General over dinner was great viewing, I almost thought the General was going to say something much nastier! He did have a good point though about James surrounding himself with special people to make himself feel special. There might be an element of truth in that.

TEHANI: I found that interesting, because James is a successful person in his own right, and it’s tricky to consider that he got there partly (or only) because of his connections. Because let’s face it, in real life how much of success is who you know, rather than what? I’m not sold on Lucy+James. I don’t know how the show is going to resolve this happily (for me), because I am shipping Kara+James pretty hard but Lucy is not an awful person and I’d really like to see she and Kara and Alex eating icecream and giving each other pedicures while talking about boys… But that scene at “game night” was fairly telling – James and Lucy clearly know each other very well and are extremely comfortable with each other again. That doesn’t, of course, mean a forever relationship, but it’s interesting to see the portrayal of their relationship changing.

Supergirl and Lucy

DAVID: We finally got to meet Cat’s mother, and it does explain a fair bit about Cat. However, I don’t like the ongoing trend where we are shown a softer or more vulnerable side to Cat, and then meant to excuse her behaviour towards Kara and other employees. She may care under that gruff exterior, and have reasons for who she is, but it doesn’t change the fact that she is a bully and creates a pretty hostile work environment, is arbitrary in handing out discipline and has done some ethically questionable things. Maybe I am less forgiving of this because she is female, thus proving the premise of the episode, but I don’t think so—I dislike Peter Parker’s boss for exactly the same reasons. Anyone who has worked for someone like them would.

TEHANI: But Kara snapped back at Cat! That was AWESOME! The ongoing presentation of a variety of women’s relationships are making me happy in this show. I hope at some point we get to see a mother/daughter relationship that is positive, though! I agree with your thoughts here, except that in this particular episode, I actually think it was a fair point. And I’m hoping that by having to interrogate her mother’s behaviour, Cat can also turn that spotlight on herself as well. Also? Cat’s mum is an EDITOR!

And Lucy’s dad is a focused and not-very-nice general. I agree with James and Kara – I don’t like him!

Cat's mother

DAVID: The actual villain of the week is almost reduced to a sideshow by all this character development, which is a shame. Red Tornado is a great character in Batman:The Brave and the Bold and is used as a wonderful foil for Batman. Here he is just a remote controlled robot, and we don’t get the full value out of his sentience that we should.

TEHANI: Eh, I didn’t really care because I know so little about the villains of canon. I think we’re getting that a lot though, where the monster of the week is really just an excuse for all the character stuff. And I’m kind of okay with it, because I’d rather see those relationships develop and grow than care about the big bad of the episode. That may be just me… I do like how we’re seeing Alex portrayed. The fact she is so darn kick-ass and kills in the line of duty is not something we’re used to seeing in a female role, particularly on a show with this audience. But why shouldn’t we? If Alex was male, it wouldn’t even be commented on, so I’m all for it.

Red Tornado on his knees

I also want to make note of the progression in the plot of who the heck is Hank, and what happened to Alex’s dad. I like that Winn got to show off his white hat hacker skilz to find that out. It’s quite nice to see things moving along, not being dragged out over an entire season (or more…). I’m still excited to find out!

Super Sisters

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

“Pilot”
“Stronger Together”
“Fight or Flight”
“Livewire”
“How Does She Do It?”

Squeeing Over Supergirl: Episode Four

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 4, “How does she do it?”

TEHANI: Please, PLEASE don’t let this turn into a show that is ONLY about boyfriends and girlfriends! I don’t mind it occasionally, but we need to see Kara as more than just a love interest or thwarted love interest or part of a love triangle… She’s freaking Supergirl for goodness sake—there is more to her than boys!

DAVID: I do wonder whether that is something that might be more appealing to the demographic they are targeting, though. I mean, all the relationships stuff isn’t something that really interests me, but I doubt that I would have been invited to their focus groups. So, is it a reasonable thing for them to be doing given the audience they are aiming at?

