Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons Season Two, Episode Six: Folkmoot

Ty is fast asleep and what he does not know, is that Colin is in the room with him.  Colin starts to speak in ancient Norse and circles Ty's bed leaving fire in his wake.  When Colin returns home, Michele is sleeping and he says "wakey wakey, spread your legs, it's time to screw."  Michele is not interested and tells him that she is not a whore.  When he tells her to behave in the appropriate manner, Michele slaps him across the face.

Ingrid rushes into the living room, which is filled with smoke. We get a flash to Ty waking up to the smoke alarm.  He uses his bare hands to put out the fire and says, he's Höðr, God of all things cold and for once it was useful. When Michele looks over his hands, they're pretty badly burned but Ty doesn't feel anything because cold numbs the pain.  He suggests that Ingrid move out for her own safety because Loki is trying to kill him.  Ingrid says that Gods killing Gods leads to bad places.

In the morning, Colin is not pleased that Ty did not die in the fire.  Michele hands him a package that was waiting at the front door.  It's a smoke alarm with a note which says, "smoke alarms save lives." Ty goes to Agnetha who says, "Loki can be so unimaginative at times, like he is the only one who knows how to set fire to stuff."  Ty is worried that Colin knows what happened to Eva and Agentha points out that if he knew, he wouldn't be after Ty.  Agnetha wants to take a crack at Colin and Ty warns her that he does not want things escalating.

Michele goes to see Mike, who is making money on the stock market.  When he asks why she is there, Michele says that some people are capable of picking the wrong horse and goes on to add that she has seen the long looks he has given her.  Mike counters that he has a strong distrust of Goddess and he does not want to mess up his life with a relationship.  Michel responds that she is not interested in a relationship and only wants power sharing and sex. Mike does not see Michele as powerful, though she controls the power of attraction.  Michele says that she can make the most undesirable creature, desirable to anyone.  Mike decides that if Michele can hook Zeb up with someone that she will have his attention, to which Michele responds, "it's not your attention I'm after."  I don't for a moment understand why Michele's power as Sjöfn is in the least bit attractive to Mike.

Colin is having a swim, when Agnetha pops in for a visit. She makes it clear that Ty did not kill Eva and Eva was a head case.  She suggests that he needs to accept this and move on.  Colin counters replying that Ty is very much still his son in-law. Agnetha goes to see Ty and tells him that he has to stay with her because his house is not safe for him any longer. Ingrid jumps on the offer to move but Ty is not pleased.  Agnetha suggests that Ty stay at Anders and that Ingrid stay there to ensure that Colin does not burn Ty's house to the ground.

Michele goes to see Axl's to find Zeb, who is shocked that Michele wants to get him laid. Zeb rushes to bathroom and Axl follows saying that he cannot trust Goddess.  As the two are leaving, Agnetha arrives and says that Ty wants him to call a folkmoot.  Axl has no idea what it is and so Agnetha informs Axl that Colin has tried to kill Ty and is angry about the death of his daughter.  When Axl continues to ask about what a folkmoot is, Agnetha becomes frustrated, until Axl points out that Olaf is his oracle. She tells Axl that she is counting on him to do the right thing by his brother.

Zeb and Michele are outside and he grabs her ass, which causes her to threaten him and say that she wouldn't touch him if he were dipped in chocolate. When Stacey comes cycling along, Michele grabs Zeb and throws him directly in her path.  Stacey is not the least bit amused. When Michele whispers in Stacey's ear, she immediately becomes attracted to Zeb and they had back to Zeb's flat. There is no way that Zeb could possibly believe that Stacey's change of attitude was naturally occurring.

At the bar, Axl tells Olaf and Mike about the folkmoot.  Olaf starts to give a rambling explanation of what a folkmoot is and in frustration, Mike tells Axl that it is like a court and Olaf throws in that it is presided over by the senior God. Axl has to arrange everything, call all the resident Gods, preside and then decide.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: The New World, The Last Delar by M. Cuzino

Aneklou and Oskeau are twin brothers and the last survivors of the ancient Delar. Their mother is forced to send them out into the world as babies as the conquistadors approach, each finding their own path.

One son grows and knows family and love, he knows loss and pain but he also knows caring and guidance and wisdom. He is introduced to different cultures and the strange people of the world around him, gaining in skill, wisdom and magic.

The other knows no love, only slavery, cruelty, isolation and pain. But he finds ancient powers that respond to his blood. He treads a much darker path, rising from the slave to the slavemaster, from the abused to the abuser and from the downtrodden to the ruler

The conquistadors themselves have found ancient, dark magic that has lead one of them, meddling with things he doesn’t understand, to build his own dark empire.

When this book was given to me it was described as an alternate history with paranormal elements in 1400s America with parallels to colonisation. If I wasn’t told that, I wouldn’t have known it. There is nothing in the book to suggest this is America. Not the people, not the wildlife, not the plants – I didn’t see anything that made me think America. For that matter, I didn’t see anything to make me think Earth – sure there were mentions of Spain and a vague allusion to conquistadors, but no follow up in the rest of the book. The book was far more full of completely alien creatures – black furred “gliders” with claws that lived in trees. Quill-backed monsters. Giant frog-people. These different intelligent creatures that the human protagonists (from an ancient, magical “Delar” people) kept running into.

