Saturday, July 28, 2012

Q&A With Alpha's Malik Yoba

Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Renee Martin with Please proceed with your question. 

Renee Martin: Hi Malik. Thanks so much for doing this.

Malik Yoba: Thank you. Thanks for the fantasy.

Renee Martin:  I just wanted to say before I ask my question that, "You're a large part of the reason I watch Alphas."

Malik Yoba: Okay, thank you. Ego, stroke, stroke, ego, stroke, stroke. I'll take it.

Renee Martin:  Science fiction has a tendency to erase people of color, and when they are included, they're usually token roles.

 So one of the things that caught my attention right away was that Bill was actually the leader of the group and he wasn't a token and he wasn't overtaken by Cameron. I'm wondering how - if you feel that by taking part in this that you're sort of moving things forward in the genre where we'll begin to see more inclusive roles for marginalized people? 

Malik Yoba:
  Well the good thing is we shoot the show in Canada. So you mentioned Cameron right? Warren Christie is a Canadian, and we shoot with a Canadian crew. And so it's interesting even just dealing with the whole race politic question shooting in Canada, which - because it doesn't come up.

I am often the only black dude on set, but I don't think about it, I don't feel it, we don't talk - you know it's - and not out of like no one's aware but - we are but, what I like is that were professionals and people who care about a particular product and project. And so we work really well collaboratively to make the best show possible where that really never comes up, so that's interesting in and of itself.

Second part for me is I've been in this game for 20 years as a professional and I've been doing it since I was in elementary school. And for me it was just - you - my father always said, "Build your own generator so when they turn off the power you still have light."

 So throughout my career I've had other things that I initiate on my own as a man, but I happen to be a black man. So I say all that to say that conversation about being groundbreaking or, you know, the opportunities or lack of opportunities, at the end of the day this is a really, really hard business no matter what - who you are.

And I say all that to say, like we just have to continue to have the conversation about doing our own shit, like I write, I direct, I produce, I'm working on my own film right now. In fact I'm shooting a trailer for my film, What's on the Hearts of Men, which is going to be a very diverse audience because I also understand international distribution doesn't just look like black people and I understand the challenges of selling us internationally.

But while I'm shooting a series I'm directing my own piece and no one else in the cast is doing that because one, that's just not where their head is. But that's my determination, you know, I'm pushing to direct the third season of Alphas and I have full support of production, you know, in this endeavor of my entrepreneurial pursuits, so that really is the question. And the answer for me is like, "We can't keep talking about the opportunities we don't have if we don't work really hard to create our own luck."

And if I - and having some perspective, you know, when I was a kid I gave my teacher my autograph when I was 13 and told them I was going to be famous. And I was in the Drama Club from elementary school to high school performing arts programs, and worked at the Negro Ensemble Company as a 16 year old and did all that and have all that kind of perspective.

 And at the end of the day the thing that I feel has contributed to my ability to continue to work in this business, and I feel like my career has largely about hitting singles, right, if this is a game, and by staying in the game I still hit 300.

And I think the biggest part is because I don't think about what is impossible, you know. And that's one of the things I love about Tyler Perry, you know, having worked with Tyler, having known Tyler before he did he first films. Knowing him from the play game. That's an example of - he - there's one thing about him, is that it doesn't matter what he doesn't know, it doesn't matter that he didn't go to film school, it doesn't matter that he didn't get a degree in writing from some place.

For everything he doesn't know how to do from a film making perspective, he just does it anyway. And he wins. And that - and people support that. And I think that's how we shift this whole conversation about what we have or don't have. Because here's somebody who wasn't even in the game that changed the game.

Renee Martin:  Okay. And if I could just ask one last question. I know that you also sing, so I was wondering, are we at some point going to see a softer side of Bill where...

Malik Yoba:  I hope so, I was hoping to actually...

Renee Martin:  Will the writers will incorporate that?

Malik Yoba: But no, I definitely - actually recently go some music placed on the show, but not my actual music, just some artists that I'm working with. But that, I definitely plan to do more of that, so thank you.

I, you know what, since you said it, I'm going to have to think of - we're not done filming yet, so I'm going to work it in somehow girl. Work it into this last episode.

Renee Martin: Thank you, I'd appreciate that.

Well thank you for your time.

Malik Yoba:  Yes, thank you. 

Erin Willard: Hi, thanks so much for being on the call today.

Malik Yoba:  Thank you.

Erin Willard:  And congratulations on a terrific season premiere. I really liked it a lot.

Malik Yoba:  You enjoy that?

Erin Willard: Absolutely, yes. It was (unintelligible)...
Malik Yoba: All the action?

Erin Willard: ...action and - absolutely. It was neat. And that's actually kind of what I wanted to ask you about. It seemed - I know it's the season premiere and that's always a little bit different, but it seemed like there was a lot more intensity, a lot more action in the season premiere. Is that going to carry out throughout the season?

Malik Yoba:  Not necessarily. I think that - and you know, the writers probably could speak more to it, and the director of that. But I think that the goal was to try to start it with a bang, literally.

So and it still, even to us like you know, Season 2 is a bit almost like, you know, doing a mini-pilot again, you know, you have to kind of set up who's who, where we are. And obviously we were a little disjointed so there was the process of creating a team all over again but.

Yes, there's some good action coming up though. I get beat up quite a few times, which I don't really appreciate but you know. The good thing is I can always - I just look at the production manager and go, "Please schedule a massage for tomorrow."

Erin Willard:  Nice. So will we be seeing a Bill-centric episode or story arc this season?

Malik Yoba:  Not - yes, I don't know why I was saying no. We're on 13 right now so it's been a while. But yes, I think the season actually kind of opens with Bill-centric, at least certainly for the first couple episodes, I think that the Bill storyline, we kind of get right into where Bill's at, where we left him and where he is now and how - you know, what state he's in.

Without giving away too much, I was definitely like, "What, really? All right," that kind of thing. But yes, it's been good. It's been good though.

Erin Willard:  Great. And you're - are you done shooting now for the season or it's still on?

Malik Yoba: 
No, we're on 13 right now.

Erin Willard:  All right. Well thanks so much and I will...

Malik Yoba:  Okay, cool.

Erin Willard:  I'll make room for somebody else.

Malik Yoba: Okay.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby with Please proceed with your question.

Jamie Ruby:  Hi, thanks so much for talking to us today. Can you talk about what the most challenging part of your role is?

Malik Yoba:
  Not looking like I did when I was 26. You laugh with me. Actually you know, the fact that we started the season off with a lot of action and a lot of physical stuff, for me.

I had an experience that I never had before on set where I turned to Warren Christie's character one day - not his character, but to Warren, we were shooting the episode that I think is Number 3, where Bill goes into a fight club. And I had like 3 fight scenes in a week, more in 2 days or something like that, during a week of shooting. It was very, very physical and I remember, and I was really tired and I turned Warren and I was like, "Dude, I think I'm going to cry right now."

So like there was a literal physical challenge for me. But it's great because I am 45 and you know, I work hard to stay fit. And so the physical challenges are there. I think that's probably it.

