Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons, Season Two, Episode Nine: Everything Starts with Gaia

Gaia is busy moving all the furniture around and tells Axl that she is doing this because she had a dream.  Axl suggests that she take a break and go to work, and Gaia says that she woke up that morning and called in and quit.  Axl is concerned because Gaia has been acting weird for awhile. Bryn shows up with Jacob hot on his heels and says that they need to evacuate the house, but she tells them that she is not going anywhere with anyone.  Suddenly, a very large man named Eggthér kicks in the front door. 

Eggthér says that he had the heart tested and was given a marsupial heart. He starts to throw furniture around and asks where the girl is and Brynn says, "I don't know." When Eggthér goes into Gaia's room, Axl knocks him unconscious and Brynn and Jacob run out of the house saying that they have to find Gaia.  They spot Gaia in the car and say that they need to flee before Eggthér wakes up.  Gaia wants to know what's going on and suggests that this is another of Brynn's drug deals gone wrong.

At the office, Anders is complaining about how much the day sucks. It seems that Anders has two clients left.  Ty shows up with a tea and a scone for Dawn. When Anders discovers that Ty has a job at the bar, he decides to go with him, much to Dawn's disappointment.

Mike and Michele are having sex on his desk, when Axl and Gaia show up.  Axl asks Michele to have a look at Gaia's arm claiming that she hurt herself moving furniture and then asks Mike to join him downstairs. Downstairs, Axl begins to introduce Mike to Jacob and Brynn when Olaf walks in. Olaf sniffs them both then asks to have a word with Axl and Mike.  At the other end of the bar, Olaf wants to know what's up with the giant and the dwarf in the bar.  Mike assumes that Olaf is drunk but Olaf says that it is not effecting his judgement.  We learn that Brynn is a giant and smells like pie and Jacob is a dwarf and smells gamey. Olaf walks over and confronts Brynn and Jacob, who initially deny who they are, until Olaf introduces himself as Baldr, Mike follows with Ullr and Axl finishes with Óðinn.  Brynn and Jacob are shocked and displeased to learn that they are in the presence of Gods and both go running out of the bar as quickly as possible.

As Ty is making repairs at a bar, Anders asks if he is banging Dawn again because he cannot understand why Ty is happy.  Anders says that everything from Ty's marriage to Eva, to the downfall of his business, to the loss of nearly all of Agnetha's money in the stock market is all Mike's fault.   Anders points out that the high which Ty is feeling from being temporarily mortal is going to where off because he is no closer to being mortal and being with Dawn than he was before. 

Upstairs in the bar, Michele wraps Gaia's hand and Gaia says that she has given up nursing which Michele believes is a cause for celebration.  Axl comes upstairs to ensure that Gaia is okay and tells her that Brynn has left. It turns out that this entire exchange only occurred to give Axl the chance to sniff her.  When Axl reports to Olaf and Mike, he declares that he didn't smell anything. Olaf says that Brynn is clearly not her father because Gaia is not a giant.  Mike goes upstairs and asks Michele to keep an eye on her.  Michele wants to know why Gaia is special but Mike does not give out any details. 

When Zeb returns home, he finds the place torn apart and the front door on the ground. Eggthér enters the room swinging a toaster by its cord asking who Zeb is. When Zeb tries to walk away from Eggthér, he sees Freki on the back of his shirt, which causes Eggthér to ask if Zeb is Freki.  Zeb says that Freki is a Brazilian footballer and Eggther says that he killed Freki in a bar a few months ago. Zeb admits that he has heard of Eggthér and Eggthér wants to know what gives Zeb naming rights to Óðinn's wolf.  Zeb says he likes to dress up and pretend and then admits that his best friend is Óðinn.

Anders and Ty are having a meal and Anders is complaining about all of his credit cards being declined. Mike calls Ty and Anders tells him not to answer because, Mike declined him the right to discover who he is.  When Mike cannot reach Ty, he calls Anders and this upsets him even more because he believes that Mike thinks that he has the right to have access to them whenever he wants. They agree to talk to Mike only when they want to talk to Mike. Anders suggest that they should be the Gods they're capable of being.  They decide to leave so that Anders can show Ty the stick he cut from Yggdrasil.