It didn’t feel like Earth or America. And if it was pre or pending-colonisation America, it felt like what was REALLY there was just completely removed to be replaced by this alien, fantasy world. Which goes for the characters as well - the cast of humans is supposed to be 99% Native American people. However, if I didn’t know this already, I wouldn’t have been able to tell this from the book. Just as there is nothing in the book to indicate that we’re in America (or on Earth for that matter), there is also nothing about the characters to indicate they are Native American. Even when we have characters who are supposed to be European (one evil wizard lord, I think, and a woman escaping persecution from Spain) there is nothing in the text to differentiate them. I don’t know if this is a story involving Native American people and 1400s America – or whether this is a story where Native American people and 1400s America has been completely erased from existence to make room for this fantasy world.

Invisible Inclusion: Google the Minorities

'Google Chrome' photo (c) 2008, Thomas van de Weerd - license:
This is a complicated issue because, when it comes to media, the 2 often seem to be the same thing. If a book or film or TV series has included marginalised people then surely it has portrayed them, right?

Well, not so much

Let’s say I write a book. In this book we have Fred, the deeply closeted gay man. We have Jennifer, who has depression that she manages with therapy and pills. We have Jane who is Latina through her mother, but takes after her father in colouring.

None of their marginalisations are noticeable and, because I didn’t feel it relevant, I don’t mention any of this in the book.

And then someone picks up the book I’ve written and says “this book is erased - everyone in it is straight, white and able bodied.” And, like so many before me, I vault up onto my high-horse and announce irritably that there are actually 3 marginalised people in the book!

And I probably could argue that I included 3 marginalised people. But can I honestly say I portrayed them?

Because portrayal is the key here. We’ve argue a lot about the damage of erasure. How harmful it is for society to not see us part of life and part of the stories worth telling. How we, and especially our youth, grow up without any role models, without any sense that their own stories and their own lives actually have value and are worthy of attention and being told. And none of that is changed by “invisible” portrayal - by inclusion that we can’t see. We don’t get to see ourselves in media if you hide us, disguise us and treat us as a secret.

How do we get to see characters like us, see ourselves included if the only way we can see this is if we decide to do some research, hit the internet, trawl through the author’s blog and random interviews and see if we can find some background hints of a marginalised person. This? This is not portrayal. Having to do homework after reading a book to find the marginalised person is not portrayal. Playing Where’s Waldo with the marginalised people is not great portrayal, no matter how much your background notes say.

And I really have to question how much “inclusion” it actually is. People often forget that the characters in a book or a TV series are not real people. They do not exist outside of their medium - their books or show. I think it can be argued that anything that isn’t shown in their book or TV show doesn’t actually exist - these aren’t real people to have backgrounds and hidden lives and multi-faceted beings. Their existence is limited to the page/screen - if it doesn’t appear on the page/screen then should it be even included in the character at all?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Kiss of Death, by Rachel Caine, Book 8 of the Morganville Vampires Series

Michael has a made a deal with a recording studio to finally get his music out there. It’s exciting, unique – and involves them leaving Morganville. This is also a useful opportunity for Claire and co since it allows them to avoid a deal Claire made that could get them all eaten.

On the road, they quickly raise the chance of finally escaping Morganville for good. But Oliver has been sent as chaperone and what about the loved ones they left behind? More, it’s clear that Even and Michael, residents of Morganville all their lives, have little idea of the outside world and how to behave in it.

Then there’s the problem of the vampire rebels. With the Morganville security network down, the only thing holding the vampires in Morganville is Amelie’s word. And some are not accepting that. Leaving the town, these wild vampires are looking for a new place to take over, one without the rules and restrictions of Amelie. Their travel makes them cross paths disastrously with Claire & Co – and when they reach their destination, they find things are not what they expected.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this series. I’ve felt that the world that has been built and some of the background characters have been fascinating and have a lot of potential.  Unfortunately the main characters don’t appeal to me and I often find Claire, the protagonist to be an outsider in her own story. In short, I was coming close to giving up on the series, it’s just not for me.

This was my “last chance” book, the last book I’d read before I shelved the Morganville vampires and didn’t open another one.

And I enjoyed it.

By taking the story out of Morganville, we introduced a lot of new contexts and themes. We got to see how the very insular life the Morganville residents had lived. How they were so used to the supernatural dangers of the vampires and how they are used to negotiating the dangers of Morganville, that they were utterly lacking in the social skills necessary to survive in small towns with close minded, dangerous people without vampires lurking around to keep order. It was a really well done twist that added a lot to the world, the characters and the story.

Blood Ties, Season 2, Episode 9: We'll Meet Again

 In perhaps the weirdest twist Vicki’s had for a while, her new client is a young teenager – an emancipated minor – who wants Vicki to find his wife. Apparently they’ve been together for 400 years – a dozen lifetimes, which Coreen takes to mean he’s been reincarnated. And Vicki thinks it’s time to bring in Henry. Thoroughly convinced by the kid’s nigh incomprehensible grasp of 20s slang, they decide to believe him. (Yeah, I know I know, it’s Blood Ties, just run with it).

