Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Revolution Z: GB Banks & Blake Hislop

The Americans are engaged in war against Iraq and with Saddam threatening to invade Saudi Arabia, U.S. soldiers are dying hand over fist.  The military decides that in order to maintain an American presence in the Middle East, as well as maintain American global dominance, they must create the ultimate soldier.  To do this, they turn the soldiers who have died on the battle field into zombies.  A zombie military force also needs an ultimate general and so General Washington (yes, that Washington) and General Patton are brought back to life to lead the force.

Washington and Patton are men who in life not only lead but were independent thinkers.  It's not long before the two Georges decide that they are not being told the whole truth and begin to question if what they are engaged in is really for the benefit of the United States.  Though they try to keep their sentience from their creators, it's not long before the two Georges must decide whether to go along with the nefarious plot, or fight for the America they love.

There are so many problems with this book, I don't really know where to begin.  The premise is ridiculously patriotic and patently unsound.  Why in the world would a modern army think that they would need George Washington and Patton to act as generals?  Washington died in 1799 and that means that he would have no idea about modern warfare, let alone have any concept of how the modern world is run.  All of his tactics would be for a military that didn't even have a repeating rifle, let alone tanks, surface to air missals, radar, sonar etc,.  He wouldn't know what to do with any piece of technology if you placed it right in front of him. Patton, while not as an archaic a figure as Washington, died in 1945.  In the present world, the modern military is very much dependent upon modern technology, something Patton, akin to Washington, could not begin to fathom.  They might as well have resurrected William Wallace, Charlamegne, Hannibil Barca and Alexander the Great, for all the help Washington and Patton would have been able to offer a modern army.

We are never given a reason for why the two Georges are sentient above all other zombies.  We are only left with the understanding that because they were apparently so exceptional in their actual lives that somehow this translate to greater sentience in their undead lives. It's nonsense.

Washington decides to wage war on American soil; another revolution to free the people.  He leads his zombie soldiers to the Capitol.  The American people rise up against it's government and join Washington in his struggle.  We are given no reason why the people aren't running scared from the specter of a zombie military and instead choose to fight.  Beyond the experimentation of the military, there is no discussion about what life is like for the average American, or even how the supposed seeds of discontent were sown.  I have no problem with a people rising up to throw off an oppressive government, but the reader must be given a reason to believe why this is happening. It is further troubling that the conventional military would revolt to the point where the government suddenly lost the ability to launch an aerial assault on the zombie rebels.  Why are the soldiers suddenly discontent?  Oh I know, reasons. Again, no explanation was given.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 20: A Sort of Homecoming

Tension, tension, recap, recap while everyone gathers around Roger’s inert form and he finally wakes up just as Stephen and Marla are considering he may not wake up. But not only did he wake up but can pull of all the wires and sit up as well. Marla’s an awesome nurse. There’s a happy reunion followed by John’s “oops sorry I killed you” but that’s totally ok because he and Jedikiah manipulated him into it as part of their master plan. Jed has randomly left as well – for some reason (and some how, does he even know how to get in and out of the base without teleportation).

Roger instantly wants fitting on all of the Founder’s plans when Marla speaks up, reminding him that Luca exists (the show often forgets) and before diving into the mission maybe, just maybe, he could spare a couple of minutes for his family.

And Stephen decides to report all the good news to spy Hillary. The Founder is worried because Roger is so uber powerful and even Stephen (a synergist – someone with two paranormal parents) hasn’t matched him. He orders Hillary to bring him in.

Roger gets dressed and prepares to go home but Cara wants her people’s saviour to stay underground with them. But he refuses to give up his family again nor does he appreciate being lectured by someone young enough to be his daughter. Then she orders him to stay and won’t let him leave unless he fights her… seriously. And John steps up – he will fight Roger to keep him prisoner.

And is there any point? Can’t Roger just stop time and win? Anyway they fight and it’s clear John is carrying a lot of guilt, he’s fighting so Roger can hurt him because of the whole shooting thing (speaking of, this is probably really bad for Roger’s bullet wound). Roger wins the right to actually go see his family rather than be Cara’s prisoner. Which causes John to roar and ask “who are we?” uhhh… not his family? John and Cara complain about being abandoned

Because the man wants to see his family, his son, after years of not seeing them? Damn, that’s some epic neediness there.

