Friday, June 14, 2013

Taken by the Others (H&W Investigations #2) by Jess Haines

There’s a new vampire in town and he is not happy with Shiarra – blaming her for killing his progeny. Of course, it’s only a deeper excuse to make a move against Royce over a deep seated grudge that goes back centuries. And Shiarra is a perfect tool to advance that revenge.

But who can protect her from the revenge of a vampire that ancient? Royce, perhaps – but would that mean putting herself even more under his control and how sure can she be that she can trust him?

But are the authorities sufficient to hold off a being this ancient? To be safe, Shiarra needs to go on the offensive.

This story takes the excellent world that began in Hunted by the Others and starts to play in it nicely. The world doesn’t expand but it’s more us getting used to the world that is presented – because it is so huge it’s good to have a book that lets us get used to it, let’s us explore what has already been revealed rather than pushing the boundaries back. The world is coloured in, more details added, we get an idea of the politics and the way the different groups work together and the challenges of this supernaturally integrated world. I like that a lot – not just because I like the world but because so many urban fantasy novels feel a desperate need to add something new with every book – some new revelation, some new shiny creature (usually Wendigos) every book and never really develop what they have.

Shiarra herself has also grown somewhat. She’s still scared of the Others (and tells us so, at length), but is capable of thinking beyond it and is less inclined to collapse into a puddle of goo whenever challenged. She has a level of confidence that makes her fit the role a bit more, though she has room for further growth.

I do like the story itself – the duelling vampire masters using Shiarra as a tool to further their own vengeance. It flows well and has some interesting twists, though I think it has some convoluted moments (like Royce being able to convince the police that he wasn’t responsible for a slaughter) and the premise always shakes me – yes the woman the enemy loved is dead. 2,000 years ago. Time to get over it and move on, get some therapy, go eat a vat of ice cream, whatever you gotta do, but time to move on. But other than those elements (and the White hats, which I’ll get to), it worked – Shiarra is trying to find a way out of her situation, she doesn’t trust hardly any of her allies and the ones she does trust don’t really have a reason to stick their neck out for this battle. She tries to find a way through and while not all her decisions are sensible, she makes them in her own right and seeks her own path. She learns a lot more about Royce and their relationship gets both closer and a lot more complicated in a very organic way. The story works. I never felt the need to put it down and I never felt the need to avoid it. I enjoyed reading it, I resented interruption and I was interested to find out what would come next.

There are 2 things that jar me from the story – one is that the writing has a habit of being long winded. I get that Shiarra is afraid of the Others, there’s no need to repeat it constantly. The second thing is that she makes some bemusing decisions. Like she decides to call her friends who are due home tomorrow – and then assure them they don’t need to come home. Why call them? Why leave them with that worry? Or she decides to make the call about hate groups and monsters in the middle of doing her grocery shopping with everyone in the super market staring at her. She feels pity for the man who kidnapped her – within hours, possibly minutes, of being kidnapped and oddly decides to believe everything he says. She continually does these things that are… bemusing to say the least

I really don’t like how the White Hats are portrayed in this book, especially in the beginning and after the first book. As I said in my review then, I hate how the Others are portrayed as a marginalised group and that discrimination and prejudice against them is views in the same way as bigotry against POC or the disabled or GBLT people.

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 4: Repercussions

We open with some joyous George snark about sweets. Honestly, I would watch this show just to hear the voice overs – normally voice overs annoy me, they’re clumsy writing at its worse, but George’s sarcastic commentary is a joy to hear.

The sweets in question are being eaten by Roxy whose deadpan demeanour still leaves George questioning whether she likes George or not. And they’re waiting and waiting – and the guy they’re waiting for doesn’t show up

To Der Waffle House to report to Rube. Apparently it happens and the guy will be rescheduled – much to George’s annoyance because it has been rammed home in the last 3 episodes that she can’t change fate, she can’t save people. She complains at how really unfair it is that there’s all these consequences when she interferes, but people can escape through random chance. Rube pretty much chalks it down to it is what it is and hands out his post it – including one that sounds like a dream for Mason. Oh and Betty is locked in a morgue drawer/guerney thing (what do they call those things? The big body filing cabinets?) for some reason.

George continues to stalk her family and watches the fraught relationship between her mother (Joy) and her sister (Reggie) remarking that they’re exactly the same conflicts she and her mother had and how little she knew her sister. And how… odd her sister was.

At work posing as Millie, the nauseatingly saccharine Delores wants to give “Millie” some more responsibility!  She has to pick someone for a position – and prioritise the list. And in looking through the people Delores considered “the dregs” she found her old file – Georgia Lass. And she thinks again on her appointment – again considering whether she can cheat death, whether she can miss an appointment. She decides to move her lunch, changing her excuse with Delores which includes a completely unwanted sharing moment about pap smears!

Mason and Rube are heading off on their gambling trip (it’s a reap, honest) and it seems Rube is taking it waaay more seriously than Mason (the gambling, anyway. The rest kind of goes without saying) which turns out all to be a metaphor for George screwing up and Rube venting to poor Mason.

George, meanwhile has to watch a painful, agonising infomercial, trying to see P.J. Monroe, her ETD (she’s 11 minutes early – but 2 miles from the place). She tries to get to see him at his office but the assistant won’t let her near him. So she makes up a story of being drugged by his son and being raped while unconscious.

What? No – this is not something to joke about. This is not remotely funny and I have no idea why Dead Like Me decided to include this ridiculous, awful line.

George keeps up this awful lie, throwing tears into the mix while Monroe looks utterly horrified. Her reason? If she can stop Monroe going where he needs to be at 2:00 – his ETD – then he hasn’t shown up for the appointment and he gets to live. He cancels his appointment and, as a bonus to George, gives her some money. As George leaves, the assistant apologises profusely to her, offers her sister’s card who is a lawyer to help her sue Monroe’s son and makes a gesture of solidarity with her.

Mason and Rube are in an airport, having reaped a bus full of gamblers and are now returning home. Rube is annoyed by crying babies muttering about killing them which excites one of his fellow passengers and Mason is nervous about the sniffer dog. Very very nervous because he’s smuggling drugs in… body cavities.

Depictions of Nudity

The majority of the programs which fall within our genre show air cable (especially Starz and HBO, where it’s practically obligatory to show some breasts at some point) we are seeing more and more nudity in shows.

Nudity is a complex issue to tackle, because there are many times when nudity is essential to the story, adds impact to the story and weight to the characters, their actions and the overall sense of development, place and world. Nudity can add a depth and a realism that keeping the characters dressed would forever detract from. And sometimes it’s there because the writers think they’ll get more viewers if they regularly splash mammaries across the screen.

This means we have to examine how and why people are getting naked and, inevitably, who are the people getting naked most of the time,

And, inevitably, it’s conventionally attractive women who are getting naked the most. Perhaps most blatantly, it’s women who are getting naked for no damn reason at all - not even a flimsy excuse of plot, world building or character development to justify it. The breasts are there entirely for eye candy aimed at straight, male viewers. Game of Thrones is a master of this - with wall to wall prostitutes, women have lesbian sex in the background while Littlefinger expositions, Bron being interrupted in bed with a naked woman (he fully clothed), the Lannister soldiers and Bron preparing for battle - with naked women. Daenerys being naked when... actually Daenerys being constantly naked several times a season and it’s rarely  justified by the plot or a case of character development. Naked women are the wallpaper of Game of Thrones. But it’s not alone. The first time we see Vanessa on Da Vinci’s Demons she has her breasts out. Just because, perhaps to set the tone of the show - behold, boobies.

