Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alphas Sneak Peak

Supernatural Season 4 Review

 Castiel! Castiel! I’ll be over here happy dancing and celebrating. Castiel! Castiel! What? I’ve got to actually write a review and not just fanpoodle Castiel? Ah well, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can return to Castiel love.

This season was a major boost on what was already a really good show. Angels and Demons and the 66 seals – it took they already epic feel of Supernatural and ratcheted it up to all knew levels. This wasn’t just lives on the balance, fighting to save themselves and save as many innocents in the process. This is a fight between Heaven and Hell to try and keep Lucifer himself imprisoned. Lillith, the big bad demon from last season, is battling to free Lucifer by breaking the 66 seals on his prison. On the other side we have the angels fighting to keep Lucifer boxed up. Sam and Dean are naturally on the side of the angels, especially since Castiel is the one who pulled Dean out of Hell.

But it’s not so simplistic as that. Not least of which because the angels are pretty unpleasant (except Castiel, who is awesome), rigidly following orders of the command without any consideration of nuance or shades of grey. Through Anna, the fallen angel, we see that doubt is considered a great crime, that disobedience is punishable by death and that the angels don’t even commune with god and have no idea what he truly wants. Sam and Dean clash with the rigid structure and the draconian orders, and certainly with their wiliness to sacrifice innocent people “for the greater good.”

From there it becomes even murkier, with angels endorsing torture, angels fighting angels and Uriel killing angels who don’t support him in pushing for the apocalypse. It looks like a fringe group of angels and quickly becomes clear that the most powerful angels are completely behind breaking the seals and setting the apocalypse going. They want the war because they’re sure they will win – which leads to Castiel’s considerable character development in a very short time.

And, of course, the ending has a twist beyond the angels being on the pro-apocalypse team. Ruby, who had spent all of last season finally and completely convincing me she was a good demon – and I was cynical all through that season and most of this one, but I was convinced. Turns out she was playing the long game all along, corrupting Sam, getting him on side to kill Lillith – and in doing so freeing Lucifer. It was one of those moments where you stare at the screen in brief shock – extremely well done. And Dean stabbing her afterwards.

Because of all of this epic, the seasons seemed to be more focused than the previous seasons. After all, when one is fighting to prevent Lucifer being released, deviations from that seem like distractions. Despite that there are several episodes that deviate though some still fit – such as Dean travelling back in time to fill in some of the history behind his family and revealing yet more of Azazel’s devilish plotting. But others seem to be more gimmicky without much meta purpose – like the Oktoberfest horror film shapeshifter. That’s the only episode I didn’t enjoy though and others either added backstory to the Winchesters (such as the ghost bully at Sam’s old school), had other lessons (like Sam and Dean suddenly living corporate lives to be taught a lesson by Angel Zacharia) or were just great fun (like Dean with the demonic fear virus). And, again, like in previous seasons even when we have these deviations from the main plot there are still threads of character growth even if not the meta plot. I’m still torn as to whether Chuck and his books about Supernatural are a fun little gimmick or a step too far in the shattering of the 4th wall.

If I have one complaint about the characterisation it’s that with Ruby’s nifty knife, they now have a method of reliably killing demons pretty easily, especially since most the demons they meet seem to be not overly more dangerous than humans (lower lever demons, presumably – because we also have demons like Alistair that are mighty as ever) they seem to have forgotten how to exorcise them and try to save their hosts.

And there is more emotional conflict and development that Supernatural does so well – balancing necessary emotional impact while not derailing the plot into pits of wailing and angst. Everyone – from Sam to Dean to the angels – is concerned with Sam’s demonic powers and drinking demon blood, especially as it leads to his addiction. But at the same time they’re conflicted by how it may be their only way to defeat Lillith and stop Lucifer being released – there’s a lot of question on the subject of “ends justifying the means”. Of course, this conflict also puts a rift between Sam and Dean that’s interesting to see played out since it’s really well done – especially with Bobby putting in his input (I love Bobby).

But the star of the emotional impact has to go to Dean and his experiences in Hell. After 30 years of constant torture, he broke and agreed to torture others. The portrayal of both the suffering he endured and the guilt he now suffers from is extremely well done and developed over the course of the series. It also adds an extra layer to the horror of the angels asking Dean to torture Alistair for them. Well acted, well maintained, well developed and really well portrayed.

And with all that wonderful praise I now have to return to my old complaint about the inclusion on this programme.

The Almighty Johnsons Season Two, Episode Ten: Magical Fluffy Bunny World

This episode opens where episode nine ended.  Gaia, Bryn and Axl are at the beach and Gaia is laughing about being told that she is Frigg. She is not taking the revelation seriously and says that Axl does not look like a God.  Axl asks her if she is still stoned and Gaia says yes, before jumping into the ocean laughing. The three head back to Axl's, and Axl tells Gaia that the house is a disaster because of the giant who came there to kill her.  Bryn tells Gaia this is the result Eggthér and that he won't stop because he is the one that the terminator is based on.  Gaia gets frustrated and replies that she is not a goddess, Axl is not Óðinn and Bryn is not a giant because giants don't exist.  Derek walks through the door and Axl introduces him and reveals that he is also Thor.  Derek asks why he can smell pie, and Axl says, "that would be Bryn."  Derek reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a hammer.  Axl has to convince Derrek not to kill Bryn and says that Brynn is a special giant.  When Gaia asks to talk to him, Axl has to warn Derrek not to touch Bryn.

Outside, Gaia says that what is going on is not funny and once again asserts that there are no such things as Norse Gods. Axl again says that this is not funny because it's true.  Axl says that this explains everything which has happened between the two of them and asserts that when he dumped her and couldn't explain, it was because of a Frigg alarm and then rambles on about what happened between Hel and Höðr.  Gaia says that she just wants to get out of the wet clothes and Axl decides to wait outside.

When Axl returns, Thor has Bryn pressed up against the wall threatening him with a hammer. Thor want to give Bryn one tap to let him know who is in charge.  Axl stops him saying that they need to work together to rescue Zeb.  When he says that Zeb is a friend of Óðinn, to explain the nature of Zeb's importance, Thor replies, "oh, you're that kind of Óðinn," which Axl quickly denies.  Just wow, of course Axl must be gay because no straight man loves or cares about another man who is not somehow related.  As this is going on, Gaia sneaks out the window.

