Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons, Season Two, Episode Five: A Damn Fine Woman

Axl, Zeb, and Gaia return home completely drunk, dressed in clothing of the opposite sex.  Axl carries Gaia to her bed and Zeb places a puke bucket under her arm.  Axl asks if Zeb has noticed how weird Gaia has been since she has been back.  We get a flash to Gaia playing videos instead of going to work.  In another scene, she is frying weird food.  Zeb says that he likes the new Gaia and the two head off to their separate rooms. The next morning, Axl wakes up as a girl, still wearing the same dress he wore to bed.  He does not realise that a transformation has taken place until he attempts to use the bathroom. Yeah, something is vital is missing.

Axl opens the door and tells Zeb to look at him.  Axl has to tell Zeb that he is Axl, but Zeb does not believe him.  Axl points out that he slept in the dress and then God shit happened.  He is disgusted that Zeb is checking him out.  When Gaia stumbles out of her room, Zeb introduces Axl as Mia - a friend from the party last night. Axl drags Zeb into his room and wants to know why he woke up as a woman and Zeb says that he has no idea.  Zeb keeps checking him out and says that it's hard not to. Body switching is such a classic desperate trope in this genre.  Considering that The Almighty Johnsons has been an interesting show to date, I don't understand the need to use this boorish plot devise.

Ty is in his freezer re-carving the angel when he hears a voice.  Ingrid has come to see him with a container of lasagna curry. Can you imagine anything so inedible?  She says that if there is anything that needs to be done she can help.  Ty respond that he is pretty self sufficient, but this does not dissuade Ingrid from promising to make herself useful.

Mike is busy kicking Olaf out of his bar and says, "you cannot sleep in my bar whenever it pleases you." Axl walks between them and enters the bar.  Mike tells Axl that they are not open and that he doesn't know him. Axl points to Olaf and says that he is Baldr and then points at Mike and says that he is Ullr. Axl then goes on to add that he is a woman now and he fell asleep in the dress he is currently wearing. Mike and Olaf both look confused and Olaf says, "Axl you make a damn fine woman." Frustrated, Axl asks Olaf to be a useful oracle for once and explain how this happened.  When he catches Mike looking at his legs, he demands Mike stop and points out that he is Mike's brother.  Olaf says that this is not unusual in the sense of Odin, because Odin is a well known team shifter. Olaf points out that gender shifting takes some serious God power and something is clearly stirring within him.  Axl wants to know what happens if he never changes back and Olaf responds, "the thing about Odin getting in touch with his feminine side is that there's inevitably a reason."   When Axl asks what this reason is, Olaf answers, "usually it's to spy on whatever needs spying on."  Olaf tells him that he is quite bitchy as a woman, but there's one person they know who has managed the art of changing form at will, and Axl says, "mum."

As Olaf and Axl leave Mike's bar, Olaf suggests that Axl get out of the dress he is wearing because it makes him look cheap and that his lack of "lady support garments" are distracting enough to almost give him an erection.  Axl says that this is the only dress that has and Olaf responds that he knows where they can find more.  Axl storms across the street with Olaf staring at him, causing Axl to say, "stop staring at my ass grandpa."

At Ty's, Ingrid is busy polishing the glasses and Ty tells her that she does not have to do this.  When Ty says he was planning to go for a run, Ingrid smiles and tells him to just go and that she would join him but she doesn't really run.  Ingrid asks if he wants her to clean the shower for when he gets back and Ty quickly says no.

Ty and Olaf head off to Anders apartment and they go through clothing items left behind by Anders former lovers. Okay, who keeps a bin filled with the bras of former lovers and why does Anders have a closet full of women's clothing? Even for Anders, I find that bizarre. Axl sits down at the table complaining about how much his feet still hurt and when he looks on the table, he finds Dawn's notes about Eva's death.  Dawn knows that all of Anders brothers have keys to his place and so for the life of me, I cannot imagine why she would leave something like that lying around.  She does after all have her own apartment to put stuff like this in. Before Axl can show Olaf the papers, Dawn shows up asking what Axl is doing in Anders apartment.  Dawn notices that Axl is wearing her clothing, but Olaf says that as a gentleman he is not at liberty to answer that.  On the way out, Axl tells Dawn that he is not a slut. Wow, now that Axl is a woman, he suddenly seems to care about what people think about his sexual behaviour, whereas when he was a man sleeping with anything that moved was pretty much his goal.