In what looks to be a pub, Brynn is eating a massive steak and Jacob is complaining about  how he is letting himself go, buy Brynn counters that he is returning to his true self. In walk Axl, Mike and Olaf.  It appears that Mike tracked them with his powers.  Brynn says to Axl, "and you are Óðinn," before handing Jacob his plate and then banging his head on the table repeatedly saying, "stupid, stupid stupid giant."  Bryn tells Axl that he knew there was something about him he didn't like.  When Axl asks about Gaia, Bryn responds, "everything starts with Gaia."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The Book of the Forsaken by Yannis Karatsioris

 3 men, 3 exceptional men. One can remote view and control fire. One can teleport. One can do all kinds of dark and dangerous things – and uses them to horrify and even kill. All 3 of them lead very different lives – but all 3 of them are brought to Moscow, 2 of them to kill and 1 of them to steal

Yet it becomes clear that all of  their tasks are linked – and there is a grand conspiracy they don’t even see and the book they have stolen is in high demand. Told through the eyes of a sarcastic being that is playing a game all of his own, we see them cross Europe, travel through time, discover vampires and monsters, magic and shapeshifters and who knows what else –all for the sake of the Book which could change the world.

This book has a style I think you will either love or hate. It is told from the point of view from a seemingly all knowing narrator, with immense powers who has no wish to share what he knows – and only nudges things along. He is sarcastic, occasionally given to tangents and funny foot notes and a lot of wry commentary. Some of it is immensely amusing and massively funny. Some of it… isn’t. I think it was generally more funny than not and, on the whole, I liked it, but I can also see how it can be annoying to others. The actual protagonists are manipulated puppets to begin with who slowly start to express themselves onto events, going from following instruction to setting their own path and deciding to make the story their own – rather than a story someone else is telling ion which they are used. Maybe… because they’re still being poked and prodded by outside manipulators, even when they seem to be setting their own path, it’s clear they’re being influenced and as the book progresses we begin to see how wide that influence is.

In a way this is how the unusual storytelling method works – because we get to see the wider world beyond their understanding and the way their strings are being pulled – while at the same time not having an omniscient narrator infodumping everything.

Haven Season 2 Recap.

 This is so very frustrating. So very very frustrating.

After season 1 where we waited  and waited and waited and ye gods above waited for some meta plot to show up, we finally got it all in the last few episodes. Yes, excellent, we’ve had an introduction and now the plot begins – and with more than we imagined; Nathan as police chief, Real!Audrey and Real!Howard hanging around with their own questions and possible answers. Audrey is really this Lucy woman, who was she, where did she come from, how did the memories get copied, maybe even what is the source of the Troubles? So many questions and finally we’re going to get some answers! Yes! Go meta! Go investigation! Go spooky discoveries! Go pointless Trouble of the Week…

Wait, what?

Because we plunge right back into Trouble of the Week. The only person doing any investigating into these big damn mysteries is Real!Audrey who promptly loses her memory (the writers suddenly realised that if she kept investigating she might actually find something and we couldn’t have that!) after that the closest we get is Duke trying to track down the tattoo. Did Audrey suddenly stop caring about Lucy, about who she was? We get odd moments where Audrey discovers she can play the piano (though she doesn’t remember learning) in episode 3 and she discusses the identity crisis of having fake memories with Cornell’s clone in episode 8 but all these incidents do is highlight how little Audrey is doing to discover any answers. What’s the point of reminding us how much all of this bothers Audrey if all she does about it is stew and angst?

What makes it worse is that she will meet people and gasp “oh you knew Lucy!” but she doesn’t actually question them! It’s more “YOU KNEW LUCY!” “Why yes, yes I did.” “Cool, see you around.” Even Duke’s investigation only drags up hints. It’s only in the last 3-4 episodes of the season that we get into the meat of the meta

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the episodes – I did, I think there was a lot of good there, a lot of interesting and original ideas, a fair bit of excitement but trouble of the Week this season is so much more frustrating than the last one because we have meta plot to develop! Even the newly developing meta plot of the Rev and his cronies plotting to destroy or drive out the Troubled was something that just rumbled away in the background for most of the series without seeming to go anywhere

Again, it took us until episode 9 to really get into some meta – and then it got good. A special prize to Audrey for killing the Rev (yes I cheered). We found out about Audrey’s multiple past personalities and that a Lucy Ripley really existed. We found out that Dave and Vince knew a lot more – and are at odds. Duke is Troubled and has the ability to cure the Troubled from a family by murdering one member with the affliction. We saw the Rev’s plots, the Chief’s ghost and his own plots. We learned about Audrey/Lucy killing Duke’s father and his father’s plot to kill her as well. We even had Audrey and Nathan advance their terminally slow romance. In short, we learned a massive amount about Haven – the plot surged ahead – but too late!

Audrey is also coming to resemble Sookie and Elena in one way – everyone loooooves her. I almost laughed at how lamp-shaded this was in the Groundhog day episode where Audrey had not one, but three male love interests to cry pitifully over. It’s one thing that her special immunity makes her extra special to some people (like the guy who was vibrating in season 1), but nearly everyone Audrey meets loves her. Not just the three love interests, but the pathologist, the pathologist’s daughter, Dave and Vince, the police chief – everyone loves Audrey!