Roger goes home and acknowledges to Marla that he can’t just step into the lives they’ve built after so long away. She asks him to just “be here”. And Luca arrives – that’s the Luca who has only just learned that super powers exist, that he may have them and that his mother likes to keep massive secrets for no discernible reason but no-one has a minute to explain all this. Probably understandably he runs upstairs.

Stephen tries to talk to him about everything and not going out that night and avoiding everything. Luca thinks this will be far too awkward (since he’s a near stranger to his dad) and the first night of reunion needs some kind of buffer – Astrid is on call! And then Hillary invites herself because that’s totally not awkward.

Awkward dinner derails when Luca finally cracks and finally wants to talk about everything. Roger responds with a speech about how much he loves his family and proposes a toast, lifting all the glasses with telekinesis – y’know just in case Luca wasn’t freaked out enough about the super power thing.

After some convoluted twists people split off into twosomes. Astrid lays an awesome verbal smack down on Hillary about how she better be on the level and how much Stephen needs to trust people at the moment. Outside with Stephen, Roger confirms he can’t stay with them because the Founder will find him – Hillary watches and so does an “extractor team”. But Hillary tells them to hold off (I’m guessing she’s conflicted).

Rogers tracks down Jedikiah to offer forgiveness while Jed is all guilty for not bringing Roger back sooner, Jed admits that he liked being the powerful brother for once. Roger thanks him for looking after his family (Are. You. Serious?!) and Jed warns Roger about going underground because the Founder has already tapped Stephen for the machine. To check up on that they go to Jed’s flat (Roger taunting him all the time, as brother’s do) and use remote access to Ultra’s supercomputer A.I, A.L.I.C.E (an upgrade over TIM with extra flirting). They transfer the files and get out just before agents arrive.

Warehouse 13, Season 5, Episode 2: Secret Services

We’re following up on Claudia’s issue this week. Claudia’s sister, Claire, was presumed dead in a car crash, but she’s apparently alive and Artie k new about it and has been lying to Claudia. Claudia is not happy. Talking with Jinks and looking at the case it’s further clear that the car accident that was supposed to have killed her sister looks like an Artefact related badness.

She makes a big elaborate plan on how to hack in when Artie announces from the door “or I could show you”. Artie realises there’s absolutely no way he can stop Claudia researching so he’s going to help at least then he can watch her. And he’s not lying (Claudia knows, she checked with Jinks’s lie detector woo-woo).

So, Artie takes Claudia and Jinks to an Artefact they’ve used before that shows memories; not her memories, but Artie’s memories. It was a Warehouse case and, yes, Artie worked on it and she’s going to see what happened through his memories – which Claudia still finds second best to actually seeing her sister.

(Also ulterior motive is that if this is settled Artie gets to not be stared at by Jinks and his lie detector for the rest of his life. Though Jinks may do that for fun).

Back into the memories, into Claire’s school, where Claire is causing chaos by floating in a tornado and throwing dangerous black wind everywhere which she is using to break stuff and terrorise people.

As memory ghosts, they follow Artie around (looking at Claudia’s parents who died when Claire was supposed to have died).

Cut to going to Claudia’s old house and her parents trying to take Claire to see a doctor. Artie tries to take Claudia away so she doesn’t see what happens but Claudia insists – and Claire loses her temper, the black wind appears and she throws her parents’ car against a tree repeatedly. Her parents are inside and die in the crash. Claire faints.

Memory Artie and Mrs. Frederick watch. Memory Artie goes in the house to check on Claudia as a child and young Claudia identifies the music box (Frances Farmer’s Music box) as the cause of the problems which had been thrown in the fire. The fact Claudia recognised it as a child marked her as someone special to watch as Artie tells Mrs. Frederick.

But the music box was destroyed – there was no way to neutralise it so its power remained in Claire, ready to be unleashed whenever she was angry. They tried everything, sedatives, anti-psychotics, but it didn’t work; they ended up putting her in an Artefact induced coma. But Claudia now wants to know if it’s her fault – did she throw the music box into the fire?