And I think sometimes, you know, just making sure that you know collectively, meaning writers, directors, all the actors, everyone is working to keep one vision when you have so many moving pieces, you know? And with so many characters I think we're still in a place where, you know, sometimes we have to just - that presents its own like creative challenges.

But those are good because I think that as a result of it, everybody contributes to making the moments the best that they can be, first when they're on the page, and then when you're on set and you're in a moment.

And you know, you might have something that, you know, you were actually challenged by in that moment like, "Okay, how are we going to make this work? Where's the logic here? Who should do what? How do we," you know.

And I think that's the part - or at least for me, that I really, really love, you know. Because out of that comes the thing that people enjoy. So whatever the challenges are, it's always good because we meet them and then I think we have some level of success.

Jamie Ruby: Okay great. And how are you most like and most different your character?

Malik Yoba:  I think Bill is shorter and I think the fact that Bill is a former agent and comes to the group as a person with a certain expertise in, you know, law enforcement and you know, protocol and procedure and all that kind of stuff, I think you know, I had a scene with the three women in the show the other day and I was like, "This is like Daddy mode," and I am a dad so you know, how I was talking to them was how I'd talk to my kids.

 So I think there are those times when just as a man and an authoritative figure, you have to sort of take a position that could feel very, very familiar. But I try in this particular case, you know, I definitely don't feel that I'm often times like tapping into like Malik stuff to play Bill, if that makes sense, other than like...

Jamie Ruby: Yes. All right, thank you so much.

Malik Yoba: Well I was going to say other than humor. I think that humor is a really important element of our show. And so just I always try to also work from that place of, "Wouldn't this be funny if..."

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Sinbad and his brother, Jamil are in Basra and making a living while up to no good. Sinbad pretends to lose in a fist fight, so his brother can get excellent odds , then suddenly turn the fight around to fleece a bookie. A simple con – but it doesn’t end simply as his opponent bangs his head at the end of the fight. He seems to recover, Sinbad and Jamil leave, but then (under the menacing gaze of the sorceress Taryn) he slumps and died.

In the market, they indulge in some pickpocketing with the help of a friendly corrupt guard, stealing a case from Nala and her father (wealthy visitors to the city) – though inside the case there is only an odd, hairy totem.

Of course, since Sinbad is a hero, he has been indulging his crooked ways for good purpose – to support his elderly grandmother and his catatonic mother –because you can’t have a hero who is a thief through greed or even to save himself – he has to be stealing for other people to make him a redeemable character. Bonus points if the people he’s stealing for are elderly, children or helpless.

But it catches up with him – first with his grandmother having a vision from the coins that the money is blood money – money earned through killing (which is a surprise to Sinbad who didn’t know he’d killed his opponent). And then by the guards battering down their door, chasing them across the city and eventually capturing them.

Lord Akbari, the father of Sinbad’s dead opponent, is grieving for his son, being supported and comforted by his brother, the Emir, making a him powerful man one does not want to annoy. Lurking around is also the Sorceress Taryn (she who cast her magic eyes on the fight) who laments that they don’t have the magic to bring the dead back any more, since the Emir is encouraging science instead of magic.

He wanders down to the cells to tell Sinbad that his opponent in the fist fight is dead, and surprise, he was Lord Akbari’s son! And the Emir has very kindly let Lord Akbari decide how justice will be done in this case, how very nice.  Realising how well and truly screwed he is, Sinbad begs for his brother’s life – accepting his fate. So Lord Akabari… has Jamil killed and makes Sinbad watch; killing Sinbad’s loved one to make up for Sinbad killing his.

Sinbad isn’t without his tricks and, during the night, he manages to overcome one of the guards and escape home – where his grandmother watches over his brother’s dead body. His grandmother is grieving – and blames Sinbad for his brother’s death. Through tears she curses Sinbad to drift so he cannot spend more than a day on land – so he can learn and find atonement. She binds the curse in a locket around his neck, just as his friend the guard shows up to help him leave the city.

The Almighty Johnsons Season Two, Episode One: And She Will Come to You

Zeb and Mike are sitting on a beach drinking beer and Zeb says, "among all the other weird things, somewhere there's a woman for you." He reminds Axl that Frigg is out there and that he will find her, or his name isn't Frekki.  Apparently, Zeb has decided to take that name after he discovered that Frekki, is Odin's lone wolf.  Zeb promises to be there for him, unlike his brothers, who are useless for Gods.  Axl defends his brothers saying that they're busy and Anders is just useless.

We flash to a scene with Axl asking Anders for help, but he says that he is on a quest and it is on a need to know basis.  Anders says he is going away somewhere cold and has grown a horrible beard.  When Axl says he needs him, Anders says he takes his good advice and spoons it.

We get a flash to Ty who is busy moving.  When Axl tries to remind him that if he dies they die, Ty says, "trust me Axl, you'll out live me."  Eva grabs Ty by the arm saying that she wants to christen their new home.  Stacey asks what they were doing last night, and Eva yells, "that was the kitchen." Zeb asks if their house warming party will turn into a God orgy.

Zeb feels that Mike has been the most disappointing because he has been to busy hustling people.  Axl says that they can find frigg without the help of his useless brothers.

At Axl's, some angry man knocks on his door and it turns out he lost his girlfriend in a bet to Mike.  Axl points out that Mike is bringing danger into his house and Zeb points out that he used a woman in a bet he knew he couldn't lose. I really like that Zeb pointed this out to him because it wasn't that long ago that Mike was critical of Anders for using his powers to take advantage of women.  Zeb tells him that as God of the Frigg hunt that he is off the team because every time they look for Frigg, they always end up in a bar. Mike says that he needs a scent, a starting point

At Anders office, Dawn answers the phone, and it is Anders saying that he is at the airport and that he needs her to feed his fish.  It turns out that Anders is headed to Norway.  Anders asks her to tell Ty that he won't be at his house warming party and when Dawn refuses, he points out that she has been stalking him.  Anders asks her to stay at his apartment and then hangs up claiming that the plane is about to board. Would it really kill Anders to treat Dawn like she is a person of note considering how dependent is upon her?

Eva and Colin are bickering about the ownership of the house.  Colin asks that Ty knock her up so that the hormones will calm her down.  I get that Loki is an ass but really, did he have to use sexism?  It is however a switch to suggest that pregnancy hormones would level someone out, rather than make them go insane as it were. When Colin hands over the paperwork, Eva looks it over and Colin asks if she trusts him. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Alpha's Sneak Peak!

Tempest's Fury by Nicole Peeler: Book 5 in the Jane True Series

Very rarely do I stay up late to finish reading a book, but that is exactly what I did for Nicole Peeler's Tempest's Fury.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to tell you right now, the woman has made a fanpoodle out of me.

At the ending of Eye of the Tempest, Jane and Anyan were finally getting some much needed alone time when Blondie burst in with yet another supernatural emergency.  I found the ending frustrating because I had long been rooting for Anyan and Jane as a couple; however, that feeling of frustration could not possibly compare to how I felt at the end of this book. Oh Ms. Peeler, you are a cruel, cruel woman.