At the bar, Anders asks Ty if he knows "that chick," and Ty responds, "her name is Helen." Anders then wants to know if Helen is always so forward and we get a flashback to Helen coming downstairs and meeting Anders. He says the first time he saw her "it was like my dick was trying to drill out of my trousers and right into her. I was ready to nail her right there and then, whether or not she wanted to or not, but let me tell you Ty, she wanted it, Lord she wanted it."  Right, so it's okay to imply that Helen is a slut but of course no recriminations can go to Anders about his desires. This is a case of good girls don't have sex and of course Anders has no problem bragging to Ty about leaving her nearly unconscious with pleasure on the bathroom floor.  It's not until Anders says that he is Ty's brother that Anders learns that Helen is Iðunn.  Anders introduces himself as Bragi and quips that they are meant to be together because they were together in Asgard. It turns out that Iðunn quit her job before joining them at the table, because apparently the Johnson brothers seem like more fun.  This is horrible because considering the history between Iðunn and Bragi, she has just made herself completely vulnerable.

At the bar, Michele, Ingrid and Stacey have cornered Olaf to find out if Gaia is Frigg or not. Olaf tries to beg off.  Stacey says they know she is becoming a goddess and want to know if she is Frigg. Mike says it wouldn't be fair if they knew before Gaia did.  Gaia shows up and asks to see Mike, bringing the conversation to an end. As they leave, Ingrid says, "she's not exactly a very Norse, Norse goddess is she," referring to the fact that the actress who plays Gaia is Maori.

Alone, Gaia tells Mike that everyone has gone to crazy town and are not coming back and Mike asks if this in reference to Norse gods. Mike tells her that people believe it because it's true and that she is probably feeling like she is the last sane person on earth.  He admits that he is Ullr and says though it's hard to believe, Axl is Óðinn and the prophesy says that she will join their ranks very soon. Mike says that he is not the best person to explain this and asks her to follow him.  The two go back downstairs and Mike tells the goddesses that Gaia is having a little difficulty coming to terms with her new situation.  Mike introduces Stacey, Michele, and Ingrid as, Fulla, Sjöfn and Snotra and promises that since they are goddesses, they will help her through the transition. The goddesses tell Gaia that they will take her somewhere quiet to talk.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Listen to an action-packed scene from the new Walking Dead audiobook

Yeah, I don't know about you but I am dying to get by hands on The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury, written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga.
The zombie plague unleashes its horrors on the suburbs of Atlanta without warning, pitting the living against the dead. Caught in the mass exodus, Lilly Caul struggles to survive in a series of ragtag encampments and improvised shelters. But the Walkers are multiplying. Dogged by their feral hunger for flesh and crippled by fear, Lilly relies on the protection of good Samaritans by seeking refuge in a walled-in town once known as Woodbury, Georgia.

At first, Woodbury seems like a perfect sanctuary. Squatters barter services for food, people have roofs over their heads, and the barricade expands, growing stronger every day. Best of all, a mysterious self-proclaimed leader named Philip Blake keeps the citizens in line. But Lilly begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. . . . Blake, who has recently begun to call himself The Governor, has disturbing ideas about law and order.

Ultimately, Lilly and a band of rebels open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem and destruction when they challenge The Governor’s reign . . . and the road to Woodbury becomes the highway to hell in this riveting follow-up to Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga's New York Times bestselling The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.
For those who simply cannot wait until October 16th, here's sneak peak from the audiobook. 

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison Book 1 in the Coveted Series

Natalya Stravinsky lives in South Toms River, New Jersey and works cataloging antiques, having been forced to leave behind her dream job in New York.  Natalya, is a werewolf but unlike the rest of her family, she is no longer pack, after being thrown out when the alpha discovered that she has issues with anxiety and OCD.  To make matters worse, though she still spends time with her family, she often feels like an outsider at family events and they are no longer close.

Natalya developed a routine for herself going to work and buying Christmas decorations, which she comes to see as her friends. Though she is lonely at times, she is getting by, until her ex boyfriend and heir apparent to the local pack Thorne moves back to town.  Now she is constantly hoping to get a glimpse of him.  When her friend Aggie shows up looking for a place to stay, Nat reluctantly opens her home and in the process, creates a widening of her boundaries. This leads to her going on her first day in five years, buying new clothing and even restarting therapy, where she meets a wizard named Nick.  Chemistry quickly develops between Nick and Thorne, but she is not sure whether or not she is ready to move on with her life.

Things are are really starting to look up for Nat, until the Long Island werewolves decide that they want the territory of the local pack.  Nat approaches the alpha sure that she can help but is quickly rebuffed and shamed.  Things escalate, when she becomes a target and her family is attacked.  Nat is scared and unsure but loyalty forces her to find the strength that she needs to fight.

There were times when I felt that Coveted was overwritten because Madison included details that were obviously extraneous, yet I was completely drawn into the story and found myself rooting for Nat.  There are a lot of werewolf books on the market, but Coveted is absolutely unique.  Nat is neurologically atypical and so is every character in her therapy group.  Often in urban fantasy, the supernatural element spends time whining about how oppressed they are, but Nat really and truly is oppressed in a real world sense, though she is a werewolf.  Nat has to negotiate abelism in her community and is heavily stigmatized. Without a doubt, Madison's treatment of disability is the best I have read in the genre to date and as a disabled woman, I greatly appreciated the inclusion.

Another aspect of Nat's disability that I found fascinating is the fact that she is a hoarder.  Nat tries to deny this because she is extremely conscious of having everything as clean as possible.  She knows that the fact that she cannot stop buying Christmas decorations and storing them in boxes all over her house is a problem, but when she is stressed, or feeling down, she simply cannot stop herself.  Madison did an excellent job detailing the compulsion behind her actions.  Where she kind of went off the rails was when she revealed that Nat's great grandmother was a hoarder and her family assumed that this was something in the gene pool. Yes, there are generations of hoarders; however, it is usually passes from generation to generation when there is a shared living space.  It doesn't just hop generations.

Supernatural Season 3 Review

The emotional content of this season is extremely well acted and powerful as well as being a higher scale than last season, It’s interesting to see all of these emotional dramas managed as the Winchesters suffer more and more losses and shocks to their confidence and sense of self – they do build up as you’d expect and is reasonable. And they’re treated respectfully, the brothers never start wailing, but there are plenty of strong scenes that really carry the weight of the pressure and pain they’re having to endure. In this season we not only have the fallout of their father’s death, but the pressure of Dean’s deal with the demon to bring Sam back to life. The nuances in this are really well done – from Dean embracing hedonism (well, more than usual) as a denial, to his poorly hidden and suppressed fear. We also have Dean’s fear that if they try to break the deal it will end up reversed and Sam will die again which causes him to battle against Sam. We have some excellent portrayal of Dean’s extremely low self-worth, how he has been moulded always to follow his dad’s orders or to protect his brother – they were the valuable ones and, from his low self-esteem, he exists only to serve and protect (and sacrifice for) the others.

