Saturday, July 27, 2013

Comic-Con Highlights: Defiance

Yet more videos from Comic-Con (oh how I wish I was there). This time for Defiance that has been renewed for a second season and we can't wait for it's return

Almighty Johnsons Season 3, Episode 4: Like the Berserkers of Old

Time for another day of Axl joining Mike in rebuilding his home, Mike and Michele in bed and Michele hating the chaos, dirt and dust and Axl bringing in the ceiling. Over that bed. That’s not made things better.

With the house officially unliveable, Mike insists they stay at Michele’s flat, temporarily, especially since it’s 2 bedroom with one person in it. Michele finally has to tell him that her tenant is her mother – and she’s dreading moving back with her.

To the flat, to meet Michele’s mother, Karen who is… pretty pleasant. A bit full on, over enthusiastic and she calls Michele “snappy”. Which is an awesome nickname which should be used forever and ever. Of course, Karen is also a goddess (and, strike against her, she liked Colin – Loki – but, then she seems to like everyone) – Lofn (oooh the gentle matchmaker); she loves parties and Mike’s the god of games – sounds awesome. Michele looks like she regrets Sjofn’s powers don’t let her sink into the floor.

At Anders’s office, someone has left Ander’s a briefcase full of money (which he had Dawn open because he’s a coward). A briefcase full of money with a note to meet the anonymous benefactor if they want more. Dawn is very sensibly suspicious, Anders is very typically greedy and foolish. Always listen to Dawn, Dawn is always right

The meeting turns out to be with Colin. Loki. Turn around and walk away now Anders. He says he needs Anders – oh gods walk away! Colin wants to be mayor! Because it’ll be fun! And, of course, he wants Anders with the powers of Bragi to make it happen (and his boyish good looks won’t hurt). Anders objects on the grounds of Colin blowing up his brother’s house and Colin responds with some objectification of his assistant, a round of homophobia, mocking Anders for being on Mike’s leash and a briefcase with a nun puppet in it. Yes he’s as confused as I am

From nun puppets to a church full of congregants singing a hymn – with Olaf and Stacey among them. After the service Stacey laments that they’re nice people, because they’re going to have to kill them – or smite them as Olaf puts it. They go from the church to Mike to explain things – Stacey tracked them down, they’re the god hunters like the murderous Natalie. And they plan to try again.

Gathering many of the gods together, Stacey tells them how she tracked Natalie back to her source showing some pretty decent deduction skills, leading her to Natalie’s tearful husband Bevan, in New Zealand. (Ingrid continues to be nice and fluffy, Stacey much harder on the god murderers) they followed him to his church and, examining the church, found a cell within the church that are god hunters – probably 6 of them. (Also Olaf is just awful at undercover). Stacey found they where planning to meet that day at 2 – so they’d all be in the same place for the gods to, as Olaf puts it, smite them.

Stacey suggests just giving the information to Colin and letting him burn the place down (don’t rely on Loki!) and Ingrid objects to murder, Mike agrees – and Axl invokes Odin-ness (causing much sarcasm from Mike) saying that bringing in Colin is always a bad idea (behold wisdom), and that they go round and get the jump on the hunters. Mike agrees – but not taking Axl, because Odin dying kills them all. Also, no he’s not in charge yet. They go and leave a bitter, sad Axl behind.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Comic-Con Highlights: Warehouse 13

Some more vids from Comic-Con panels - this time Warehouse 13. Back with us soon, I hope

Real Vampires Don't Sparkle by Amy Fecteau

Matheus had put a lot of effort to escaping his past and leading a nice boring life free from any kind of drama – or any real human contact. Until he was recruited to steal something from his workplace

And by recruited, we mean threatened with terrible, horrible torture until he complied. If there was any doubt as to the sincerity of the threats, his contact is a vampire. And to ensure his silence, he makes Matheus one too

Learning to become a vampire isn’t easy – less so when you have considerable resentment towards the vampire who murdered you. There’s a lot to learn, a lot of hoops to jump through, city politics to navigate, hunters to dodge – and some surprising revelations to learn about himself as well.

But even that gets complicated when his long hidden past returns in force.

A book about vampires! Time for me to get my big big pile of clichés and tropes and scenarios I’ve seen again and again and again…

And throw them out the window! Because they don’t apply here! Yes, I’m quite gleeful about this. A vampire story without so many things that are now staple – and impossibly gorgeous vampire, lots of angst for no good reason, a whole lot of sanitising what it actually means to be undead and a monster with a heavy side order of super powers and romance.