TEHANI: That’s not an unreasonable assumption, BUT… Why do all teen shows have to focus on the relationships? Can we not expect something more of these shows? Because you know, I reckon there are a whole heap of discerning young viewers who would be MORE THAN HAPPY to see people doing things and interacting without lots of love-triangley stuff getting in the way. You know, like real life…

JamesDAVID: I am curious as to your thoughts on the whole “friendzone” discussion. It’s usually a term applied to men, and often has some unpleasant baggage attached.

TEHANI: Yeah, that made me cringe a bit. I get what they were trying to shorthand it to, but it is a bit off, considering the problematic connotations it has.

I do wish this had been aired in the order it should have been though, because there are some important relationship changes that make more sense having seen this episode prior to “Livewire”.

DAVID: I can certainly understand why they rescheduled it, the climax on the train was more than a little disturbing simply in itself. But, there are a few things that would have shed light on the events of the next episode—especially Lucy and James suddenly being back together, and Kara’s seeming acceptance of it.

DoorTEHANI: This is probably more a personal thing, but I really liked the theme of this episode, which basically was (for me, at least) about women and the myth of “having it all”. Supergirl pointing out that she can’t be in two places at once, Cat thinking she will miss out on collecting her award because she has no one to watch her son, all those things. And as usual, my favourite parts of the episode were Cat Grant speaking truth…

Cat: “How do you juggle it all? You learn, that’s how. You start with two balls before adding another. I figured out how to be brilliant in business and THEN I added being a brilliant mother. Far too many women burn out trying to do too much before they’re ready.”

Kara: “So you can have it all?”

Cat: Of course! Just not all at once and not right away.”

DAVID: I think that Cat perhaps suffers the most from the missing episode. We see a much more sympathetic side to her in this episode, and I wonder how much more forgiving I would have been of her treatment of Livewire if I’d seen this episode first. Is this the most human aspect of Cat we have seen so far?Carter

TEHANI: Carter was also pretty awesome. I liked Cat’s relationship with her son, and I liked the way Kara got him to open up a bit. It was also interesting to see Carter used to make a point about Winn’s character (which helps us realise one of the reasons why Kara probably isn’t interested in him—he’s just a big kid!). Although it was a bit creepy that Kara was fishing for Supergirl compliments from him—even my 10 year old picked up on that and went “ew”!

DAVID: There was lots to like about Carter—but also a lot of pandering to the viewers. As his mother said, nerds can win in the end (and I’d argue that we have when you look at the current state of pop culture). I don’t like preachy TV, but I do like it when shows have a good message and I think that they are providing some good role models in this show. Role model might not be quite the right, but I am sure that plenty of tweens or young teens would identify with Carter and there were some good messages in there.

I think poor old Winn is getting a bit of the rough end of the stick here. As we see, James has far more flaws when it comes to being boyfriend material. Collecting figurines seems pretty mild in comparison to being a superhero groupie!

Perhaps I am too naive, but I didn’t get a creepy vibe from Kara with the fishing for compliments, it was pretty innocent stuff. I think it was more just wanting a bit of egoboo given that she was feeling inadequate in a number of ways, especially when it came to measuring up to Lucy. Plus, you have to remember that, chronologically anyway, it was only last episode that everyone was saying how useless and what a menace Supergirl was, so I am sure she was happy to hear that isn’t a universal opinion.

Win

TEHANI: Fair enough, from that point of view. Also creepy though? Lucy basically saying Jimmy/James was obsessed with Superman and that “This hero wears a skirt. How am I supposed to compete with that?” So she thinks that James is just projecting onto Supergirl and would become involved with her simply because she’s a female version of his hero? Double ew…

DAVID: Yeah, there is a whole lot of wrong there. Of course, Lucy may be wrong about that, but the whole quasi incestuous nature of the relationships is bordering on weird. Basically Kara is chasing the guy who is going out with the sister of her cousin’s romantic interest!

TEHANI: While I would like to say I was surprised by the ending, I don’t think I was at all—Maxwell Lord was a very generic setup for a bad guy… Though I do wonder what has happened to Astra—are we not getting her as the big bad this season?