Inevitably, this wallpaper nudity is nearly always female in nature - random, storyless, characterless nudity is something for conventionally attractive women.

Of course there are times when we do expect our characters to be naked - and it actually looks odd when they aren’t. During intimate heterosexual sex scenes we can expect both participants to get naked. But even here, we’re still seeing vast discrepancies between men and women.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reaper's Novice (Soul Collector #1) by Cecilia Robert

Ana had hopes and dreams – long term she wanted to finish school and become a musician. Short term, she wants to hold her family together, to bring peace to her constantly warring parents

That is, until her parents and siblings were all killed in a car accident, leaving Ana to make a desperate deal with Death to ensure her family had any future at all.

She is now bound as Death’s Novice, learning how to collect souls to pass on and seeing it encroach onto her own dreams. There’s a lot to learn and get used to – but, more than that, there’s apparently agendas that go even further than the complexities of being a reaper. A whole species may rest on her and everything she thought was true about herself may be just one long fiction.

And that’s a secret that is spilling out into the lives of her closest and dearest friends who are going through turmoils of their own.

I really don’t Ana, and it’s always a problem when I dislike a protagonist. There’s so much about her motivations I don’t get. She starts out reasonably enough, trying to hold her family, trying to save her family, rejoicing in them being saved – and then it all derails. She comes very quickly to resent and fear Ernest without the gratitude you’d expect (or even the suspicion you’d expect). Far more frustratingly, she is completely and utterly devoid of curiosity.

She’s just had her eyes opened to the supernatural world, she collects souls in a variety of colours, she is surrounded by beasts and beings of legend and mythology and she asks no questions. Even basic ones – Ernest tells her that a red soul is the sign of a vibrant, well lived life. Surely anyone, anyone at all, faced with that revelation would naturally ask what the other soul colours mean? But we never find out, we never learn.

Her lack of curiosity is being frustrating because it adds to make her character seem hopelessly passive. Everything that happens in her life, the life of her friends, whatever dramas surround her, whatever plots surround her, all the supernatural machinations – she just goes along with it. She barely questions, she rarely challenges she’s hardly ever pro-active and when she is it’s on odd ways that scream of Spunky agency: she goes to the Shadow Realm where she has been told repeatedly not to go despite having people who are far better trained and capable than she. She sneaks into the library to find answers – fine – but she hasn’t asked any questions! At this point, for all she knows she just has to ask Ernest for answers or even free access to the library and she wouldn’t have to go sneaking. She is constantly mushroomed (kept in the dark and fed shit) and she doesn’t question it. A whole range of characters tell her that she’s involved in something big and important that they just can’t tell her about – but at no time in the story does anyone reveal why it’s such a big secret, even when she tarts learning the answers we still don’t know why she couldn’t have been told all of this right at the beginning of the book! She is constantly asked to trust people she has no reason to trust and she does. A character even demands she gives up her life’s dream of going to the Conservatory and because he says so she does! That’s it! He says she should so she does. He says he can’t tell her why and she accepts it! This passivity becomes even more aggravating and problematic as the powers that be cause her boyfriend to become more and more aggressive, random and dangerous – even aggressive and threatening violence towards her and she is constantly forgiving. I could take her accepting Reiner’s demand for forgiveness after what he did. But the two together becomes even more unpalatable

On the few occasions when she is given information she never asks follow up questions. In one instance she even rejects answers and refuses to listen because she just can’t take the information.

Her lack of curiosity combines with an extremely long pre-amble and a whole lot of “mundane” storylines with her friends and her life that the story is horribly slow to get into and the supernatural elements of the world are really shallow until the very end of the book. At no point is anything truly developed in any kind of decent depth, we only get the most shallowest information about this whole other species of humanoids apparently in the midst of a civil war. We have no indication what they are, what they do, what they’re involved in or even the greater issues of the war. We have no idea how anything works, no idea what all the random creatures are or why – or anything else. Even with the supernatural being introduced very early in the book, it’s just there. Ana goes on with her mundane life, worries about her friends and occasionally has a brief soul collecting hiatus, before returning to her mundane life again. Supernatural party – back to mundane life. Strangle little clue with the teachers arguing aaaaaand back to mundane life again. Again, I can’t stress this enough, there’s just so little development and exploration of the supernatural world presented.

The Secret Eater by Ros Jackson

Kenssie feeds on secrets, not too unusual for a demon, even one that’s as weak as she is. But even her weak powers are beginning to fade and aside from being worrisome, it’s pretty embarrassing as well. And she knows all about that as a thrall to an embarrassment demon.

Whacky hijinks follow as she tries to find the key to get her powers back, being dragged into various machinations of her boss and her contact along the way

After finishing this book I was annoyed. Why? Because it was a novella. A novella! Whyyyyy?! Why isn’t this longer! We have demons feeding on emotions and human secrets! We have a world full of a range of weird and wonderful creatures and their politicking against each other! We have comic ineptitude! We have a screamingly funny writing style and characters I just adore! It has the secret and forbidden arcane knowledge of Nigella Express! We have an archdemon of embarrassment who does extremely well by doing dodgy dad dance moves in public and feasting on the cringing contact embarrassment! He has his minions reveal your distressing porn habits to the whole office!

How can all this wonderfully, quirky, unique awesomeness be over so soon? WHY SO SHORT?

But then, I think it needed to be without being boring or losing its shine. This is a book that was zany and whacky and fun – it isn’t deep or involved or complex. I think it would have collapsed under its own weight if it were too long, like a big sugary confection – sweet and light and tasty and fun but not intended to be substantial.

This book is one of those that’s just pure fun from edge to edge. It has a story and a world, of course, but neither take themselves too seriously. The star of this show always is the fun, the snark, the hilarious turn of phrase and the near slapstick hijinks the demons get themselves into. They’re gloriously cartoonish in their villainy and relishing in each other’s misfortune.

If you want a book full of developed and growing characters – this isn’t for you. If you want a book with a complex involved plot, this isn’t for you. If you want a book with a deep, complicated and multi-faceted world, this isn’t for you. If you want a book that analyses any issues in depth then this isn’t the book for you. In fact, even potentially deep issues are quickly glossed over.

The Walking Dead Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars

In this volume, the survivors from Hershel’s farm arrive at the prison and begin the arduous task of clearing it out, cutting down hordes of zombies to clear the yard and open up the cell block as a safe – and far more comfortable – place to live. It comes to something that the prison is seen as their dream home, due to the security offered by its fence.

But the prison isn’t empty, Axel, Dexter, Andrew and Thomas are inmates who have holed up in the prison, relying on its vast reserves of preserved food and utterly cut off from the outside world and most the rest of the prison bloc. It’s an uneasy act to add the 4 convicted inmates to the group.

Largely safe from the zombies and planning long term survival there, Rick invites Hershel and his family to join them since the farm is being hit by more and more zombie attacks in the spring and Hershel’s skills as a farmer could make the prison more sustainable.

While zombies are held back, internal pressures break – Julie and Chris engage in a suicide pact, sending Tyreese into a dark place and revealing that even when not bitten, people still come back as zombies which drives Rick to think about Shane, buried alive. Add on to that, one of the inmates is far from harmless – and begins his own killing spree which sets off a new round of conflict between factions and raises questions of how you handle this without the systems of government and order?