Not this book. First of all becoming a vampire is difficult and really messy – as Quinn notes, he really should have brought a mop.

The vampires drink blood and kill people. This isn’t a choice and there isn’t an alternative – for a vampire to go on living they kill people. This is a moral quandary and it is treated as such –something to think about and feel guilty about and try to find exceptions and minimise the damage and have considerable resentment from Matheus towards Quin for both murdering him and dooming him to murder other people. It’s not angst in a “oh what a terrible person I am” but it’s extreme discomfort, anger and fear over what Matheus has become and what he has to do rather than the very tired angsty monologues over nipping a vein. It has a depth, a nuance and a strength to it that is sorely missing in so many stories of monsters that regret who they are.

In fact life and death continue to be a major theme in the books. There are a lot of deaths and they’re not even slightly sanitised. It’s graphic, it’s often brutal and it’s not pretty nor is it meant to be. People die – and no-one’s expendable and no-one’s disposable and even people hunting you or working for the evil corporation are people with families. At the same time, while everyone who dies is human, Matheus is not a saint – and he’s certainly not going to weep for his torturer – and Quin is far too jaded by his centuries to feel anything.

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 10: Business Unfinished

Today’s theme seems to be business and eternal to-do list and Delores giving George a massively repetitive task which she thinks is soothing and zen. Delores can find a bright happy side to everything ensuring that, if I knew her, I would have to kill her. George seems to agree with me on that score. Increasing the chances of murder, George also works enough hours to qualify for their health and pension benefits – which means lots of deductions so she takes home less money

Ok, this seems like a very odd system

This means she only orders toast at the Waffle House and is most unhappy. Unlike Roxy who comes in with balloons and good will for all. She must be ill. She even wants to buy George breakfast she feels so blissed out; Rube gives her 2 days off. See, I’m not the only one who thinks she’s ill. Daisy complains, of course, because she’s Daisy and someone needs to axe murder her. She also succeeds in ruining Roxy’s mood.

Daisy goes to reap a snobby racist woman surrounded by her rich fellows who gets set on fire by the flambé, not helped by her friends trying to put her out by throwing alcohol on her. Unfortunately for Daisy, rich snobby dead lady isn’t co-operative (but she has manners enough to get Daisy to tip the bus boy who tried to put her out).

So what does Daisy do? She takes the ghost to see Georgia at work – even calling her real name rather than the one she uses (Millie) at work. She has a plan to use her very rich ghost to get money –oodles of it. George is tempted but it’s just wrong to use dead people to make money. Very moral but it has to be said that both Mason and Betty regularly stole from dead people. This moral quandary lasts a few minutes before George decides to fake a dead relative to get time off. And Delores is such a happy dappy person she even helps George abuse the rules to get more time off.

They take their scheme – and ghost – to see Mason and she looks around a very nice house and asks if it’s a slum (she thought George’s work place was a sweat shop). She wants to communicate with her son. And for Daisy’s plan to work she needs Mason out of his house – which requires negotiation based on Mason’s creepy attraction to her resolving at 15% of the money and him getting to see her breasts. Mason, invest in porn and get your creepiness off Daisy, you can see breasts there and easily negotiate and extra 5%

Boycotting Orson Scott Card's Bigotry - Skip Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card, as you probably know, is a nasty human being and one of the worst bigots you could ever hope to meet. He has also written a series of books that are pretty popular and many a person, including those who think of themselves as straight “allies” have twisted themselves into knots about that.
And now one of his books has been turned into a film, Ender’s Game. I’m kind of disgusted that Lionsgate would go near this man - so I fully support Geeks Out’s petition urging people to skip this film.
And cue a whole lot of people defending, dismissing, downplaying and otherwise squirming around Orson Scott Card’s bigotry so they can justify to themselves why they should see the film coupled with a fair bit of aggression aimed at GBLT people who are calling for a boycott. Let’s cut through some of this homophobic apologism

Orson Scott Card’s precious opinions
First of all, while this is what is most often reported, Orson Scott Card is not just a man who disagrees with marriage equality (though why gay people shouldn’t boycott someone who fights against any of our rights bemuses me); he became a director of the hate group, NOM. That goes beyond even speaking against our humanity or campaigning against our rights or putting his money into the fight against gay people – he became the director of a hate group.