HankDAVID: There is so much baggage attached to the character due to his history in comics that it is almost impossible to be surprised that he would have sinister motivations. It’s like how in Smallville, no matter how friendly he was, you were always waiting for Lex Luthor to turn. I’s be surprised if we don’t see Astra pop up again, though—perhaps a Zod/Luthor type alliance a la Superman II?

TEHANI: Again, this is me not being familiar with the source material! On the other hand, I’m interested in what’s happening with Henshaw. As you know, David, I also don’t know the canon on this one, and am resolutely not looking it up! But he was prepared to risk his life (and/or exposing himself) to save Alex and all the people at the airport, so I’m coming down on the side of good for him!

DAVID: Pretty cavalier bomb disposal practices though—waving it over his head, and then just dumping it in the lab for Alex to discover it wasn’t a dummy WHILE TAKING IT APART! I want to see where they go with Henshaw too, he certainly isn’t a one dimensional character in the comics. They have a lot to work with there.

TEHANI: Good to know!

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Episode One, “Pilot”
Episode Two, “Stronger Together”
Episode Three, “Fight or Flight”
Episode Five, “Livewire”

Squeeing Over Supergirl: Episode Three

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 3, “Fight or Flight”

Reactron

DAVID: Three episodes in and I am still really enjoying Supergirl, but it is clear that they are going the “monster-of-the-week” route which definitely has its weaknesses. I thought the idea of the villain being one who saw Supergirl as a way of getting at Superman was a good one, as was his back story, it’s just a shame that he looked like a cut rate Iron Man. It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here, because there is only so long that this style works before it gets repetitive, but the good news is that lots of shows that have started out like this have matured and developed, and been very successful—Smallville and Buffy are both examples. Hopefully we see more of an emphasis on season long story and character arcs as it goes on.

TEHANI: I don’t really mind the monster-of-the-week just so long as we continue to also get Kara growing into her role as Supergirl, Alex being badass, and lots of lovely team byplay and Cat Grant truisms. Although Reactron really was an Iron Man rip off, you’re definitely right there!

DAVID: We also saw a ramping up of the love triangle and I am definitely Team Winslow—for the simple reason I always go for the underdog, and he is definitely overshadowed by James! However, he hit on the winning strategy of not trying to hold Kara back, but instead supporting her in her decision to do the whole hero thing. I am calling something early, though, I am tipping that we will see Maxwell Lord as another love interest. There was some good development of James with his confession that his calling Superman was about him, not her, and his dependence on the Man of Steel. Superman casts a long shadow.

Team Win

TEHANI: You and I are on different sides of this one—Team James here! And nopeity nope nope to Lord as love interest. Not a chance there, although he and Cat Grant are another story…

DAVID: How about a friendly wager? I think they are setting him up for it, he is too pretty for a start! And, it would be a contrast with the “good” guys in her life—similar to one of the key romantic pairings in Smallville.

TEHANI: I’ll take that bet!

DAVID: Speaking of Cat, her interview raised the interesting point of the difference in questions men and women get. I can’t imagine Superman being asked when he was starting a family. That’s one of the strengths of this show, I think, the way it contrasts the way different genders are treated.

TEHANI: Isn’t the underpinning commentary WONDERFUL? It’s not always subtle, but it does shine a light on so many things. I also like the lovely little pop culture references—sure, they may date, but they make the show feel super modern, which is great for NOW. I do like that there’s some fallout from the interview, in that Kara realises how what she says can be taken out of context.

Cat

DAVID: The were a lot of mentions of Superman in this episode, but I think it makes sense that Kara would constantly be measured against him. He is obviously an established hero in this universe, and the moment she started wearing the “S” people would be comparing them. This is a fairly standard theme in the comics/other spin offs as well, where Supergirl tries to establish herself as a hero in her own right, not just as Superman’s cousin. Even the theme of Superman always wanting to rescue her, or being overprotective, is quite common and a source of tension between them—albeit usually minor. The show is walking a fine line here between acknowledging their relationship and turning this into a show about Superman, and I think they are getting it mostly right. And, I did love the IM conversation!