Then there’s Sam’s guilt, his need to indulge Dean in his hedonism and then his anger that Dean made the deal and saddled him with that guilt as well as his frustration at Dean’s unwillingness to stop the deal. There’s his fear of having to stand alone when Dean is gone and whether he is as hard and ruthless as Dean is. And, of course, there’s his ongoing fear of what being one of Azazel’s Special Children means, especially with Ruby pushing him to explore his power’s more.

That’s a lot of emotional content. Most programmes covering this much heavy grief and worry would have episode after episode of angst and moping – lots of moping. Again, Supernatural resists the urge to give us scene after scene of woe is me while, at the same time, giving us the full emotional impact of what the Winchesters are enduring. And these scenes are important, considering the pressures on them there should be an emotional cost, they shouldn’t be the big bad heroes who don’t worry or get scared or grieve and they should have strain on their relationship. In fact, the strains on their relationship are then used perfectly to show just how strong that is

Most of the episodes worked really well for me in terms of enjoyment, even that dire Christmas episode with the Pagan gods. I think the groundhog day episode managed to redeem itself – and I am so very tired of this gimmick – by having the Trickster teach Sam a lesson – what he will become without Dean, what he is trying to become and what that will cost. The Ghostfacers, silly amateur hunters, just get on my nerves though.

The ongoing meta plot is epic and engaging – with the dual threads of trying to save Dean from Hell at the end of the year after he made a deal with a demon to bring Sam back from the dead and the plot of the threat of Lillith, the new big bad demon who has stepped into Azazel’s shoes as the demonic leader. Sam is also a leading contender for that title – which puts him on Lillith’s hit list.

Lillith is built up as a terrifying enemy. And yes, the whole spooky child thing has been done – it doesn’t change the fact that the spooky child is still so extremely terrifying at times. She is a threat whose menace is both maintained and slowly built throughout the series – even without the Winchesters focused on her, she’s always there in the background and with Ruby constantly rising up to push them towards the goal.

I also quite like how they handled Bela, after all, if you have all these supernatural stuff going on there has to be some people taking advantage. She provided a distraction, a reminder that the whole world doesn’t revolve around the cause of the day as well as a reality check on their own motivations at times. And, in the end she also elegantly turns round and fits into the Lillith plot, just another thread in a multi-sided story. I was also both surprised and partially pleased by her lack of redemption – because that is clichéd and by not redeeming her it fits into the series ongoing feel of grittiness and darkness – some things are just evil. Her, along with Ruby, added to the greyscale of the series, the having to hold your nose and deal with people you find reprehensible for the sake of the greater good. How there just aren’t enough resources for them to be that picky about who they get into bed with, especially when they consider what is at stake.

The Neighbors, Season One, Episode One

The Neighbours (yes, I am spelling it with a u because that is the proper spelling) skirts the line between sci-fi and comedic sitcom.  At this point, we haven't quite determined if this really and truly fits our genre but since it will provide so much to snark about, we have decided to follow it, though we believe it will be cancelled after the first six episodes.

In the year 2002 aliens travel to earth to discover whether or not the earth would make a suitable place to live, should their home planet become uninhabitable. They buy an enter subdivision in New Jersey with cash and settle in. Strife begins when Larry Bird forgets to bring the charger for the poopah (the device which allows them to contact home) and ten years later, it is beginning to run out of power, and so two of the aliens sell their homes and return home.  This means that for the first time in ten years, they will have humans living amongst them.

Unfortunately, it seems that Marty has decided to move his entire family after his wife Debbie, told him to surprise her and show some initiative.  She is clearly not impressed and meant something smaller. The Weavers first notice that something is wrong, when they meet Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner Kirsy, Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson.  All of the neighbours have the names of famous celebrities. They leave about a dozen pies on the ground for them and walk away, after Larry and Jackie invite them for dinner.

The next night only the humans are eating and the aliens are reading because they receive nourishment through their eyes. When they head into the kitchen to clean up, Jackie is surprised to learn that Debbie has a job.  Debbie tries to get to the bottom of thing and she tells her that if Marty talked to her the way that Larry talked to her things would not be pretty.  Jackie admits that she wishes Marty would treat her with more respect and adds, "it's a though he thinks he can make every decision for this family, simply because he ruined his body carrying our two children."  In the meantime, Larry and Marty are talking about what they do and Larry admits they spend all their time and are independently wealthy.  Larry says, "there is no greater tribute to this planet than to name ourselves after its finest specimens," to explain the weird assortment of names.  Marty makes a quip of not being able to get Debbie to go for that and Marty answers, "my wife does what I tell her."

GBLT characters in The Parasol Protectorate Series

One of the saddest things we can come across with any media is something we love - but has a massive problematic issue in the middle of it that slowly poisons it for us. The Parasol Protectorate is a series of books we love and adore for so many reasons. We love Lady Alexia Macon, she’s funny and powerful, we love her relationship, the setting and the plot. Who wouldn't want to read more about Ivy's antics? This could be one of those series that racks up nothing but 5 fang reviews all through - but there was a problem that started in the first book and just grew with each extra novel to intolerable degrees.

Lord Akeldama. And, from that, all of the gay characters in this series.

From the onset of this story, Madame Lefoux wears masculine clothing. She is strong, and highly intelligent.  In and of itself, this character isn’t problematic, until one realises that she is juxtaposed to Lord Akeldama.  The fact that she is so masculine, underscores Akeldama’s femininity and that makes them both read as highly stereotypical.  Again, there are certainly lesbians who are exactly like Madame Lefoux but this is predominantly the image of lesbians in media, unless they are being used as sexual eye candy.

In the first book, Soulless,  Lord Akeldama starts off as very stereotypical gay male. He is extremely effeminate and while there are gay men who are like this, the problem with this type of representation, is that it has come to define gay male sexuality in the media.  To make matters worse, though he is resourceful, he functions as nothing more than the typical gay best friend to Alexia.  Akeldama put the dandies to work for Alexia as well and though we are told they are capable and devious, they, like their leader, are also effeminate.  Biffy for instance, is more than familiar with women’s toilette and is up to date on the latest hairstyles and fashions. All of this is bad enough, but the fact that Carriger then had the dandies working as wedding planners moves their representation from stereotypical, to downright mockery.

This should have been a warning about what is to come.  By Heartless, Lord Akeldama has gone completely off the rails.  What follows is a quote from our review of Heartless.
Akeldama doesn’t walk. He Sashays. He Wafts. He Flounces. He even Minces. Yes, minces. He flourishes his napkin. He is outrageous and fabulous and straight out of central casting for a stereotypical gay caricature.