Given a special ax by the creature, it is time for Jane to fulfill her role as champion.  Though so much has changed, in many ways, Jane still sees herself as the small town girl who at the end of the day wants to lead a simple life, surrounded by the people she loves.  Not only does Jane now have to deal with the fact that she is essentially the chosen one, she is responsible for stopping creatures who cannot be killed and dealing with a political structure that is filled with factions. 

As serious as the issues are in Tempest's Fury, Ms. Peeler as we have become accustomed in this series, still takes time to add a little fun. When we first met Jane she had never been outside of her small town. This is her first time in Europe and though the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Jane still wants to take the time to be a bit of a tourist.  Cheese and particularly a good Stilton, is high on her list of experiences and a few dates with Anyan if she she an fit it in while trying not to be killed.

Another source of tension is Jane's budding relationship with Anyan.  It seems that every time they have a moment alone together, something gets in the way of consummating their relationship. This builds a sexual tension throughout the story, which leaves the reader ready to chant, just let them do it already. It also encourages the reader to root for them as a couple, which is part of what makes the ending so damn devastating.  I won't spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say, I almost threw my e reader.

Review: Waiting for Daybreak by Amanda McNeil

Freida had a difficult life. Living with mental disabilities, she had a hard time negotiating the world and, especially, the people within it. It certainly seemed she’d hit one of her low points after a particularly awful date sent her into disassociation, self-harming and depression.

Of course, if she hadn’t been in that low, she’d have been outside when the zombie apocalypse began, rather than in bed reeling from depression. She would have been like the rest of Boston – perhaps the world – roaming around seeking brains to feast upon.

In the greatest irony, she almost seems to be thriving far more in this new, bleak world than ever she did before – just her, her cat – and even a love interest who doesn’t seem nearly as awful as her last real date. Perhaps they can carve their own life in world of zombies, despite every day being a battle to survive under constant threat from the Afflicted

When I picked up this book, I had reservations. It’s a very short book, especially for something not part of an ongoing series. It seemed too short to be a self-contained story in and of itself.

So I was wonderfully surprised by the masterful pacing that made this book and this story exactly as long as it needed to be. We had plenty of flash backs of Freida’s life to have a greater idea of her as a character and her history of mental illness. We learned enough about her to flesh her out as a person, to get an idea of the outbreak and what happened to her and how she survived – but not so much that it was extraneous, padding or unnecessary fluff.

Similarly when she met Mike and had a relationship, we had enough information and scenes to see the shape of it, but not so many that we were drowned in excess detail that bogged the story down and turned it into a romance. We didn’t learn much about Mike, we didn’t need to know much about Mike. The story was a extremely well done balance –neither too much nor too little.

Which covers most of everything in the book – the action scenes were exciting, lasted long enough that you didn’t blink and miss them but not so long that you were tempted to skip forwards; they were well described enough to get a sense of what was happening, without being so over-described that it felt like the fighters were actually taking notes. This whole book just hits the sweet spot – that perfect balance between too fast and too slow, too much description and just enough, too much world building and backstory, and not enough

Women in Science Fiction Week: The Problem with Female Representation in Science Fiction on Television

This piece was originally published at Bitch Flicks

Falling Skies' Margaret
The wonderful thing about science fiction is that the writers have the opportunity to create a world, which while based on ours, can be markedly different. This means that there should be a place for strong female characters who are not restricted by sexism or forced into a situation in which they must perform femininity on a daily basis to be accepted as 'woman.' Despite the freedom of this genre; however, nothing is born outside of discourse, which means of course that we end up with the same sexist tropes repeatedly. 
Even in shows which readily lend themselves to recurring scenes of violence, because women have historically been framed as delicate and passive, men end up in the leadership roles. This also means that when the action does finally happen, women are placed into nurturing roles like doctors and nurses to aid the wounded men. While some may see this exchange as complementary, it in fact sets up a serious gender divide that is reductive. 
We actually see this most strongly and most blatantly in dystopias. In Falling Skies, humanity is locked into a battle for survival against an alien threat. Humanity is nearly extinct, the group is excited at the prospect of a capital that has managed to scrape together 2,000 survivors. The 2nd Massachusetts itself is reduced to a mere 150 people, meaning it has lost nearly half of its already low numbers since the series began. Clearly, this is a series about desperation - every man must be ready to fight, desperately, to survive.
And I said “man” purposefully there. Because, while there are plenty of women in the crowd scenes and even in most of the fight scenes we will find one token, nameless female fighter in a large number of men, the vast majority of the fighters are male. In fact, there’s only ever one named female fighter at a time (Karen, who gets replaced by Maggie after she is captured. She also inherited Karen’s love interest - which did rather make the two women seem interchangeable).
Remember how desperate humanity is here. For most of the show, Jimmy, a 13 year old boy was drafted to fight. As they get more desperate, Matt, a 6 year old boy, starts carrying a gun around and taking part in military action. Where are the women? It’s clearly not a matter of military background with both children and school teachers on the battlefield, why do we only see one or two women standing side by side with their men to hold the line against the alien threat?
By contrast, the most prominent female characters we do see except for the interchangeable-Hal-Love-Interest are, of course, caregivers. Dr. Ann Glass and Lourdes, the medical team for the 2nd Massachusetts. It’s the 21st century, humanity is nearly destroyed, every day is a struggle to survive - I think we can move past men holding guns while women roll bandages.
We can see a similar pervasive female passivity in Alphas, reinforced and ingrained by the special abilities the characters have. Two of the characters, Cameron and Bill, have abilities that make them dangerous in a fight. Their physical capabilities make them the team muscle - contrast that with the two women. Well, they have super senses and limited mind control respectively. The women are inherently placed in support roles and set up as support from the very beginning. And I know that someone will say “well, they don’t have combat powers!” true - but why was it written that way? Why couldn’t Nina have the super-strength? Why did the writers choose the women and the disabled character to have the less active, support powers? And that’s not to say their powers aren’t powerful or useful - far from it - but then, so is rolling bandages.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Changeling (Otherworld Series #2) by Yasmine Galenorn

The sisters ongoing battle against the demons continues as Shadow Wing’s forces look for the spirit seals, a way for them to break through to Earth and, from there, break through to Otherworld as well. The fate of both world rests in the balance and the D’Artigo sisters make a thin line of defence.

They have only a little support from the Queen of the Elves, because Otherworld has it’s own turmoil. The fairy queen, Lathanasar, has become more erratic and cruel, her increasingly failed rule has now lead to outright civil war, dragging in the other forces of Otherworld and destroying or occupying the agencies that should be helping against the demons.

Into this we follow Delilah, the middle sister, cat shapeshifter and private detective (her cover job, at least). She’s approached for a case – a local werepuma pride is under attack by an unknown murderer and her and her sister’s skills are needed to track it down – becoming all the more urgent as the bodies pile up and there’s a clear link to Shadow Wing’s campaign. Along the way she has to make some deals with some terrifying entities, Elemental lords of extreme power that untap some long dormant power within her.