TEHANI: I’m interested by how they are dealing with the Superman stuff. I’ve read some really great team-up stuff with Superman and Supergirl, and while I don’t think we’ll get that in this show, I do like that he’s a part of Kara’s story. I think it’s important to always keep in mind who the actual audience for the program is—we’re talking about appealing to the teen demographic, mostly. Just as for many of them, life is about figuring out how they work and who they are out from under the shadow of their families, Kara is doing the same thing, except that her family is Superman. Well, it’s Alex and the DEO as well, to a point, but that’s not quite the same.

DOEDAVID: I am not sure why Kara is taking orders from DEO about who she is allowed to take on, and Wynn’s control room should give her some more independence. Anyone familiar with the other versions of the mythos will know where they are going with Hank’s glowing eyes, but it is good to see his and Alex’s working relationship being explored.

TEHANI: I think I get why Kara is listening to the DEO. Partly it’s because of Alex, but I reckon mostly it’s because for all her talk about standing on her own two feet, it’s reassuring for her to have backup. She appreciates the support, even when she feels like it chafes, but you’ll notice how quickly she will take matters into her own hands if she disagrees, even this early on…

I don’t know what the deal is with Hank—bad fan, Tehani! But I have resisted looking it up, because I’m enjoying the not-knowing, so don’t tell me :) Also, I had no idea Lucy Lane was a canon character. I totally want she and Kara to become BFFs and sit around comparing Jimmy stories…

What did you think about James and Kara letting slip to Wynn about Superman’s secret identity? They really are rubbish at keeping secrets!

Competition

DAVID: I have to admit that I actually did laugh at loud at that moment. I mean, it really is terribly bad of them, but it was pretty funny. Not sure Superman would be thrilled, though!

TEHANI: And can I just add how absolutely adorkable the last scene between the sisters was? I was in fits of giggles watching it.

Kara: …I will melt your face.
Alex: I hope you get fat.
Kara: Not on THIS planet…

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Episode 1, “Pilot”
Episode 2, “Stronger Together”

Squeeing Over Supergirl: Episode Two

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 2 (“Stronger Together”)

TEHANI: Well, I’m going to admit it now, but I was a bit worried that I’d overinflated my hopes for this show in the waiting period since the first episode was “leaked”. I had wondered if it really was going to be as good as I hoped, based on that first amazing and intense 45 minutes, and would the showrunners really and truly commit to the lovely standup “it’s awesome to be a girl” message? So it was with a little trepidation I came to episode two. I need not have worried. “Stronger Together” was just as great to watch, with a whole bunch more of the wonderful, female-centric storytelling the first episode set up. Yay!

“It’s not because you’re a woman, Ms Danvers.” – Director Henshaw

The boys

DAVID: I was relieved that the second episode wasn’t a let down, too! It was a little cheesy in parts, but that is part of what they are going for—this is not the grimdark superhero story we have so much of. They have introduced a promising story arc and some good villains, we are seeing some great character development and, most importantly, there is still such a sense of fun about it. Kara’s powers aren’t a burden on her, she isn’t an unwilling hero. She wants to help people, and she enjoys her powers the way that you’d think most people would. Who wouldn’t love being able to fly and wouldn’t love dodging missiles and stuff? I am a bit over the whole mopey superhero who wishes that they could just be normal thing.

TEHANI: There is so much great critical commentary in this show. The way the media is so fickle, turning quickly on Supergirl when she’s messing things up (and heck, yes she really messes up!) but within DAYS turns around and makes her the media darling again when she’s doing good. On that same topic, I loved the message that it’s actually okay to mess up, and you can do better, without it being hyper harped on. Added to that, the way that a bunch of people around her suggested in different ways that maybe she was taking on a bit too much too soon, but it was the way Cat Grant explained it to her that stuck.

“Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as half as good.” – Cat Grant

Cat speaks

DAVID: I found that whole idea that her heroics would not be greeted with universal acclaim, and that her mistakes would be seized upon, very true to life. We only need to look at the polarisation of opinion on media, especially social media, to see how differently different people react to the same story or public figure, and how quickly criticism or praise can spread to see this. Even the idea that the media might try and “manage” or “manufacture” a hero doesn’t seem too far fetched.

The bit I didn’t like was that for all her speeches Cat seemed more willing to tear down a female superhero than build her up. But that is human nature, you’d like to think someone who had had to overcome obstacles would be supportive of someone else trying to do the same, but often you see people can be less forgiving in that scenario if they think the other person is doing it wrong.

Two of those lessons you mention were really good ones, the idea that we can mess up and get better being one of them. But, I did like that whole learning to be willing to work your way up to things and be realistic in your expectations. A lot of “Chosen Ones” in stories mess up because of their arrogance and unwillingness to admit that they aren’t ready for certain things. Kara has a good group of people around her—but also a lack of arrogance that is refreshing.

TEHANI: If I have one criticism, it’s that I’m not sure about the blatant love triangle set up – look, I know it’s a staple of young adult stories but it’s really very tired… And yes, I absolutely believe this show is made primarily for the teen audience, despite the fact lots of adults love it too (of COURSE we do), but this isn’t about me projecting adulting on it, it’s about thinking that our young people are smarter than the overdone love triangle trope implies they are, and wanting media to show them other options for young relationships. Or NOT – I mean, couldn’t Kara have a season when she just discovers who she is, without romance getting in the way?

The boys

DAVID: Haha I thought I was reading one of my comments from a New Who review there for a moment! 😛

I am hoping that they really don’t push the love triangle too much. I think that James makes a better mentor figure through his friendship with Superman, and Winslow doesn’t need to have a romantic interest in Kara for their relationship to work. The idea that men and women can just be friends and still want to support each other in their dreams and passions is not that crazy, is it?

I think they will continue to work the romance angel, because of the type of show it is, but it doesn’t need to be at the forefront to create dramatic tension—as you allude to, the real story here is Kara discovering how to use her powers and become a real hero.

TEHANI: I really liked that Alex Danvers both ended up saving herself and demonstrating her inherent kick-assery at the same time. I adore that we have awesome female characters who are not all the same, but could we please have some more? With a variety of backgrounds? Does Kara not have any other girl friends?

The girls rejoice

DAVID: One of my favourite episodes of The New Batman Adventures (and, in fact, one of my favourite of the Timmverse)  was “Girl’s Night Out” where Supergirl and Batgirl teamed up to take on Livewire, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.  The best thing about it was seeing them all just hanging out as friends (the three villainesses as one group, Supergirl and Batgirl as the other). It was a really rare example of seeing female heroes and villains as more than just extensions of the “central” male characters and I would love to see more stuff like that.

TEHANI: Yes! I hope the showrunners give us something like this, rather than fall back on the usual stuff. Let’s find out!

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Episode 1, “Pilot”

Squeeing over Supergirl: Episode One

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl – Episode 1 (“Pilot”)Mirror, mirror on the wall

DAVID: The first thing that struck me about Supergirl was how bright and colourful it is! It’s a welcome contrast to the gritty, washed out look that has become the norm of late. It was also reflected in the sense of fun that permeated the show. It wasn’t just that there was a sense of wonder in her discovering her powers, but also just a different feel to the way the characters interacted. It was like everything didn’t have to be brooding or ominous, we got to see them simply being people separate from their other role. It reminded me more of The Flash than something like Daredevil or Arrow.

TEHANI: Agreed! It definitely has a lighter vibe than anything else we’ve seen—for me, that reflected the target demographic the show is being aimed at, but my, so refreshing!

DAVID: However the show that it reminded me of the most was Smallville, which is one of my all time favourite television shows, and still one of the best versions of the Superman mythos that’s been done. So far, like Smallville, Supergirl seems to show an understanding of the core of what Superman/Supergirl is about—and what it really means to be a hero. It certainly has a better handle on it that Man of Steel did! It looks like it is going to follow the Smallville trend of nice little shout outs to the comic and to other versions—we’ve already seen Dean Cain (Lois and Clark) and Helen Slater (Supergirl: The Movie) pop up! I loved playing spot the reference in Smallville, and it looks like that will be a feature.