When Fandom Moves to Real Life

'Edward & Bella Fan Art' photo (c) 2009, Angie22Arts - license:
Anyone who has spent any time in fandom has seen how very very attached fans can get to their One True Pairing (or OTP) - entire fandom wars have been fought over which couple is the bestest, most truest, most romantic and, of course, hottest of them all. A lot of this just results in lots and lots of fanfiction battles and the ship wars that are sometimes fun and often cringeworthy to witness - but rarely troublesome (though they certainly can be).

But sometimes it’s as though these people have forgotten that the sources of their obsession are fictional characters. And there’s no clearer evidence of this than when those pairings spill into real life and people invest their OTP love into real people - and when those real people disappoint them we see:

Celebrity couples are always going to be fodder for gossip and entertainment rags, but when it comes to couples like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, fandom creates an extra level of scrutiny because they become invested in the actors as though they are  living the lives of the characters they play. When these relationships end or have a public meltdown, it threatens the fantasy that people have come to embrace. While, again, this is usually just fun fulfillment, it can also go to very unpleasant places, as is seen by some fans' reactions to Kristen Stewart cheating on Robert Pattinson - causing her to apologise to the fans for some bizarre reason.  There was even speculation that this incident could seriously impact her career.  Really people? 

There seems to be little separation in the mind between Robert Pattinson and Edward Cullen, or  Bill Compton and Stephen Moyer, or in fact, any of the other actors, who happen to be on a show which is based upon the supernatural.  Once you are typecast in this kind of circle, it can be really hard to escape the association in people’s minds. Haven’t you ever wondered what goes through the mind of the fan who thinks it’s a good idea to walk up to an actor who plays a vampire and ask to be bitten?  BITTEN. It’s one thing to get a little squee when meeting an actor one admires and another matter entirely to have a complete break with reality.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Death's Rival by Faith Hunter, Book 5 of the Jane Yellowrock Series

 Vampire Masters of the City across the US are being afflicted by a plague. Which should be impossible – vampires are immune to disease. Yet Sedona and Seattle have both been afflicted – and when in their weakened state, they were threatened with take over. Both cities now look to a new, unknown master. And to make it even more worrying, some of Leo’s own vampires are being afflicted with the disease.

Time for Jane Yellowrock to do some investigating, using her new team to track down how the disease came about, where it is from, how it is being transmitted – and, ultimately, who is behind it. But the mystery vampire has far more than the disease at his command and Jane quickly finds herself under attack – and Leo facing a fullscale war; all complicated by there being a spy in the ranks.

Through all this, Jane’s secret Skinwalker identity is yet further frayed, even as more of her forgotten past emerges and she has a painful reminder of how difficult and dangerous it is to get involved with vampires – even vampires she thought she could trust.

I loved this book, it seemed to get just about everything right with the balance.

The story is an excellent mix of action and investigation. The unknown enemy spreading disease isn’t a force they can just take down nor is it something they can just hunker down and defend against. It’s not a mystery since there are no clues we’re expected to follow, but nor is it a series of loosely connected fight scenes. There’s a plot to follow, a nice, tense tracking down of the clues while trying to protect themselves all of which has the added complication of there being a leak in Leo’s organisation. The pacing was excellent, there was no down time even when Jane was exhausted, the plot didn’t get distracted or deviated and at no point did it start to drag – which can be a problem with mysteries as the questions build up and there’s no concrete actions to take or answers given. Instead we had solutions and answers, appropriate red herrings and show down moments, clever plans, interesting plots and a chance to truly see the new characters introduced.

I also liked how much the emotional impact of what was happening wasn’t downplayed. Jane has been through several losses of friends and that still haunts her. Trauma leaves her shocked and stunned – even in shock. Killing people, torturing people bothers her and preys on her mind. They’re not just downplayed events that just happen and they move on, but nor do they require chapters of self-pitying angst as well. It’s a nice balance and really well executed.

I liked the character development and interaction- Jane realising how she sees things differently since working with the vampires, in particularly how money has affected her. Going from having to count the pennies to being able to casually lay out large sums of money – to Reach, for plane tickets, to fund her 2 new employees. In turn that reflects on her willingness to keep working for the vampires even when she has strong reason not to – because can anyone underestimate the value of such financial confidence?

The way the supernatural touches Jane has also developed – I love the way her secret being revealed is being handled. She is trying to hodl what secrets she can and not having a big reveal moment, but nor is she trying to pretend to be fully human when it’s blatantly obvious to everyone that she isn’t. She isn’t happy with her skinwalker status being more known, but she’s not whimpering and trying to put it back in the bag – she’s living with it and making it work for her.