And he is actually in favour of overthrowing any government that supports gay families. He vowed to act to bring down and destroy a government that does so.
But this is just part of Orson Scott Card’s bigotry – this is a man who opposed every and all rights for gay people. He actually supports sodomy laws, he wants being gay to be illegal. He wants to lock us up for existing – that’s a genocidal policy aimed at eliminating us. That sounds like a pretty good reason to shun him.
Orson Scott Card is so utterly steeped in homophobia that he actually re-wrote Hamlet’s father as a gay paedophile, turning people gay. He’s on record saying that it’s sexual abuse that makes people gay.
Stop downplaying the extent of this man’s hatred and how much time, effort and money he has put into bigotry. If you need to deflect the truth to salve your conscience then that should tell you something.
And if you're going to raise "freedom of speech", go read this and this and this and this and this and this and this so we don't have to repeat ourselves

Why Boycott – the money
While Lionsgate have tried to do their best to downplay how much Orson Scott Card is involved and Gavin Hood, Harrison Ford and Robert Orci have definitely done their very best to dismiss concerns (which makes me think I should be boycotting more than Card if these three men are so desperate to downplay and ignore homophobia). Despite this dismissal, Card has most certainly earned a big wadge of cash from them turning his book into a film – not only that, but he is listed as a co-producer of the film. If this film is successful, he will get more money.
When Gavin Hood, Harrison Ford and Robert Orci say Ender’s Game has nothing to do with Orson Scott Card, they are lying to cover the homophobia. They are putting money into the pockets of a rabid bigot who has a track record of using his money to fight against gay people’s rights. The audiences of this film will be putting money in Orson Scott Card’s pocket.
And not only this film. If this film is a success it’s quite likely that more of Orson Scott Card’s books will be turned into films, raising his profile and putting yet more money into his pocket.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Comic-Con Highlights: Being Human (US)

Some More vids from Comic-con - this time from Syfy and Being Human (US), coming back to us in January 2014

Kiss of Venom (Elemental Assassin #8.5) by Jennifer Estep

Owen and Phillip are having a guy’s night out in the club – but Owen’s having a hard time letting go and enjoying himself with his head fully absorbed in how badly he messed up with Gin – which only gets more depressing when Gin and Bria come to the club for their own night out

With so much regret to mull over, it’s almost a relief when Owen hears a couple of assassins planning to take Gin down. The least he can do is try to keep her night undisturbed.

In some ways, this is exactly the kind of short story I want in a series that is this established – something to give me an insight above and beyond the standard plot, taking someone else’s point of view other than the protagonist I’ve seen over and over again, getting their perspective on things that maybe will show the events in a different way from what I’m used it. After all, the series is 8 books long, not including short stories, it’s good to hear from the characters who follow Gin around, see what their version of events are especially since Gin has had personal conflicts with just about everyone.

So opening the book and seeing Owen’s point of view was a big plus to me. Especially after everything that happened in the last few books with his ex-girlfriend and then the action at the Rotunda and trying to make up with Gin.

And because of that, I was very very very tolerant of recapping. Even if there was a lot of recapping – and oh boy is there a lot of recapping – because if you’re going to get someone else’s point of view on past events then you need to look at those events again.

But… Owen doesn’t exactly have an informative or deep point of view; about the only new insight I gained was his regret of all the years he lost with Phillip, the friend he cast aside because of Salina’s lie. Other than that?

Woe! I let Gin down! Wooooe!
Woe! Bria hates me because I let Gin down! I deserve it. Wooooe!
Woe! I am such a bad person!
Woe! Gin hates me – and she totally should!
Woe! A woman flirted with me and Gin saw and now she’s hurt! Woe, I’m a terrible person!
Woe! I treated Phillip like shit for years because I’m a terribad person! Woe!
Woe! I let my sister down! Because I’m a terribad person! Woe!
Woe! My extreme depression is now ruining Phillip’s night! I’m the worst person in the world! Woe!
Woe! I didn’t tip the waitress enough! I’m scum beneath her shoes! Woe!

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 5: Blue on Blue

Norrie and Joe (now living together) test their weird apparently Dome-received messages and they find an entire wall of the Dome covered in monarch butterflies.  Barbie staggers out of his car (since Julia won’t let him stay at her house due to him being a violent debt collector out to break her husband’s legs) and joins them staring at the butterflies. Past them they see a soldier – who actually acknowledges their existence rather than ignoring them like the past soldiers. And buses loaded with relatives of people stuck under the Dome.