When Ty returns, he finds Stacey and Ingrid having a drink and sharing a laugh on the couch. Olaf walks in the room with Axl and he is forced to admit that he shape shifted in his sleep. Axl pulls Ty aside to talk to him about the notes that Dawn has written about him and his freezer.  Ty tells Axl about the time that Eva locked Dawn in the freezer. Axl suggests that this is the reason he turned into a chick - to spy on Dawn and find out this stuff. When Axl asks Ty what he is going to do, Ty says he has no idea. Ty reveals that Colin holds him responsible for  Eva's death.

In the other room, Olaf is encouraging Ingrid to tell Ty that she got kicked out of her house and needs a place to live. Axl storms out and Olaf gets up to follow. The two of them show up at Colin's and he laughs. Olaf points out that Loki has been known to go the fairer side but Colin answers angrily, "other Loki's, not this Loki.  This Loki is all about the cock."  Axl announces that he is there because he has learned that Colin believes that Ty is responsible for Eva's death.  He goes on to say that Colin is wrong and if Colin should do anything to Ty that he will punish him. Colin answers, "I hear you m'lord Odin," and Olaf and Axl leave.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review of Libriomancer: Book One of the Magis Ex Libris Series By Jim C. Hines

Isaac Vainio is employed as a librarian, but his work with books has more than a mundane purpose.  Isaac is a libromancer, which means he can pull different items out of books.  Despite his fantastic abilities, Isaac is stuck simply cataloging magical potential in the books he reads due to his ongoing suspension from the magical order Die Zwelf Portenaere.  Things might have continued on this way, had Issac not been attacked by vampires and saved by the dryad Lena.  It seems that the vampires have declared war on all of the porters, and though suspended from his duties, Issac is drawn right into the middle.

With Lena and Smudge (his magical spider) by his side, Isaac must try to discover who is taking over vampire bodies and why -- but even more important -- he must find Gutenberg, the 600+ year old libriomancer, who is the leader of of Die Zwelf Portenaere.  As powerful as Isaac is, he is up against forces he couldn't even have imagined.  He also has to deal with his conflict surrounding Lena, who is a magical creature specifically created to pleasure others.  She has no real will of her own and despite wanting Issac to be her new lover, now that she believes that her former lover Dr. Shah is dead, Issac must struggle with morality of being with her romantically.

Libromancer is one of the most original stories that I have read in a very long time.  It drew me in from the very first page and left me wanting so much more.  Be forewarned that this book review is going to be filled with much fanpoodling.  Libriomancer is a book for anyone with a love of reading because Hines draws on so many stories to craft his tale.  It is for anyone who has ever gotten lost in a book and wondered what it would be like to be a part of the story or interact with items from a story. I was captivated with idea of being able to pull an item like the holy grail out of the bible to prolong life, or the opportunity to eat the cake from Alice in Wonderland to shrink in size. The idea of a child unaware of their magical ability accidentally pulling smurfs out of a book, who then proceed to run amok had me giggling.  Especially fascinating was the revelation that the more people read and enjoy a story, the more the world is imbued with magic.  Thanks to the huge increase in vampire fiction since the release of Interview with the Vampire, the vampire population has multiplied several times. This means that for every new cannon, a new race of vampires is born. The child in me who read by a night light way past my bedtime was absolutely thrilled.

Race on the Falling Skies

From the very first episode of Falling Skies I was drawn in.  I have to admit that I am a sucker for the whole aliens invading the earth routine.  In this case I was somewhat heartened to see that even though it was yet another clear example of White men must save the world, at least there were  few characters of colour whose roles seemed necessary to the functioning of 2nd Massachusetts.  People of colour certainly did not exist in the percentage that they should have on the show according to population demographics but to see them out on missions and sometimes in a leadership role did give us some hope - hope that I was to soon find was sorely missed placed.

I think the most glaring problem Falling Skies has with POC is death. POC die. They die over and over again. A named POC on this show has a lower life expectancy than a hedgehog on a motorway.

But wait, I hear you cry, this is a dystopian battle for their lives! Of course people die! Well, actually the 2nd Massachusetts doesn’t lose that many people, not that many named characters. I even counted the deaths in season 1 - and got a grand total of 5 casualties. 5 deaths. Of those, 4 were POC. There was one white casualty, I recall from the 2nd Massachusetts, and he was an un-named extra. To match that was Click, Parker and Mike all singled out for death.

The second season doesn’t get much better. We’re introduced to Jamil - another named POC, a named POC with actual lines! And a love interest! Perhaps even his own story (hah, as if!) aaaaand, death. Even Diego, Jeanne’s boyfriend, was killed or disappeared off screen - he couldn’t make it to Charleston. The only white character I can think who died in second season was Jimmy - who was dramatically and epicly grieved over with a beautiful, moving, painful funeral. Contrast that with Dai, who truly took the prize for the second season, for dying in the last episode - almost in passing. The other characters barely acknowledge it, a token reference at best while they all flock round to grieve over Red Eye, the rebel Skitter’s death. The alien got more grief and more pain than Dai, a character who has been on the show since the very first episode.