I am impressed by how well the theme of each comic volume is maintained, easily fitting together and maintaining a coherent whole. In this volume we have a definite feeling of death, reaction to death and adaptation to death all around them. This becomes especially poignant not just because they’ve finally stopped running so can reflect on what they’ve lost, but also because even in the prison there is no safety. With the murder of Rachel and Suzie, the attack on Andrea, the suicide pact between Chris and Julie and even Tyreese rushing in and nearly getting himself killed – even when zombies are not directly responsible, the whole changed world has made death a constant possibility. Many of the characters talk about death – Allen telling his children they need to get used to it and not let it hurt them. Dale and Andrea reflect on how inured they are to death that they’re not even upset by it any more – as well as considering their own mortality and how irrelevant it makes the age gap between them.

This also is a book about the toll the zombie apocalypse takes on people. We saw this beginning with Allen and even Hershel, but now it’s hitting everyone hard – Rick has his moments of blistering rage, Tyreese has his horror over his daughter. More and more people have lost someone and the grief and pain is building up. There’s increasing talk – even from Dexter – about people cracking under the strain. A lot of this is excellent foreshadowing  but a powerful reflection of these characters as people, as normal people, being put through unendurable conditions that are hurting them psychologically as well as physically. The characters are recognising their own mental damage – and that of their fellows.

We’re also returning to a recurring theme of the series – while zombies are the constant background threat, the thing which will truly rip you apart is humanity.  In fact, after this volume, more of the characters have died by being killed or killing themselves, than have been killed by zombies

Some other issues that arose in this book: First of all – Lori.

AAAARGH, she’s so annoying on the show and she’s still a gazillion times more annoying in the comics. It’s like whatever Lori says will always, always be wrong

The thing is, it isn’t always wrong. She’s right that capital punishment is a horrible thing to go into. She’s right that Rick going off without telling anyone why or where is thoughtless and painful. She’s right to be concerned about living with convicted criminals. She’s right that Hershel nearly shot Rick and there’s a reason not to want him around.

In fact, most of the time Lori opens her mouth, she has a point (the main exception this time was accusing Dexter of the murders and having him locked up). The problem is that she’s the great big font of negativity. Everything she says is gloom and doom – even Carol calls her on it. Everything she says is to criticise, complain or angst – and when she does criticise, even for good reason, it’s presented as heckling. She’s not shown as a person expressing legitimate complaints, she’s the heckle, the nag, the scold. We’re not only never expected to agree with her – but we’re never expected to see her as a reasonable person with anything resembling a point. This only gets worse with her pregnancy because now any complaint she has is being dismissed because of PRGENANCY HORMONES! Because a woman’s brain completely turns off when she’s pregnant apparently! Again, this isn’t just a case of some mood swings, it’s used as an excuse to dismiss anything and everything Lori has to say – even when she’s not actually wrong. Even she herself says she’s overreacting and jumping to conclusions and “not thinking straight.” She’s buying into the idea that she SHOULD be ignored, she is validating dismissing her viewpoint because of the stress or pregnancy or whatever that she just can’t handle and her judgement can’t be trusted.

Contrast that to anyone else questioning Rick like… well, that’s just it. You can’t because there isn’t really any. She is the voice of dissent and by setting her up as the hectoring nag he becomes the forthright, sensible ruler taking the leader and his opponent is just over-emotional silly woman. There’s relatively little dissent beyond that but, again, that’s usually cast as obviously wrong (like Hershel chasing them off the farm) because of a brief situation. Also of note is that Rick is far more likely to consult with Tyreese, Hershel and Dale than he is to lay down the law: again, at the decision to hang Thomas, contrary to it being a dictatorial decision, many people (mainly men) spoke up to add their opinions.

This added pedestalling of Rick means that we get no coherent question of even his most controversial of decisions – in particularly here we have the Death Penalty with the opponents presented only as the hectoring, emotional Lori who just can’t think straight – and Patricia who’s misguided mercy nearly gets her killed – and she aligns with the bad guys openly casting her as, well, misguided at best.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lunatic Fringe (Tales of the Pack #1) by Allison Moon

Lexie is going away to college – though laden with self-doubt and insecurities as well as a whole lot of questions as to exactly what she’s doing and what she wants to be.

But college is a place where she can learn – and far more than she realised. She can learn about the world, form some solid friendships, fall in love, truly discover her sexuality and find out who she is

She also finds out a whole lot about werewolves. And werewolf hunters. And loving werewolves and how things are rarely as simple as they appear.

I had real problems getting into this book. It’s very descriptive and overwritten and tends to ramble around in places. I think it’s trying to be evocative to carry the full power or emotion of a moment or the scale of various feelings or new concepts, but instead it kind of rambled. I think part of the problem was that, with the title and the blurb, I knew we were going to be dealing with werewolves. It’s one of the problems with any “big reveal” book. The cover/title/blurb/pre-amble/author’s introduction tells you a book is about werewolves (or vampires or angels or whatever) then you spend half of the book playing coy until the ZOMG WEREWOLVES moment that we all knew was coming. It’s hard to pull off in a way that doesn’t leave the reader bored.

Lexie herself isn’t a bad character per se, she’s very much what she is, a small town young woman with very limited experience and fewer social skills and even less confidence, going off to college to find herself, learn more about who she is and what she wants to do.

But those stories end with someone who finds themselves, learns more about themselves and what she wants to do – and I’m not sure Lexie ever does that, despite at the end of the book her refusing to go travelling. And throughout the book she’s a very passive actor in her own story, taken to things, nudged towards things and constantly, constantly running from things. I don’t think that ever really changes.

What could have been a fascinating element of this book is the world itself – the werewolf packs, the different kinds of werewolves, the peacespeakers and what they mean (hopefully beyond some vague references to Native Americans), their history and the conflict between the packs. But it didn’t work for me because so little of it was explored. We had a few lectures from Archer, some speeches by Blythe that I’m not sure we can believe and Archer’s own internal angst. I think I could have loved this world, but as it is I stand a little confused and feeling like I just didn’t quite get it all. It needed more development and exploration.

The romance is unique in that it’s between 2 women – and heartfelt and powerful as many romances in paranormal romance. But we do have the falling in love awfully quickly trope, we have the conflict that I can’t entirely agree with trope (Lexie becomes angry with Archer for killing people pointing guns at her) and we have the virgin introduced to relatively advanced sex techniques and it all going swimmingly. They’re standard tropes though and I have seen them done far worse elsewhere.

This book established itself as really tiresome to me before it hit the 40% mark – because it devolved into a series of lectures and PSAs. Far be it from us, at Fangs, to be resistant to social justice themes in books – far from it, we’d love to see more. But there’s a difference between having social justice themes and messages and having your characters recite text books and sound bites to each other. It wasn’t naturally incorporated, it didn’t flow – it was clumsy and clunky, it was didactic, it felt like the author has ripped out pages from a sociology and women’s study text book, with a side order of remedial queer theory and glued them in.