Turns out Lee, the kid, met his wife back in the 1600s and she was a Mohawk – and they always die together (which is supposed to be romantic but feels vaguely creepy). And they have a plan through each lifetime – when one of them realises who they are, they go to their tree and carve their initials and a meeting place and time on it for the other to see. Only this time urban sprawl means the tree has been cut down and replaced with a shopping centre.

Celluci raises his head – he’s having a performance review and Crowley warns him that it isn’t all shiny – too much Vicki Nelson, too many weird cases, too many cases unsolved and shelved. Which complicates things because Vicki’s on the phone asking for a favour – tracking down an accident report about the last time Lee and his wife died (in a car accident). Celluci is also not moved by “love at first sight”, he has a full stack of case files on “love at first sight.” Henry has his own appointment – meeting with someone called Augustus about a move of some kind.

Looking at the accident report they get a different story from Lee’s memories – he was predeceased by his wife (Alice at the time) and he was survived by Jeff – a younger brother. Going to talk to Jeff they find out that Alice died in the accident but John (as Lee was then) was kept alive in hospital. Jeff didn’t want to pull the plug – and kept him alive for 10 years in a coma. This causes Lee to protest that he should have been allowed to die, causing Jeff to slam the door on them.

To Dr. Mohadevan, the awesome pathologist, with the report of the accident. It seems there was some discrepancies, the ambulance arrived quickly but didn’t leave that way since the paramedics had a fight. It’s hard to see more since the police report is a clear example of arse covering. Dr. Mohadevan also finds that Alice had haemophilia – which is exceptionally rare in women. Dr. Mohadevan points out there are only 3 in all Toronto.

Which results in taking Lee to see Helen Underhill, his long lost reincarnated love. And her husband. To which Lee explodes again.

Vicki goes to talk to Henry to encourage him to convince Lee to drop it – but the old romantic is all for true love (to which Vicki responds with the line of the night: “The 80s called, they want their lyrics back”) and thinks Vicki’s too eager to let it drop. She protests that Helen is married and you don’t just try to break up someone’s marriage. He says that Lee came back for the dead for love, there’s no force more powerful than that kind of longing – Vicki says that kind of longing will get you an ankle bracelet and a restraining order (she’s on a roll). Vicki also notices Henry has tickets to Vancouver – but when she asks about it Henry distracts her by saying he doesn’t understand her client.

The next day, Vicki has been doing some research – it seems Helen has been researching reincarnation and past lives. And she sends flowers to John Smith’s grave on the anniversary of the car accident (Lee’s previous incarnation). Vicki goes to see Jeff again and finds out Helen came to see him about John and that she knew things about Alice no-one else could have known.

They go back to Helen’s house and find Lee ranting in the garden about their past together. Helen eventually comes out and asks why he couldn’t stay away – and kisses him (uh, the kid’s 15. That’s not skeevy at all…). She tells Lee he’s too late and should stay away. Vicki tells Lee she said no – and he leaves with Coreen. While Vicki goes back to her office with Helen (brilliant line of the night #3 “Are you sure this is decaff?” “Real coffee would take this out behind the shed and beat it until it turned to tea.”).  She’s pregnant (which is extremely dangerous for a haemophiliac) and Barton, her husband, is safe and stable and gives her the security she needs (the kind of man who gives you socks for your anniversary – line #4!).  She’s followed her heart for a dozen lifetimes of rebellion and now she has security – and she does love Barton. And Vicki reflects on her own confusing love life.

Reverse Oppression: A Fad that Needs to End

 It’s not a new idea - we’ve certainly seen it raising its ugly head in media repeatedly, but it’s become popular again - the “flipped prejudice” fiction. Victoria Foyt's racist Save the Pearls  did it for race and we now have the homophobic versions: a kickstarter for the book Out by Laura Preble and the film Love is all You Need. I hate linking to them but they need to be seen. They both have the same premise: an all gay world that persecutes the straight minority.

So that’s more appropriating the issues we live with, our history, our suffering and then shitting on it all by making us the perpetrators of the violations committed against us. How can they not see how offensive this is? How can they not see how offensive taking the severe bigotry thrown at us every day and throughout history, bigotry that has cost us so much and then making our oppressors the victims and us the attackers, is? This is appropriative, this is offensive, it’s disrespectful and it’s outright bigoted.

Y’know, if you actually want to talk about prejudice and persecution and how they can affect people’s lives, why not use actual marginalised people? You want to show how a person navigates a society that has extreme prejudice against their skin colour? Why not make your protagonist a POC? You want to show a society that persecutes people based on who they’re attracted to and who they love? Why not make your protagonist gay?

Oh, but then that becomes a specialist subject, right? A “niche”, dealing with marginalised issues. A POC book. A Gay/Lesbian book. Totally inappropriate for mainstream audience – when we can take the same story and flip it to bizarre bigot world and make the poor straight, white person the persecuted victim and we’re back in mainstream land. Funny, that.

Is that what this is? This whole offensive, bullshit trend (I mean, apart from prejudiced arsehattery, which kind of goes without saying)? A desire to use prejudice as a plot point but not sully your main character by making them an actual minority?

And don’t tell me it will help straight/white people understand oppression. Because if a privileged person will only hear about prejudiced issues when it comes from a privileged mouth then what is the point? I’ve said this before when we’ve had similar bullshit, how are you going to encourage people to address prejudice and marginalisation while at the same time training them that it’s only worth listening to privileged people?