Haven Series 1 Recap

The quite little town of Haven, in Maine looks peaceful, but it has troubles or, more accurately, Troubles. The Troubles happened a long time ago, people with special abilities, abilities they couldn’t always control that could cause considerable havoc. Audrey Parker, an FBI agent, arrives in town to track down a fugitive working with the Haven PD and quickly gets embroiled in investigating the Troubles – which have returned. Her job as an FBI agent falls away as she becomes more and more intrigued by the town and helping the Troubled people deal with their Afflictions. And she finds a picture of a woman who looks just like her – Lucy Ripley, quite possibly the orphan Audrey’s mother.

When setting up a new show, like Haven, you need to establish the premise and the world. This means many of the earlier episodes will be used to introduce exactly what is going on and who is who. We introduce the primary cast: Audrey. Nathan, the son of the police chief, he’s Troubled and cannot feel anything, though he still suffers the injuries. He broods around and is Audrey’s main police partner. Duke, the casual, rogue – a smuggler and nefarious ne’er do well who takes a shine to Audrey and is always there to lend a (grudging) hand. The police chief, who holds the town together through the Troubles and tries to shape Nathan to replace him, leading to their very rocky relation. And Vince and Dave Teague, 2 old men who run the paper – and keep the town’s secrets, perhaps all too well. On the less friendly side we have the Reverend Driskall, a religious fanatic who considers all the Troubled to be cursed.

And the rest is used to show is used to display the powers people have and Audrey and Nathan, (occasionally helped by Duke) solve the many problems – from a woman who can control the weather, to a kid who can manifest his dreams, animate taxidermy animals, a woman who drains life force and has babies, dangerous art, murderous shadows and many more. There are a lot of very unique ideas and concepts. And many of the episodes serve to develop the characters and integrate Audrey further into Haven… but most of them don’t really advance anything. They’re Trouble of the Week, each is introduced, investigated and solved in the same episode, with very little else covered. You can probably skip from episode 5 to episode 9 or even  10 and not appreciably miss much.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine

 Jazz is an ex-police officer whose life was well and truly derailed by her partner being arrested – and convicted – for murder. Quitting her job and leaving some hostile officers behind who would love to lock her away as well, she is determined to have him proven innocent and validate herself, her judge of character and the trust she placed in him. And silent that nagging doubt at the back of her own mind.

Then there comes an offer that seems more than too good to be true. Funding and guaranteed cases to set up a PI firm – something she had tried to do but failed to get the financing for. And there’s only one catch – she needs to work with a partner, Lucia Garza, ex-FBI agent who is looking for a challenge and a less structured work place.

They’re both duly wary but they quickly work well together and even if it is too good to be true, who turns down such an offer? Even if there are guys who seem to be willing to fight – and even kill them – since the offer arrived.

But, in between their other cases, they complete their benefactors cases. Cases which seem both trivial and bemusing. It’s only when these seemingly benign cases are connected to a murder; revealing a much larger and more bizarre reason for their recruitment.

For a long time I thought I’d made a mistake with this book. I thought “Devil’s Bargain” was entirely metaphorical and there was no supernatural elements at all. I thought I’d actually picked up a standard mystery without any magic, vampires, angels or even a slightly confused Christmas elf.

And I was fine with that.

Which is saying a lot for me. Unrepentant geek that I am, I have little time or interest in books which don’t contain some element of the fantastic. Aliens, vampires or elves, it has to have something non-mundane to keep me interested. But this book I was quite happy to keep on reading without the supernatural.

The main reason for that was probably the characters. I loved Jazz and I loved how she and Lucia bounce off each other. They did fit together perfectly – and yes, it was a little freaky how quickly and amazingly they gelled (but explained within the book) – but they did gel so well. They’re funny, they’re witty, their skills go together – and even with Lucia having so many qualifications, Jazz still fits in with useful skills and additions, she isn’t the junior partner. We don’t face a classic situation of the cool, competent one and the spunky, inept yet plucky and lucky one. They’re both competent, both capable, both extremely good at their job and both bring unique elements to the partnership. I even love how she bounces off Pansy, and she only has a bit role. In fact, this is what makes the book for me – all the characters, even Manny and Pansy who are in such minor roles, are such great characters in their own right.

Revolution Season One, Episode One: Pilot

The show opens in Chicago Illinois with a family. The father, Benjamin runs in and instructs his wife to fill the sinks and tubs and says that they don't have much time. Benjamin calls his brother Miles and says that everything is going to turn off and it will never turn back on.  Suddenly, the signal disappears and the electricity in the city begins to turn off.  The cars on the highway suddenly stop dead and even their headlights get shut off. When Benjamin goes outside, he watches as planes literally fall out of the sky and crash. We get an image of the globe and every single light slowly turns off.  The world is left in darkness with no electricity.