TEHANI: Ahem, so this is where I admit I never really watched Smallville? But it absolutely made me smile with glee to see Dean and Helen!

Mom and PopDAVID: Speaking of casting, I think they have been spot on. When I heard that Melissa Benoist had been cast as Supergirl, I was a little dubious, but she brings an adorable goofiness to the role that suits this version of Supergirl perfectly. It’s great to see Calista Flockhart back in a role that gives her a lot of room to move, and I really enjoy this more imposing version of Jimmy Olsen—a character that has, at times, had very little presence or simply been there for comedic effect (and often as successful at that as Jar Jar Binks). I was interested to see that we have at least three actors who have significant musical backgrounds—Benoist (Glee), Jeremy Jordan (Smash), and Tony Award winning Laura Benanti (Nashville and lots more). Perhaps we will see a musical themed episode!

TEHANI: I love the James Olsen character and the way he’s being played, and I also love Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Kara’s adopted sister, and I LOVE the way Calista Flockhart is playing Cat Grant—it’s brilliant! I think the casting choices are excellent.

DAVID: I am actually really impressed with the decision DC have made about who this series has been aimed at. Rather than the usual demographic of young men, they appear to have realised that girls are interested in superheroes, too! I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, but my female friends who are watching this feel that this is something that has been made with them in mind, rather than treating them as an incidental benefit on top the people studios normally cater to. It seems like a no brainer to many of us, but most of the studios have been avoiding a female helmed series or movie as best they can (the closest being Captain America: Winter Soldier which was really a buddy cop movie like Lethal Weapon with Captain America and Black Widow deserving equal billing). Hopefully this is a much needed step in the right direction and, along with shows like Jessica Jones, will herald a sea change in marketing.Jimmy!

TEHANI: Look, it’s crazycakes—us gals are YELLING for content that has at least got SOME women, let alone someone as the lead. I continue to be particularly disappointed in Marvel for the lack of women—we got Agent Carter, and yes, Agents of SHIELD has some excellent female characters, but the films, and shows like Daredevil, despite being excellent in so many ways, are absolutely woeful for gender diversity (among other diversities…). I really hope Jessica Jones gives us more but we’ve most recently been disappointed by Ant-Man, and by the news that the potentially awesome Captain Marvel movie has been pushed back. DC is doing better, with some interesting and engaging female characters in Arrow, Flash and Gotham, but this is the first time (other than iZombie, which isn’t really a superhero show, despite being great!) that we’ve got ourselves a female-led series. And not just that, we’ve got other women who Kara gets to TALK to and everything! So woohoo DC!

And OH MY GOSH do I love the discussion of being a girl!! Kicking butt, Cat Grant. Actually, I just love all of this. I truly hope that the show continues on the way it has begun—the gentle interrogation of certain superhero media tropes, the clever casting, the jump-in-with-both-feet-and-just-get-on-with-it style—it’s brilliant! Can’t wait for the next episode!

Calista

More review goodness…

A busy week at work this week, so this is just a brief update on some lovely reviews I found while wandering the interwebs.

Cold Comfort and Other Tales continues to get a great reception, with a lovely review over at Earl Grey Editing:

Cold Comfort and Other Tales is a short collection that will suck you in and spit you out again before you know it. Perfect for commutes or dipping into when you don’t have a lot of time.

Insert Title Here launches this Easter at Swancon, but there is already a review up and it is a great one. The whole anthology gets an excellent write up, with my story, “Her Face Like Lightning” the recipient of some very generous praise:

The dialogue in this is sharp and witty, starting to remind me slightly of Scott Lynch’s work. We see the beauty and brutality of Heaven, we see a diverse cast with an intensely developed backstory for a short story, and wow, what an ending.

This is easily one of my favourite pieces in this anthology.