Because that’s what I hear when this excuse is trawled out. Straight, white people can’t possibly empathise with a POC or GBLT protagonist so we have to present these prejudiced issues through a privileged lens, from a privileged mouth. Either by making being privileged a marginalisation like in the examples above - or by making up an entirely new, fictional prejudice. As we’ve mentioned before with the appropriation of magrinalised groups for “fantastic prejudice” where vampires/fae/witches are persecuted for not being mundane humans. This can even be doubly offensive when we mix both offensive appropriations - such as in Lost Girl - with the white Kenzi being oppressed by the Black fae for being human.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review Passing Strange by Daniel Waters Book three of the Generation Dead Series

It took me quite some time to get around to reading the third installment of the Generation Dead series and this largely because, Generation Dead and  Kiss of Life were easily amongst the most failtastic books I have ever come across.  Were it not for our commitment to finishing series once we start them, there is no way that I would have picked up this book.

Tommy is off in Washington trying to get legal rights for zombies who are living with the fall out for being framed for the death of Gutteridge - the lawyer who was hired to defend Pete after he murdered Layman. The Reverend is still using Pete as his tool to frame as many zombies as possible for different crimes.  Despite getting lucky enough to only get probation, Pete does not have the good sense to leave the zombies alone.  As much as he is repelled by them, he is angry that the one girl he loved did not come back.

This novel is the first in the series where Karen is the protagonist.  She works in the mall and is passing as living.  Most of the novel is spent dealing with Karen's feelings about her suicide and depression, as well as building a relationship with her family.  I think the best moments in this story involve Karen and her father because we see both sides of the effects of suicide. Karen refers to her depression as a blue fog and waters actually does a good job explaining the pain of living with depression.

Alphas Season Two, Episode Six: Alphaville

This episode begins with Rosen and Bill examining experiments that the government started during the cold war to test the limits of the human neurological system.  Rosen is hoping to figure out why Parish had the senator fast track FDA approval of his device because he believes that the device is a crucial part of Parish's war plans.  Bill suggests that the device be handed over to Clay in the morning because it constitutes evidence, but Rosen says that it is going to Skylar because he believes she is the only one who can figure out what this machine does. This is of course after having Kat try examine it.

The next morning, Rachel is having breakfast with John and she is clearly disturbed and overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the diner.  John tries to calm her nerves by claiming that health inspectors eat there. Rachel says that she has to get going but refuses to tell John where because Rosen is being paranoid about security. At the office, Gary is making clear that he does not want to go but Rosen says that once Stanton Parish finds out that they have the device, he is going to come looking for it and Gary is too important to be left behind. When Nina shows up late, the team is not welcoming.  It seems that now that she cannot pay for her Bentley, it has been repossessed.  Rosen tries to calm the groups nerves by saying that Nina is going to use her ability for the good of others.  UH HUH, what he really means is, "I am going to control Nina through manipulation, don't worry folks, got it covered."  Hicks is on the phone with Dani and she is not impressed when she learns that Nina is back on the team.  Hicks assures her that she does not have to worry, but Dani's concern is not Hicks but the threat Nina poses. As soon as Hicks hangs up the phone Dani texts someone with the message, "they are on they way."

In the car, Rosen has Gary call Skylar, who immediately hangs up on him.  Unfortunately from this contact, Gary is able to trace her signal. Two men stop the van but when Gary reveals they are feds, they send attempt to send them on their way.  Hicks attempts to move forward and one man uses his alpha ability to stop the van. Skylar appears and tells the men to back off but makes it clear that Rosen is no friend to her and tells him to go home.  Skylar walks and Rosen says, "I know I promised that I would never contact you again but this is important."  When Nina brings the device to Skylar, she is not all interested and walks away, so Rosen of course points out the risk he took helping her in season one.

Skylar is not impressed but leads them to an old abandoned summer camp filled with Alpha refugees, hiding from the neurotypical world and from Rosen. Bill and Hicks are chatting and, Bill suggests that they all stay aware because there could be Parish sympathizers everywhere. He says this even as children are playing around them.  I cannot for the life of me understand how Bill can be so obtuse.  He's seen first hand what happens and Binghamton, but somehow it's these alphas who present a threat. 

Skylar breaks down the device mentally and says it's a photic stimulator, which Rosen already knew Zoe runs in and immediately starts touching things and Rosen distracts her by getting her to pretend to blow a bubble and then to draw a picture for him.  Skylar is impressed and Rosen answers, "I've had experience raising and equally spirited one of my own."  Yes, isn't he wonderful, that is if we ignore that he experimented on Dani.  Can you tell I despise Rosen? 

Gary is not impressed by the camps because there are no signals. Bill tells him that after awhile he will learn to appreciate a place like this.  As Gary is walking, a hive of bees start to swarm and he swings his arms wildly until they meet Claude -- the founder of this colony -- who uses his powers to send the bees on their way.  Bill asks about security arrangements, but Claude makes it clear that they all get along and have never had any incidents. Gary wants to know if Claude is responsible for the lack of signals, and Claude responds that it is not dead there because nature is crawling with symbols, if you are open to them. 