Julia passes the news across the radio that the military will let them visit their loved ones at a designated time at the edge of the Dome (apparently the general public showing up anywhere around the Dome is still forbidden).

At the shelter, it looks like Jim left Angie in all night. She asks him to let her go but he’s having trouble absorbing that his son captured her and has been keeping her there. He decides to leave her down there so he can “think about things”. Uh-huh, and there he goes down the moral precipice of no return. And when he leaves the house he runs into the Rev. Coggins, like some kind of karmic punishment who tells Jim god has spoken to him and said “Moab”.

God could do to be a bit more talkative and informative. I reckon Coggins was doing a crossword and got to “place in Jordan, beginning with M” and the dome got frustrated.

Anyway, Moab, Coggins explains waving his bible, was a wicked, naughty place just like Chester’s Mill! Chester’s Mill’s in the middle of nowhere Maine – after 4 episodes I think it’s far far too dull to be all that wicked and naughty. Jim isn’t impressed and Coggins continues to get the word of god in his hearing aid.

Jim goes back inside and starts agonising over a picture of young Junior, before his kidnapping days, when Junior himself comes in, in police uniform to tell him about the visiting. Rather than address the kidnapped Angie in the shelter, Jim instantly thinks about crowd control and how Linda can’t handle it – and in a complete migraine moment, authorises Junior to recruit more officers. He’s so desperate to undercut Linda and seize power that he’s going to increase the power of his kidnapper son? Whatever guilt he feels about it is dealt with by yelling at Junior for not rushing off to increase his power base faster.

At the Dome people start arriving and Linda recruits Barbie to help crowd control (2 recruits – 1 obsessive stalker who has kidnapped and imprisoned Angie, the other a bookie’s enforcer who murdered your local doctor. Whatever your talents Linda, you are an AWFUL judge of character). She warns everyone to stay back since it blows up batteries – then she touches the dome and even kisses her husband through the Dome.

The Walking Dead Volume 9: Here We Remain

After the massacre at the prison, the group slowly comes back together and settles at Hershel’s farm. Everyone starts to deal with the magnitude of their loss and starts to plan where to go from here.

Any thought of staying is bashed by the arrival of Abraham, Eugene and Rosita. Abraham comes with dire warnings of Herds - huge mobs of zombies that they could never defend the farm against (which presents the quandary - anything defensible is sought out by other living people, anything the living don’t want can’t be protected from the zombies).

Eugene though, has an offer of salvation. He claims to have the cure for the zombies, information that could finally put the world back together - but they have to get to Washington DC to use it.

One thing Walking Dead is good at is over-all pacing for the whole series. After the extreme action and emotional hits of the last volume, this volume was considerably slower - not slow, but giving the reader chance to catch our breaths and deal with the aftermath, rather than hit us with more action before we’ve had time to process.

The dominant theme this volume is dealing with death. After all, so many people died last volume, all of them violently - and, for that matter, over the series - that everyone is grieving and suffering some trauma. It showcases the different ways the characters are dealing - or not dealing - with death.

Maggie has lost her father, 6 siblings and her neighbours (we also assume her mother, albeit before the apocalypse). Everyone she had any connection to before the zombies rose is now dead; all her relationships now will be formed post-apocalypse. Her reaction to this is to purge the memories of those she lost - she wants to leave the farm which must be saturated with painful memories for her; she wants to move on and even forget she had a family since she had such a large family all of whom have died.

Sophia has, if anything, gone a step further - completely forgetting her parents and putting Maggie in the role of mother. This is very similar to the reaction of Bill and Ben when their parents died and they were adopted by Dale and Andrea - they didn’t understand what had happened and they just looked to them for parenthood.

Michonne and Rick have both reacted to grief in a similar fashion - an almost delusional state. They are hallucinating - albeit, they acknowledge the fact, they know they’re hallucinating - but they draw comfort from almost haunting themselves with shreds of their loved ones. One wonderful part of this is, even when they acknowledge they’re mentally ill, neither of them feels ashamed of the fact. Sure, they keep it a secret because they know how they others will react, but they know it brings them comfort and they’re not going to let shame deprive them of the last contact they’ve managed to keep with loved ones they’re not ready to let go.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Revolution Pannel at Comic-Con 2013

We couldn't get to comic-con but we've been devouring the panels that have been recorded - like this on Revolution

And here we have a trailer for Season 2, coming in late September

Master of Plagues by Dewey B Reynolds

I try not to DNF books. Part of me always feels like I have been defeated by an abominable foe when I do not finish a book. I become driven to continue, to keep reading no matter what – literature will not defeat me!