I’ll take being compared to Scott Lynch (one of my favourite writers) any day of the week–I just wish I had his luxurious head of hair, too!

You can follow the links for the full reviews. It is always amazing to me that people are reading my work, let alone liking it, so these sort of reviews are definitely a big boost!

Insert Title Here

Review Love for Cold Comfort and Other Tales

Cold Comfort and Other Tales has been live now for a bit over a month, and there are a few reviews out there already. I was pretty nervous about how it would be received, but I have been delighted with the feedback so far. Writing is so full of rejections that it is always a major boost when people not only read your stories (which is still, at this point, a shock to me) but like them!

I am sure that the stories may not to be to some people’s taste, and that’s fine, but the good reviews are the sort of thing that makes this all worthwhile–knowing that someone has connected with your story. It’s definitely something to hold on to when you are slogging though edits (as I am doing at the moment), or when the next rejection arrives.

So, at that risk of boasting, here are some excerpts from a couple of the reviews floating around the interwebs. You can follow the link for the full review.

From Ventureadelaxre:

McDonald surely is one to keep an eye on – you only have to look at his list of achievements for confirmation. I can safely rate this collection five out of five with the knowledge it was deserved, as it has action, thoughtful commentary and excellent characters – I always love the character-driven pieces. And, as stated in my bit about his first short Cold Comfort, I’d love to see his work in a longer sense to see what he can do with more room and time. If he can achieve that much world building in so few pages, what else can he accomplish? No pressure, David.

From Stephanie Gunn:

This is a brilliant collection, and especially recommended if you haven’t read any of McDonald’s work before.  The stories are well described by the collection title Cold Comfort: these are not easy worlds, but McDonald manages to place hope even in the middle of despair.  Vanya discovers that her world isn’t as lost as she thought, Nick and his sentient ship will find a way through, and even in the depths of dystopia, people still speak out.

Highly recommended.

And, I think this is my first international review, so this was doubly exciting. From The Little Red Reviewer:

Beginnings are important.

Like a first impression, an author has one sentence, one chance to make in initial impression on the reader. We’ve all come across lackluster openings, openings that didn’t inspire, or confused, or simply made you scratch your head. Maybe you kept reading, maybe not.

For me, the ideal opening sentence is a perfect balance between nowhere near enough information, and just enough to draw me in. Not unlike that first floral nose of a glass of wine – you get the aroma, a suggestion of what’s to come, but little to no information about the mouthfeel or finish you’re about to experience. You take a sip because that first scent was intriguing. The titular story of Cold Comfort and Other Tales has just the kind of opening I dream of: perfectly balanced yet minimal information with just the barest hints of the entire worldbuilding of the story:

A big thanks to the reviewers for such kind words and–most importantly–taking the time to read my stories!

cool19

My 2014 in Review

So, 2014 has come and gone. Wow. Time flies, huh?

Looking back, 2014 was a much better year than I realised. Even though I only had one story published, there were a number of significant milestones that are well worth celebrating.

But, first, let me get the negatives out of the way.

We lost some good people last year, and some people I care about had some tough times. That puts my problems into perspective, in the scheme of things I was very fortunate. So, I don’t really want to go into details as so many others have it so much worse, but during 2014 I struggled with some medical issues and, when added to my talent for taking too much on, I had a bit of a meltdown. The medical stuff is nothing life threatening, or anything for anyone to worry about, but enough to cause some issues. It’s not an excuse, but this did contribute to me messing up a couple of deadlines and letting some people down. You know who you are and, again, I apologise. It’s something I am very disappointed with myself in, and I hope that 2015 will be a much better year for that!

Looking back at the goals that I had set myself, I am disappointed to note that I still haven’t caught up on Doctor Who! Hopefully I can remedy that before Easter for reasons that will become clear later in this post.

I also haven’t made that first pro rate sale, though I do feel that I am getting closer and closer, and I might have another announcement to make soon..

But, on to the good things! There really were some wonderful moments, and I have a lot to be thankful for. And, it’s been great to feel like I am actually making some progress with my writing.