15 years after the blackout there is still no electricity and now nothing works, not even batteries. In the intervening years people starved, died from sickness without medicine, governments fell, and militias rose up.  Benjamin emerges in what seems to be a thriving rural community, where children play and corn grows nearby.  His children, Charlie and Danny are out hunting when they come across an old RV turned on it's side. We get a flashback to the night when the power went out.  Charlie is given a pint of ice cream and told to remember what it tastes like.  Back in the present, she looks at a postcard of Chicago but when Danny unleashes some dust, he ends up havng an asthma attack and they are forced to return home.

Maggie, the area doctor gives him some medicine and Benjamin is not at all pleased because the area is not safe.  Charlie is not happy with the restrictions but Benjamin says that she is risking her life.  Charlie wants to explore but Benjamin tells her that there is nothing worth seeing, not anymore.  There is a lot of animosity between Charlie and Maggie, because Charlie believes that Maggie is trying to replace her dead mother. Charlie walks off on her own and sits in a now defunct ferris wheel to look at the postcards she has collected of different cities pre-blackout.

Maggie is teaching a local boy about herbs, when a man rides in on a horse. Benjamin hands over the flash drive he saved before the blackout to Aaron.  The captain wants to talk to Miles or Benjamin Matheson. It seems that he is under the orders of General Monroe, under the authority of the Monroe republic.  The captain says that he has been searching for Benjamin for a long time and that he needs to leave with him or he will conscript all of the children and re-educate them until they no longer remember their parents.  Ben asks for a moment and tells Maggie to watch out for his children, but Maggie resists.  Danny points a weapon at the man and asks him to leave, even as Benjamin tells him to put his gun down.  The other residents start to arm themselves saying that Charlie has a point. Benjamin gets shot in the chest and a fire fight starts, but the captain quickly brings it to an end.  Benjamin is dragged away screaming for his father and by the time Charlie arrives he is gone.  

Benjamin lies dying and tells Charlie that the militia took Danny and says that she needs to travel to Chicago to get Miles, because he will be able to get Danny back. When Charlie asks her father to come with her, he says that he can't.  Before he dies, Benjamin tells Charlie that she is strong like her mother and that she can do this. Charlie goes and starts to pack immediately and Maggie makes it clear that she is coming. Charlie tries to bush her off and Maggie insists on coming with her. The two women leave and are joined by Aaron, who says that Benjamin was his friend and he is going as well.

The militia are traveling with Danny and the captain says he is sorry for mixing him up in all of this and that he couldn't go back empty handed. The captain says that when General Monroe finds out, he is going to be irate, but when Danny wishes for his death, the captain backhands him and says that he is responsible for his fathers death because he drew first. The iron that Danny is strapped to is lose and begins to undo the screws, clearly with the desire to escape later.

Maggie, Aaron and Charlie are camped for the night and Aaron asks what they know about Miles, and Maggie says that all Benjamin ever said was that he is good at killing.  The next day, Charlie comes across a young man and though she tries to stay hidden he sees her anyway.  He introduces himself as Nate and asks where she is going.  When she returns from getting water, Aaron is looking at the flash drive Benjamin gave him. They walk until they find a plane and we learn that Aaron not only owned a plane but used to work at Google. Obviously his computer background is why Benjamin gave him the flash drive.

Alphas Season Two, Episode Eight: Falling

A group of people are on a roof top and they take a drug.  When the drug kicks in, they jump from the building, falling 21 floors to the ground.  They should be dead, but instead they stand up laughing.  Clay is cooking breakfast at home and Rosen shows up to ask what he meant by saying that the investigation into Parish's inside force was moving forward.  Clay says that the abduction was a break for them and that the team have gotten a link to Parish's communication network and believes in four days, they will have something for sure.  The conversation is interrupted by Clay's son who asks for help with a project and Nathan says that kids have to learn to deal with their own problems.  Though he didn't know it, that was a dig at Rosen.  When Rosen asks for more information, Clay tells him that he can't say or do more but promises to find the person responsible and lock them away in a dark room for a long time. 

At the office, Bill is showing the team a copy of the tape that the people who jumped off the building took. He says that there are either four people with the same alpha ability or some kind of drug which is turning people into alphas.  Rosen tells Bill that he trusts him to take the reigns and then walks out of the office clearly distracted.

Kat gives Gary a potted plant as a gift for his "man cave," but instead of being grateful, Gary admonishes her for giving him a plant and suggests that she has brought bugs into the office.  When the two come across Bill, Gary instructs him to call an exterminator. Bill does not have time for this nonsense and says that he just sent Gary a tape for youtube and wants him to take facegrabs and then check the internet for any matches.  Gary is to look for any indication that the people in the video are alphas.  When Kat asks what she should do, Bill says, "you can call the exterminator. You bring bugs in here, you can take care of that." Though Kat calls him a "douchebag," it is seriously beginning to annoy me how often she is either dismissed or used by a member of the team. 