In a series where everyone else studiously refers to each other by their surnames (as is proper etiquette and is part of the wonderful way this series truly expresses the Victorian era and sensibilities), Akeldama uses pet names. Pomegranate Seed, Lilac Bush, My Hooney Poo (I kid you not), Dew Drop, Dolly Darling (he uses darling a lot). He speaks with lots of itallics so we can see he is emphasising many of his words, darling yes, that classic dramatic, over-emphasised speech of a stereotypical gay man. Why not just have him lisp?

Akeldama owns not one, but two closets. Two closets big enough to be bedrooms. Sacrificing them is a truly shocking event. His clothing is always described (and is immaculate) - and it is always outrageously elaborate - right down to his matching series of jewelled monacles. He and his drones have a ludicrous love of interior decorating.  They’re fascinated by women’s clothes (getting fashion plates from Paris) and Akeldama is near tears when he suggests Alexia dress as a servant to go undercover.  Akeldama has also successfully overcome a vampire’s aversion to citrus - to make him stronger, tougher, harder to kill? No, so he can use lemon juice on his hair.

While Akeldama is the most glaring example, the other gay characters are not free from the same problematic portrayals. Biffy, when he becomes a werewolf, stands out among the much “butcher”, scruffier, hairier, burlier men, who make up the werewolf pack; the straight men are vastly more traditionally masculine. The only werewolf who is more “refined” and “delicate” is Lyall - who is bisexual. It’s hard not to infer a pattern.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Warehouse 13 Sneak Peak.

Warehouse 13 Sneak Peak - of the Mid-season finale

Review: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris, Book 3 of the Sookie Stackhouse Series

 Bill is working on a secret project for the Queen of Louisiana – that would be the vampire Queen. Something that bypasses Eric and consumes so much of his time that Sookie feels neglected – it’s also something that takes him out of Louisiana.

And when out of Louisiana, he goes missing. Which has the Queen agitating at Eric and Eric bringing the problem to Sookie – they need to find Bill, in Jackson, Mississippi, rescue him and find his work. And to make things worse, Bill has taken up with an old flame.

Sookie is heading out with her telepathy to do some investigating with Aclide, a werewolf, for company. But while he knows Jackson, he also bring his own issues and problems into the situation.

In terms of plot I liked this book. Bill has been kidnapped and it’s necessary to travel to hostile territory to track him down and save him, with a side dose of personal drama I don’t care for but isn’t too awful. It was well paced – the story moved along without any lags or breaks with discovery following discovery all pushed with a decent amount of investigation. We have appropriate red herrings that remain mysteries until much later in the book. Even the disposing of bodies is well presented with what you’d think are normal emotions – the panic and the fear and the worry – rather than in a coolly detached manner that wouldn’t work with them

Negotiating in the different territory allowed for some interesting world building, some greater expansion and exploration of the setting that I enjoyed. But I felt it could have used more – I can understand not questioning Erica about Vampire monarchy – but just seeing Hobb the goblin and thinking “oh a goblin” and moving on?

If I had any complaints it’s that the investigation, as it goes ahead, ultimately relies on the extreme luck of Sookie being brought into the mansion. I’m also more than a little tired of the gratuitous violence Sookie faces – I expect a level of violence and injury in Urban Fantasy novels, it’s reasonable that a human playing with vampires is going to be hurt. But she’s attacked in the bar (unnecessary), staked (unnecessary but conveniently advances the plot), raped (REALLY unnecessary), then beaten up when she returns home (also, unnecessary). It feels like, the last scene in particular, is just added in for extra injuries.

Dark Angel, Season 1, Episode 14: Female Trouble

 With the Autumn schedule finally planned, we’ve found that we’re going to be posting up several reviews of current shows on Sunday, while Thursday is kind of sad and empty – so we’re moving the Dark Angel reviews from Sunday to Thursday.

Logan’s legs continue to deteriorate, leading him to consult a back alley doctor – Dr. Vertes secretly. Dr. Vertes explains that while the stem cells he got from Max have regenerated his nerves, his own immune system is attacking the new tissue, causing pain and deterioration. But she has an experimental, cutting edge procedure that may reverse the process – in exchange for a lot of money.

Max, naturally, notices a change in Logan and since their relationship is characterised by lots of not talking to each other then both stewing over it, she begins to stress and worry over his secrecy, his missing their dates, him not wanting to meet with her and him selling his art. Driven by curiosity, she follows Logan and checks out the doctor. The medical setting causes flashbacks of Mantecore where their transgenic bodies were often experimented on for new treatments and medical advances, adding more to the horror we know the place.

Dr. Vertes catches Max rooting around in her office and pulls a gun – which Max takes off her of course. But Dr. Vertes won’t give up info on her patients and before Max can ask more questions she has to save the doctor from being shot. A fight follows Max against – Jace, another X5 from Mantecore, one who didn’t leave during the escape. When Jace recognises Max, she becomes even more determined to attack. Max jumps into Dr. Vertes car as the doctor escapes – and recognises her as someone who worked for Mantecore – one of the doctors who experimented on her and the other X5s.

Max takes Dr. Vertes to the safe house then goes to Logan to warn him about the doctor. Logan already knew and tells Max that not everything he does it about her – while he has a point about her invading his privacy, she equally points out that if she is working with a Mantecore doctor, a doctor who used to experiment on Max, then that is certainly Max’s business. Logan tells Max about his legs failing – and his suicidal feelings about being in a wheel chair which convinces Max to go along with matters (though she does let Logan off awfully easy).

Interviewing Dr. Vertes they learn she worked with Mantecore from X3 to the early X7 series and that, after the Pulse, Mantecore is working to kill off the brain trust it no longer controls for fear they will take they cutting edge Mantecore technology they know and sell it abroad. She plans to refund Logan’s money and run – but the only other person on par with her research is in Japan. Max asks her to stay for Logan’s sake – and promises to protect her from Jace.

Which leads to Max pretending to be Dr. Vertes on her clinic until Jace appears – they briefly fight until Jace suddenly collapses. They quickly restrain her on a hospital bed and check why she passed out – not common for X5s. Jace is pregnant. Dr. Vertes tells them that it’s unlikely that the father is a transgenic because they’re routinely dosed with birth control medicine – as are most of the female transgenics. Only a few are allowed to maintain monthly cycles for research purposes. The “research purposes” makes Max snap and she accuses the doctor of treating transgenics as lab rates (not inaccurate). Dr. Vertes leaves in a huff. Logan tries to convince Max to be nicer to the doctor and “not everyone in Mantecore was evil incarnate” something max denies. And even if it were true – Max and Dr. Vertes have both confirmed that the doctor experimented on children, so I’ll join Max in side-eyeing the doctor on this one. Logan isn’t happy about having Jace around either, but there’s no way Max is going to give up on her sister.