It seems that Skylar and Rosen are bonding over the difficulty of raising an Alpha. Claude enters and Rosen introduces himself but Claude simply says, "I know who you are," and refuses to shake Rosen's hand. Claude excuses himself saying that he will see them at dinner. Rosen  asks if it was something he said, and Skylar responds that letting the world know about alphas, did not earn him any friends there.  Skylar gets up to leave for dinner and Rosen packs up the device.  When Skylar tells him to leave it there, Rosen says that he prefers to have it with him, to which Skylar responds, "you should see a shrink about those trust issues." 

Gary decides that he is going to walk back to the office because he doesn't have his things.  Bill follows him saying that this is a part of his job. Gary stops suddenly and looks up at a star, which irritates Bill because they are not there to look at stars.  Gary points out that some stars send out radio waves. Gary keeps walking and sees the aurora borealis, but what they don't realize, is that a man is standing right behind them with a weapon. As  Rosen's team sit down to eat, another group of Alphas discusses taking the machine.

At dinner, Bill is clearly not impressed with the food and Gary is in awe of the signals he is picking up from nature. Skylar does the mom thing and tells Zoe no dessert unless she eats her supper.  Nina is impressed by Skylar's domestic side and even points out that she got rid of her tats.  Skylar flashes a light on her arm and the tats become visible, causing Nina to say, "I thought this was a place where Alphas could be free to be themselves."  Skylar responds, "not me, I'm just here for Zoe."  Skylar picks up on the tension between Nina and Hicks and Nina says that Rosen's team are not exactly happy to have her around and suggests that she should stay there with Skylar.  Nina goes on to say that she ruined it and now when she is with them, she just feels alone. 

Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 6: Fractures

 Jinks is enjoying the ultimate research project – trying to find some Artefact that will allow him to disconnect from the metronome without dying and without hurting Claudia. Except the Warehouse is huge (as he whines to Artie. Who knows) and he doesn’t want to involve Claudia since she will stop him. And Artie is considering moving in with Dr. Vanessa Calder (and is both encouraged and teased mercilessly for it).

In the Artefact issues we have a little place in South Dakota where a nice young lady called Kristen is organising items in a thrift store and finds a full length mirror. And a light by it marked “click me”, she does and there is a figure in the mirror – a young woman with too much eye shadow. They touch through the glass, there’s a purple flash, the sound of breaking glass and Kristen emerges looking very different. Yes, it’s Lewis Carole’s mirror again, and that is Alice possessing Kristen who comes out and starts kissing a priest before stabbing him. She drives off in a big van, causing chaos on the roads until she looks in the mirror, sees Alice who urges her to “show some skin”. While distracted unbuttoning her top, an armoured van crashes into her van.

In the hospital she is patched up and tethered to the bed, yelling death threats and Pete and Myka show up to interview the wounded priest about Kristen’s possession. Interviewing Kristen looks like it’s going to be difficult – but Kristen recognises both of them and knows their names (from the last time they dealt with Alice, who possessed Myka). Pete speculates telepathy, but Kristen just becomes more disturbing and more creepy.

At the thrift store they spray random objects until they find the shards of Lewis Carole’s mirror – and the label confirming what it is – which they encountered before and locked it in the Dark Vault. They realise then that Kristen is Alice

In the hospital, Alice/Kristen seduces an orderly and gets free – and the address to L’Etoile, which she is looking for for some reason – and she plays with a shard of the mirror. Pete and Myka arrive to find her gone – but they do find a very confused Kristen – who is no longer possessed by Alice. She describes exactly what it was like to be trapped in Lewis Carole’s mirror, which Myka remembers. They figure that Alice has jumped into another body – any body – just as an ambulance screams away leaving the driver behind.

At the Warehouse, Claudia knows something’s up with Jink’s unwillingness to go out in the field. He used to like action now he’s happy to take a back seat, researching which, in turn, grounds Claudia. Any issues are interrupted by Myke and Pete calling so Claudia can set up tracking the ambulance. It also leaves Jinks and Claudia the job of finding a new Artefact that can contain Alice and figure out how the mirror was removed from the Dark Vault in the first place.

In the Dark Vault they find one of the gems the evil priest has been leaving behind while stealing Artefacts that Jinks and Arte saw last episode – Jinks tells this to Claudia and is surprised to find that Artie hasn’t told Claudia about it as he said. Lena arrives and, as an expert of the Warehouse, she has an idea on what they need. A hookah pipe that draws out a person’s soul and traps it (Alice contains several Artefacts). Claudia climbs a mountain of unsorted Artefacts to reach it – and in doing so dislodges a stick that shocks Jinks – and causes red and blue energy to shoot between the two of them. He manages to convince Claudia everything is fine – and he’s just being protective because Artie told him about her “phantom pains” (actually pain from Jink’s injuries) but Lena isn’t convinced – she saw their auras switch and she’s seen it before and it didn’t end well.

Grimm: Season 2, Episode 3: Bad Moon Rising

“Then she began to weep bitterly, and said, ‘What can a poor girl like me do now?’”

We have a girl and her father talking about her hefty curriculum – being watched by a canine-Wesen. Who later kidnaps the girl while watched by another canine-wesen (a Coyotl). They take her to a farm where they meet a third man and lower her into a well, tied and gagged.