And she loses some more of her innocence, some more of her naivety and is faced with more of the cruel, stark reality that faces them in this war – to say nothing of the complications in her love life, with her polyamorous nature clashing with her human boyfriend

This world is huge – with 3 realms of beings, a million kind of fae, shapeshifters, demons, vampires and many variations of each, it’s a world with near infinite diversity. I could spend hours just pouring through the world building alone. Part of this is because each element seems to have some weight, there’s not just werepumas, they have their own society and customs and it differs depending on whether they’re Earthside or Otherworld. The vampires aren’t just vampires, they have their own meetings and difficulties. The kingdoms of the fae and the elves have their own cultures and depths. There’s a weight behind the world building that suggests a lot of work and preparation has gone into it beyond just names and labels.

And that full, rich world with all its possibilities and magic feeds directly into the story. We have epic forces and a thousand options and a constant idea that anything can raise its head. I do think the action scenes were a little truncated and could have been less anti-climactic, but following to them is interesting as we learn more. It’s not the most novel concept – find the bad guys, save the world – but the path there is original because it wends through so many different characters and so many fantastical diversions. It isn’t a mystery – there’s no questions and little investigation, it’s more a hunt, a battle and an exploration and they become ever more deeply involved in a much wider and larger meta-plot.

Blood Ties, Season 2, Episode 4: Bugged

At a goth club there seems to be a new drug going round – Sweet Venom – and, like many drugs, it’s not healthy, but they don’t normally  call cockroaches to appear.

This concerns Lexia, the owner of the club who fears that it’ll  give the powers that be another excuse to oust her – so she goes to Vicki who, rather predictably, is less than amused and gracious about the whole goth scene, affectations and appearance. But Coreen is there – a friend of Lexia and Lexia has helped her when she needed to poke Vicki for judging her based on her appearance. And since it involves her subculture, Coreen wants to be part of the investigation, despite the risks (as Vicki points out, every investigation involves the supernatural since she got her pentagram tattoos). I don’t know if Coreen’s extreme eagerness is a plus or not, she reminds me of a puppy.

Dr. Mohadevan examines the body – and it’s been consumed by insects despite the very short period of death and gone into severe allergic reaction, very unpleasant indeed. Naturally this calls for a trip to the club for all the standard questions that don’t really reveal much, though the fact they keep mentioning absinthe looks like a particularly lamp-shaded clue. Though Vicki does hit quickly on the possibility of drugs and it’s quickly clear that Coreen’s closeness to the culture and Lexia is going to be a problem for her.

Meanwhile someone has delivered some take away to Henry – but forgot that he prefers his women alive and not dead and propped on his front door. He decides to lie about it to Vicki and go to Celluci for help and reporting that she’s dead (a fashion model). No, it doesn’t make sense to me either. Henry believes his little delivery means there’s another vampire in the city which, given their territorial nature, is a bad thing. This is a take-over bid by a rival vampire - and a vampire that’s willing to kill people making Henry the better choice to have around.

The body ends up in the morgue, the awesome Dr. Mohadevan takes a look – and Vicki arrives for her own investigation. Naturally, being a professional, experienced and capable police detective, Celluci is completely and utterly unable to lie with a straight face and Vicki quickly finds out something’s up – so she goes to see Henry about it. To protect Vicki (ugh) he gives her a complete brush off.

Vicki lays down the truth to Coreen – whether it’s insect summoning black magic or a more mundane drug, something is happening at the club, even if Coreen doesn’t want to face it, so it’s time for another little field trip. At the club, Vicki asks Lexia if she sells drugs who, amazingly, says no (because if she was, she would totally say yes, right?) Vicki also doesn’t seem to entertain the possibility that someone could sell drugs at a club without being the owner. Case in point, Winter, the bar tender, is passing another vial on to another guy – who drops dead among lots of cockroaches in the alley. And Vicki finds the body (with Coreen claiming one of the insects) – interrupting Coreen’s lecture about judging on appearances.

Cover Snark: Covers That Do it Right

We spend a lot cover snarks complaining about bad covers out there - and all of the many terrible tropes we see over and over again. Well with all the drama around, let’s take a break and grab some of the shiny covers out there that we love. Let’s look at some covers we have no problems with, covers that are a joy to look at.

Well, the first, and easiest way to avoid all of the problems on the covers is to go for something abstract, with no humans at all to have their spines twisted, in ridiculous shoes with lots of skin. Of course, it’s hard to create a compelling cover without a person - but these do a remarkable job

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review of Hells Angel By Kim Faulks Book One in the No Angel Series

Coming in at only 129 pages, it would be fair to say that Hells Angel is more of a novella, than it is a novel.  The story is essentially about the coming together of Kellah Slater and Detective Hunter, which makes more of a dark romance than a straight up urban fantasy.  Kellah is a demon who has been cast out of hell and as punishment is forced to exist on earth.  Kellah sees hell as home and so little things like the fact that it is always cold on earth in comparison to hell irks her continually. Kellah for the large part only sees the evil in humanity, the constant desire to consume and rob each other blind.  She makes her living as a jewel thief and lives in what is essentially a flop house.  

Detective Hunter is a very troubled man.  He was on the job when his partner was suddenly killed right in front of him.  Shortly there after, when he enters an alleyway to help what he perceives to be a woman in need, he loses his wallet.  Using his identification, someone goes to his home and kills his wife and daughter in cold blood.  When he confronts the person in his home, despite his best efforts, he barely walks away with his life because the person he is battling is immortal.

Much of this story involves Hunter attempting to find a way to arrest Kellah for various crimes.  Each time they are anywhere near each other; however, they both feel a strong sexual attraction.  Kellah is disgusted by this because it does not fall under the guidelines of appropriate demon behaviour.  For his part, Hunter is equally disgusted.  In the background there is a serial killer, murdering women and Hunter has become the prime suspect.  Someone on the police force is determined to make sure that he is put out of commission.  In the end the question becomes can Kellah look past her demon nature to admit her love and can Hunter figure out what has been a long misunderstanding to admit his love.

Being Human U.K., Season Four, Episode Six: Puppy Love

This episode begins with Tom's morning being juxtaposed to that of  young girl.  At the cafe, Hal's OCD has gone into overdrive and he has made sure that everything is symmetrical.  Hal asks if Tom could be like Leo and set the tasks that Hal needs to do for the purposes of routine to keep him on task.  Hal notices a young girl standing across the street reading a book, but when Tom calls after her, she runs away.  They chase after her and Tom admits that he is a werewolf.

They take Allison back to the house and she admits that she hunted him down after seeing the video of Tom and George on youtube.  The first thing she wants to know is what sort of idiot exposes himself on youtube. When she shows Tom the video, he is shocked. Apparently, a ton of people have seen it and believe that it is fake.  When Eve starts to cry, Annie leaves to check on her.

Allison says that she believes that someone is trying to break the news about werewolves.  Hal says that the vampires have been keeping the secret for years and Tom backs him up by saying that Hal is not involved in vampire politics anymore.  Allison suggests that Hal should go undercover and seek information over a pint of blood, which sends Hal rushing out of the house.

In a warehouse, Cutler is watching the video online when Golda of the U.K. operations shows up.  Cutler tries to counter, saying that Griffin left him in charge, but Golda is not convinced that he has everything under control. Cutler tells her that he met a werewolf, but all Golda can think about is setting up a cage fight, though Cutler says he needs Tom for something else.  Golda demands that he bring Tom to her.