Supernatural Season 2 Review

I do so love this show. It gets so many things right.

The first thing it does well is Monster of the week. It’s hard with a show of this format not to have monster of the week – week after week of seeing a different gribbly creature that the brothers then kill, ta-da. The problem with this is after 4 or 5 episodes of them in a row, the programme feels pointless and the series feels like it’s mired and going nowhere – see Grimm Season 1 and Haven, for example. But Supernatural always has something else going on – the “previously on Supernatural” are always needed and always relevant. The plot advances, the characters develop, something meaningful happens every episode. It could be the characters recovering from an emotional trauma or coming to terms with what’s happened. It could be them deciding what to do next in terms of the meta plot. They learn new things, or grow as characters or work through their latest trauma or build the greater world or otherwise extend or develop the plot just about every episode – and you don’t get 2 episodes together where something hasn’t moved forward or developed – even if it’s just mentioned and talked out. The meta runs alongside the plot, it isn’t lost in it.

And the plot is fun, exciting and epic – and it’s maintained epic. The season builds to a slow crescendo from the horror, grief and generally being lost after John’s death through to the slow revelations of what it means to be one of the Special Children for Sam. Being one of those Yellow Eyes – Azazel – has chosen to give his special powers to, these special abilities to. Cumulating in not only gathering all of these special people together in a duel to the death to find the best – but reaching an ultra epic peak with the opening of the gateway to hell and the final vanquish of Azazel. It develops at an excellent pace, it builds its foreboding, gives us a full season priming us for just how epic it is then we have an amazing, powerful, grand finale of excitement, death and the world hanging in the balance.

The plots themselves, week in week out, are also pretty good. They’re original for the most part  - in fact, I think every episode of these season was something I hadn’t really seen elsewhere. It doesn’t follow the same formulaic patter of Urban Fantasy and it is interesting to see the switch from vampires and werewolves to demons and ghosts. I also like that the same monsters will re-appear – like the shapeshifter – because just because they’ve killed one doesn’t mean they’ve killed every last one, after all. Among these very original episodes were some really powerful ones – like Molly, the ghost who didn’t realise she was, seeking her husband and being tormented by the ghost of the man she killed. Or Sam and the werewolf Madison and finding that no, there isn’t a cure and there isn’t a happy ending. Then there were the fun, rather cheesy episodes with the Trickster and the horror movie set, that were nicely timed a break in the grittiness that characterises the show and adding something almost a little silly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Haven Sneak Peak

Alphas Season Two, Episode Nine: The Devil Will Drag You Under

Rosen is standing by himself outside of an airport strip. We suddenly get a flash to him handing Dani a plea agreement.  The agreement says that Dani agrees to go undercover with Stanton Parish and rat him out, When Rosen get up to take it to Clay, Dani tells him to breathe because she is a big girl.  Rosen says that that there is a lot at stake and Parish is a sociopath.

At the office, Rosen tells the team that Dani missed their last meeting and has not checked in, in over a week.  He says that Clay believes that she may still be loyal to Parish but Rosen is concerned that she might be in trouble.  Hicks is not at all pleased that Rosen sent Dani back to Parish and Bill is upset that he was not consulted.  Rachel intervenes to say that it was for operational security reasons. Is there ever going to be a time, when Rachel does not defend this hideous man?  Rosen says that Clay insisted and he agreed that the less people who knew about this, the safer it would be for Dani.  Hicks says with much snark, "oh and keeping Dani safe, that was your first priority."  Rosen justifies what he did by saying that if Dani had not agreed to do this that Dani would have spent the rest of her life in building 7 or worse.  Hicks asks, "did she come up with that brilliant idea all herself boss, or did you head shrink that into her?"  Rosen believes that what Hicks is suggesting is uncalled for. "Uncalled for? You put your own daughters head on a block and I'm out of order, Hicks yells in response," as Rachel begs for calm. Hicks says that he is starting to believe that Dani is better off with Parish before storming out of the room.

Rosen tells Rachel he's got this and follows Hicks.  In front of the elevator, Rosen tells Hicks that he did what he did to protect his daughter. Hicks points out that she would have been safe in building seven while Rosen used his connections to get her pardoned, but instead he chose to risk her life, just like he uses everyone.  When Rosen tries to touch Cameron, he pushes him away, gets on the elevator and says, "leave me alone." I don't know about you, but I was absolutely cheering during this scene. It's long past time for the Alphas to begin to actively call out Rosen's manipulative behaviour.  This man is not to be trusted.

Two weeks later, Bill is driving with Nina, and Gary is giving them information about an alpha which points to Cornell Sepia.  Bill asks if they have had any word from Hicks, and Gary says, "no Bill, I've left him 14 messages, he should call me back."

At the Daria Storage facility in upstate new york, the alphas are carrying duffel bags and the building has been subjected to a series of mini explosions and as a result is on fire.  A security guard approaches and the alpha easily tosses him aside and kills another guard. Rachel and Nina pull up and notice Hicks, who is attempting to escape on a motorbike.  Bill quickly knocks him off the bike and asks him what he is doing and Hicks responds, "whatever it takes." One of the alphas throws some sort of weapon into the air which knocks everyone out and when Bill and Nina awaken, they are by themselves.

Back at the office, Gary suggests that maybe it's a protest and Hicks has finally had it. Bill says that this is not like Hicks and that it has to be Dani.  When they ask Nina what her theory is, she says, "I trust him, that's my theory."

Hicks is on a boat with the alphas from the facility and asks what the guns are for and Scipio answers that it's need to know and Hicks does not need to know.  Scipio wants to know how they were found and Hicks says it was either Gary or Rachel and that Rosen has been using alphas -- to hunt other alphas -- for as long as he has known him. Scipio then asks, "if you hate the old man so much, why didn't you just kill him before you left?" and Hicks replies, "Dani."

At the office, Rachel tells the team that Parish' people stole a grenade which fires off electricity and if charge hits power lines, it overloads them and sets off a chain reaction. "If you set just one of these off in the wrong place," Rachel says ,"100's of people will die."  Gary asks Rosen what Hicks' motive is, and Rosen says that motives aren't important right now, because they have to stop Parish. When Rachel points out that they need to find Hicks and Dani, Rosen says that's of secondary importance right now.