When she’s pulled out during the day there are 4 men – who apparently knew her when she was very young. They’re mad because apparently her dad took her and her mother away from their group when she was very young and they intend to bring her back into the pack – they say as their eyes glow.

Nick has not given up on Juliette and is determined to include a product placement for Apple. I mean, show Juliette some pictures of them together to try and jog her memory. She remembers her work, even individual cases in her work, she remembers her co-workers and she even remembers her home. Nick shows and tells Juliette that they have lived together for 3 years – and she doesn’t remember any of it.

In almost desperation, Nick brings Monroe to see her, though Monroe thinks there’s zero chance of her remembering him. Turns out she can remember him – every last moment they spent together (which, admittedly, isn’t many) but not that Nick was in any of those memories. Of course, she asks how Nick and Monroe actually met and that’s an awkward question in and of itself.

At work, Nick and Renard discuss the murder of Catherine, the Hexenbiest. I love this conversation because they’re both in the know and neither knows it. Since Catherine has a lot of money but no gainful employment – and a whole lot of herbal items around the house, Nick presents the idea she may be a drug dealer. And adds that Adalind has completely disappeared.

Hank is also having issues with his exposure to the Wesen world, talking to a therapist about anxiety, nightmares and fears – and how he is sure the man he shot changed after he died. He is edgy and panicky and even grabs the therapist in a brief panicking moment.

Hank confides his worries in Nick after Nick pushes past the “I’m fine.” Hank tells Nick he’s been shooting at shadows and how he lost it in therapy. Hank is considering telling Renard and maybe even quitting, maybe the jobs getting too much for him. Nick can’t stand to see Hank quit over this – and says they need to talk (the big reveal!) But they’re interrupted by Wu who has a Jarold Kemfer who wants to speak to Hank – he walks in and it’s the kidnapped girl’s father. He’s an old friend and is worried about the girl (Carly) who disappeared. Her mother’s been dead 5 years and no-one has seen her – and in his stress Jarold Woges into a Coyotl for Nick to see. Nick tries to get some clues as to Jarold’s personal life –but Hank says he’s known him since high school and Carly is his goddaughter, so he doesn’t need to ask those questions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: Widow's Web by Jennifer Estep, Book 7 in the Elemental Assassin Series

Gin has almost settled into a routine, albeit one dogged still by amateur assassins trying to prove they’re more deadly than the Spider. That is until Philip Kincaid, crime boss and one of the contenders for Mab’s old throne, comes into her BBQ restaurant to hire her. Not as an assassin, but as a caterer.

Of course, nothing’s that simple and when a deadly Elemental assassin tries to kill Kincaid during the party, it’s only Gin’s actions that save his life. From there it takes only a little while to discover Kincaid’s shared history with Owen, her lover and Eva. And Salina

Salina, Water Elemental, deadly, manipulative assassin and wannabe underworld boss. And Owen’s ex-fiancée. A lethal killer who wants Owen back, who wants revenge for her father’s death and is willing to destroy anything in her path. A tough call for Gin to bring down – and preserve her relationship with Owen.

After the last book, I wasn’t really ready for another relationship drama. We’d just finished with Gin and Donovan Caine last book, I wasn’t up for having Owen then deal with his ex. I did think it was handled well, Gin was jealous without being unreasonably so. Gin disliked Salina but, again, she had reason to dislike her. It could have been a lot worse, it really could. And there were several moments when I cringed and expected it to be worse. I expected Owen to ignore or downplay what Gin told him about what Salina did to Eva. I expected Owen to defend Salina more than he did. I expected there to be a lot more “get your hands off my man” moments. In short, I expected a hot mess, and didn’t get it. There were uncomfortable elements – Owen wanting to go easy on Salina, Owen defending Salina, Owen assuming the best about Salina – but none were excessive or beyond what I would expect. I still wasn’t happy with the love triangle, but it didn’t dominate. Ultimately, Salina’s past relationship with Owen was a complicating factor, but the main reason was that Salina was dangerous, that Salina is trying to kill people - people who don’t deserve it.

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 8

 So we had some major shifts last episode. Akbari is dead, granny is dead, the curse is gone, Taryn is the new big bad or, rather the only big bad and everyone’s still going sailing just for funsies. And Sinbad apparently has a secret identity of some kind but absolutely no-one has bothered to tell him that

Anwar clearly has some issues to resolve – issues that are haunting his dreams, but no-one has time to listen to them. Especially since Sinbad has seen an island surrounded by wrecks (personally, and especially after what they’ve experienced, I’d think that makes said island a very bad place to go near) and he thinks treasure! (Because wrecks always have treasure). And it could be what they’ve been looking for (what are they looking for, again?)

Anwar’s also someone what confused by these questions (glad there’s someone with sense) but apparently wrecks always have secrets on board (not really – I mean a wreck just means broken boats don’t float. That’s not a novel secret) and they absolutely must investigate for the excitement of it all.

On the exciting island Anwar spots a tunnel which he decides to go investigate. Gunnar follows him until they find bodies arranged around a large box – which they seem to have died to defend. They take it out for the whole group to examine, intrigued by what could be inside it.