POC die in numbers that far outstripped white people on this show - which is worse when you consider how utterly outnumbered they were to begin with. There were plenty of minor white characters who could have died in the fighting - Tector, Jeanne, Lyle, Pope, Porter (who really really needs to die) anyone from Charleston (which is overwhelmingly white).

We’ve also had some deeply problematic storylines, starting with the redemption of Pope. Pope began as a criminal racist and was integrated into the 2nd Massachusetts despite his many, many horrendous actions that never get this man kicked out. This man went well beyond his 2nd - or even 7th - chance. He actually ends up with Anthony, a Black man, as one of his allies who even follows Pope into his own self-imposed exile.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Warehouse 13 Sneak Peak!

Review: Breaking the Devil's Heart by H. A. Goodman

 Stewart and Leyla are Observers, having turned down their chance to become angels. Not because they aren’t good and don’t want to fight evil – far from it. But angels labour under far too many rules and restrictions – they intend to take down Hell by any means necessary.

Hell has restructured, gone are the fiery brimstone pits and halls of the damned – now it’s cubicles, rows and rows of cubicles and officers – a corporate Hell where souls are bought and sold on the trading floor, where demonic telemarketers infect the brains of humanity

And teams of sales demons go to all parts of the world to peddle their Infernal Formula.

For Stewart and Leyla to bring down the Company, they need to find out what this Formula is and how to defeat it, along with the mysterious demonic Ponzi scheme. It’s a task that takes them into the depths of the Company and draws them to witness scenes of human evil – and hope – throughout history as they try to discover what drives humanity to such evil, trying to discover the very nature of evil and, through that, the antidote to it.

But not only are the answers far deeper – and more frightening – than they imagined, but we’re quickly plunged in the middle of plots within plots and a conspiracy far more cunning than I ever imagined.

This book is fascinating in so many ways, in particular in the way it makes you think.

Layla and Stewart’s quest to bring down The Company and end evil altogether leads them through scenario after scenario that truly does explore the nature of good and evil. We have some truly excellent consideration of the effect of time and place and culture on evil, raising uncomfortable questions about whether we, if we were brought up at that time, in that place, would commit the atrocities that so shock us through history. It raises nuanced and detailed questions about our white washed views of history – how the atrocities of our enemies often stand up starkly in our memories, but the atrocities we have committed, our culture and our society has inflicted, are so often justified, excused or brushed over as somehow less damaging and less atrocious.

It also has a deeply unflinching examination of the atrocities of the past. It’s graphic and it’s often disturbing – but if you’re going to examine human history, a history filled with war and torture and genocide and hatred, it should be graphic and disturbing. Not being graphic and disturbing is to ignore just how graphic and disturbing history actually is.

It’s also fascinating to see how this book examines the role of culture – and intolerance of other cultures – as the foundation of evil behind so much genocide. It has a very telling line about the only way to stop it is to “make apple pie taste bad” as generations of people fight, kill and slaughter in the name of their own cultural symbols. A person’s way of life being dominant is more important than someone else’s actual life.

Blood Ties, Season 2, Episode 8: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 Vicki is paying a visit to a local prison where there’s a man, Charles, inside for killing a woman, cutting off her head and hiding it. Charles confessed. He has a problem – he’s psychic and, at the time, he couldn’t tell the difference between his own thoughts, the voice in his head, and that of the actual killer. Now he can tell the difference because the voice has started again, and the real killer has already picked a victim. Of course, this is a hard sell to the police, but Vicki deals in weird all the time, it even says so on her advert.

She takes this to Celluci who is sceptical. I was close to screaming about his constant, unreasonable scepticism, but this time he makes some sense. While he believes in the mystical badness, there are plenty of normal reasons why the killings could start up again – including a copy cat killer that is being manipulated by Charles from prison.

Vicki isn’t convinced and reviews all her old notes since, surprise, she was the one who put him in prison. Time for some flashbacks to the days when Vicki and Celluci flirted.

Time to call in Henry for his input. He’s still not best pleased with Vicki after last week, but the whole rift between them doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad. At very least he’s watching Vicki in case she has any black magic side effects. Henry does spot a wooded area Vicki mentioned repeatedly in her notes so it’s time for a road trip.