Hicks is still talking with Scipio and says that the problem is not just Dani, but the government which is trying to control Alphas because they believe they are some kind of problem and he wants to be the solution.  Scipio tells him that he talks the talk. Hicks replies that now that he has gotten the toys, he wants the chance to sit down with Parish face to face, but Scipio tells him that there is something he has to do first.  Scipio introduces Hicks to Agnes, who tells him that Parish thinks they should have a talk. Hicks replies that he has nothing to hide. Scipio responds, when it comes to Agnes, nobody does.  Agnes straps Hicks to a chair and tells him that it's safer this way. Agnes says that when she touches someone, it opens their mind and she suggests that Hicks clench his teeth in order to avoid biting off his tongue. When she touches Hicks, she get flashes of Dani and Hicks, as he screams in pain.  Agnes says that she wishes she didn't have to cause Hicks pain and reveals that she hurts everyone she touches. Agnes believes that he is lucky because of the way he feels about Dani. Agnes goes on to reveal that there is still something out of focus in his head.

Gary is eating pudding and Nina stops to talk to him.  Gary says that Hicks was his friend and Dani is Dr. Rosen's daughter, but now that  they are both breaking the law, he no longer likes either of them. Nina assures him that people do things for many reasons and she knows that it's painful.  Nina leaves and Bill enters and says that the way Hicks was acting is just not adding up. Gary repeats what Nina told him and says that Hicks is not a bad person and people do things for complicated reasons.

When Hicks comes to, he finds himself in a room with Stanton Parish. He says that is there for Dani and for better people, and a better world. Parish tells him that its not possible. Parish says that Dani is safe and he is keeping an eye on her until she proves her loyalty.  Parish goes on to say that he cares more deeply for Dani than Hicks can imagine and would never want to cause her any pain, but it seems inevitable, before walking away.

Rosen is in his office when Nina pops into say she is going home.  She looks at him seriously and asks him if he has eaten for the day, and Rosen responds that he cannot recall. Nina closes the door and says that its her fault that the grenades are out there and Rosen counters saying that whatever happens to Dani or Hicks, it's all my fault.  Nina tries to tell him that he does not have bear this alone and he says that he does.  It's about time Rosen own the things that he has done and this admission does not put a dent in his manipulative behaviour.

Revolution Season One, Episode Two: Chained Heat

This episode opens one week after the blackout, with Charlie and her parents preparing to leave the city. Grace is very little that she doesn't really understand what's going on. Charlie is told that her job is to never let go of Danny's hand by Rachel her mother. As they walk, the streets are deserted. It then shifts to fifteen years after the blackout, where Maggie, Aaron and Charlie are standing at a crossroads, when they hear the sounds of fighting and realise that Miles is not there.  Miles is fighting with someone from Monroe's militia and before Miles can kill him, Charlie shows up and begs him not to because she sees it as murder.  Miles tells Charlie that she being a pain in the ass, and then he and Aaron lock up the bounty hunter on a train, before continuing their journey.

When they arrive at Pontiac Illinois, they witness a man being beaten up by the militia. When Charlies asks what the man did, Maggie replies, "it's the militia, it could be anything: spoke up, looked at them sideways, who knows."  This causes Charlie to hurry to catch up to Miles to find out what that they are doing in Illinois, when Danny is with a group of dangerous people.  Miles says that he has to talk to someone. Charlie points out that Danny, who hasn't been more than five miles away from home his whole life, is out there alone, but Miles responds that if they want to see him again, that they are going to have to go up against Monroe and a thousand of his man.  He says that he cannot do it alone and turns to leave, but Charlie stops him again to ask where he is going.  Finally in frustration Miles says, "this little place called shut up and stay here."   Miles walks into a bar and says he is looking for Nora Clayton, and he is interrupted by the bounty hunter that Charlie had him tie up earlier, as the bar clears out.  Miles suggests that they both go their separate ways but the bounty hunter is not inclined to let go and so Miles says, "give it your best shot, let's see what happens." The bounty hunter gestures and Charlie and Maggie are brought in by knife point.

Miles claims not to know them and says that he's trying to have sex with the British chick.  When they make a move to kill Charlie and Maggie, Miles gives up and allows himself to be handcuffed.  Charlie engages in a staring competition with the bounty hunter.  Miles is being escorted out, when he begins a fight. The bounty hunter makes a run for it after Miles has disarmed and wounded a few militia men but Miles catches him and uses his chains to strangle him.  We learn that Nora, the woman they went there to find, was arrested for stealing militia gold, before Miles breaks his neck, as Charlie watches with doe eyes

Danny is riding on a hay covered wagon being led by Captain Tom Neville. Neville stops when he believes he hears a gunshot.  Neville knocks on a cabin door and when it's answered, he does his pleasing nice guy routine and talks about the deer which is hanging in the front yard.  Neville asks about the buckshot and points out the Baltimore Act. It apparently is illegal for citizens who are not militia to own a gun.  The man throws the gun on the ground and Neville orders his troops to search the house.  When the man pulls out another gun, Neville shoots him. Inside the house, a soldier finds an American flag and so Neville orders the house burned down.

Monroe walks in as a captive is being tortured for information at the rebel base and stops the torture and apologises.  Monroe wants to know where the rebels are and promises that if the captive gives up the information that he can return to his family.  He suggests that there is a lot of violence and that people have the right to be safe.  The captive responds that people are scared of Monroe but that he isn't. Monroe smiles and picks up the knife and stabs the man in the stomach.  So much for the nice guy routine.

Over a camp fire, Maggie is tending to Mile's wounds, when Aaron finds an iphone, but Maggie quickly dismisses it and says it's nothing. Miles tells Charlie, "the next time I tell you I want to kill somebody, let me kill them." Miles puts on his jacket and tells them that he will meet them in two weeks, because he has to go and get Nora.  When Charlie asks who Nora is, Miles responds, "she's really good at blowing stuff up and we cannot get Danny back without her." Charlie is not impressed and moves to follow him, but Maggie grabs her arm and detains her.

In the morning, Maggie wakes up and realizes that her pack is missing. It seems that Charlie stuffed the pack into her bedroll, to make it appear as though she was sleeping there.  Aaron finds a note which says that Charlie has gone after Miles and Maggie screams her name repeatedly. I don't know about you, but Charlie is getting a little spunky for my liking.

Charlie is walking through the woods when she hears a sound she cannot identify. This causes her to quicken her pace.  When she stumbles down a hill, it seems that she hurt herself.  Nate has been following her this whole time and makes an appearance.  When Nate tries to help her, Charlie pulls out handcuffs, and handcuffs him to a metal pole, before standing up quickly. Charlie asks why he is following her and Nate admits to being militia and to following Miles to bring him back alive. Charlie is not impressed and points out that Nate used her to flush Miles out, before walking away. When Nate asks if she is going to leave him there, Charlie replies if you're such a crack soldier, you at he can find you way out.