I’m not sure what it was to achieve either. People unfamiliar with the concepts are going to be put off by the blatant lecturing. People who are familiar with the theme and concepts are going to be irritated by its clumsiness and it’s extreme – even insulting – simplicity. Like deciding the only reason people may not be happy with identifying as feminists is because of the denigrations of chauvinists, ignoring the problems people have had with the feminist movement and the rise of womanism. Or dismissing labels as binary and patriarchal and inherently wrong – even saying calling oneself a lesbian is “limiting”(which is pretty damn homophobic), which not only completely ignores the strength and power many minorities get from their choice of labels, their identities, their reclaiming, their proclamations of self. The author seems to have a very narrow view on how marginalised people should think, feel and identify and has created a world which puts that on a pedestal in a way that marginalises and attacks women and GBLTQ people who don’t conform to the author’s lens.

I’m also rather bemused by the whole depiction of the lesbian feminist Pack. I mean, during the many many many lectures there’s a note that, no, feminists aren’t all rabid man-haters and that is a ridiculous straw man. This is good. And then we have the pack of lesbian feminists who… hate all men. And we’re not just talking the legitimate anger of an oppressed group – because I can get behind a good rant; because it’s not emotive. I wondered if it was supposed to be a reflection  of Blythe and her wrongheadedness but it’s common throughout the Pack. Renee, for one, gets extremely annoyed because Lexie has a conversation with a man.

What is this supposed to be? Are they supposed to be straw-feminists for us to recognise as such? But where’s the counter of actual feminists? These are the feminist depictions of this book and there’s no indication they’re wrong or parodies. Sadly even some of the strongest little dumps in the book are undermined by them – like there’s a pretty great scene where Renee emphasises to Lexie that it’s ok to say no, that “no” needs no justifications or excuses and if she doesn’t want to do something. This is excellent – but Lexie’s there thinking that she actually wants to say yes but she’s too shy and doesn’t have the confidence to do so and if you’d just shut up telling her she’s allowed to say no, she’s appreciate more encouragement to say yes. An awesome message of consent becomes, because of context, twisted instead into a “the shy girl needs friends to push her past her comfort zone”

Warehouse 13, Season 4, Episode 16: Runaway

We start at Arkansas state prison. Something starts falling from the sky – like snow or ash. And one wall begins to melt into a lava flow. The police rush to try and get all of the prisoners out of the yard away from the lava and the growing hole in wall, but a second’s curiosity is all the inmates give it before turning and running like hell away from the spreading pool of lethal lava.

Myka and Jinks arrive to examine the hole, talking to Artie by Farnsworth to ask if there are any Artefacts that can manipulate lava. Artie says plenty – that’s why he hates volcanoes, they always cause so much emotion that they’re bound to produce Artefacts. (Pete thinks it’s a lava monster. Or wants it to be a lava monster, they’re not sure). At the Warehouse the shelves are still a bit shaky after the quakes from last week – and Artie wants to throw Claudia a birthday party. Myka doesn’t think Artie arranging a 21 year old’s surprise birthday party is the best idea ever (I think it’s awesome considering what Artie can do with Artefacts). While collecting a Black light, Artie also gets pummelled repeatedly by a small blue rubber ball that bounces off his head and a clock opposite. Artie catches it, puts it back and walks off to party plan

The clock frowns after him. That’s not good. Moody timepieces are not good.

Pete shows up at the prison and tells Myka a US Marshall has arrived (Pete has fun with that one, of course, with a TV quote) which the Marshall hears and joins in on – Liam Napier. Turns out all the inmates are accounted for. But then Liam spots Jinks and recognises him, calling him “Jersey”. He approaches with arms moving for a hug – but Jinks shakes his hand and calls him Marshall. Jink promptly tries to get rid of Liam as fast as he can. But Pete points out there could still be prisoners missing from the main building – the lava flow may have just been a distraction. Liam runs to do a full headcount, doing another TV quote which means he’s won Pete over. Oh he’s a simple man of simple tastes.

Inside the prison they find another melted hole – and 2 convicts have escaped: Barton and Davis. And the hole was opened from the outside. Switch to them meeting up with a blonde woman, getting in her truck and carefully stashing an ancient looking jug – which Davis is sure they can use to burn into a bank vault.

Pete, Myka and Jinks get the full information from Liam – the Davis was part of a gang called the Turks (an armed robber) as was Barton before leaving them. Davis’s old accomplice, Griff, is still in the prison. It seems odd to Myka that Davis would escape with Barton an not Griff and Liam goes to collect Griff. With him gone, Myka adds that someone should keep an eye on Liam – Jinks hurriedly nominates Pete. Even Pete notices Jinks acting funny – he tries to deny it in vast fumbling. And Myka makes the huge leap that Liam is Jink’s ex.

A huge leap – but an accurate one. Convoluted story leaping for 10! Jinks admits it but really doesn’t want to be stuck on an assignment with a guy who dumped him. Myka offers to hate him – because they can all totally hate him if necessary. Jinks nixes the hating and insists that he really really really doesn’t want to talk about it. Myka agrees while Pete says Liam is hunky and looks like him which makes Pete Jenk’s type. Yes, Jenks, it can most certainly get worse.

Myka shadows Liam but, of course, when he asks about Jinks she has to talk and try to say how amazing Jinks is, how terrible Liam was for dumping him and how awesome Jinks is without him. which all falls apart very quickly because Jink’s doesn’t match the picture Myka tries to pain and Liam sees right through it.

Myka and Liam interrogate Griff and between him letting himself get riled awfully easy and Myka making vast leaps of logic, as she tends to, they realise that Barton is buying his way back in the gang with stashed stolen loot he has; and that Davis dropped Griff in favour of Barton’s money. They suggest asking the other Turks in the prison what they think – and telling Griff how very helpful he’s been.

Pete and Jinks walk through the prison with Pete stubbornly talking about Liam and Jinks tells him that even though Liam was the one, they broke up because Liam kept lying – and Jinks is an infallible lie detector. In Davis’s cell they find a loveletter from his girlfriend, Anna. Pete finds a dreadfully awful love poem – which Jinks realises are instructions about the prison break from Anna to Davis.

Following up on what Griff told them, Myka and Liam go into the woods where the money was stashed. They can tell they’re on the right track when the see volcanic ash falling from the skies – and more than just ash, there are patches of lava on the floor, still smouldering. They find the stash of money – for some reason Davis et al left it behind. They also find a mobile phone – and a truck! With Anne trapped inside, the doors welded shut with lava. Next to the truck in a solidifying pile of lava (pumice?) is Davis’s body.

Liam, not being a fool, realises there’s something major going on. By, y’know, the lava. Myka uses a call to distract him while Farnsworthing Jinks and Pete about the deaths –and Barton being interested in something other than money and being willing to use the Artefact to kill

Talking to Anna, they learn that Davis tried to kill Barton once they had the money and Barton killed Davis with the jug – which is from her grandmother, from Italy. She leads them to where Barton’s going next – a diner the Turks hang out at. When they arrive it has only dead Turks and lots of lava which is going to be a real pain to clear up. Pete questions the wait staff and they learn Barton’s hunting down someone called Chris and, again, he was attacked first.

After all the secrecy, Liam finally demands to talk to Jinks – he demands to know what’s going on so he can do his job. But Jinks tells him everything would be easier for both of them if Liam wasn’t there. Ouch. Liam says speaks for himself and walks off – working with his people who share information who have directed him to a safehouse. Myka tells Jinks to go after him – personal stuff aside, he can’t track down Barton without them and he could end up being killed by the Artefact.

Myka and Pete finally track down who Chris is – or Christina rather. Switch to her answering the door to Barton. She doesn’t look happy about it.