When Vicki arrives, they find a crime scene and Celluci. She asks details from Celluci and if she’s right and Celluci pulls out a whole lot of arsey behaviour and gives her a lecture on her always expecting to get what she wants. Now, I’m fine with keeping Vicki from the crime scene because she’s a civilian, I’m even fine with him not sharing details with her (though he does), but doing either because Celluci’s in some kind of snit from last week and/or because Vicki’s right? Petulance isn’t a good look on the man. Vicki did bring Henry, though, so while Celluci was sticking his bottom lip out and pouting, the vampire has snuck in for a look at the decapitated body.

Vicki goes to Dr. Mohadevan and I’m amused that no-one has tried to silence the doctor, because that never works. The awesome pathologist, in between being vexed by annoying relatives of missing people trying to find out who the body is, tells Vicki that the similarities between this body and the previous murders are “striking.” Just as Celluci arrives so Vicki and Celluci can snipe some more. Celluci insists it’s a copy cat and the crime scene photos were leaked on the net, hence the similarities and Vicki that it’s definitely the psychic theory. I kind of want to slap them both and am desperately clinging to hope that Mohadevan does. Alas, she does not – but she does throw them out of her mortuary.

Cover Snark: Who is this woman?

Kim Harrison is easily one of my favourite authors in the urban fantasy genre.  There are elements in The Hollows series that honestly do get on my nerves like the way that Ivy's bisexuality is handled, Pierce (honestly, who really likes Pierce) and of course the ever popular use of fantastic prejudice.  There is also only so much of Tink's panties I can take without wanting to flip the page.  That said, when Ever After, the latest book in the series comes out next January, I will be locking myself in a room alone until it's finished.  Harrison recently took to twitter to unveil the latest cover to fans.

As covers go, I have certainly seen worse but it made me wonder if the publishing company and the cover artist has read a single book in this series.  Who is this blonde woman with lightening shooting from her hands?  It's certainly not Rachel. From the first book Rachel has been described as having a mop of frizzy red hair and she wears a ring to hide her freckles.  I have no idea who this woman on the cover is.  Did Harrison suddenly change who the protagonist is?  Did Rachel decide to dye her hair?  What's up?  Perhaps what we are looking at is Ceri on the cover.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Alphas Season Two Episode Five: Gaslight

This episode begins with a Adam identifying the body of his sister Maggie in the morgue.  As the morgue tech escorts him out, the lights go wonky and a slight clearly female groan can be heard.  When the Adam asks about this, the morgue tech grabs the Adam's arm and says that they have to get back to the office, while in the  morgue two men stand over Maggie's body.  Maggie begins to call out for him and the morgue techs attempt to hold Adam back.  Adam uses what I assume to be his alpha abilities to crawl up the wall and across the ceiling to get to his sister, but before he can save her, she is dragged away.  As Adam is being forced from the room, we get another shot of Maggie and this time she appears to be well and truly dead.

Back at the office, Nina enters and sees Gary asleep on the couch.  Rosen explains by saying that "Gary is working through some issues."  It seems that Rosen felt it would be better for Nina to get her bearings with no one else around. Nina quickly asserts that she is ready to get back to work and to stop pushing but Rosen has other plans.  It seems that they have traced Stanton Parish's family fortune to a charity which is making donations to a senator. Rosen wants Nina to have a little chat with the senator. It seems for Rosen that Nina's issue isn't the fact that she pushes people but that she isn't doing it at his command.  Can there be anymore doubt that there is nothing moral about this man?  Keep in mind that Nina just tried to kill herself but for Rosen that is unimportant because he has his sights on bringing and end to Parish's efforts.

The next day, Hicks is skyping with his son Tyler and attempting to teach him how to throw a baseball.  He is excited that Tyler will be visiting next week, until Hicks is informed that the visit is cancelled.  His ex wife gets on the line and tells Hicks of their plans to go to San Fransico instead. Hicks offers to travel to Nevada but his ex says, "I'll just let you know when it's a good time."  Clearly she plans to break the relationship between Hicks and his son.  His ex ends the conversation and Bill appears to offer Hicks is sympathies. Because Cameron spent quite a few years drunk, he feels that he is not in a position to make any demands on them.  

Hicks notices that Bill has a pretty massive bruise over his eyebrow, but Bill says that it is a present from his wife.  Hicks doesn't believe it for one moment and this forces Bill to admit that he regularly attends the fight club. 

Nina is busy helping Gary get read to attend a tomb stone unveiling for Anna. Gary is not at all happy to be wearing a tie and says that they remind him of nooses, but Nina tells him that this is what men wear to such events.  Gary says that Dr. Rosen believes that this will be cathartic but he doesn't believe he will find closure from words written on a stone. Gary is further upset that the words on the stone aren't even Anna's words. 