Alas, sometimes it happens. But usually I fight the good fight for a long time before putting down the book, and this was no exception

The problem was this book came out swinging. Within the first 10 pages the book launched its first assault on my brain and it didn’t stop. Never did I think a book would lay siege to my tolerance for even the worst hacked together writing so early on. I should probably have put the book down right then and written it off as a book I simply could not read. But I wasn’t one to quit the field of battle without at least trying to fight!

By page 25 it was clear I was losing, my meagre defences were falling, I was putting the book down every other page to gape in shock at the atrocities perpetrated on the page. I had so many notes I think I had written more than the author

One page 50 I was well and truly defeated only momentum and a kind of stunned disbelief kept me going

20 pages later, I admitted defeat, I could not read one more page of this book. Raise the white flag, the writing had killed me.

And it was the writing. I have only actually come across one book that had worse writing – and I’m pretty certain that was written by a non-native speaker whose English was very poor.

We open with a group of 8 university students playing a wicked prank on the protagonist. This prank takes 3 chapters of the most painfully long writing imaginable. Every one of the 8 pranksters is described at pointless length. They each discuss the prank, then repeat the discussion, then repeat it again, then again and then yet another time. For some bemusing reason each one decides to tell the other what their phobias are (rats, snakes, bats, hurricanes, bees, ants, tornadoes, sharks).

Here is a sample of the scintillating dialogue:

“This very room gives me the creeps. In case you didn’t know, rats, especially the really big ones, drive me nuts. I just saw one with big glowing eyes.”
“You’re from New York city, Anthony. New Yorkers can’t help by have a big fear of rats. They’ll bite a whole into you the size of the Grand Canyon.”
“You’re right, Prudence. Us New Yorkers know about big rats.”
“I take it that big rats are your biggest fear, like your number one phobia.”
“Yes they are!” Anthony spoke with a tremor.
“Know what my biggest phobia is?”
“Tell me.”
“Bats!” Prudence detested
Anthony ceased from his brief tremor. He couldn’t believe what his ears had absorbed. “Did I hear you say that bats were your biggest phobia?”
“Yes,” Prudence rectified.
“Guess bat and rats can both be creepy”

{skip more damn musings about bats which no-one cares about}

Dana belted out a strong giggle. “You guys, we’ve all got something that we’re in fear of. For example, I’m scared to death of bees. “

After this, Megan tells us she’s afraid of ants. Which she’s already told us, but more repetition is needed, and Anthony sums up with this line
 “Then it’s official, guys. “ Anthony affirmed. “I’m scared as hell of rats, especially the really big ones. Megan is scared as hell of ants. Dana is scared as hell of bees. Prudence is frightened out of her mind of bats.”

Note that this agonising section of dialogue happens AFTER Anthony has already told us he’s scared of rats (twice) and after Dana has explained her fear of bees. But in case you missed it the first 3 times they said it, Anthony’s there nicely summing everything up for us. This dialogue – complete with random word uses like that bemusing use of “rectified” and belting out strong giggles and ears absorbing things rather than hearing them – is typical of the entire book. Everyone talks like this. Everyone. Then they just repeat everything they’ve said all over again.

This is just 4 of the plotters – for some unknown reason 2 of the other plotters, across town in a pet shop, decide to talk about their phobias as well. At great great great length. Then we move to the last 2 plotters – separate from all 6 of the others – and they’re talking about their phobias as well. At incredible length, yet again.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 8: Visionary

Flashback time! Back to when the Evil Argents, led by Gerard and Chris were hunting down werewolves – including a young Derek Hale. The wolfies hid – and we switch to Cora telling the story, how they hid for 2 days, the standard time for a werewolf to rest and heal. Which is what Cora tells Stiles and where she assumes Derek is in the present and she really doesn’t know why Stiles cares; to which Stiles recounts everything that has happened this season. And he’d rather like Derek to be involved in fixing some of it.

Cora doesn’t know – especially since Derek has changed, to which Possibly Evil Uncle Peter Hale tells us Derek used to be like Scott (I take this to mean less dark sexy brooding and more pouty teen angst. It’s the progression of your tortured moody hero). But he changed – and when he did his eye colour changed from blue.