They return to the Warehouse and Claudia walks away, unable to talk about what she saw yet. But later she decides she wants to use the Memory-Shoes on Claire’s memories. Artie doesn’t want this to happen because the Memory-Shoes aren’t safe, but Claudia rejects his mission to keep her safe all the time; and Jinks offers to go with Claudia in case Artie’s protective instincts are shutting down the visions.

This Week in Book Covers 14th-19th April

This week we have boobies on parade, tight leather, gaudy bling and some abstract randomness that could be anything. Yes, it’s another week in book covers.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

My gods, she’s (almost) appropriately dressed! I expected so much worse after the Mercy Thompson series. Of course, since she spends the better part of this book tramping around the wilderness I’m not sure what the heaving breasts is about. There’s a chance of pop-out there unless there’s a heavy investment in titty tape and given the lack of bra either that top is titanium reinforced or those are some serious porn boobs. And it all looks like an invitation for frostbite - nor do I get the massive super-ugly necklace (that’s some seriously fugly jewelery right there) but I’m still impressed. The wolves, the facial expression - angry determination and a sense she’s a second away from using those claws - it works.

Who are these blandly pretty children? Isn’t she supposed to be almost 30? Who are these teenagers on the cover? They’re in standard-YA-cover-pose #3 and it looks almost like stock art has been cut and pasted on. Throw on some tacky costume jewelry and a city scape and we have… blaaah. *yawn*. Someone’s mocked this up at home methinks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Aniri is the third daughter of the queen and awaiting her eighteenth birthday so that she can marry for love, unlike her to older sisters.  She has a drive to live life and experience the world outside of the confining walls of the palace. Aniri is forced to put her plans on hold when the Queen asks her to consider an arranged political marriage to Prince to a barbarian prince because intelligence has revealed that his realm has developed a new flying ship which would the Jungali a great military advantage.  Aniri is caught can she put the needs of her country over her personal wants and desires?

I have to say that the minute I saw this book, I was absolutely compelled to read it.  A Bollywood style steampunk, how could I resist.  I am happy to say that The Third Daughter most certainly didn't disappoint. While the basis for this story is a romance, there is so much more at play. Quinn includes political intrigue and technological advancement (as all good steampunks should).  I love reading a steampunk that moved away from a Eurocentric setting and featured solely people of colour.

Aniri at times I must admit is irritating.  She is spoiled, reckless and is fairly rippling with spunky agency. I would have found this far more problematic had she been older than 17 when this novel started. For instance, Aniri sees the Jugali as barbarians because they eat with their hands.  Having never traveled outside of a limited circle, her views are informed by others.  It's not until she begins to interact with the people and learn about their culture that she learns that different isn't backward or savage. She doesn't even realise that having the ability to ignore the intrigue at court is a sign of her privilege and youth.   To Quinn's credit, we do see Aniri evolve over the book and it is made clear that as this series evolves, Aniri will continue to mature. This is the necessary path for a YA protagonist.

Salem, Season One, Episode One: The Vow

It's September 21, 1685, Salem Massachusetts and two people are in the stock holds. Issac is being beaten for engaging in sex and masturbating, as the people watch.  The townspeople have difficulty looking as Issac screams in pain.  Sibley makes it clear that God will not be on their side if they tolerate abomination. Issac is told that he will bare the mark of his sin all of his life, as Sibley heats a poker in the fire. Magistrate Hale suggest that Issac has had enough, but Sibley is not to be deterred.  Sidbey brands Issac on the forehead, calling him a fornicator. John Alton comes out of the crowd saying, "judge not lest yet be judged." When Sibley questions who said that, he is told that those are the words of Jesus.  Sibley warns John that his respect for his father's memory will only protect him for so long.

Later that evening, Sibley looks out over the town, as Mary makes her way through the town.  Mary meets up with John who immediately rants about belting George Sibley and Mary warn that talking like that will land him in the stocks.  They talk about John leaving and he promises to return for her.  John gives Mary one half of a silver dollar and swears to return to her.  John is heading off to fight in the war against the Indians.

The next morning, Mary watches as John and the other men march out of town.