Back at the house, Eve is having a fit and the doorbell rings  A man threatens to knock the door in because the crying baby is disturbing him. Annie opens the door and uses her powers to force him back but when she turns to grab a stake, an old man is standing next to her.  When she looks on the ground, she realises that the man knocking was human because his dead body is lying on the cement out front of the house.

Allison and Tom argue about approaching a vampire and she refuses to stay quiet.  As they hunt for him, Allison argues that humanity is ready for supernaturals "to be out and proud." Uh huh. This is clearly yet another GLBT reference on a show that has had one gay couple in four seasons, which resulted in murder and let's not forget the whole pretend to be gay, for the purposes of throwing off questions about Eve.  The track record for GLBT representation is abysmal on Being Human, but they don't seem to have any problem with appropriation. Tom tells her to be quiet and she is snarky about him being the chair person.  The vampire attacks Allison from behind, but Tom separates them and stakes the vampire.  Allison is pissed that he killed the vampire, claiming that they didn't learn anything and that Tom didn't give her a chance to talk to him. Allison goes to leave in a huff, until Tom says that he might know someone they can talk to.  

It has been less than half an episode and I already know that I don't like Allison in the least little bit. She is clearly smart, but in this situation out of her depth and refusing to admit it.  She placed herself in danger, forcing Tom to save her.  This is quite common treatment of female characters in this genre, but it is still irritating every time a spunky agent enters the picture.

Back at the house, Annie is dealing with Emrys who is pissed that his death has been declared natural causes.  Annie tries to explain that he is not really of this plane anymore and promises to help him fulfill the task that her killing him stopped him from accomplishing.

Tom takes Allison to meet Cutler, who wants to know if she plans to stick around for awhile.  She admits that she wanted to be a barrister but that a university campus is out of he question.  When she asks about the video on youtube, Cutler claims that he is just learning about it and that recently there has been a vampire minority who is keen to reveal the existence of werewolves. He takes his lie one step further and claims that Golda is the ringleader and that because she has protection that there isn't much that he can do on his own. I am curious to know what Cutler's end game is.  Each week we see him making plans but there has been no larger objective identified. Cutler asks for Tom the vampire slayer to get involved, which causes Allison to become upset and ask how many vampires he has killed. Allison says that she is surprised that Cutler is condoning the murder of vampires.  Tom replies that they are not normal people, because they are werewolves. Allison agrees to participate, if Tom teaches her how to kill a vampire.

At the cafe, Hal is mopping the floor and singing when a young woman walks in to order five teas. Alex tries to flirt with Hal but he says that he was just being friendly. When he admits to not having a girlfriend or a boyfriend she asks if he is a religious because of his sexual repression. As she leaves he tells her that it was nice to meet her.

Alphas Season Two, Episode One: Wake Up Call

When we last left the team, Dr. Rosen had broadcast a message that went public about the existence of Alphas as the team looked on, and his daughter and Stanton Parish watched from his home.  Clearly, an admission like this has got to have some pretty serious repercussions. This season opens with team split apart with Dr. Rosen in a mental institution, Gary imprisoned in Binghamton, Rachel trapped in her room overwhelmed with stimuli, Nina back to using her powers to manipulate and Cameron and Bill still working together to trap Alphas who break the law.

Cameron's abilities seems to be miss firing and Bill seems to be having heart issues.  Cameron makes a point that Bill is looking pasty even for him.  Umm yeah, not necessary. Cameron has been spending his time in a chat room talking to people who claim to be Alphas, but Bill is not impressed.  Clay assigned Gary to NSA and the team has not heard anything from him in two weeks.

When Cameron and Bill deliver an Alpha to building seven in Binghamton, they discover that Gary has been imprisoned with a lot of other Alphas.  He has had a chip implanted into the back of his brain to make him docile.  Bill feels that this is humane because these people have a history of criminal activity until he sees and violence, until he sees Gary whereas; Cameron finds it anything but and compares it to the treatment of rabid dogs. 

They look back at NSA tapes and discover that when touched on the shoulder by an agent, Gary reacted violently.  Cameron reminds Clay that this is exactly what they warned him about when he chose to send Gary to the NSA.  The fact that Gary is autistic means he doesn't like to be touched and he has special needs which must be taken into consideration to have a relationship with him.  I think that this scene is really important, because it speaks of the low tolerance TAB people have with the disabled. Even when they know accommodations are needed, they don't necessarily comply. Clay claims that he told them but because Gary sent two agents to the hospital, he ended up in Binghamton.

At the hospital, Daniel goes to visit Dr. Rosen who is overwhelmed with the strong drugs they have forced him to take. Again, I think this is important because though drugs have an important place in mental health treatment, there are many incidents of over medication and this scene makes the point that even when drugs are needed to deal with a mental health issues, they are not free of side effects and consequences. Daniel is worried that her father will be permanently trapped there, but Rosen is firm in the belief that he will be released eventually because they are going to need him.

At Binghamton when they try to put a chip in Meg, she shorts out the system, which brings all of the Alphas offline.  Bill is on the floor with Gary and immediately tosses him over his shoulder in a fireman carry, as the prisoners try to escape captivity. When Gary struggles away, Bill is punched in the chest by a prisoner who tells him, "I remember you, you have have a weak heart and I can stop you."  Bill and Gary are both imprisoned in a cell together. Bill tells Gary that he cannot amp up and is in clear pain.  

On the floor Asher brings in the warden when Clay refuses to negotiate.  An Alpha named Kimmy, talks the warden into putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. Luckily for the warden, the gun isn't loaded but they promise that the next time it will be.  Scipio demands to see Dr. Rosen and so Clay goes to see him at the institution. Rosen talks Rachel out of her room and finds Nina using her powers to force a man to kiss her. I'd like to know when Nina got so insecure?  This is not the confidant woman that we met in the first season.  

Warehouse 13, Season 4, Episode 1: A New Hope

We open with a great deal of depressing. The Warehouse is destroyed, the artefacts gone and a whole load of people are dead. Claudia, Lena, Myka, Pete and Artie all gather in grief and loss. Time for dramatic scenes, tearful memories and painful flashbacks. All of which I’m glad of – because this much loss should be accompanied by grief and pain and it needs to be impactful

Artie has the watch though, Macpherson’s watch, that may be a key to bringing something back.  But they don’t’ know what it does or what the side effects can be and, as Myka wisely says, they can’t just selfishly use an artefact to bring back the people they love without realising the consequences. Of course, blowing up the Warehouse comes with other consequences – the destruction of the Eturnium chamber, made of the world’s hardest metal, it was destroyed in the blast – and it contained Pandora’s box.

Turning on the television, they learn the world’s economy has collapsed, there’s rioting in the street and there are mass suicides. At the bottom of Pandora’s box, hope remained – and with the destruction of the box, the world lost hope.

With that established, side effects of using the watch seem pretty minor in comparison; reading that it has “push the button” written on it in Portuguese (everyone gives Myka a look for speaking Portuguese and she has a little snark moment which was really needed to counter the heavy emotion). Pushing the button, the watch became a stop watch – they have 23 hours to use whatever fail safe they have. The back of the watch has black diamonds in it – which means something to Artie – who rushes to the warehouse in characteristic “I’ll tell you later” style.