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 9: I Just Wasn't Made for these Times (also labelled as episode 8***)

Nolan is on patrol with Tommy, outside of Defiance in a runner (and Tommy’s been reading Moby Dick and is quoting it – yeah that’d annoy me too). Nolan’s taking Tommy to his first ever Arcfall. As they head to it, they discuss whether Sukar was divinely inspired and if there’s anything between Tommy and Irisa. Is there? No really is there? Uh-huh, Tommy you’re not being believed. I’m never a fan of all these “rawr daddy/older brother will threaten boy who is with sister”, it’s so infantilising of grown women. Especially after Nolan isn’t exactly in Irisa’s good books at the moment (kudos to Tommy for not responding with “well, sir, I promise not to kill her heroic friend and mentor while he fights to save all our lives. How’s that?”).

Inside the large Arcfall they find the usual compliment of wreckage and dead bodies – but it oddly contains a lot of Earth technology as well, including something with an American flag on it. And uniforms from NASA, including a suit for a G. McClintock. They find human bodies in some of the life pods – and, in one of them – a living man. They hurriedly free him from the pod and he asks them if they’re Americans. Nolan says he was – checking his dogtags they see he is McClintock.

They drive him back to Defiance and he wakes up in the car, wanting to call his wife and asking where he is. Nolan tells them St. Louis – but there’s a lot more to tell. He gets edgy and worried by the Votans around him. Nolan gently takes him in hand and asks Commander Gordon McClintock what year it is - he thinks it’s still 2013. Before the Votans arrived.

In Amanda’s office, Connor the Earth Republic Rep, is back. They continue their antagonistic flirting and go out for dinner. He talks about their passion for Human and Votan coexistence but as far as she’s concerned she’s achieved that in Defiance – but he wants her to try it for the whole of E Rep. She laughs at the idea of working for the Evil Empire (he objects to being called an Empire which… yeah that shouldn’t be the objectionable word there). He tries to encourage her with all the good she could do then resorts to saying he missed her and calling her “Mandy”, apparently what he called her in a past relationship.

Which is when Irisa calls her to see the newly landed astronaut – and Amanda doesn’t bring Connor. Gordon is being examined by Dr. Yewll who has her usual wonderful bedside manner, poking his head around. Astonished, he touches Yewll’s scaled skin and gasps that it’s softer than it looks – she tells him he’s too young for her. Outside Amanda discusses it with Nolan – apparently Gordon is known, but he’s known to have died when the space station blew up. Of course the alternative is that the space station was a staged accident, the Votans destroyed it and kidnapped the humans on board to study them – which puts something of a lie to their “we come in peace” claim when they first arrived.

Amanda introduces herself and Yewll continues her investigation – including using an alien device to scan his eyes. The device flashes and as it does it causes flashbacks – to his wife, Grace, and to being on the Votan ship with teams of Indogene examining him. He violently pushes Yewll away in panic.

At Need Want, Datak gets angry with one of the prostitutes, Tirra, pushing her away onto the bed, because he hired Kenya and she sent a replacement. Kenya tells him she’s had to cut back her client list and that Tirra is skilled. Datak takes Tirra’s hand and insults how rough it is, squeezing her hand and hurting her – Kenya, gently but firmly insistent tells Datak to let her go – tells him, doesn’t ask. Datak leaves.

Gordon leaves the doctors and is mobbed by cheering crowds asking for autographs and interviews. Nolan and Amanda help him through the crowd to a runner, but Connor sees him and seizes on the opportunity – they could use his abduction as a way to attack and discredit the Votanis Collective (so much for his “co-existence” spiel). Amanda and Nolan tell him to back off.

They take him to Rafe McCawley’s house because his house is the closest to an old fashioned, pre-Arcfall house, to help him feel at home. Rafe welcomes him, like everyone else he sees Gordon as something of a hero; there was a book and a movie all about the disaster and it was iconic. To add insult to injury in the movie his role was played by Robert Patterson. It’s a happy friendly evening (including mocking Amanda for knowing about Twilight) but Gordon’s burying some angst – especially when he looks at the book of his story, complete with pictures of his wife.

He’s from Alabama and asks if he can go there to see his wife (who would be 60 now) Rafe agrees to help but they tell him they can’t fly anymore – radiation and debris in the atmosphere makes it suicidal. He asks about space travel – but that’s completely over as well.

At the Tarr household, Datak is bathing (and apparently fantasising) when Datak comes in shocked to see her bathing alone – apparently it’s taboo for a Castithan woman to bathe bye herself. He tells her what happened at the Need Want and how shocking he found it that Kenya “disrespected him” and how it made no sense. Stahma distracts him, kisses him and encourages him to bathe.

That night Gordon dreams about people speaking in alien languages – and then tries to strangle Amanda. Before he can hit her, he’s tackled by Rafe and Nolan. Dr. Yewll is called to treat Amanda (and to give her orders she better not refuse) and Gordon thanks Nolan and Rafe for stopping him. Rafe is still clinging to the hero worship and is sure that he would have stopped, but Nolan sends him to the lock up while he continues to apologise.

They take Amanda to the doctors and Connor barges in hearing what happened; Nolan stops him and pushing him outside until Yewll says it’s all fine. Connor splutters at Nolan for not keeping Amanda safe but he’s not impressed since he’s not convinced the Volge attack wasn’t ERep doing (and what about the ambassador who tried to slaughter them all? Why not bring that up?)

Nolan goes to see Irisa and ask how Nolan is – she says he’s in pain, he doesn’t belong there and he knows it. She can relate – Nolan tries another apology but Irisa won’t hear it, sorry won’t bring Sukar back to life. He asks if she feels she doesn’t belong and she asks where she has ever belonged – and says Sukar made her feel like a home. Nolan tries to say with him is her home but she doesn’t agree.

Gordon has another episode, slamming himself against the floor and walls. Nolan and Irisa help hold him down and slap him until he clams down – and notice that Gordon bleeds silver, which is a trifle odd. From there he goes to Yewll and holds her in a headlock – as a doctor she must have noticed that he bled silver like an Indogene. He accuses her of knowing he was dangerous – and that she put Amanda at risk

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 2: Chaos Rising

Allison drives Lydia, at night, hoping that Scott will understand the pattern of the marks on their arm. It’s important, she knows it. Meanwhile Stiles is dragging Scott to a party all in the name of moving on – which means not calling Allison back because you have a missed call.

The party is a birthday party; a girl who is determined to lose her virginity that night (she’s not waiting for love, she wants to be good at it when she falls in love. I… can’t fault that logic) she tells all this to her best friend who asks if she has a target in mind. To which she greets Stiles’s arrival with a full on kiss before leading him away to pick out wine.

Yes, yes she does have a target in mind. (The best friend takes one look at Scott and walks off)

She takes Stiles to the wine cellar, kisses him again, takes off her shoes and tells Stiles that for her birthday she doesn’t want to be a virgin. Stiles is very very fine with this, but he has no condoms – he heads to the upstairs bathroom to dig some out. He rushes off in pure Stiles geekiness – only to find the only pack there is XXL. The look on his face is priceless

In the wine cellar, the floor shakes. And wine bottles start firing themselves all around the girl, shattering and spilling their contents! Nooooo! It’s a Teetotal ghost! It’s a Ghost of Temperance! Her feet are cut by the raining glass, her blood mixing with the horrendously wasted booze and she cowers against one wall, beholding the horror of all that wasted wine. Something opens the window above her and drags her out, screaming.