Finding no easy way to open it (there’s a pattern on the lid that suggests a puzzle box), Gunnar starts hitting it with an axe and Sinbad with a sword – neither of which makes any impression. It’s already being hinted at that the box is compelling them to want it. Especially when they try to load it in the boat and it’s too heavy – they have to send Sinbad to talk to Cook to sail round looking for deeper water so they can carry it to the ship. Cook thinks Sinbad is trying to avoid what happened in Basra, but Sinbad… well basically confirms it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 82

This week we discuss the season finale of True Blood! And reflect on the season in general and how lacklustre it has been. We discuss Grimm and how much it has changed since the first season, showing some real potential. We also talk about Alphas and our ongoing loathing of Dr. Rosen and the Season Finale of Falling Skies and how poorly this show has handled race.

Our book of the week is 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

Alpha's Sneak Peak Ep. 206 "Alphaville"

Review: Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander, Book 1 of the Edie Spence Series

Edie is a relatively new nurse dealing with many problems – student loans, making ends meet, her brother’s heroin addiction and dragons rampaging through the wards.

The latter because she’s a nurse on the Y4 floor. In exchange for the dark powers that run the hospital making her brother immune to the effects of drugs and alcohol, Edie has given up her more lucrative job at a private hospital to work treating the county’s supernatural community in the hidden Y4 ward. Vampires, wereanimals, zombies, shapeshifters and even dragons pass through the wards, all with their own illnesses and injuries to be treated.

Treating one of those patients drags Edie far deeper than she intended to go. Compelled – either by vampire wiles or her own conscience – to do the right thing, she seeks to save Anna, a vampire in a young girl’s body, from abuse. In doing so, she kills a vampire – and finds herself facing trial in which the punishment can be her very soul – if she does not mount an appropriate defence with what friends and allies she can muster. And it’s not like her daily life isn’t already complicated!

This book starts running. You open the book, get a brief introduction and then you sprint into the plot. Suddenly stuff is happening and characters are doing stuff and you’re not quite sure who they are why they’re doing what they’re doing or what it all means or what everything is or what the implications are – but it’s all happening and it’s all happening now so you better run to keep up or just drown in confusion. You don’t even know who the protagonist is but she’s killing vampires and rescuing people and someone’s dead and they’re a bad person – no, wait, they’re a good person… or not? And someone’s bitten – wait, she’s bitten twice? And there’s a fire and and and…

Right, take a deep breath, because, thankfully it doesn’t continue like that. After this sudden introduction wherein a huge amount of plot is thrown at you in a short space of time, the story then slows down. We get more of an introduction to Edie, her life and the world she is in. It’s slowed down and with the more sedate pace and chance to assimilate information, we get to fill in a lot of the gaps that were left hanging in the first part of the book. It’s still jarring and disorienting and I think some of the introduction could have done better before the action would have been better, but it does work.

After that beginning the rest of the book continues at an excellent pace. Neither rushing and leaving me breathless nor dragging or distracted. We have some time spent on world building – though I think I would have appreciated more with the sheer amount of supernatural gubbins introduced, it would have been nice to have more backing to them. That being said, we certainly had enough information to follow the story and the rest is left there as a tantalising carrot to bring me back for the next book to see more of this huge, fascinating world.

Edie herself is an interesting and very real character. I think I’d best sum her up as a cynical idealist. She wants to hope, she wants to do good, she is determined to care and to help people and feels guilt and pain when she makes a mistake or someone is hurt. Yet, at the same time, she has been through the school of hard knocks, she has few illusions about how harsh and cruel the world can be. She has a heart of gold with a cynical exterior – and I think it’s really presented well to encompass both, both her willingness to care with her lack of illusions of how hard the world can be. I think this is epitomised in her relationship with her brother, a heroin addict. She loves him, she cares for him, she worries about him and she sacrifices for him. Yet, at the same time, she has little expectation of him quitting his addiction, she knows she can’t trust him and is repeatedly driven to fury by his stealing from her.

Misfits Season One, Episode One

The misfits are a group of young teenagers who have been centered to community service.  Alisha recognizes Curtis as a runner who was in the papers. We also learn that Kelley is in trouble for punching a girl who called her a whore.  Nathan accuses Simon of being a pervert and a panty sniffer and we learn that Nathan tried to burn someone's house down when he rejections Nathan's speculation about his crime.  The crew is outside painting benches, when a huge storm comes in and massive hail stones start falling from the sky.  They make a mad dash for the community center, where Gary is in the bathroom, but before they can get indoors they are struck by a bolt of lightening.

Tony, the probation worker says its time to call it  day.  In the locker room where Alisha and Kelly are changing, Kelly begins to overhear Alisha's thoughts.  Alisha repeatedly refers to Kelly as a chav, which does not exactly endear her to Kelly. Tony watches them leave and there is clearly something wrong with him, because he is twitching and groaning. Gary is in the bathroom again and when he drops his phone, someone uses an axe to crash through the stall door.

At home, Kelly is playing with her dog and she is suddenly able to hear its thoughts.  Nathan returns home where his mother has changed the locks because she wants to give her relationship with Jeremy a chance.  Nathan is freaked out because he has nowhere to stay, but she simply tells him where his bags are and walks away.  Nathan calls friend after friend, but no one is willing to let him stay and so he sleeps at the community center.  The next morning he uses the same stall where Gary was murdered but he is so out of it, he doesn't notice the broken door or the blood on the wall and the floor.