At the Warehouse, Pete catches the American football – the ball that continually travels around the world we’ve seen since season 1. It’s an Artefact tracker and, inside, is a computer and a database and the last resort they have. Between internet and rugby ball they find the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond, a sect based on the Templars based in the South of France

Lena has to join one of the Regents to find an Artefact that was in Warehouse 13 that they can use to diffuse the bomb – going back in time won’t help anything if they can’t actually stop the bomb. Claudia wants to stay and use the Metronome of immortality on Steve, she’s done the maths, even if they do save the Warehouse, they won’t be saving Steve – but if she does bring him back it will be into a world without hope; faced with that, she agrees to go with Artie, Myka and Pete. But Claudia is determined – she will save Steve after they have fixed the Warehouse

Arriving in France, the loss of hope is already affecting them – Pete isn’t flirting and everyone feels cold. And they’re already been followed by the Brotherhood, not very subtly (Pete waves at them). At their base, they split up, Claudia and Artie to steal with Pete and Myka to distract. Have they considered asking? I mean, loss of hope is probably something the Brotherhood won’t enjoy either. Distraction begins with a gay joke and the massive plan of “hit the big one” (Myka is going to murder Pete one of these days).

Teen Wolf, Season 2, Episode 9: Party Guessed

 Poor Lydia. She’s still having nightmares and hallucinations/visions of Peter Hale, the last Alpha, who has a plan for the next full moon which will apparently make him real (on her birthday as well). All because she is immune – to what she doesn’t know because no-one’s filled her in, something Peter points out most accurately.

If only she had a good friend to confide in. Alas, all she has is Allison.

Derek and Scott are closer now Scott’s accepted being part of his pack (thankfully. I always thought the rift between them was excessive) but Scott thinks Derek is keeping secrets still about the weregecko(of course) and Derek’s all depressed because he doesn’t think they can save Jackson or kill him.

Allison has finished her Not!Date with Matt, tells him she’s Not!Dating Scott and how everything is complicated., Lots of cute flirting – but he leaves his camera behind, giving Allison a chance to go through his pictures (as you do – because I know I always go through friends’ stuff if they leave it unguarded for 10 seconds) and find that he has pictures of the sports team and class and her and her and her oh and more of her and yet a dozen more of her. His sweet little crush is upgraded to full-blown spooky stalking with a side-order of peeping Tom.

Stiles and his dad are still stuck on the case trying to put together who is controlling the weregecko – and it seems Harris, the chemistry teacher, has been taken in for questioning since his car (with its Einstein bumper sticker) has been seen at so many of the crime scenes (ok, it’s official, he’s definitely not the weregecko master). But Stiles doesn’t buy it, despite how Harris hates him – it’s not enough; and he’s determined to solve the case for the sake of his father. But flicking through the year book they find something else the victims had in common – including the latest victim – they were all in the swim team, and Isaac Lahey’s father was the coach.

Lydia invites Jackson to her party but he scares her and tells her she doesn’t want him there. He’s clearly disturbed and becoming more and more aware that something’s happening to him. Still time for Lydia’s party. Stiles brings a huge present before discussing his findings with Scott (weregecko doesn’t like water and is linked to the swim team, a connection perhaps). Unfortunately for Lydia, the party is also deserted except for Allison, Stiles and Scott because Lydia’s mental illness/haunting has turned her from the most popular girl in school to a pariah (the term they use is “nutjob” repeatedly. At length – which is both unnecessary and vexing). Allison insists they have to do something since they’ve completely ignored her for 2 weeks (just noticed, Allison? Late in the day for guilt. Though I love Scott’s come back “Lydia ignored Stiles for the last 10 years” poor Stiles). Out of guilt, Scott and Stiles pull in what contacts they have to fill the party.

Party in full swing and Stiles (who is just completely adorable, in case it’s not obvious, and should be the star of this show) tries to give Scott advice to heal his rift with Allison after last week when he was cross with her for deciding to spill all their secrets to her evil Argent family. And then Jackson shows up. Just in time to try the punch – which looks like it’s an odd mix of fruit juices, magic and wolfsbane.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review of Frayed by Blakely Chorpenning: A Madison Clark Novella

The shifter community is in an uproar because their teenagers seem to be missing.  Because there is little communication between the leopards, weres, etc., it has taken sometime for them to realise the breadth of the problem.

Fray is a mixed martial artist who loves and lives to fight.  Her brother assigns Fray to investigate the disappearances with Nash - a vampire. Fray is not at all pleased as it seems that distrust not only extends to other shifters but to the undead as well. 

Chorpenning has a large world with various types of shifters, as well as vampires. The cast is filled with mixed race people, which is a nice change of pace from all White worlds.  I do however think that despite being told that Fray had a paternal African grandmother and typical Black features, there were no markers other than description to mark her as a person of colour.  The same unfortunately occurred with other characters.

Fray is yet another character in this genre who has zero impulse control, no respect for authority.  She ridiculously allowed herself to be captured without much forethought.  I found it very hard to like Fray mainly because I am tired of seeing this kind of woman in urban fantasy. Why is it so hard to have a character who is capable of having a conversation without flying off the damn handle every two seconds. She hardly behaves like adult woman she is supposed to be.

Novellas are risky balance because the author has to be careful to include enough to keep the story while at the same time not overwhelm the reader.  Frayed is an introduction to a series and really, it should have been a book and not a novella. Chorpenning rushed through details and introduced far too many characters for this to be easy follow. At times, the story felt like it was all over the place and this was particularly so when it came to the action scenes.  If you have no real awareness of who the characters are it's hard to follow who is doing what and why. The pacing of Frayed gives the reader no chance to really connect with the characters or have a reason to invest in them.

I would have been far more interested in this story has Chorpenning had taken the time to really develop the world rather than rushing through this story. She skeleton of a story but never really fleshed it out enough to make the reader want to read more or care to be quite honest.  If anything Frayed could be best described as failure to launch.

Editors Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author for review.

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 7: Molon Labe

 The well and truly manipulated Ben is taking Assassin-Lady Karen to Red-Eye Skitter and his Skitter rebellion group which she totally has never heard of before, honest. Which leads Ben right into the hands of the Overlords and their Mechs and Skitters.

Hal, Tom and the cavalry arrive before Ben can be re-harnessed – I can understand that, I’d be desperate to track him down and give him a good slap too. And as a bonus to the necessary Ben slapping, they also capture the Overlord (after a whole season and more of them laying low and staying on the background, it was a silly silly Overlord to decide to move to the front lines).

At the camp we have Lourdes and Jamil flirting (reminding us they exist at least) Weaver getting out of bed so every cast member can tell him he’s a naughty boy for doing so (though, after last week with Dr. Ann? That’s a brave Weaver, she may break your legs if she has to) which means he’s up and about for when Tom arrives with the captured Overlord. And we get some actual alien fighting – it feels like its been a while – as the aliens try to get their Overlord back which leads to Tom being more of a Big Damn Hero.