Stiles returns to the cellar to find Heather missing – and no shattered wine miss. Fear not folks, the wine is safe!

Cut to Isaac and Derek in an awesome new lair, and they’re about to do something that Derek can’t do, involving someone that Isaac doesn’t like or trust. That’s enlightening. The person they don’t like is Peter Hale – and they’re happy to tell him so. He’s here to root around in Isaac’s spinal cord to bring his memories back – it’s a tricky procedure that can cause death or paralysis – so no worries!

Peter gets a confusing image of captured people who appear to be Boyd and Erica. He saw them – and Deucalion. Deucalion said that time was running out – and that they’d both be dead by the next full moon. Tomorrow night.

From that dramatic news to Scott trying to convince Derek that Lydia and Allison’s eerily similar bruise is relevant. Lydia reminds us how clever she is by pointing out the ways people see patterns that aren’t there. Scott asks Derek to help and Derek lays the smacketh down – help who? Lydia who helped resurrect his evil uncle, or Allison who evilly relished shooting him and his pack full of arrows.

I am totally, utterly and unreservedly Team Derek on this one. Stiles tries to point out no-one died which doesn’t help anything, especially since Allison says her mother died. Derek tells her that her family’s honour code killed her mother, not Derek. Not only was that accurate, but it was kind – Evil Mummy Argent was murdering Scott when Derek arrived to save him. Allison gets snarky about this – really Allison? When does she make with the apologies for her and her family’s murderous rampage? She’s going to play the badly done to one here? Scott rushes to Derek and tells him Allison’s on their side but Derek says that Scott should tell Allison that Evil Mummy Argent tried to kill him then

3 points to Derek. Perfect score. Flawless Victory.

Stiles and Scott walk to class and, along the way, Scott notices the Alpha Twins. Then it’s to business class with out-of-his-mind coach Finstock who laughs at Scott when he claims to know the answer; and it just gets weirder from there. Even more so when Stiles tries to get a coin out his pocket and pulls out the XXL condom – Finstock gives him it back and congratulates him. Finstock continues to be weird in a slightly awesome way. When Stiles’s father, Sherriff Stilinksi takes Stiles out of class – he’s the last person to have seen Heather alive. When Stiles sees Scott he’s determined to find Heather – especially if the Alphas took her

At the library Allison is still puzzling over the patterned bruise, and Lydia wants one of the twins (the straight one – the other being gay is based on him looking at Danny).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty

When Joseph Barkeley was a little boy, he and his brother were taken to an orphanage after their parents died and their home burned down.  Unlike many orphans, they were rescued by the Catholic Church and taken to America to be raised. Joseph's brother Bernhardt became a priest and Joseph a rare book dealer and authenticator.  Both men are haunted by their past and neither could have predicted what would happen when they were forced to confront it.  

The journey begins when Joseph is given a once in a lifetime offer to authenticate a first edition of Stoker's Dracula.  At first he treats it like any other job but when he finally meets his mysterious client, he releases that Dracula is not simply a work of fiction.  First, Joseph must confront the very real fact that vampires are real and then the consequences of what happens you get the attention of a noble vampire. What should have been a simple business transaction, quickly turns into the mission of Joseph's life, as he struggles to rid the world of a great evil and figure out the intentions of God. 

Despite containing vampires, Stoker's Manuscript is generally speaking a cross between dark fantasy and horror. It is absolutely compelling and I read all 352 pages in one day.  It is clear that Prouty spent a lot of time researching this novel from the intricate details that he decided to include. This gave Stoker's Manuscript a sense of realism and made it easy to fall into the story. Many books in this genre are set in North America and to read one outside of this geographic area was really refreshing.  His descriptions of the Romanian countryside, culture and history gave me as a reader a real sense of time and place.  At times it did feel somewhat repetitive but I am sure that it was a device in order to ensure that the reader never lost sight of the setting of Stoker's Manuscript.

Prouty raised some interesting philosophical questions like the nature of God's intent when he created humanity, the nature and or purpose of the soul, and finally the nature of redemption.  These are weighty issues but they never bogged down the story. In fact, they added a nuanced texture to Stoker's Manuscript.  Prouty made sure to ask questions rather than to preach at the reader, causing the questions he raised to linger long past the end of the story. 

Falling Skies, Season 3, Episode 1 & 2: On Thin Ice/Collateral Damage

Falling Skies is back, with new aliens, new plans, more deaths and no doubt Tom throwing out more daft ideas that work out because he’s the protagonist and so special. And Pope still isn’t dead. Let’s see what this series brings with a double episode starter.

In a very dusty mine, a line of filthy harnessed kids digs while guarded by Skitters and Mechs. They are watched by Colonel Weaver, his daughter Jeanne and Matt Mason – and they recognise one of the kids – Diego. Mat goes in planting explosives around the mine equipment. When Matt returns, Weaver talks to the other team using a radio larger than an 80s mobile phone, and the bombs go off, un leashing waves of blue light and, possibly, EMP by the way the Mechs get shaky.

Teams move in from all directions, Ben and a new character, Dani, (she keeps calling Ben Benji which Annoys him so I approve) stab a Skitter and a team moves in whose bullets manage to knock down the Mech. Maggie and Hal drive up in a jeep. They lead the harnessed kids into the back of a truck and, alas, Pope is still leading the Berserkers (and still isn’t dead).

At which point 2 new, much bigger Mechs appear from where they’re hiding behind rocks. They have very big guns.

Everyone dashes to cover as the new MegaMechs unleash a torrent of firepower, killing several soldiers and sending others scattered. And from the mine emerges a wave of Skitters. Ben and the new woman grab each other’s hands as his harness flares blue and they’re overwhelmed by the Skitters. Pinned to the floor, they try to fight

At the top of the mine another wave of Skitters appear – lead by one with a red painted eye. Rebel Skitters – they pull the Skitters off Ben and attack their fellows.

As Hal runs out of Ammo and one of the MegaMechs focuses on Maggie, Tom arrives on horseback with several others – and they have a gun that completely rips the arms off the MegaMech. With Tom, also on horseback is an alien that looks like nothing we’ve seen before. His gun easily slices down the other MegaMech.

Everyone gathers up and Weaver discusses the ambush with Tom – and Weaver, Colonel Weaver, calls Tom “sir” when he suggests leaving before more surprises pop up. Everyone heads home

Home, of course, being the ruin of Charleston, though unlike last season there are people moving around on the surface as well as hiding underground. He’s greeted by General Bressler as “Mr. President”. Well that explains the sir I guess. Both General Mason and a Ms. Perlata (who seems to be Tom’s new assistant) tell him he’s a naughty president and shouldn’t be leading attacks. Tom makes it clear he’s going to keep fighting. As he walks through the returning people we have a few recaps – Professor Arthur is now chairing committee meetings, he tells Weaver to call him Tom – not sir, professor or president and we learn 7 months have past. And Hal is helped down from his firing position into his wheelchair. Well that’s new, last we saw of him he was getting his evil side together with an alien parasite, not being disabled.

Pope is still a horrible person who is really not thrilled to have either the Skitter rebels or the new aliens about.

In the infirmary Lourdes and Jeanne lead Diego to a heavily pregnant Dr. Anne Glass and they put him in the new shiny anti-harnessing machines which Lourdes says removes harnesses completely, painlessly without any sideeffects (so sounds more comprehensive than with Ben). By the blue light and strands it uses, it’s clearly alien technology. Anne reunites with Tom, they’re still a couple and he wants her to take things easily though she’s the only one who knows how to use the alien machine.