After some time has passed Tituba and Mary are walking through the street and are stopped by George Sibley, who says that war gives a certain kind of man someplace to end, up other than a brand or the end of a rope.  George promises Mary that she will thank him one day.

It's night now and Tituba and Mary make their way into the forest. Mary says that she has changed her mind and wants to go back but Tituba makes it clear that there is no place in Salem for the child Mary is carrying. Tituba asks what Mary thinks George will do to her when he finds out that she is pregnant with John's baby. Mary lies on her back as Tituba undresses her..  Tituba begins some sort of magical ceremony and Mary starts to get visions of a demon.  Mary starts to beg Tituba not to do this but Tituba is steadfast and keeps telling Mary that this is what she wants.  Mary get a vision of her and George kissing and being playful in the woods but suddenly it turns to her  being chased by a demon. Insects cover Mary's body and Mary is told to say that this is what she wants.  Tituba removes her hands, and Mary's belly is now flat.  When Mary discovers this, she cries out as Tituba promises that all of the world will be hers in return.

Years later, John has made his way back to Salem and is greeted by three people hung from the trees.  He heads to town and it is bustling and busy.  When John returns home, Corey puts a gun to his head saying that there aren't any Aldon's left.  John announces who he is and learns that Salem is caught up in a witch panic and that Cotton is behind it all.  John learns that Mary is now the richest woman in Salem and is Mary Sibley now.

Mary stands on a widow's peak overlooking the town.  John realises that Mary married George after his wife died a few years ago.  John opens his window and looks at Mary.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 18: Bleeding Through

Zelena drops in on dear sister Regina so they can snark at each other. Regina is much better at it. Cora does make points about Regina never appreciating what she has or taking a chance for happiness but Regina dispenses with the verbal fencing and just cuts to the bone. But she’s there to check on Regina because if Regina is there, she isn’t defending her heart from Rumple

And Rumple is facing off against Robin Hood. All the power of the Dark One vs… a crossbow.  Place your bets now! Rumple really doesn’t want to hurt them, but he has little choice. With Robin’s son threatened and Rumple just controlling all the merry men with a gesture, Robin gives up the heart. Regina arrives but doesn’t blame anyone – she’s just happy no-one was hurt, especially the child. But she’s worried too – because Zelena must be planning something with her heart if she isn’t just going to crush it.

She goes to Rumple’s store to try and find something to help (and don’t worry, Zelena can’t control Regina with her heart because she already protected it from that. Obviously – you silly people. Did I mention Regina is awesome?) Belle is not willing to help and gives a laundry list of the many many things Regina did to her (it’s actually an impressive list. Belle has more reasons to hate Regina than just about anyone) but while Regina is truly and genuinely sorry, she has no time for a guilt spiral – she needs to take out Zelena, green witch, controlling Belle’s super-powerful boyfriend, so bury your issues, gets some priorities in order and get on board team Regina.

Because Regina is awesome.

Still the question is what spell does Zelena intend to cast – and what’s so special about Regina’s heart rather than anyone else’s? Answer – use the candle that Mary Margaret used to kill Cora. It’s magic is spent but this is apparently to find out how Cora lived.

Why that sounds like a cue for a flashback!

Cora, working as a barmaid, finishing her shift and being invited to sit down and be flattered by a prince who has been slumming and staring wistfully at her. He’s Prince Jonathon, exposed by his embroidered handkerchief (because being undercover doesn’t mean he wants to be THAT undercover) who wants a woman to love him for who he is (a man with a very upper class accent clueing everyone in that he’s rich and important so don’t get too common. Sorry, I always find these prince and the pauper themes snark worthy, like the peasantry doesn’t notice a noble slumming). He wants to marry her and will totally back with a real ring but until then here’s some straw (guy can carry fancy snot-rags but not jewels? Watch yourself Cora, doesn’t take a genius to stitch a fancy pattern on an M&S hanky). Cora decides to go to his room.