In the kitchen, Rachel goes on a rant as she gives John instructions on how to behave when he meets her parents on Friday. It's a wonder that the man doesn't run screaming in the other direction. When he leaves the room, Nina says, "so he's not an Iranian lawyer, your parents will just have to deal."  Rachel responds, "he's the blondest boy I've ever seen and they're gong to rip him to shreds."  Isn't it interesting how in media, that families which reject inter racial relationships for their kids are overwhelmingly of colour.  Seeing this, you would never believe that race functions to benefit Whiteness.

Rosen is in his office looking at a video of Dani when she was a little girl when Gary interrupts him. Rosen tells him that he wants him to handle a case for him and says that he cannot speak to anyone about this. Rosen says, "if that makes you uncomfortable, I understand," to which Gary replies, "no, I'm not uncomfortable because I'm a secret agent."  This is manipulative. You don't make someone promise to keep something secret before telling them what it is, especially given the power differential between Rosen and Gary. 

At the airport, Hicks is picking up his son Tyler and introduces him to Dani. Tyler is clearly uncomfortable with Dani though she tries to engage with him.  When he throws a pop can into the recycling box at a very weird angle, this catches Hick's attention. 

Back at the office, Gary yells, "busted, she's a criminal, I get to arrest her. Bill bring your cuffs." He marches into a break area and grabs Kat's foot. It turns out that Gary found the guy from the internet and in the picture he found Kat is prominently featured. Her response is, "I kind of look hot with pink highlights." Bill says that the picture only proves that she meet the guy and not that Kat did anything wrong.  Gary replies that she has done something wrong because he is doing drugs and it's called jump.  Bill then asks Kat if she remembers who this guy is and Kat says no, but since he is having a party that night, she is willing to get reacquainted and maybe score a little jump. Bill immediately shuts her down, saying that he is unwilling to send her in blind and reminding Kat that she doesn't even remember where she met the guy. Kat says that she will be fine and reminds Bill that he will have her six, which instantly sets Gary off on another round of jealousy. "Bill's not going to have your six, he's my partner, he has my six. You're not even a real federal agent." Bill cuts him off and says to Gary that he will take it from there.  Bill tells Kat that "undercover work is no joke and if this Dylan Renfro guy is dangerous..." Bill does not get to finish because Kat quickly reminds Bill that she kicked his ass.  It turns out that she wrote that down in order not to forget it.  I was glad to hear her say that because the paternalism Bill regularly engages in is infuriating. 

Later that night, Kat goes to a club and is spotted by Dylan, who quickly embraces her. Kat says that she is there to party and Dylan responds, "you don't have a clue who I am do you? You've been pushed off your mental TIVO. Kat suggests that Dylan refresh her memory and then asks before kissing her for permission.  I have to pause and say how much I love this.  Explicit moments of asking for consent don't often appear in the media.  This scene is also very important for Kat because since discovering the Alphas, Rosen has done nothing but exploit her.  Kat quickly surmises that they were a couple.  In the middle of the club, a man is being beaten as Bill and Gary watch on camera. Though he is beaten until he falls to the ground, when he stands up, he doesn't have a single scratch on him, and he raises his hands in victory.  Clearly this is the work of jump. Dylan puts the drug in his mouth and then passes it on to Kat with a kiss.  When she looks at her hands, it's as though something is crawling up through her veins. When she asks what the drug does, Dylan says that he will show her.

The two leave the club and Bill says frantically, "Kat, you're going out of range." Gary suggests, "we should just leave her, she's useless." I really dislike Gary's petty jealousy.  Bill instructs Gary to follow her through her signal and then gets out of the car.  Dylan takes Kat to a roof top and says, "I was hoping you would come back so we could do this together."  When she tries to pull away, Dylan adds, "You were always crazy brave and I know you forget stuff but that doesn't change that." The two hold hands and then jump off the roof. Kat stands up saying, "that was incredible before taking off with Dylan."

Again in the kitchen, Rachel instructs John that her mother is going to keep offering him food and no matter how full he is, he has got to keep eating it.  John turns and replies in Farsi, "relax, I speak good parent." This shocks Rachel and so John tells her that he served six years in the Middle East. "Hey I'm complicated," John says, "you don't peel back an onion like this in a couple weeks." Instead of being impressed, Rachel  answers that he should have told her that. At this point, I don't believe that there is any way to keep Rachel happy.

As Kat and Bill are walking in, he begins to lecture her saying that, "there are rules and rule number one is that you don't jump off any buildings." Bill is not impressed and declares that he should never have let her go undercover, which causes Kat to respond, "why because I did so well?"  Kat sits down at the microscope and says, there's a weird ass drug out there and I got a sample of it, plus I found out what my favourite colour is."  When Bill asks where the sample is, Kat extends her arm because it is in her blood supply.