And Tom finally makes it to his military mission, with Ben, Hal, Weaver, Bressler, a Skitter rebel and a lot of military folk – and in behind Tom comes Cochise, of the Volm. The new alien; Weaver questions his presence by Tom points out that as an ally they should be involved in military planning. Especially since the ambush the bad aliens (who I will call the Overlords from now on) was so neatly planed that it looks like they knew the humans were coming. A major possibility, especially considering the eye-worms and other alien moles. Of course, Bressler is more on the side of “waaaah aliens evil! Why do we have these aliens around! Evil aliens!!!” A much wiser Colonel Porter points out that a year ago they could barely survive and now they’re scoring so many victories that the Overlords are resorting to espionage. And the only reason they’re doing so well is because of the rebels and the Volm.

Cochise speaks up in an echoy alien voice thanking the general – and then gets all awkward when everyone looks at him. Awww, poor Cochise. But he adds that the Espheni (what the Volm call the Overlords) have also deployed their MegMechs which usually are reserved for enemies with better technology – proof that the humans have unnerved the Espheni. Bressler stomps that they haven’t had a large decisive battle. Cochise points out that’s actually what the Espheni are good at – guerrilla warfare is what confuses them and defeats them.

Bressler says that makes no logical sense. Cochise doesn’t call him a fool but does ask why he expects extra-terrestrial beings to observe human logic. Returning to the mole, Tom decides to appoint Arthur Manchester to search out the mole since he’s both good at such investigations and didn’t know about the mission anyway so can’t have been the spy.

The meeting breaks up and Hal and Maggie go to bed – and Hal dreams about walking out into the woods to meet Karen – that’s Espheni possessed Karen – and kissing her. He wakes up in shock, Maggie comments on the nightmare which has apparently been common and he hasn’t been remembering them. He doesn’t want to talk about it and is sharp when she pushes and snaps at her for putting his wheelchair out of reach.

Tom walks with Marina Perlata, his assistant, as she gives him a list of things he needs to handle, including a citizens’ council to be ready for – with news of the possible spy already leaking out. And he meets Ben and Dani who tell him the leader of the Rebel Skitters wants a word but doesn’t want to come into the city because he doesn’t feel comfortable with the anti-Skitter talk.

In the clinic, Hal is working through physiotherapy. Maggie and Lourdes watch, with Lourdes reassuring Maggie that he’s doing well but Maggie confides her worries with her. Apparently, there’s nothing physically wrong with him – and Maggie blames his disability on something Karen did to him. Hal also apologises to Maggie for how he’s been acting.

Continuum, Season Two, Episode Seven: Second Degree

This episode starts with a flashforward of Julian in a cell when guards enter, order him to his feet and instruct him that it's time.  In the present, Julian is in a cell when a guard enters, and handcuffs him.  Both future and present Julian are being led out and it appears as though future Julian is being led to his death, as his fellow soldiers bang on their cell doors.

Kiera and Carlos are at Helena's grave site and Kiera says that Helena was braver than her because she made a life for herslef in this time and forged connections.  Kiera notices that the grass at the grave site has been disturbed and so she uses her tech to discover that someone has removed Helena's body. Carlos asks why someone would want to steal a corpse and Kiera suggests that only someone who knew Helena  was a time traveler would want to do this. Carlos says that he has to leave for a court date and Kiera tells him that she is going to look into two more bodies that might be next in line.  What neither of them know is that they are being watched by Gardiner.

Kiera heads to the morgue where she scares the attendant. The attendant tells her that Agent Warren signed for the bodies of two people from the future and removed them. When Kiera asks about agent Warren, the attendant tells her that ze is from section six.

Carlos is at the courthouse where he has a conversation with Jim Martin about the fact that Julian Randall's sentence was reduced to time served plus three months.  While Carlos feels no sympathy for Julian, he understands that because Julian was driving around a vehicle with empty barrels that it would have been impossible to get a terrorism conviction on him. Jim says that he hopes that the attempted murder charge will stick because he feels that will be the only way the city will  get any justice. Carlos points out that Julian shot him and says that should pull some heavy freight.  When Carlos moves to leave, Jim says that he knows that he let Carlos down and while he cannot change the past, he hopes to changes the future.  Carlos asks if Jim is trying to politic him and adds that the people want a mayor who works for their interests not his own.

Alec is working on some new tech when he is interrupted by Kiera saying that someone claiming to be section 6 just took the two liber8 bodies from the morgue.  Kiera adds that Helena's body has also been removed from her grave. Before Kiera can finish, Agent Gardiner interrupts her to say that he saw her and Carlos at Helena's grave today and that he plans to recover the casket. Kiera surprises him by saying that it's a good idea because she has a feeling that something is up.  Agent Gardiner asks Kiera if that is it and she tells him that someone impersonating section 6 was at the morgue today.  Gardiner replies that there is someone impersonating section 6 but believes he and Kiera are talking about different people. Kiera tells him that whoever it was illegally removed two liber8 bodies from the morgue and she suggests he do his job and help out for a change.

Kiera heads to the courthouse where she sees Sonya.  Kiera yells to have the exists closed and gives chase but when she heads outside, the Sonya is gone.  Back in court, Carlos testifies that he identified himself to Julian as a police officer, as Kiera enters the courtroom. Kiera looks over the jury and notices that at least one of them has an elevated heart rate.  The witnesses stand up and chant "free Julian Randall,"  and the judge orders the court room cleared.

Jim is in a parking garage and as he walks to the car, he is clearly giving a quote to a newspaper on the phone.  Before he can get in his car he is accosted by Travis, who says that he wants a mayor in his pocket. Jim says that he can't do that but Travis tells him that he heard he was bought and paid for.  Jim denies this claiming to just be an advisor, so Travis tells him that whatever he lacks in Sonya's financial leverage that he more than makes up for that in organization. Jim promises Travis that he will be one of his first targets when he gets into office. Travis accuses Jim of wanting to hide his treachery behind a tough on crime agenda because it has worked for a lot of people.  Travis suggests that Jim keep Sonja's money but run by every move he makes by him first. Travis tells him that he had better do this because they are everywhere and can always get to him.  Travis then walks away telling Jim that he had better win.

At the courthouse, Kiera tells Carlos that Sonja was there but managed to slip away.  Carlos believes that Sonja must have an interest in the trial. Kiera agrees and says that at first she thought it was the protesters but there was a juror who was anxious.  Kiera adds that Julian has a lot of value for liber8.

Gardiner is reviewing footage of the two bodies being removed from the lab but is unable to get a clear image of their faces.  He manages to catch the image of a face in the review mirror and calls Kiera. Kiera answers and says to tell Gardiner that she is not available.  When Carlos asks who she was talking to, Kiera says no one, so Carlos reminds her that she is not supposed to lie. Kiera tells him that she is using Gardiner to track the dead time travelers.  Carlos asks about the nervous juror and Kiera tells him that Carson works in real estate and is a member of the rotary club. Carlos points out that none of that screams liber8 sympathizer. Kiera says that she agrees and Carlos whispers for her to call section 6.  Kiera picks up the phone for the purpose of pretend and calls Alec.  He checks Carson's family and notices that there has been no electrical or internet usage since the trial began. There also has been no debit card, cell phone or credit card usage in the last 48 hours. Carlos asks if section 6 has been Alec the whole time and when Kiera says yes, Carlos replies that Alec is good.  Kiera then asks what Carlos thinks is going on and Carlos suggests that Carson's family could have been kidnapped. Kiera adds that if this is indeed the case that Sonya is setting up Randall's trial to fail.