Unfortunately, I can’t share my biggest piece of news yet, but stay tuned as it will be announced around February.

Amongst the things I can talk about are:

  • After an eighteen year career in the field (pretty much straight out of Year 11), I left IT. I was seconded to our Editorial Department for 6 months in the position of Deputy Editor of one of our magazines (though I was essentially doing the Editor’s job). I can now announce that last  week I signed a contract extending my contract and naming me Editor. So, I guess I can say that I am a full time editor and writer now! There are not many people who get the chance to make a living from writing, so I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity– it really has changed my life. And, this has been so beneficial to my own writing, both in what I am learning from editing, and  because I am excited to be at work everyday instead being stressed and frustrated all the time. (which I know makes me very fortunate). I also think it has made me more productive, too, if there is a writing muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets
  • From a fiction writing POV, one of the highlights of 2014 was being shortlisted for the WSFA Small Press Award. As I said at the time, seeing my name alongside all the past nominees and winners was a huge thrill and I was gobsmacked when I found out. I never expected to be nominated, let alone win, so I wasn’t that disappointed to lose–especially to a great story.
  • After two previous nominations, winning a William J. Atheling Jr Award for the New Who reviews. I have felt very privileged to get to work with Tehani and Tansy, and humbled to tie with Galactic Suburbia, one of my biggest influences. Hopefully I can catch up on the latest seasons soon!
  • The Ditmar for Galactic Chat. A huge amount of the credit for this needs to go to Sean Wright, our podcast overlord, and it was great to see him recognised for his hard work. It felt a bit weird winning an award for having the opportunity to get to talk to some of my writing heroes. Seems like a bit of a rort, really! lol
  • Which leads on to the interviews with Ken Liu and Kameron Hurley. Wow, talk about gushing fanboy moments. Just a hint: next year wills ee even more fanboying! I have a few more writing superstars lined up for you.
  • Being asked to return as part of the Aussie Snapshot team. This one was even bigger than the last one, and we managed to cover a huge cross section of the Aussie Spec Fic scene. If you haven’t read it yet, you are really missing out!
  • Even though I had a quiet year in publications, I managed to sell some stories and I have already have three new stories confirmed for 2015 (including a sale to Fablecroft and coeur de lion) as well as something a bit longer which I can’t talk about yet (and that is killing me).
  • The release of a bundle of my short stories from Clan Destine Press, including a brand new story that I am rather proud of, and am very glad to see find a home. It already has a great review!
  • Managing to make a good start on the collaborative young adult novel I am working on, It’s definitely starting to take shape now and has gotten to that point where it has developed some momentum, and the process that we decided to use seems to be working (big thanks to Amie Kaufman for her generosity with her time and advice. I am very excited about where it is heading, and you can expect to hear more about it in 2015
  • Helping my good friend, Laura Goodin, perform a radio play at Conflux. Hopefully there will be a version available for your listening pleasure soon
  • Beating “Hold Over Funds” to become the FFANZ delegate. I am really excited about heading over tot New Zealand in 2015, i am sure that it is going to be a blast. It looks like I need to be caught up on Doctor Who by then, though!
  • Amazing fun at Continuum X and Conflux 10

Aside from all these, there is something even more important to mention. I got to spend time with existing friends, made a number of new friends and, most of all, was continually reminded of what an amazing community we have in Australia. A number of my friends had some great moments of their own, and I was delighted to see their successes (and quite often got to help celebrate them, which is always fun).

The big goals for 2015:

  • Get that elusive pro sale!
  • Finish the YA novel and get it off for submission.
  • Catch up with Doctor Who.
  • Get my solo novel done.
  • Start another conversational review series about a series of books that are very dear to my heart
  • Try and get involved in some sort of news/discussion podcast

And, that’s probably enough for now!

Hopefully I will be at a few cons in 2015. I always try and get to Continuum, and I have brought my membership and booked my hotel for the Worldcon on in Spokane. And, of course, I will be in NZ for their Natcon.

I am looking forward to 2015, which I think might be my biggest yet, and I will be hoping for the same for you!