Back at camp, Aaron is suggesting that going after Charlie is crazy.  Maggie pulls out the iphone and says that she keeps it because inside it are the only pictures of her kids.  Maggies says that there's no way of knowing who they will and will not see again anymore. I like that they are including little details like this.  Today many people really don't print pictures anymore, and tend to store them on devices.

The militia has stopped to deal with the wounded soldier.  Neville tells him that he has two choices: die quick or die painful. Neville holds up a vile of poison and tells him that if he drinks it, he won't feel a thing.  Neville tells the soldier that where he is going, he will be warm, rested and fed.  He tells him that he will be with his family and bask in the most beautiful light.  It seems that Neville does have a heart after all.

Warehouse 13, Season 4, Episode 9: The Ones You Love

Evil brother Adrian has infiltrated the Warehouse again – oh will someone please kill him! he’s arrived to deliver more ominous threats – honestly I don’t get Artie’s shock and horror. I mean, ominous threats and warnings are pretty much how Evil Brother Adrian says hello.

His latest plot? To send Artefacts to Pete’s ex-wife, Claudia’s brother and Myka’s pregnant sister.

Pete’s ex-wife Amanda, at least, knows the big secret after her wedding and the bee hives (old Artefact). She’s burning up and feeling awful – and her touch boils water. She has received a package in the post – but all it is is an empty leather box. She collapses and they rush her to hospital where she and Pete have a touching moment (not that kind of touching). As she burns up he finds a tattoo on her back – he touches that and it leaps to him, giving Pete his obligatory shirtless scene, and passing the burning-up to him. Contacting Artie, it seems the tattoo is of Russian terrorist, Kotik, history’s first suicide bomber who used kerosene to try and kill the Tsar. Because he’s interrupted by Brother Adrian, all Artie can tell him is to get the tattoo off his body – cut it off if he has to.

Pete gives Amanda a scalpel and they attempt the desperate act of cutting it off – but it moves before she can touch his skin with the knife. Then the radiation detector goes off. They hurry him to a bomb shelter to contain any blast – and there’s a touching and funny good bye moment that makes me wonder if Amanda is going to re-become Pete’s love interest

He calls Myka to say goodbye as he burns up and the radiation meter keeps beeping (the bunker keeps out telephones but not Artefact communication). She asks for a resume and points out the box is leather- leather is skin, possibly even the skin of Kotik. To transfer it, he needs to push the box against the tattoo. Awkward because of where it’s placed, but he manages and just before he explodes, the tattoo moves to the box. Clever, I like it. Time for Pete to taunt Amanda with what she said when she was all sad and thought he was going to die.

At Myka’s sister’s, Tracy, they meet joyfully – and Tracy’s eyes glow green. Apparently the hyper squealing is nothing to do with an Artefact and how these 2 are supposed to act. Unfortunately, with the new kid on the way they have received 101 new items, gifts et al – the Artefact could be anything. And her eyes keep glowing green. And Myka gets purple, staining goop on the gifts trying to de-Artefact them – then spreads it around in a desperate attempt to clean them. While her sister, green eyes and all, pours poison into Myka’s tea. Ah, sibling rivalry. Myka has a great excuse for ruining the gift and accidentally knocks over her tear – which burns through the carpet.

Then Tracy finds a knife and the fight is on – except, as Myka points out, she’s a trained Secret Service Agent, despite this there is an actual fight and lots of sisterly sniping as Myka ties Tracy up with kids’ toys. Pete arrives in time to see Tracy beginning to feel ill and her heart giving out – time for a massive trawl through everything – including the wrapping, until they find the Artefact. Day is saved. Time for awkward explanations.

Claudia finds her brother Joshua encased in amber. She calls Leena and they brainstorm what it could be – a tiny scroll belonging to Pliny the Elder – which is in Joshua’s hand. Inside the amber. She takes a blow torch to it, heats it up, then ices it – causing the amber to shatter and letting her clear out the scroll. It seems that Artie was the one who sent Joshua to California in the first place.

Mrs. Frederick and Jinks are off to speak to a priest about the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond (at least Brother Adrian belongs to a secret organisation that has a cool name and good bling) and look at the secret Vatican library. Jinks is there for protection with the weapon Mrs. Frederick smuggled in because no-one, absolutely no-one, messes with Mrs. Frederick’s purse. In the secret room it’s clear it’s been abandoned in a hurry.

Review of Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

The book begins when the protagonist, Anyanwu, is already 350 years old. She serves as healer to her people and some see her as a God or a witch.  Anyanwu can shift into any animal or person she wants.  She even has the ability to shift her gender and become a man in every sense of the word.  What motivates her the most, are her children and her descendants.  This is what Doro, the antagonist, uses to force her to leave Africa for the new world.  Like Anyanwu, Doro has great power but he is far older. He has sustained himself for the last 3,500 years by feeding on people, through stealing their bodies whenever he feels hunger, or to exert control over their person.  When angered he has great difficulty controlling his ability to kill.  Doro at times kills indiscriminately because he places no value on those who are mortal.  He will also kill anyone he perceives as one day having the ability to challenge or control him.  He rules his followers through fear, and yet we are told repeatedly how much they love and respect him. 

Doro collects people who are different and then breeds them in order to increase the power of their descendants. He wants Anyanwu for her special abilities and she leaves her home believing that she is protecting her children and will become his wife.  When Anyanwu arrives in America, she learns that he never had any intention of making her his wife, and instead marries her off to his favorite son Issac. Throughout the entirety of their marriage, Doro forces her to not only have sex with him but other men and bare the children of these unions. Issac, Anyanwu's husband is also taken from their home, to occasionally father children with other women.  Doro constantly threatens Anyanwu and yet he has the nerve to be angry that she does not love him. From start to finish, their interactions are filled with deceit, sexual violence, emotional abuse and an extreme imbalance in power. What is disturbing is that there is no discussion of the role of gender in their interactions and instead it seems to be about their differing magical abilities.

When Anyanwu finally makes a bid for freedom after Issac dies, she manages to live for 100 years as a dolphin but when she sets up her own community, Doro quickly finds her and forces himself back into her life, though he begins to feel conflicted about what he is doing to her. Once again, in order to protect her children, she concedes to his will.  Essentially, the question is can Anyanwu ever find a way to escape from Doro?

I was not a fan of this book and though it was a scant  two hundred and nineteen pages long, I think it would have worked better as a novella than a book.  Butler seemed to just drag the story along and add characters which she didn't bother to give real attention to before killing them off.  She was able to do this because instead of actually telling a story, Butler simple revealed the life of her protagonist.