Gary hands Rosen a file containing all of the information that Clay got off Parish's phone saying that the NSA is still working on it but he cracked it.  Rosen asks what it means and we learn that apparently they're telephone numbers. Rosen asks Gary to write down any of the numbers in the New York area that are still active.

Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 8: Second Chance

 The gang, naturally wants Artie to spill more information about Evil Brother Adrian which Artie isn’t sharing. He is sharing that there’s a ping – a man in West Virginia is rusting. Much to Myka’s annoyance since it prevents her from questioning Artie. Time for Jinks and Claudia’s turn to nag poor Artie – but Artie has another distraction – getting Jinks off the metronome so the damage he takes won’t kill Claudia. Artie is good with his distractions.

It seems to free oneself from the metronome – as Schuman once did – you have to interpret some dubious poetry (special rule, solutions have to be cryptic) and get a pure heart and a fresh start from “whence one came”.  As an added bonus, staying on the metronome will drive you insane, there’s the downside – so Jinks and Claudia are heading off back to where Jinks was born, something he’s not very eager to do.

Tag team number 3 – Mrs. Frederick, HG Wells and Lena who are not nearly so easy to distract. Artie breaks and tells them – the Warehouse was gone, Mrs. Frederick was dead and so was HG, sacrificing herself for Myka, Pete and Artie. And Pandora’s box was destroyed, hope was gone. In the face of this Mrs. Frederick says he did the right thing (thank you! Some validation of his choice at last) – but Artie also tells her what the downside is – he is creating an evil of his own making that he will have to live with for the rest of his days.

Artie tells them of the dream he has of Claudia stabbing him but Mrs. Frederick is confident that there’s no evil in Claudia, she’d know (since she’s grooming Claudia to be the next Warehouse Caretaker) – and she presents Brother Adrian as the evil (I agree he’s evil but maybe not The Evil). Artie’s still not happy with HG spilling his secret but she’s having none of it, time travel is too dangerous to handle alone.

Mrs. Frederick and HG find the Astrolabe where Artie hid it and Mrs. Frederick gives it to HG to take, run and hide with so there’s no chance of it ending up in the wrong hands or Artie undoing the day. HG is expressly told to trust no-one.

On the ping, Pete and Myka interview Mr. Biscowski, a steel mill worker who is rusting – he hasn’t used any old tools and the only enemy he has is the owner of the mill, since he’s been protesting the owner’s claimed bankruptcy which is causing him to stop paying his employees and sack people.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: A Hundred Words for Hate, by Thomas E. Sniegoski, Book 4 of the Remy Chandler Series

Adam, the first man, is breathing his last, even his extremely long life is coming to an end and he has one dying wish – to be buried in the garden of Eden, a wish that his descendants, the Sons of Adam, wish to make real, even if they have to consume the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge itself to bring Eden back to Earth

Unfortunately he’s not the only one who has designs on the garden. Before Eden was sealed, Lucifer sought to use the garden as a beachhead from which he could invade Heaven – prevented only by Remiel – Remy Chandler – sealing the garden. Worse, someone else is abusing the garden – possibly even killing Eden in the process, to use its divine power to their own dark ends.

Remy Chandler has a mission with the remaining Sons of Adam to try and find the Daughters of Eve who have the second key to opening the gates to Eden. But they do so under constant attack from the garden’s raging and insane Cherubim guardian – and all of their actions may be being directed by a far older, far greater puppet master.

In this time of conflict, a new dark force may be rising, the Shaitan, a creation that may be far worse than all the legions of Hell.

This story continues to bring the epic. The world in the balance, fate of humanity , good vs evil, the whole nine yards of epic storytelling with everything riding on the outcome. This is one thing this series has always done well – and this is no exception. The sheer amount resting on the actions of the characters was never lost or distracted from and always forefront in all of the action since then.

Part of this means not having any side plots – that can make stories linear but this managed to tell the story from several points of view with different aspects all moving together. So, by following Remy and his investigations, Francis in Hell and Mulvehill with Fernita it prevented the story being linear while making sure it didn’t deviate off the importance of the main plot line.

The action scenes were well written, exciting and truly got a sense of the forces involved, including the awesomeness that the angel’s represent and the power and fear that goes with them. This is difficult to carry so consistently and especially difficult to keep fresh with so many different action scenes throughout the books. It keeps being exciting, keeps being fresh, keeps being fun to read. The pacing was excellent, without the down times for angst or distractions that bothered me in previous books – everything was relevant to the story and the plot of all 3 storylines moved forward together, intertwined and naturally flowing from one to the other.