Carlos gets off the phone with his contact at the Ministry of Justice and tells Kiera that each of the jurors was given a break before they were sequestered. Apparently, Carson used it to check his email. Kiera calls on Alec, who checks the email and Kiera says that since this was the only outside contact that this had to be how they sent the threat.  The email is a video of Carson's family bound and gagged with the word innocent over it. Alec tells Kiera that his mother is due in court and says that he has to go.  Looking at the image, Carlos magically surmises that the family is being held in a fishing boat.  Kiera and Carlos then go to see Inspector Nora Harris, who wants to inform the court that the jury has been compromised. Kiera says that is not a good idea because if the court dismisses the jury for tampering that it will place Carson's wife and daughter in danger. Carlos adds that they should keep up the illusion until they can find the family. Harris instructs them to find the family before the trial is over, adding that otherwise, she will have no choice but to report to the judge because the trial is too important to go off the rails.

Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 10: Mhysa

The season finale of Game of Thrones, George R R Martin has already retired to his dark tower, feasting on the anguish and agony of fandom after the Rains of Castamere. After such an ending, let’s see what he’s got prepared as a finale – and, remember folks, don’t get attached to anyone. This is George R R Martin, he will kill your precious.

Kings Landing

Sansa walks with Tyrion through the pleasant gardens with Shae bringing up the rear with a less than amused look on her face. When people mock him, Sansa hears him reciting a list under his breath – and asks if it’s a kill list. He’s bemused, he’s not Joffrey, he’s not going to kill someone for laughing at him – now make them FEAR death, that’s very different. She tries to encourage him to ignore it and he gently tells her to teach her grandmother how to suck eggs; and they joke about their mutual disgraced and mocked status. She decides to help Tyrion with his vengeance and it’s clear her ideas come down to childish pranks – reminding us how young and na├»ve Sansa is.

Which is when Pod collects Tyrion to attend the Small Council – where Joffrey looks positively bouncing with glee (Tyrion asks him if he’s killed some puppies). Pycelle, using his infirmity as an excuse, drops the message to show Tyrion, making him collect it from the floor. It’s, of course, the message about the Red Wedding that has Joffrey virtually cartwheeling round the room. Joffrey, being Joffrey, can’t just leave it at that – he wants to serve Robb’s head to Sansa at his wedding feast. Tyrion says no and Cersei tries to pass it off as a joke. Joffrey, of course, insists he means it and Tyrion again says no – Sansa isn’t his to torment. To which Joffrey says everyone is his to torment – and calls Tyrion a monster

So he should be careful then – monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dropping like flies. Oh Tyrion, I’ve missed your lines. Echoing silence follows. Pycelle tries to curry favour pushing for Tyrion to apologise (they also don’t get on), Cersei tries to sooth Joffrey, and Tywin is severely unimpressed by Joffrey’s posturing, telling him a real king doesn’t have to remind everyone of the fact all the time and asks him to remember it once Tywin has “won his war” for him. In response Joffrey unleashes a tirade about what a warrior his father was while Tywin hid under Castlery Rock.

*munches popcorn* ooooh, for the beatdown Joffrey is about to receive, we are all truly grateful.

Tywin has Joffrey sent to his room. Awwwww, I expected so much more. Joffrey has one more little tantrum before being dragged from the room – and everyone else leaves, except Tyrion who Tywin tells to stay. Tyrion instantly jokes about Tywin sending the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper, to which Tywin makes it clear a crown doesn’t make you powerful. Tyrion points out there’s no way Frey would have acted alone and Tywin is definitely behind it – and Tyrion disapproves, slaughtering people at a wedding is just not done. Tywin thinks killing a dozen at dinner is better than 10,000 on the battlefield but no-one, least of all Tyrion believes his humanitarian impulses. Tywin doesn’t care, but Tyrion knows the northerners will never forget. Tywin thinks this a good thing, declares Roose Bolton Warden of the North until Tyrion’s son by Sansa is an adult; which he expects Tyrion to get on with despite Tyrion’s insistence that he won’t rape her. Tywin dumps his guide to being a good man and how to be a successful house on Tyrion – someone who puts the needs of his family before his own desires or the desires of his family. Which explains a lot about Tywin; of course, as Tyrion points out, that’s an easy philosophy to maintain when you’re the one deciding what the family should and shouldn’t do – all Tywin ever does is suit himself. Tywin counters with a vicious attack, when Tyrion was born he wanted to drown him, but he raised him instead because he’s a Lannister

Ouch. He goes to see Sansa, distress and sees her crying and looking out the window. He leaves her alone.

In the gardens, Varys visits Shae, talking about her coming to the country, her influence over Tyrion and how bitter her situation is, even though she likes and cares for Sansa and certainly doesn’t blame her. But she is jealous – Sansa is beautiful and highborn and Varys laments that no matter how much they live with the highborn, they are never truly one of them – and adds that they are foreigners as well, and will always regarded as such. They both have one name – in a place where only the family name matters. He gives her a large sum of diamonds and encourages her to go to his house in Pentos – or Myr or Lys and live in luxury. He’s trying to get rid of her because he believes that Tyrion is one of the few men who can make the 7 kingdoms a better place – he has the line, the will, the right last name – and she is a distraction. Even though she loves him, she is harming him and he wants her to find her happiness elsewhere. She throws the diamonds in his face and tells him that if Tyrion wants her to leave he should tell her himself.

Tyrion is busy getting drunk – or staying drunk rather – and forcing for Pod to do the same until he is chased out by Cersei who joins Tyrion. She tells Tyrion to have a child with Sansa if he wants her to be happy – he points out her children don’t make Cersei happy which she admits, but adds that without them she’d have killed herself long ago. Even Joffrey, followed by a truly awesome and raw speech that shows her love for Joffrey they even he can’t take from her, even as she recognises him as a monster.

Jaime and Brienne arrive in Kings Landing, disguised as peasants (and treated as them as well by the random workers). He enters the palace and finds his sister

The North: Bran & Co

They arrive at the Wall and one of the abandoned castles. They shelter inside though Bran is nervous because of all the dark stories he has heard about it – and Bran shares one of them with us; a cook who killed the kings son and served him to his dad and the gods then cursed him for being a poor host. The lesson from this? The gods have really messed up priorities and when I visit you better bring out the best china!

That night, they hear wailing haunty noises and confront – Sam! And Gilly. And Sam realises who Bran must be. Since he owes Jon a lot he quickly declares he’d do anything to help his brother – so Bran asks him to take them north of the wall. Sam thinks it’s a bad idea and wants to take them to Castle Black – but Jojen reminds them there’s nowhere safe anymore – and Jojen knows all about the White Walkers and their armies of the dead.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 126

This week we discuss the new season of Game of Thrones, Teen Wolf and Falling Skies as well as the season finale of Revolution

Our Book of the Week was Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Our next few books of the week are:

10th June - 17th June: The Fury by L.J. Smith
17th June - 24th June:  Hunted by Kevin Hearne
24th June - 1st July: The Mermaid’s Madness by Jim C Hines
1st July - 8th July: White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana