Saturday, July 16, 2011

We're On Facebook

Hey everyone, I thought I would drop you a small note to let you know that Fangs For The Fantasy your favourite blog for a social justice perspective on urban fantasy is now on facebook.  Please be sure to like us and join us for interesting side chats.  I look forward to hearing from you all. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Nine Lives of Chloe King

We look at Urban fantasy in both books and on the television - so when we heard of a TV series about preteneratural cat people running around San Francisco we simply had to check it out, didn't we? So I sat down to watch the first 4 episodes and get some preliminary thoughts together.

So Chloe King is a school girl in San Francisco who is descended from the Maia. The Maia are cat-people from ancient Egypt who used to be worshiped like gods, but fell out of favour. They are hunted and killed by some bad guys, one of which is after Chloe. Chloe is a super-special catgirl because she has 9 lives. This makes her the grand saviour of Maia-kind and therefore special. So the bad guy  really has to kill her – and 9 time at that. I hope he gets overtime.

All Maia have cat-like powers – agility speed, claws, senses etc. Oh and kind of based on what I've seen and extrapolating - a general willingness to imply cats have any kind of power that may be useful for the plot

I don't know. I didn't hate it? Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up. I didn't hate it, though it may be because I have very low expectations at this point. I didn't have to pause it and stomp out of the room in a dudgeon. I didn't fall asleep watching it. But if that sounds like faint praise, it pretty much is. I didn't hate it but nor was I slightly engaged by it, I could (and, I admit, did,) happily read at the same time as 'watching' it – not really surprising since I don't think I'm the target audience.

The plot was, well pretty basic. Big bad guys want to kill the super-special hero. You don't expect subtly from this, but I have to say it went beyond merely unsubtle and hit clumsy instead. We want it to seem like being the Special One is supposed to be an honour, but is actually a great life changing burden? Well, the leader of the Maia, Valentina, comes in with the WORST possible sales pitch ever. It's almost comic how hard she tried to be both kind and sympathetic AND make Chloe not want to be the Uniter as much as possible. I'm sure she could have been a little more blatant – she could have stood up and screamed “BEING THE UNITER IS HELLLL! HELLLLLLLLLLLL!!! AND WILL RUIIIIIN YOUR LIIIIIIIFE!” She could get in some dramatic hand gestures and everything! But then they are being hunted by a James bond villain who, rather than just stab Chloe 9 times while she's chained up and helpless decides to pull the whole convoluted trap thing. Really *stab* ugh... *die* *GASP!* ALIVE AGAIN! *STAB!* rinse, repeat until she stops getting up. Nothing is hinted at, which I don't exactly expect – but nor does it have to hit you in the face either.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher. 2nd Book in the Harry Dresden files

Harry Dresden is back investigating a series of brutal and vicious murders, people torn apart by what looks like wild animals – wolves in fact. There being a somewhat lack of wolves in Chicago, this points us in one direction. Actually it points us in several directions as it turns out there are several variations on the theme of werewolf – and several denizens of the city who may count.

Harry has to sort through the threads, work with the local police hindered by their distrust and the looming presence of both the FBI and an Internal Affairs inquiry and try to avoid working for a notorious mob boss with whom he has been closely linked because of his past activities. Worse for him, his investigations have aroused the anger of those he has investigated – both guilty and innocent – and he faces several more attempts on his life to dance around while still trying to find the truth.

Like Storm Front, I think this book struck a great balance. It has several possible suspects, several different supernatural creatures, any of which could have been the murderers creates a genuine mystery - without being convoluted or confusing. In even a conventional murder mystery that's a difficult balance to strike

I also liked the world building – the bringing together of a variety of werewolf myths from around the world as varying and difficult antagonists and possible suspects in the book - each of which could be the murderer and many of them actively hunting or needing Harry for various reasons. We also see Harry's power continue to be develop and displayed for us – an excellent bit of world building that requires gentle showing rather than bludgeoning telling. And we're reminded that, yes, harry is a severely powerful and extremely dangerous being – while at the same time being very flawed and very human.

In many ways I'm in 2 minds about this review. Not because I didn't like the book – but because I feel I have so little to say that contrasts with what I said about Storm Front. It's another nuanced and well balanced mystery. It has a strong and informed world. The characterisation of Harry seems very real, while at the same time the books are so centred on him that the side-characters feel rather under-done. This is particularly problematic when we consider that these characters are women.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Tanya Huff's Victory Nelson Series

I only really started writing reviews relatively recently, certainly on books rather than on various issues that arise throughout a series. This has lead to a few regrets because there are a few books I would have liked to review in more depth when I read them and they were fresh in my mind – probably greatest of which are Tanya Huff's Victory Nelson series.

I have so far read 5 of the 6 books (the 6th is on my ever-growing reading list) and I wish I had written a review on each of them, because they are some of my favourite books. Not on par with Kevin Hearne or Kim Harrison (both of whom stand pretty far up the pinnacle) but certainly just beneath them. Since it's been a little while since I've read them and because I don't really have time for a re-read, I'm going to have to do a review of the series up to book 6. Hopefully my fellow bloggers will read my review and do their own reading and maybe add more individual book details  (*ahem* hint hint)

Victoria “Victory” Nelson was a police detective – and an extremely good one. Her nickname wasn't just a play on her name, it was an acknowledgement of her extreme skill. She and her partner, Mike Celucci, had a competitive, almost antagonistic but deeply connected relationship as they solved case after case. Then Vicky developed a degenerative eye condition. Her peripheral vision is shrinking and her night vision has reduced to almost nothing – and it will get worse and worse until she is blind. Facing this, Vicky quits her job because she will not accept a lowering of her performance or record and becomes a private investigator. Mike stays on as her contact, her friend, her sex partner – and someone she has marvellous blazing rows with.