Meanwhile, Allison has brought Scott to see Granddady Argent. Why, so Scott gets to kill Gerard?  Alas no, he wants Scott to use his werewolf pain relief on him to make him talk. Ok get him to talk THEN break his neck. Unlike usually though, this pain relief causes black veins under Scott’s skin and his eyes to flare yellow

Time for more flashbacks of annoying teenaged Derek annoying a teenaged girl, Paige, trying to impress her, then looking after her with tortured soulful angst eyes.

Back to Gerard, the werewolf healy thing is finished and another has doctor died – right after Deaton was rescued; as Gerard points out, almost as if the Darach expected Deaton to survive. Gerard suggests that Deaton is the Darach which no-one believes and then moans that though Scott cured his cancer he keeps oozing black mush which is really unpleasant. No-one is that sympathetic of his plight. Gerard says he can’t tell them how to beat him (Deucalion? The Darach? Either? Both?) And Allison turns to leave, having no time for the old man’s shenanigans. He throws out a crumb to stop her leaving – Deucalion is not always blind.

Stiles really awesomely pokes Possibly-Evil Pete for ducking questions and we continue with the completely random Derek first love story. Can someone please explain why, with all the big bad stuff Stiles has blatantly lampshaded, we’re tripping happily down memory lane? Admittedly, Stiles having embarrassing teenaged stories to poke Derek with could be amusing but it’s still not all that relevant. Anyway, Derek and Paige got all lovey-dovey and young!Pete got all creepy watching them. But their tryst was interrupted by a whole load of werewolves having a meeting

Gerard picks up the story – the same story – the packs meeting were all lead by the individual Alphas – Ennis’s pack (which was fighting the Argents after a beta killed a hunter), Deucalion’s, Kali’s – all their packs together discussed what to do with the Argents. They’d come to consult a local Alpha who was extremely well regarded – because she could turn into a wolf. An actual wolf, not the fuzzy man thing the others can manage. Talia Hale, Derek’s mother.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Walking Dead Season 4 Trailer

Coming back in October, here's a zombie fix until then

Sentinel (Sentinel Trilogy #1) by Joshua Winning

Nicholas lived a very ordinary life in Cambridge – until the fateful day his parents died.

After which Sam, his parents’ oldest friend, swoops in to try and get him out of Cambridge, to go stay with a godmother he’s never heard of in a large house in the countryside. What should be a simple trip is made harrowing by attacks and the revelation that his parents did not die by accident – they were killed by demons.

Which is what Sam, as a Sentinel, needs to battle and oppose. First and foremost that means getting Nicholas – who is special – to safety. But then he needs to help the besieged sentinels, including those who have been attacked and the increasing number who are dying

Unfortunately if I had to sum up this book in 2 words they would be “vague” and “slow”.

In this world we have evil dark demons of badness who are doing dark and nefarious things. They’re either coming to Earth or want to come to Earth or are on Earth and we wish they weren’t and they’re going to do bad stuff while here

What that bad stuff is, I don’t know. What these demons are, I don’t know. What these demons can do, I don’t know. They’re demons, they’re served by Harvesters (I don’t know what they are) and Familiars (I don’t know what they are). And they’re evil and want to do evil things.

Then there are the good guys called the sentinels. They fight the bad things, for reasons unknown but positively related to the bad guys being bad. I don’t know what the sentinels are, how they started, what their symbols are, what their resources are, what they do or how they do it. But they’re the good guys and they fight the bad guys. They also serve something called the Trinity – I have no idea what that is beyond the fact it probably isn’t the Christian Trinity. Esus is also involved as well – Gaulish Celtic god (not that the book tells me that, I just know the name. We just have Esus. He wields a mask. He’s important somehow).

Then we have Nicholas, the 15 year old. His parents were sentinels (tragic parent death) and he is special. How he is special I don’t know, but he was born special. I don’t know how. He may be able to do things. I don’t know what. But his specialness is such that the bad guys want to kill him and the good guys would rather that didn’t happen.

Continuum, Season 2, Episode 11: Second Guess

In the future Kiera is having her CMR chip poked at and she asks what happens to their memories which are constantly recorded – she assumes they get erased every 36 hours. And the tech dodges the question. She presses and he lies – which her CMR tells her. He admits that he’s heard that nothing is erased, that the archive goes back years. Every waking moment Kiera has had the chip has been recorded. Kiera is horrified that her entire life is being recorded.

Kiera actually questioning! Will wonders never cease!