From the beginning of the book, Doro was the antagonist, but we didn't get a real sense of what his real motivations behind breeding people was. In the end, I surmised that  Butler wanted the reader to believe that  Doro didn't want to be alone and could not accept that everyone who entered his life eventually died, but his behaviour was just so cold and callous, it made me seriously doubt that the true motivation could really have been to find a companion.  When you have an antagonist without any real motivation it leaves the story without a real goal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sinbad Season 1, Episode 12

Finally after much sailing and following of maps, we arrive at the Land of the Dead. Or rather the great big whirlpool which will take them there (by drowning them? Hey, it would TECHNICALLY get them there, right?). After a harrowing descent into its watery depths, they end up in a grand underground cavern.

Time to sally forth to find Sinbad’s brother – naturally he gives them a chance to stay with the boat but they’re not going to abandon him (well, Cook stays on the boat because he always does. I’m sure he’s a spirit of the Providence or some such. And he does have an excellent goodbye).

Tiger is possessed by Taryn, and through her eyes we get to see some of Taryn’s past and, possibly, her motivations. When she was younger, a poor woman in Basra, she begged a doctor to heal a child and promised the child she would get help -but the doctor wouldn’t help since Taryn couldn’t afford his fees.

Through the cavern they discuss their cultures’ different beliefs of the afterlife – and they find a gate that even Gunnar cannot open. But, at a suggestion from Taryn/Tiger, Sinbad tries and is unlocks itself (some of that chosen one mojo kicking in). Leading them to the bleak, empty, ruined plain of limbo. Silent – except for some eerie roaring. And the sound of running feet – a figure Sinbad takes to be Jamil and runs after him asking the others to wait.

Running through the ruins he catches the fleeing man – it isn’t Jamil. It’s a panicked man talking about creatures “waking up” and “showing you the light” and the truth which is apparently a bad thing. And speak of the giant squiggly manta rays, one appears behind Sinbad and unleashes its ultra-bright tanning ray – which causes him to have visions of Basra, a crowded celebrating Basra. As he pushed through the crowd he is told it is a celebration for the Emir’s birthday.

Gunnar, Tiger, Anwar and Rina search for Sinbad – and Gunnar isn’t happy. He accuses Tiger of goading Sinbad on in the last few days (presumably off screen), driving him towards the Land of the Dead. She protests and he hits her – much to everyone’s shock. Gunnar grabs her and points out that Tiger, a brilliant and skilled warrior, could easily have blocked the blow – and this isn’t Tiger (this is one of the hugest leaps of logic I’ve seen on  a show in a long time – I can only assume that Tiger was acting VERY VERY strangely offscreen).

He throws her to the floor and it dislodges Taryn, sending her rolling out of Tiger (what, did she lose her grip?). Gunnar is all for slicing and dicing her, but Tiger stops him, telling him that Taryn isn’t here for malicious purposes (presumably she’s there to find the girl she couldn’t save). So she joins the merry band in rescuing Sinbad who is having a really bad trip. Gunnar manages to distract the snaky-manta-ray-tanning-booth and they drag Sinbad to safety. Sinbad, though, is stuck in la-la land, first fighting Gunnar in the market, then being taken to be healed by Anwar, neither of which recognise him in the vision.

Review: The Burning Bush by Kenya Wright, Book 2 of the Habitat Series

 Lanore and Zulu are pushed into retaliating against the Vampire Dante’s brutal slaughtering of Mixies – either they retaliate or their allies, the Rebels, will and they’re much less concerned by the casualties they may cause

Unfortunately doing so escalates into a greater and continued war with the vampire – a war that has casualties close to both of their hearts and it’s a war that could do massive damage to the Habitat

And to make things more complicated, the Habitat police have evidence of her inside one of the bombed buildings – more than enough proof to have a Mixie arrested or just killed. Their price for her silence? Her acting as detective again, her untrained skills being vastly superior to that of the inept Habbies. She needs to track down a strange arcane murderer who has killed a Mixie – not that the police care about the Mixie, but by finding her murderer they may find the murderer of a rich, influential Pureblood’s daughter.

But tensions between them and the Rebels flare along with the war against Dante fluctuating – and just when Lanore needs more careful thinking to work her way to who is truly behind the conflicts she has to deal with Zulu’s raging emotions.

I was extremely happy when I saw this book was coming out and when Kenya Wright sent us a copy, I’d been waiting eagerly for this one for some time.

This book is one of the few truly original urban fantasy stories I’ve come across. Its world setting is completely and utterly different from any I have seen before. The supernatural races and humanity fought a war for control soon after the supernatural was discovered and, after initial successes, humanity won. The surviving supernaturals were fenced into massive, enclosed cities, unable to leave and the only humans they interact with are the Habbies, the Habitat Police, who are actually human criminals given the chance to lower their sentences by working in the Habitat. Needless to say, it doesn’t create the most driven, skilled or uncorrupted police force imaginable.

Within the Habitat are all kinds of supernaturals – vampires, fae, elves, shapeshifters, demons, witches and no doubt many more. All of them living under the oppressive control of then humans, with invasive tracking devices and monitoring. There are also the Mixed blood, supernaturals with different supernaturals as parents who are reduced to a heavily oppressed, second class citizen status.

It’s a massive and rich world – and a very detailed one that is elegantly presented. Despite there being no lectures or massive info-dumps or clumsy “as you know” conversations, a lot of information is still passed on as it is relevant, as well as small details that add greater depth and realness to the world. For example, the Witches hate the vampires because they fled during the war rather than standing alongside the other supernaturals. Or the different methods the humans used to suppress each supernatural. The world is so fleshed out that it feels like a real history with all the minutiae and nuance and details available but none of them overwhelming the story.

A More Diverse World Blog Tour

Today and tomorrow we are taking part in the A More Diverse World Blog Tour put together by Aarti.

As Aarti excellently points out, speculative fiction in general, is extremely erased when it comes to POC. Not only are People of Colour authors erased but it is actually harder to find a book about People of Colour that is written by Person of Colour - and as we’ve said before, Author Authenticity Matters.

As part of the Blog Tour, today we will review The
Burning Bush by Kenya Wright and tomorrow we will review Wild Seed by Octavia Butler.

We’re also taking this opportunity to link to other reviews we’ve written of books by POC authors with POC protagonist - the one’s we’re aware of. Let us know if we missed any.

L. A. Banks:  
The Hunted

Alicia Wright Brewster:

Don’t Call Me Angel.

Seressia Glass:            
Shadow Blade
Shadow Chase
Shadow Fall

Nalo Hopkinson:
Brown Girl in the Ring

Nalini Singh
Psy/Changling Series

Kenya Wright:
Fire Baptised