To the present and Emma warning Hook not to eat apples in Regina’s house. While other people may be focused on fighting the wicked witch, David and Mary Margaret are talking baby names. And being soggy. Anyway, Regina arrives with poison tea for summoning the dark forces (what else would you serve?) The plan is to summon Cora to learn more about Zelena’s past. Oh dear you reminded Mary Margaret about killing Cora – someone get her a pillow, she will now Take To Her Bed. Especially since for this spell to even work you need the murder weapon and the murderer (Mary Margaret’s gasp of horror. Oh fetch a futon someone!) Actually I think the real reason why the spell is rarely used is because you have to light the murder weapon at both ends and candle-committed homicides are rare.

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 3: Breaker of Chains

Kings Landing where the king is dead and everyone (except the Lannisters) rejoices.

Cersei is convinced that Tyrion is behind the death of her son (if it were true he would need a medal) and she and Tywin have him arrested and look for Sansa – sealing the capital. Dontos leads Sansa through the back streets of the capital to a row boat – a mist shrouded ship on which is Littlefinger. In payment for bringing him Sansa, Littlefinger has Dontos shot. That’s what comes from trusting Littlefinger. Sansa is, of course horrified, because Dontos was good and loyal to her. Littlefinger exposes Dontos as a paid servant of his and even the touching necklace he gave Sansa is fake. He gives her another oh-so-appropriate reminder that everyone in the capital is a liar (himself included). But she’s totally safe with Littlefinger, honest.

Sansa, stop trusting people. It never ends well.

Margaery and Olenna consult on whether Margaery is actually queen or not – and decide to let the issue lie for a little bit. Olenna reflects on the death of husbands, Margaery thinks she’s cursed because both her husbands were murdered though Olenna thinks she came out of the whole thing rather well and watching Joffrey die was much better than being married to the nasty little boy. And, hey, the Lannisters still need them so it’s not like the marriage isn’t still on.

Cut to Cersei and Tommen looking at the body of Joffrey in state and Tywin arriving to tell Tommen he will be king next. As a bonus, Tommen, lacks his brother’s sadism. Tywin does a quick pop quiz over the body of his grandson over what makes a good king and argues down pious, just and strong and finally settling on wisdom as what makes a good king. Damn, I actually agree with Tywin on something. He follows that up with the fact the wisest thing a young king can do is shut up and do as he’s told (not bad advice – except for the people giving him said advice). Tywin also shows that wise or not, he’s also pretty cruel, talking up Joffrey’s flaws why Cersei holds back tears. Tywin leads Tommen away to explain the birds and the bees (at least having the courtesy not to have that discussion over his brother’s corpse).

Cersei is left alone with Jaime and she repeats why she thinks Tyrion killed her son. She wants Jaime to avenge their son – and yes, “their son” she says it. She doesn’t want a trial, Tyrion’s too clever for them. He hugs her as she holds him for comfort, then they kiss and Cersei pushes away. Because making out over the corpse of your son with his father-uncle is not classy. Jaime loses his temper, grabs Cersei and forces a kiss on her. He rams her against the slab his son is on and rapes her while she tells him to stop it.

Meanwhile, Oberyn and Ellaria are having a bisexual orgy with several prostitutes, though Oberyn makes it clear Ellaria will always be his first choice. And Tywin interrupts. Y’know, killing his sister he may one day forgive, but Lannisters interrupting Oberyn’s orgies all the time may be unforgiveable.

Tywin banters around the theory that maybe Oberyn, a poison expert, conspired with Tyrion to kill Joffrey, this leads into Oberyn accusing Tywin over the death of his sister (Tywin blames the Mountain – Ser Gregor Clegane, the Hound’s brother – and that he didn’t order it) and then we get to what Tywin really wants. He wants Oberyn to be a judge in Tyrion’s trial along with him and Mace Tyrell. Because he wants House Martel to be an ally – mainly because of the Tyrells.

But he lists the other threats - Wildlings in the North, the Iron Islands – and Daenerys and her dragons. Yes he knows about her dragons. Brief history exposition as well – when the first Targaryens conquered the 7 Kingdoms with their dragons the only country they couldn’t take was Dorne (because they saw the dragons, decided open combat was a bad idea and went guerrilla instead. Also why the Dornish leader is a Prince and not a Lord). Tywin needs Dorne – and he pretty much offers to sacrifice Gregor for it.