When he looks up, Gary sees Rachel standing in the doorway and comments that he is wearing the suit that she bought for him.  Rachel tells him that he looks great and admits that she didn't buy the suit.  Gary goes on to say that Rachel is a criminal but not in jail.  Nina seconds this and adds that Dr. Rosen says that the alphas need her but that Rachel is not part of her team.  When Rachel tries to apologise Nina refuses to listen.  I am really glad that they have included some repercussions for Rachel's actions because what she did to Nina was assault. 

The tape of Adam has been revealed and Rosen, Bill and Hicks head off to investigate.  On their way out, they run into Kat who is holding a pillow.  It seems that Rosen plans on running a sleep study on her for the purposes of recovering her memory. 

In the bathroom of a hotel, Nina confronts the senator and asks her what she did in return for the financing from Stanton's charity, but the senator is unable to tell her because her memory has been erased. 

Rosen goes to see Adam and learns that Maggie was doing drugs before she died.  He is worried that Adam's feelings are strong and suggests sending him to a clinic where he can get the support that he needs to deal with his grief. Rosen tells him that Bill and Cameron will escort him to the clinic as soon as his paperwork is completed.  Rosen then heads downstairs and hands Hicks and Bill Adam's paperwork before leaving because he has some business to attend to. 

As Adam is headed downstairs in the elevator the lights flicker and he hears his sister's voice begging him for help again. Adam attacks the hospital orderly who is with him saying that he has to get out of there.  When the elevator opens on the ground door, the orderly is lying on the ground with blood streaming out of his head. When Hicks looks up, he sees Adam crawling up the elevator shaft. 

Review: Dragon Wytch (Otherworld Series #4) by Yasmine Galenorn

 Camille D’Artigo is the protagonist in this book, facing the every growing and worrying effects of the war against Shadow Wing and the civil war in Otherworld – a war that is now affecting their family as well as bringing chaos to the Otherworld, allowing all kinds of monsters to break through the portals and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Earth.

Now she has a unicorn gifting her with an artefact of legend of immense power that may be one of their best hopes against Shadow Wing – except it’s been lost and it’ll work just as well for their enemies as against them.

And there’s a new spirit seal to find – and this one is being hunted by a lethal and cunning Rakshasa, far more dangerous than any of the other demons they have had to face. Added to that, Morgaine is back and the ancient, power-hungry sorceress has her own plans involving Titania, the long defunct Seelie queen

To complicate all of that – Smokey, the ancient and mighty dragon, is demanding her attention as well, as per their agreement. But Smokey wants into her heart and not just her bed – which is difficult with her current lovers to take into account.

My only major complaint with this book – in fact the series in general, is its poor pacing and the easily distracted protagonists. I think this book is especially bad for it. There’s one moment in particular that stands out. They are trying to find the Pixie with the Black Unicorn’s horn before anyone else, since this is an artefact with massive, incredible power. It simply cannot fall into the wrong hands. Menolly, after working at the bar, gets a lead on the horn (and it turns out to be true) so she goes home and…

… watches Jerry Springer with Delilah, waiting for Camille to get up rather than waking her. When she does get up (early because something else entirely interrupts her) she, Delilah and Menolly start weeding the garden. No, really – the horn could right now be heading into demon hands but they’re doing some gardening. Then they have breakfast. Then Iris regales them with a tale from when she was a House Sprite in Finland. Then Camille potty trains their pet gargoyle. And I am sat there reading this book and restraining the urge to yell at it because the world is supposed to be on the brink of collapse, demons are supposed to be invading, civil war is breaking out in Otherland, the world is in Serious Peril so some urgency may be required.

An additional problem with that is it makes me less happy with the variety of plots. We have a lot of different threads in this book – we have the Rakshasa and his minions looking for the spirit seal, we have the Unicorn and the horn, we have the problem of the Cryptos and the unguarded portals, we have Morgaine and Titania, we have Camille with Smokey as well as big insights into Camille’s past. All of these plot lines add to the overall story and are wonderful threads of the plot that really go together well. And individually I like each one. They really add to the richness of the world and the much greater sense of the coming battle – but because the pacing is already slowed down by random domesticity it makes me less patient with anything that might stop the main plot line actually moving forwards.

Warehouse 13: Season 2, Episode 5: No Pain No Gain

We begin with a standard artefact collection with Myka and Claudia dressing up as Geishas  in order to intercept a sale. Nice, simple snatch and grab, interrupted by a phone call from Myka’s sister Tracy – she’s pregnant.