I really liked the insights into Francis and Fernita’s past, again, without derailing the main story or detracting from the epicness of it. It added a much more human element to Francis as we saw what he was pushed to do to seek redemptions. It’s nice to see him as more than a repentant angel who kicks arse.

Sinbad: Season 1, Episode 11

 We begin with an old man running along a night shrouded path trying to carry an armload of documents until a wolfy-type thingy leaps on him. I’m assuming that’s not a good thing. We also have a woman, Lara, and her son being helped considerably by an Priest and she seems more than a little perturbed by his solicitous charity.

And Sinbad and co have arrived in Malta, looking for a map to the Land of the Dead - someone please at least question this dangerous quest. Aha, Gunnar is questioning whether any such map exists – something Tiger objects to (she apparently knows the map maker, Brother Angelico… presumably some details have been retconned – I mean, added, since last week). Even if it exists, Gunnar think it’s a bad idea to go since the living probably shouldn’t wander around the Land of the Dead. Also, Gunnar, as a Viking who has killed a great many people doesn’t especially want to go visit either. He also has trading to do – actual trade, for money, at least someone is watching the purse strings.

Sinbad, Tiger, Rina and Anwar enquire after Brother Angelico in a tavern – except the tavern is for islanders only (good business practice there) and he tells them that brother Angelico is old, infirm and doesn’t leave the monastery. He’s dying.

Sinbad, being a gentle and kind soul, understands that Tiger must be sad about her friend’s death and, after 2 seconds of respect for that, focuses again on his map. They’re interrupted by everyone suddenly locking up their houses – and monks running around painting red lines on the doors. Hey, can I get some monks in to do the redecorating?

Gunnar goes to deliver the silk to Lara; her husband, the tailor has died recently leaving her unable to pay – he gives the silks as a gift. She invites him to dinner and he is all adorable with her son – but also sees giant scratches on the wall of her house, like claws. He fixes a window, sets the fire and engages in some gentle flirting. When it’s time to leave, an odd wind starts up and she begs him to stay. She fears a Fiend that apparently travels on the wind

The priest is being strangely creepy – for a start a mysterious woman who I shall pretend, for 5 seconds, isn’t Taryn since I think the show’s trying to save that as a surprise, has been called in to help Brother Angelico. He finds papers on the path dropped by the old man who was running at the beginning of the episode – he seems to find them annoying and screws them up and throws them away, looking more angry and menacing. He goes to see Lara and seems less than pleased to see Gunnar through the window being all cutesy with Lara. The priest and his men burst into the room and one of them bashes Gunnar over the head.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 84

This week we discuss Alphas and Misfits.

We also discuss Kevin Hearne’s novella “Two Ravens and One Crow” and our book of the week “Tempest Rising” by Tracy Deebs

We also discuss the importance of spotting trends across a whole series rather than single books or episodes. And we discuss the changing nature of the novella due to ebooks.

Our next books of the week

17/9-24/9:  Masque of the Red Death: Bethany Griffin  
24/9-1/10:  Lies Beneath: Anne Greenwood Brown  
1/10-8/10: Hexed Anthology
8/10-15/10: Into the Woods: Kim Harrison

Review of Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs Book One in the Tempest Series

Tempest has a boyfriend who really adores her, a family that supports and loves and her and has the ability to spend her free time doing what she loves most - surfing.  At almost 17 years of age the world should be filled with adventure for her but instead her seventeenth birthday represents a date with destiny that she would dearly love to avoid. On her 17th birthday Tempest will have the choice of becoming a mermaid and following in the footsteps of her mother, who abandoned her family six years ago, or stay on land and live out her life.

Though her father has told her repeatedly that there were complicated reasons why her mother left and that he bears her no ill will, Tempest is filled with feelings of extreme anger. She does not see becoming a mermaid as an incredible gift but an excuse to abandon one's family.  No matter her desire to stay human, the sea constantly calls her and there are times when she is sure that the intent is nefarious.  In the sea a selkie named Kona waits for her filled with nothing but love for her and on land there is the steady and every so human Mark.  So not only is Tempest drawn between land and sea but to men who care for her.

Tempest Rising in not an inclusive story whatsoever or even remotely progressive.  Tempest worries about how her brothers will be treated when the come of age as mermen because the mer society is matriarchal and apparently males of other species give mermen a hard time over that.  The women are supposedly revered but from the conversation between Kony as his brothers it appears that their appeal is not their power or skill but the fact that they are attractive.  The characters largely read as decidedly White with exception of Kona who could potentially be a of pacific Asian descent but this is a guess based loosely on his description. There are no GLBT characters and no disabled people.  It always amazes me when authors prove they're imaginative enough to create a world different from our own, but somehow cannot take the leap far enough to make their stories inclusive.