As a private detective she stumbles upon the supernatural world – in particular she runs across Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII, romance novel writer – and vampire. The two start investigating increasing supernatural occurrences that threaten Toronto, her with her vast experience and skills as a detective with his age, experience and knowledge of the supernatural world. Over the books they investigate demons, sorcerers, mummies, werewolves, werewolf hunters and even mad wannabe Doctor Frankensteins

Through this, Vicki develops her in depth relationship with both Mike and Henry – with Mike himself becoming more and more involved in the supernatural world – as well as their interactions with the ex-street kid Tony.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts on Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This season was the first season of Buffy that I would say was somewhat enjoyable. It felt for the first time that the characters had evolved into who they were meant to be.  Buffy was still as annoying as ever, and seemed to be the only one who could not live without angst. All of the other characters matured and only Buffy remained stagnant. Her death at the end of the season did nothing to change my opinion of her. I have to say, I hate the whole kill of the protagonist routine for a season ender, because we all know that they are just going to have to bring her back.  I don't understand why writers believe that this is shocking or suspense inducing,

To add to my irritation, this season gave us the addition of Dawn.  I don't understand what the writers were thinking with this character, because there certainly was not a shortage of angst before her arrival. I understand that she is a 14 year old girl, but the played out drama of bickering siblings is simply boring. Centering the plot around making Dawn the key, just felt like a justification for throwing more angst at the viewer.  If I were Buffy, I would have just handed Dawn over to Glory and been done with it, to be perfectly honest.

For the first four seasons, I felt as though Spike and Buffy had a lot of unresolved sexual tension, which stopped him from being the vampire he was meant to be.  Spike is at his best when he is not making Buffy the sun and moon of his existence, but alas, this season he was reduced to creepy stalker guy.  There were several things wrong with Spike's love of Buffy.  I didn't like the fact that no one validated his feelings, because he didn't have a soul. No matter what creature or person we can talk about, no one should ever have their own emotions denied.  It was so obvious that he cared about Buffy, even if it was not directed in the most healthy way.  The Buffy robot was absolutely horrendous. 

In Fool For Love, Spike told Buffy how he had killed two slayers of colour.  He sought them out specifically to kill them.  I know that we are meant to see this as an example of how much Spike has changed, but all I saw was that once again two women of colour were callously killed to prove a ridiculous point.  When he killed the Black slayer, he stole the iconic Black leather trench coat that he now wears, thus treating her like rubbish.  When he killed the Chinese slayer, she begged him to give a message to her mother and he outright refused.  These women that he killed had the exact same skill set as Buffy, and yet it is Buffy that drew his devotion.  How many times is Whedon going to kill off slayers of colour?  Even though Faith was cast as evil, she was allowed to escape with her life, however the slayers of colour are given no such accord.  Not only are they highly disposable, apparently, they are also unlovable. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast - Episode 23

This week we discuss True Blood series 4 episode 3, "If You Love me Why Am I Dyin'" We also discuss Kevin Hearne's latest book - Hammered, the latest book in the Iron Druid Chronicles

True Blood: If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin?

I just loved night's episode and it's going to be hard for me to write about it without coming off like a complete fanpoodle.  The opening scene where Sookie broke Eric's nose and he called her Snookie had me cracking up. For me, Skaarsgard made this entire episode.  The sweet vulnerability that he showed was absolutely magnificent and if I didn't have a huge crush on him before, it certainly would exist after last night. Aren't low cut hip hugging jeans a God/Goddess send? I am looking forward to an entire season of this new Eric. How could you not love the mischievous boy that he played?

Watching the relationship between Jessica and Bill was really very sweet and served to remind the viewer that Bill can care about someone beyond his special Sook-eh.  He has come a long way from the vampire who first tried to pawn Jessica off on Eric.  He took the time to give Jessica advice which he certainly did not follow in his relationship, which is to tell the truth.  Unfortunately for Hoyt, truth did not mean dealing with the consequences of the hurt.

Outside of my fanpoodling and sqweeing about how hot Eric is, I did catch the overarching theme in last nights episode - intimate partner violence.  Normally when we think of domestic violence, we think of it as a crime perpetrated by a man against a woman.  Even though women have been to known to be the perpetrators/aggressors, this is something that is rarely explored in the media.  It is further under reported, because the victim faces dealing with emasculinization from the people who are supposed to help him, and there are very limited resources in existence to deal with battered and abused men. It was an absolute violation of Hoyt's person to be glamored. He knew that Jessica was trying to do this to him and he closed his eyes and said to her, "don't you dare", but she went ahead and did this anyway. This was a selfish act born completely out of power.  Even though Jessica's facial expression indicated that she was disturbed by her action she still chose to violate Hoyt.