Outside, the other misfits find the words, "I'm going to kill you all," on the walls of the community center.  When Alisha's phone rings, Tony gets upset and demands that they all hand over their cell phones. In the change room, Simon finds Gary's cap and it it's covered with blood.  His body convulses briefly and he calls out for help, but none of the other misfits can see or hear him. He is even invisible in the mirror. 

When the other misfits head outside, Simon has another little fit and changes back.  In the meantime in the hallway the probation worker finds a spliff on the ground and then has a fit and starts throwing around chairs. Outside they are scrubbing the walls when Kelly asks if anyone felt something weird after the storm.  Simon says that something happened but won't elaborate.  Kelly goes to leave in frustration but Tony grabs her and calls her a bitch.  Kelly is forced to slam his nose in to escape and this enrages Tony to the point where his eyes becomes a strange colour.  Tony makes a point of saying that no one will believe that he attacked her given their respective positions and I thought this was a great point about how easy it is for an official to abuse his power.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

Every week on the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast (archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show. The review for the book of the week always goes up on 3:00pm (EST) on a Monday (Monday’s book review).

To give people a chance to read along with us, every Monday we’re also going to include a list of our planned books of the week for the next few shows, so people can get the books, read them and join in the conversation.
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

We will discuss each book on the latter date – so on the 27th August, we will discuss Storm Dancer by Jay Kristoff

We will post a new list every Monday with any changes or new books.

True Blood, Season 5, Episode 12: Save Yourself

The fae are blasting Russell but it is not effecting him.  Before he can kill them, Eric grabs Russel and places a steak to his chest.  Before Eric can act the light bursts through Russel's pours and he melts away.  What an anti-climactic way to get rid of Russel.  What was the point of bringing him back to have him die this way?  It makes absolutely no sense to me. Nora shows up and smells Sookie's special fae blood and of course wants to feed on her, but Eric stops her from feeding on Sookie.  Eric forces Nora to swear on godric that he won't feed on Sookie.  Jason is passed out on the ground and when Sookie tries to wake him, he confuses her with their mother.

At the compound, a naked Sam is brought in to see Bill, who  is shocked and asks for Sam to be ungagged. Sam tries telling Bill about Luna, but it is clear Bill is not interested in hearing what Sam has to say so Sam turns into a fly and escapes.  I was actually amused to see Bill the vampire hopping all over the place trying to catch the fly that Sam had turned into.

When Eric shows up at Fangtasia, Tara tells them that the authority have got Pam.  Nora is not the least bit impressed and so Eric says that Tara and Pam are both family and are to be treated appropriately.  The three show up at Sookie's to ask her to go to the vampire authority to pick up Bill, Jessica, and Pam.  Jason is not impressed and says that she should "tell all the fangers to go back to hell."  Eric believes that Sookie is the only one who can through to Bill and Tara repeatedly reminds her that she owes Pam.  I guess that this should have been the hint that Tara has feelings for Pam. Jason agrees to go because he can hear the ghost of his father whispering in his ear.

At the compound, Bill sends the guards on a mission to kill anything that moves. Bill admits to Salome that he killed the counselor and then further lies and says that Lilith actually chose her.  Back in the cages, Sam tells Luna that Bill has lost his mind and that there are surveillance cameras everywhere.  Sam instructs Luna to shift if they come for her but Luna says that she is not leaving Emma.

In another cell, Jessica tells Pam that Eric and Bill are religious fanatics.  Pam does not believe it and says that Bill is always looking for something to be guilty about. Pam says that the worst thing about being immortal is having to watch the same thing over and over.  When Jessica brings up Sookie, Pam says. "must all things lead to Sookie?" That right there without doubt is the line of the night.

Martha shows up with Alcide's lover, who has been force fed V.  It seems that J.D. did this to the whole pack and attacked some of the younger girls.  Herveaux Sr. suggests that Alcide amp up on V and take on JD.

Jason and Sookie go to load up on weapons and she tries to tell him that the vampires are their friends. The entire time Sookie is talking, Jason is hallucinating their parents.   At Merlott's, Lafayette is handing out margaritas and dancing. Andy shows up with Marella to talk to Holly. Holly is not impressed that Andy cheated and Marella starts to groan in pain, as light shoots out between her legs.

On the way to the authority compound, Jason points out that they keep falling for people who are unavailable. In the background their father says to Jason, "vampers made you orphans."    At Merlott's, Holly is acting is midwife to Marella, who is pratically orgasmic on the pool table. Marella has a girl, raises her legs and the moaning starts again. 

In the compound, Newlin shows up with a leash for Emma, crying and shaking. Talking to Chelsea about taking Emma out, she realises that Steve doesn't have a southern accent anymore. Clearly this is Luna masquerading as Newlin and Sam is the fly in the elevator.

Marella gives birth to four girls  and tells Andy to take good care of them and leaves the bar.  She tells him that he sired them and that it is now his duty to make sure that half of them make it to adulthood. He smiles at Holly who simply calls him a dick.

In the woods, JD has a young vampire strung up and is draining him when Alcide shows up. Alcide kills JD and then all of the weres fall to their knees in front of him. Alcide says, "this stops tonight, we're wolves and we do not surrender to nihilism." I guess that was his big captain Kirk speech but honestly, I couldn't give a damn.