Time for some more discussion of Ben as a liability and a parlay with Karen who offers them a chance to leave if they let the Overlord go – which doesn’t sound fun to anyone. But she does have them completely surrounded and boxed in. Hal and Ben have a moment with Ben angsting that she should have left long ago and Hal reassuring him (I’d have pointed towards a door, I’m just saying). Ben puts a more logical argument to Tom – the Overlords are afraid of the rebellion, they’re trying to get into Ben’s head for info and he needs to leave. Tom argues about his age but, well, that’s never stopped them before.

In the tunnels are Maggie and Hal, checking for exits, kissing, adding to the sexual tension and finding a new alien bug! At least this one is squishable. I hereby call him Squishy and he will be mine and he will be my Squishy. Lots of Squishies! Bad Squishy!

Also in the tunnels, Ann, Matt and Lourdes are trapped in the bowels of the hospital after the tunnel collapsed during the fight – and they find an extremely injured Jamil trying to hold a door closed.       And a loud scratching noise that is probably more Squishies. More concerning, even more Squishies pulls themselves out of Jamil’s mouth. They run and end up shutting themselves in a big store room – which isn’t ideal since the Squishies can eat through metal. They send Matt through a vent to find help, after he gives his weapon to Ann (tut tut, Matt. 8 year olds with weapons are one thing, but there’s only 3 or 4 women in the 2nd Massachusetts who are allowed to carry guns)

Weaver, Tom (because in a military situation it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have your commander and second in command take every risky mission together) and Pope (who is still not dead!) join in examining the Squishies and considering defending themselves against them. They find Matt and run to rescue Moon and Lourdes who have already done a decent job of rescuing themselves with a flamethrower.

Continuum Season One, Episode Eight: Game Time

Once again we begin with a flash forward to the future.  It seems that there is experimentation on soldiers, which is deemed no big deal because they are indebted to the corporations for 20 years.  It turns out that a persons state of mind can be controlled and specific thoughts can be implanted.  During the testing phase, something goes wrong and the soldier attacks.  It turns out that one of the scientist involved is Lucas Ingram who is a member of Liber8.  For the record, Kiera saw all of this and though she look slightly troubled, she had nothing to say about the morality of what was happening. After everything that she has seen, I cannot for the life of me understand Kiera's devotion to the corporations.

In the present day, Kiera goes to see Kellog and brings up the missing piece of the time travel device.  Kellog wants to know why she wants it, because it won't work by itself.  He tells her that even if she figures out a way to get home that it may not necessarily be the same as the one she left. When Kellog starts to flirt, Kiera makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with him.

Kiera gets a call from Carlos.  It seems that someone walked into a paint ball game and murdered the CEO.  It turns out that this is a tech company and the one witness, a Mr.Cogburn says that he has never seen the murderer before.  At a train station, a dark haired woman walks up to someone named Cole Barkley and pulls him in front of a train.

Back at the office Kiera and Carlos learn that both the woman and the murderer from the paint ball game worked as beta testers for the same company.  Betty offers to go with them and Carlos tries to blow her off, but Kiera says that it's a good idea.

At the company, they learn that Mark and Yvonne were working on the same video game. When Kiera uses her tech, she sees that Fred, Mark and Yvonne's former boss is nervous.  Kiera believes that he is hiding something and picking up on the clues Betty asks how the program works.  When Fred asks a worker to run a simulation, Zack says that he has not figured out the glitch but Fred is insistent. Inside the game, Betty and Kiera are shooting weapons when a bullet slows down in front of Kiera and she passes out.  Kiera says that she just needs air.  When she tries to use her tech, it's not working and she cannot contact Alec.  I suppose this means we are going to be subjected to more of Kiera going on about following her gut. Also what kind of sense did it make to put on this helmet when she had no idea who it would effect the tech implanted in her brain?  She's supposed to be smart and cautious right?

Alex realizes that he has been cut off from Kiera and he calls her. She explains that she was playing a virtual reality simulation. Alec believes that something has shorted out her CMR and says that he may need to reboot her.

Back at the office, Carlos says that  both Mark and Yvonne had amphetamines in their system.  Betty says that this is common for gamers and that this can cause paranoia and delusions.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 77

This week we discuss True Blood and what an utter hot mess this was – and how much we’re on the side of the Ifrit. We also discuss Teen Wolf (and the evil Argents), Falling Skies and the number of dead POC on the show and Continuum. Our book of the week is Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

We discuss the usage of stereotyped prejudiced locations as an excuse to use bigoted language as well as ignoring real world bigotry.

Preview of True Blood Episode 8

Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Onyesonwu is an Ewu, a child of hatred. Her mother is a dark skinned Okeke and her father was a yellow-brown skinned Naru who raped her mother. She lives in a world where the Great Book justifies the enslavement and subjugation of the Okeke by the Naru and fuels brutal enslavement, abuse and genocide of the Okeke that has driven her mother to the east, away from the fighting, to live in an Okeke town.

But, as an Ewu, even the Okeke revile her as a child of shame and violence, doomed to perpetrate that violence herself. Onyesonwu is also an Eshu – a shapeshifter – and a gifted potential sorceress but even trying to meet that potential is hemmed in on every side because of her blood and because of her gender.

With anger and passion, Onyesonwu and Mwita, a fellow Ewu, challenge the restrictions placed upon her, demand the respect and position she deserves and ultimately wins friends and training –albeit both heavily coloured by the prejudice she faces. Unable to tolerate the hatred and the killing, Onyesonwu turns her eyes back to the west, at the genocide’s heart, and is determined with her few friends to stop it, though it is a long journey through many hostile places. By magic or will, with a thin thread of prophecy for hope, she will find her father and end the killing.

This is a story about growth in many ways. Onyesonwu’s journey from happy childhood, difficult coming of age, then her resolve no longer to live with the world that she’s in and a determination to change it. Through the book we see her learn and change and grow, from a small child to a powerful sorceress, she is shaped by the world around her and it’s fascinating (but slow) to see.

We see how prejudice – both against her Ewu mixed blood and as a woman – shape her. How it both enrages her and constantly blocks her – and drives her to change things. She has a lot of passion and anger – some of which is directed destructively, as one would expect, but most is driven to push down the barriers and insist that she not be held back or stopped because of her race or gender and her determination, even her violent determination, to battle against those who treat her poorly because of it. Sometimes through demanding they treat her properly, refusing to accept their words and actions and sometimes through revenge.

The story has some really strong characters that grow along with Onyesonwu with both Mwita and Luyu growing and changing with their own experiences and learning. Even though they are secondary characters, they are still grown and developed rather than just being extension of Onyesonwu.

The world, is also fascinating and well built – the mythological history that was created with Ani and the Okeke and Narru and how that was exploited to justify the genocide. The magic system is deeply involved with many different forms and rules but coming back to the same basic foundation over and over. It’s rich and consistent and fascinating – definitely one of the better depictions of magic I’ve come across

True Blood Season Five, Episode Seven: In the Beginning

When last we left True Blood, Russel had just killed Roman Zimojic. On the heels of this, a group of armed men break into the compound and drop a net over him and Eric is silvered off his feet to the wall.