This brings Myka much glee that she shares with the team (Artie’s still grumpy) before going on another ping hunt – this time a hockey player has super healing and super strength in Canada. Questioning the players doesn’t get them anywhere. But checking the X-Ray of the player’s (Mike’s) arm Myka (she who overachieves and has a ridiculous number of qualifications to the point of parody) realises that this isn’t the arm of Mike, as she just shook hands with him. Tim to go steal the real records – and Pete, alas, doesn’t get chance to drive the Zamboni.

Examining Mike’s real records they find that his bones are broken – not just his arm, but his knee and his ribs. But the Artefact has caused his muscles to grow around the breaks to support them. Without them, the injuries he’s sustained should probably prevent him walking, let alone playing professional hockey. They break into the locker room but, again, none of his items can be gooed, there’s no Artefact. They do hear him having an argument in the shower, though, with a player who doesn’t understand what’s making Mike so strong. Pete breaks it up, but sees that in the showers he isn’t strong and he’s in pain – he consults with Myka on the idea that someone is using the Artefact on him, he’s not using one.

They confront the owner who is less than amused by Myka’s tactless accusations (is it just me, or is Myka becoming better academically but becoming more socially inept?) and points out he has several players injured – players who are better. So if he was doing anything he’d do it to them. They’re surprised Mike isn’t one of the best players – turns out he’s only great in home games.

So they cast their eyes on the rink and since he isn’t as good in practice, to the fans. Of course finding one fan among thousands is difficult so they arrange a trap – setting up a competition where a fan can win a dinner with him and arranging for him to fake a severe injury.

Mike and Myka continue to develop a very Rom Com attraction (as Pete points out and mocks and decides he’s the “Sassy best friend”. Do not get me started on the falsetto and the finger snaps) which means they kiss before the game – and end up on the kiss cam.

Pete starts searching people surreptitiously during the match to try and find the Artefact. One fan is notably Not Happy by Mike kissing Myka. When Mike is hurt, Myka suddenly has painful stomach cramps and staggers to the bathroom and calls Pete. He arrives to find Myka very very very heavily pregnant.

They contact Artie and he decides it’s probably a wish fulfilment Artefact (Myka angrily points out she didn’t wish for this and just because her little sister is pregnant doesn’t mean she wants to be. Which is good – we also play up the “hormonal pregnant lady” schtick, which is not) and someone has wished it on Myka.

Pete thinks and realises it was his wish. When searching people’s bags he saw a small boy and wondered if he’d ever have a kid because who would share his life. Then he realised someone did share his life and… Myka became pregnant. He thinks back to what he was touching – a key chain in a woman’s bag.

Grimm: Season 2, Episode 2: The Kiss

 "If a man of pure heart were to fall in love with her, that would bring her back to life.”

As of last week, the Mauvais Dentes leaped on Nick – he managed to avoid a killing strike and punched it, giving him chance to reach for his gun. The Mauvais Dentes runs and hides in the large, dark lumber mill and he, Nick and Nick’s mother all play cat and mouse through the shadows (running across the mangled bodies of the FBI agents in the process). Until Nick and the Mauvais Dentes  run into each other, Nick loses his gun and we get the epic fight scene – and either Mauvais Dentes have been seriously over-egged as “village killers” or Grimms are super-duper dangerous because they’re pretty even. Then Mummy Grimm shows up and they take times pounding it gloriously from both sides. Mummy Grimm holds him at knife point to asks questions (and gives far too much away in the processes) but the Mauvais Dentes breaks free – but gets a knife in the neck in the process which eventually kills him (after some dramatic staggering).

Mummy Grimm takes a nice fat roll of money off the Mauvais Dentes body and wants to find out who sent him – but Nick is running out the door, he has to get to Juliet

At the hospital, Rosalie and Eddie are worried, they have the potion for Juliet that will stop her degradation but Nick isn’t there – he only arrives within minutes of potion needing to be remade. They quickly run to Juliette’s room, a nurse protests but Mummy Grimm is there and she’s having none of it (oh I hope this character hangs around). The doctor also tries to stop Nick giving Juliette the eye-drops and runs straight into Mummy Grimm who sends him scurrying off to find security (damn I hope she hangs around).