In the present at the police station there has been a major cyber attack attributed to Liber8; everyone password to their email accounts has been changed to Liber8. As to the fallout of that? One detective attacks another detective because he was having an affair with his wife. As Carlos says, hope everyone likes being in the glass house.

They consult with Dillon and he asks Betty to take advantage of the absent security to check the email accounts of anyone suspected of being close to Liber8 – both Betty and Carlos are very uncomfortable with that.

At Liber8 headquarters, Sonya isn’t happy – Lucas’s hack was supposed to get them private info not cause chaos. He claims it’s part of his plan, which doesn’t help because she wants to know when he was going to let her in on that plan. Lucas responds by acting more creepily and more cryptically. He leaves and goes to a van, opens it and talks to… Kagame! Who is also dead! Another Lucas hallucination? He tells Lucas to bring the city to its knees.

Talking to Alec, Kiera thinks it’s a great idea to hack Gardiner’s email while the attack is happening and see where he is. Alec passes on breaking into a CSIS agent’s email (this is the same Alec who was perfectly happy hacking into spy satellites and hacking to produce Kiera’s heavily redacted false credentials…). And phase 2 of Lucas’s plan hits – all the traffic lights are on green, causing a car accidents.

Back at the Police station the mayoral candidate Jim Martin (Carlos’s old friend, in Liber8’s pocket) is on the news promising miracles and Dillon gives a big speech about the city falling apart and how they should use the opportunity given to go after anyone who has considered a pro-liber8 or anti-police agenda. He’s doubling down on his police state. A series of police raids grand many people off the street at gun point. Police state is a go.

Dillon presses Betty about finding the hacker and they talk about her extreme discomfort with using illegal acts to pursue him and the drag net arrests – arresting people for looking at the wrong website or for writing an email that says Liber8 may have a point. Dillon completely dismisses her concerns.

As for the Jim Martin, Travis intercepts him to request that he arrange a meeting between him and Kiera over the disappearance of Garza. Otherwise he can kill Jim slowly and painfully. His choice.

Falling Skies, Season 3, Episode 8: Strange Brew

Tom wakes up from a dream - about alien invasion and people dying! But it was all a dream and he wakes up next to his loving wife in his nice normal home just 10 days before Christmas (and he still has to shop. Shopping 10 days before Christmas? I’d take the alien invasion). And he’s all soppy and happy – but his wife wants to know why he was talking about Anne in his sleep (whoa, take Alien invasion AND shopping 10 days before Christmas ahead of saying another woman’s name in your sleep while next to your wife).

Ok I’ve been patient. Explain these shenanigans please.

Everything’s all normal, the 3 boys bicker, Ben is wearing glasses and Tom is freakily groomed. Well groomed looks AWFUL on him. Hal has a girlfriend, Rita – and Weaver is a homeless doom-sayer with a sign proclaiming the end is near. I knew he was lying about being in the army! The policewoman who collected him could have been Karen – was that Karen?

Pope is a philosophy professor (my brain hurts at the very idea). Lourdes his student who he’s having an affair with, Anthony is the Dean of his college. And his secretary tells him an Anne Glass keeps calling him – but he’s never heard of her.

No, really, I’ve been patient – these shenanigans need explaining.

Marina another professor, Maggie is a student along with Lourdes and she’s excited because Tom taught her history where women did more than just domestic duties; and the mysterious Anne has left him an expensive bottle of whiskey.  Marina’s battling over the location of something but Tom sees homeless man Weaver again and decides to check it out but is interrupted by Dai (remember him?) Anne’s husband accusing him of having an affair.

In discussions with various people, the same 4 cities keep coming up. New York, Jacksonville, Chicago, Boston.

When Dai leaves, Pope arrives to try and get the city as well – while Tom watches Weaver be dragged away by Karen-cop again. Ominous music plays ominously

Shenanigans have still not been explained (though by the same cities coming up, the Espheni are using subliminal questioning to learn something from Tom about one of those cities? My guess).

The ominous music continues when he decides to ask his with who Anne is and about the random cities; she’s bemused especially with him zoning out. For a flicker, in the mirror, he a sees a reflection of the dishevelled Tom we’ve seen so often.

At work he draws up a whole whiteboard which tells him nothing and he gets another love note from Anne. He goes to Pope and tells him he’s being gaslighted. Pope, being a philosophy professor, responds with gibberish. Ben drops in to try and parse some sense and bring up the cities again, but Tom just acts more erratic – especially since he gets a text message inviting him for coffee from Anne.