At the fae bar, Sookie learns that she will run out of her magic if she uses it.  This means that she won't be fae any longer. Fans of the book are probably aware that this is yet another deviation from the Harris' version because in the books, Sookie's ability to read minds was a gift from a demon and not  result of her fae blood. Sookie thanks Claude for the information and leaves the club. I call this getting the viewers hopes up just a little.  Deep down we all know that they even if somehow Sookie's ever so special fae powers disappear, that they will find some other reason to make her a special snowflake.

Andy is in the process of being questioned about the death that happened last week.  Sam takes the opportunity to sniff around the store looking for any link with the people who killed the other shifters in town.  He asks Debbie to check a box and they discover that it is filled with Obama masks.  When he proceeds to roll around the floor checking the scent it causes Debbie to ask if there is something she needs to know about him. 

Hoyt has joined an anti supernatural hate group. Hey True Blood, haven't we had this storyline with a different character already?  Hoyt claims to feel more love in the hate group.  The entire conversation is absolutely ridiculous but I can appreciate it to some degree, as it really is a mirrors how privileged people talk about those who are historically marginalized, though in this case, supernatural beings are not marginalized in anyway. Hoyt claims not to know, how it is that he ended up in a relationship with Jessica. I was fine until one of the haters claims that what happened between them was date rape.  Look, I get that this is a conversation involving men who are not educated or intelligent, but the rape analogy was over the line.  When it comes to the subject of rape, True Blood has a history fraught with problems and in this situation, it makes it seem like people accuse rape because their feelings were hurt rather than being violated.

In the authority compound, Bill and Eric figure out that Nora had something to do with Russell having the ability to kill Roman. In the cell, Bill and Eric determine that Nora did not act alone and so they turn to Molly to try and figure out why the I-Stake didn't work. They are brought before Salome Agrippa, who is anything but grieving.  Russell tells Eric that he forgives him for killing Talbot and suggests that both should respond with forgiveness.  Russell claims that he has been born again in his new makers image.  Born again vampire?  You know that Christian fundamentalists are somewhere losing their shit over that one. Each time Nora refers to Eric as brother he loses his temper because he knows that she set them up. I get that Eric was upset that Nora betrayed him, but did the writers have to get him to call her a cunt? I hate that word beyond all belief.

It turns out that Salome Agrippa followed Eric and Bill and dug up Russell because she knew that he was the only one strong enough to defeat Roman. Salome asks Bill and Eric to join them, but Bill says he believes that without peaceful co-existence that both sides will die and for his part, Eric simply says no.

Alcide is sparring with his new second and he points out that his opponent will be on V and so he is prepared to lose.  He refuses to take V, even to level the playing field. Martha is not happy about the challenge because she believes that it's J.d's turn to be alpha.

Arlene is watching the tape of her wedding tape to Terry. Holly tries to comfort her but Arlene says that Terry is crazy.  Holly tries to tell her that he has PTSD, but Arelene persists and tells her about the Ifrit.  Finally someone on this show of vampires, werewolves, witches, maenad and fae admits that Terry could be right about the smoke monster.  See, that wasn't so damn hard now was it?

Warehouse 13: Season 3 Review

 Season 3 – well done for redeeming so much of what was wrong with season 2. We had metaplot almost from the very beginning, that kept raising its head on a regular basis. It added a structure to the whole series that the last season missed. We had the regular daily task of artefact hunting, which was really well done because it showed that even when they have extreme things going on, they still had to keep doing the daily grind, they couldn’t just stop artefact hunting.

By bringing in HG Wells again (who is an awesome and nuanced and deep character that I love) they tied in a lot of season 2 and made it a lot more pointful. They also built a lot on the previous season’s character growth – especially with Claudia and, to a lesser extent, Pete. I don’t think there was an episode that fell flat with me – and there were several that were utterly must-watch TV. The plot was maintained, the pacing was good with plenty of menacing foreshadowing, it was excellent, exciting, emotional and tense viewing. And yes, it was menacing – and there was even a sense of “anyone can die” which is really hard to do; you expect some people to be untouchable, this show is challenging that.

And the world building was excellent – we saw so much more of the previous warehouses, how the warehouse system worked and a greater expansion of both the Guardians and the importance of the Regents and what they mean (though I do rather think they’ve deviated a little from what the regents were in the first season). It really expanded the world out and, as ever, the artefacts were pretty well done, drawing on actual people and actual history.

We had some new characters with Steve and Regent Jane. I loved Regent Jane, her relationship to Pete, her work with Myka and her friendship with Mrs. Frederick. I really hope she becomes a regular character (albeit with some reservations). Steve I liked when he appeared, though he was dogged by some unfortunate commentary, he fit in a lot better than I imagined he would with a new character parachuted into the team so late in the day

I am not happy with Myka’s character development, again. In season 1 she was confident, capable, dogged with issued over her partner dying, certainly, but still capable. Since then we seem to have developed her by having her constantly beset with insecurity. Her leaving the warehouse, her doubts and fears about her looks and high school reunion in season 2 and now further doubts of her capacity as an agent (when, unquestionably, she is the most capable of all of them), her capacity to do her old job let alone this one and the constant need to shore her up and reassure her.

Face Off: Tropes We Want to End

'Stop sign 01' photo (c) 2011, Kirsty Hall - license:

Having read and watched so much in the genre, we begin to see elements that get repeated over and over again. Some of them we want to keep - as we’ve said with vampires and werewolves - but some we could really do without. There have been some items that keep raising their ugly heads more often than classic Dracula and we really wish they would be staked, beheaded and their ashes scattered over different bodies of water

Inconsistent Powers
Urban Fantasy tends towards long long series with multiple books. It also tends to have complex magical rules, rich worlds with differing powers and a lot to keep track of. And some writers don’t get it right, or they mold their world building around the story. So we get a character who can use a super power in one book or has a magical tool or ability, yet in the next they seem to have forgotten all about it. A dire threat becomes a minor inconvenience. Magical laws are shattered, creatures recover from their restrictions.

It’s a pet hate of ours - be consistent with your own rules!

No Angst Without Reason.
Angst is a staple of Urban Fantasy, we know we can’t be rid of it. The tragically tortured vampire is, alas, here to stay. But, we beg, if you’re going to make your vampire/werewolf/whatever tortured and sad give them a reason to be. We are beyond tired of beings lamenting the fact they’re going to live forever, be immune to any and all disease and have super powers as well. Oh, it’s such a hard life! They need a reason to lament their super powers - a curse, being hunted, some kind of downside. And no, “not being able to see the sun” doesn’t really detract from the whole living forever thing. Nor does “I just want to be normal” count - because, really, who is ABOVE normal desires mundanity? Really?

Someone who complains when they have little reason to is generally considered spoilt and whiny - it’s not endearing.

Ancient Teenagers
And lo the ancient vampire came into the room, the millennia resting on her shoulders. In her eyes you could see the weight of the centuries and around her everything felt weak, transitory, before her eternal presence. And then she spent the next 3 episodes obsessing about going to the prom. And oh, my god, isn’t that boy so cute?!