Leaving the hospital Nick gets a call to a murder from Hank – at the lumber mill – 3 dead bodies including 2 FBI. Nick asks Eddie and Rosalie to give his mother a lift home (which is hilariously awkward). When they arrive, Rosalie makes a point of explaining to Mummy Grimm that Nick trusted Eddie enough to have him Wolge to Juliette so she could understand the full truth. Mummy Grimm says she doesn’t understand the relationship between Rosalie, Eddie and Nick – but maybe she doesn’t have to. Rosalie decides it’s hugging time, which Mummy Grimm endures – I don’t think she’s a hugger.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Pulse Beneath the Sanguine Moon by Shannon Francisco

Every once and awhile, despite our best intentions, we come across a book that for various reasons, we simply cannot finish and unfortunately, Pulse falls into this category.  I kept waiting for the book to go somewhere, but it seemed irrevocably lost in the inane.  There was absolutely no sense of pacing, or any indication that it would ever verge away from insipid blather into a real plot.

The characters all presumably had to be at least 21, as they were legally drinking in a bar, but they spoke like they were 14.  I could tell that Francisco was going for edgy and slightly counter culture, but the writing fell flat time and time again. It further didn't help that Francisco introduced us to a plethora of characters, which quickly became hard to follow because there was  little characterization, which made all them all sort of morph into one.  We got tiny details about individual characters but they were nonsensical facts, which told you absolutely nothing about who they really were. Some of the relationships were explained with flashbacks, but the transition was clumsy and poorly written.

The main character, Skylar Roth, is one of the most irritating protagonists that I have come across in a long time. Much of her time seems to be spent either angsting about her ex boyfriend, or her current boyfriend Alekz.  I am going to stop for a second to ask what the point is of taking an ordinary name like Alex and spelling it differently is?  It's still going to be Alex.  Skylar and Alexz of course have their own relationship angst, when she discovers him levitating one day.  She then spends the next twenty-four hours obsessing, calling and texting him. She is extremely insecure about any woman who could possibly find Alexz attractive because other women are the competition. It is absolutely impossible for Skylar to have faith in Alekz's fidelity and she rumbles instead about girls needing to hop off her boyfriend's junk.

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 7

 Team Evil staged a complete coup last week, with the Emir killed and Akbari and Taryn now in control of Basra. Through Taryn’s magic, she sent a distress call to Sinbad, apparently from his grandmother- and he returns, armed with Cook’s knife and accompanied by his friends, to the city.

Akbari, with Taryn urging him on, changes the grandiose plans the Emir had for the city, burning his planning model. Sinbad and his friends watch as centres of knowledge and learning are sacked inclusing the House of Wisdom, the books and scrolls burned and the academics arrested.

Taryn tells one professor that the places of learning were built on dark temples, in the hope of burying them. She is looking for them – including the Gateway to the Shadows, under the House of Wisdom. She continues to wave the reward of having Sinbad in front of Akbari to make him agree to her plans even when he has his doubts. She summons a big shadowy nasty-thing with a rock she finds under the House of Wisdom – which she uses to consume the old master of the House

Sinbad is drawn to protect an academic before the guards can hurt him – he starts losing the fight until Gunnar intercedes, reminding us again what a powerful warrior Gunnar is if he can step past his conscience. He demands Sinbad stick to the plan – find his family and leave the city – and not be distracted.

The academic they saved tells them the Emir is dead, that the old magic is returning and that scientists and scholars are now the enemy. This worries Anwar since his father is Professor of Wisdom and not safe. Anwar and Rina go to find Anwar’s family to bring them to the Providence.

Walking through Basra, the bustling, busy city we once saw is now near deserted, it’s quiet, the markets abandoned and many things destroyed in haste.

At Sinbad’s home he finds it deserted, just a scarf of his grandmothers which, when he touches it, his grandmother can feel it even in Taryn’s prison. Unfortunately so can Taryn. There’s also the shadowy symbol from the rock painted on the wall. Grandmother and Taryn duel with words, but she can’t escape Taryn’s magical prison.

Next step is for Sinbad to see his friend in the guards, Tazeem – and here there are lots of people, a huge number of guards. He tells him his mother is safe – but that his grandmother is prison of Akbari and he will execute her before he becomes Emir – an hour before nightfall. Sinbad begs Tazeem to get him into the palace.

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 10: A More Perfect Union

 Last week, Tom managed to effectively end the democracy of the remaining US government in, what, 3 days? I am impressed. Though, I suppose, to be fair we have to admit that the forces of democracy were doing a very good job of screwing themselves.

So we open with the coup. And General Bressler is making it clear that he’s doing this because he thinks the whole tactic of “let’s hide and pretend the aliens aren’t there” is not the wisest of military strategies. Tom, however, has principles (apparently. Last week I seem to recall him ignoring the civilian authorities and urging Bressler to do the same. That was different. Somehow) and doesn’t want a new US built on a military coup (hey, just a reminder guys, ALIENS. Nation building is a pipe dream when your species is near extinction). Tom, Weaver, Hal et al get themselves locked up again, this time by the military. Honestly, in the middle of a military coup and you piss of the civilian government and the military. Impressive.

But there’s another proximity alarm before people can be locked up. There’s chaos and screaming because the lunch hall is full of Skitters (and no-one is firing?)! Of course, it’s the rebels – including Ben and Red Eye. Tom tells Bressler to order his men to lower their weapons – which he doesn’t do. So Tom stands between the Skitters and Bressler – as does Ann and Lourdes. Followed by Weaver and the entire 2nd Massachusetts.

Time for some diplomacy in a side office with Bressler, Tom, Weaver, Prestly, some extras and, of course, Red Eye and his little glow-in-the-dark translator, Ben. Time for an info-dump. The Ustheni (Overlords) are incredibly intelligent creatures that don’t need computers or the like – and one of them can have vast influence and control because of it. The Ovelord the 2nd Massachusetts captured was in charge of all military operations in the Eastern US and probably should have been killed. They also don’t share information with anyone but other Overlords because they work through Harnessed species which can’t, entirely, be trusted – which means if you kill this Overlord, all military operations in the area falls apart since they don’t keep back ups.

This isn’t just a great big “damn guys, you screwed up,” because they have a second crack at the Overlord. He’s going to inspect the creation of a big big big weapon at a place that, coincidentally, has nice, sneaky caves under it, ideal for an assassination. Except the Harnessed Skitters don’t have the weapons (they had Mechs before…) and their harnesses will be detected anyway… the humans, however.

Bressler doesn’t believe it and refuses to send any troops – and wants everyone back in their cages. But Weaver points out the 2nd Massachusetts can do it – and it’s not like Bressler wants them around being a nuisance anyway. So Bressler agrees – and when they’re gone he talks to his sergeant about hitting the Rebel Skitters.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 81

This week we discuss True Blood and the season finally picking up! We also discuss the awesome Teen Wolf finale! But we also discuss how awful the treatment of women has been as well as the constant attempt to prevent and Evil Argent as a “Good One”.

We discuss Grimm starting up again and utterly shocking us with the sudden meta and plot! We are shocked! We are awed! We are amazed!

We also discuss our ideal season length

 Our book of the week is American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

20/8-27/8: Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
27/8-3/9: Storm Dancer by Jay Kristoff
3/9-10/9: Constantine Affliction by T Aaron Payton
10/9-17/9: Tempest Rising: Tracy Deebs
17/9-24/9: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

 Over the centuries, gods have come to America. From the Norse with Viking explorers, from West Africa with the Slave trade, from the British Isles with immigrants, from Eastern Europe and India and a thousand other places and – of course, from the Native Americans themselves. Gods have arisen, sustained by belief, worship and sacrifice, and they have fallen. Fallen as they lost belief and fallen still further as their very names are forgotten.

But Wednesday is not putting up with falling into obscurity, nor is he allowing the new gods of media and technology to easily brush him and his fellows aside. Employing Shadow, a newly released convict just trying to put his life together after serving his time, Wednesday is determined to rally the old gods lurking in the shadowy corners of the US into a force to fight back.

But it’s not all easy – the new gods are fighting against obsolescence themselves in a country that doesn’t welcome deities – and they’ll kill if they have to. And then there’s Shadow’s ex-wife. Ex because she’s dead, not because he divorced her, who is still hanging around. And, as Shadow plunges deeper into this world of gods and Ifrit and leprechauns, as he learns more about how the world really is, he also finds that Wednesday is far more cunning than he expected.

This is perhaps the most original concept I’ve come across in a long time. The different deities of all kinds, fighting for survival, fighting against new interlopers and even the way deities have had to learn and adapt over the years to integrate into human society. I loved the style of this book, the slow reveal as more and more elements are added to the whole, the slow revelation of what is happening and the powerful depth the world was given. At every turn new layers are added to the world, extra facets and extra depth. All the different ways the old gods reached the US, all the different ways they were worshipped and sacrificed to and how they ultimately ended up as gods in the US. It was a really well built, slowly developed world.

I also had – as a great lover of mythology – lots of fun picking out the gods and recognising them before it became clear who was what. It was fun – and it showed that a truly massive amount of research has gone into this book. The number of different traditions, the number of deities, including some pretty obscure ones, and the amount of knowledge of each one shows a massive amount of reading and familiarity which really impressed me. It gave the world a depth and a richness that far exceeded my expectations, which were already pretty high.