She’s there in the coffee shop and greets him as someone who knows him and very warmly – and she wants to know where they’re going, those 4 cities again. She asks which one he wants to go to – it’s her Christmas present to him; and he zones out looking at homeless Weaver again. He comes back to himself and tells Anne she’s a complete stranger and he doesn’t understand why she’s haunting him. Anne has a huff, tells him to take his wife away instead – but tell her the city first so she knows not to go as well. More and more people repeat the cities and Tom begins to flash out of it

Monday, July 22, 2013

True Blood Sneak Peak

True Blood has a nice sneak peak of the rest of season 6 to whet our fangs on

Dancing with the Devil (Nikki and Michael #1) by Keri Arthur

Nikki is a private investigator blessed – or cursed – with considerable psychic abilities that definitely give her a leg up in her job. Certainly it should be enough to keep track of a spoiled and indulged off-the-rails teenaged girls at the behest of her unpleasant, but far-to-doting father

But that teenaged girl is in far deeper than Nikki had ever imagined, thrall to a vampire, becoming a vampire herself, she tries to lure Nikki in to her master, Jasper’s clutches. Her powers will be an incredible asset to him

Especially since he is being hunted by Michael, ancient vampire, troubleshooter – and on a mission to protect Nikki from Jasper. And settle his old grudge with Jasper while he’s at it, if he can, after having hunted the other vampire for decades.

His priorities become skewed when he meets Nikki and starts to consider a relationship he thought impossible.

There was a lot about this book that it got right. We had a very consistent internal voice, we had a developed and fairly clearly defined world (though I find the masquerade of the world a little odd). The pacing is really good – it runs at a nice steady rate. We have a hunt that is well maintained – the characters make a constant effort to catch the big bad that never has dead moments nor does it get massively distracted – not even by the romance. In fact the romance also has a good balance between pained introspection and actually getting on with the story

It does start with a rather grandiose turn of phrase and a lot of convoluted rambling, but the book soon gets that out of its system and knives can just be knives rather than blades glowing with argent flame. Later there’s some shaky characterisation with both the big bad's persona (who is pretty much a comic book villain) as well as convoluted ways to make Nikki share her tortured past; Michael keeps telling her Jasper is attacking her through her bad memories but we've never actually seen him do that

The main problem I have with this book is that there’s nothing shiny about it. It follows a lot of the traits and tropes I’ve seen elsewhere. Nikki has dead parents and a tragic past with an ex that has left her with issues and inability to trust. Michael has a tragic past and issues and a duty that will take him away from Nikki. Neither of them think they can fall in love but lo, love happens despite only knowing each other for a week. We have a big bad who is very big and very bad who Michael has a personal grudge against and he must balance his need for revenge against his love for Nikki. Nikki is a private investigator with psychic magic powers. Michael is a vampire. I've seen it before so many times

It’s not that it’s bad – the story isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that it reads like a basic urban fantasy/paranormal romance. There’s nothing unique here. It’s a template for so many urban fantasies and it just hasn’t coloured outside the lines at all. Many urban fantasies start with this – but then they embellish on top of it, they take the basic pattern and then add their own tweak, their own style, their own unique selling point to say why you should read them rather the gazillion and one other books on the market that are so similar to it.

I can only assume this is because the book is a re-release, while this is an ARC, the books were published before in 2000. Back then, it’s likely these books would be more unique and original – now they’re kind of lost in a sea of very similar stories.

There are also some tropes in this book I don’t care for at all, particularly related to the romance and the way Michael treats Nikki. Firstly, the romance is horrendously fast tracked; normally I wouldn't spend too many words on that because fast-forwarded “I just saw you and now I love you forever can’t live without you!” is a staple in the genre. But this goes above and beyond – Nikki and Michael are thinking about how luscious the other is on their very first meeting while neck deep in zombies. So fast tracked is it that Michael is already angsting about how their relationship is doomed to fail before they even have anything resembling a relationship (18% into the book!)

True Blood Season 6, Episode 6: Don't You Feel Me

While possessed Lafayette tries to drown Sookie, her distress rings Bill’s Sookie alarm – he lets Warlow go so he can zoom to the rescue, slamming Lafayette against a tree before using faerie light as an exorcism. Post exorcism, Sookie gets to curse her father out.

Unfortunately, having saved Sookie, Billith then summons Warlow back; Sookie grabs his hands and they do a sunlight faerie teleportation thing (that’s new) to parallel faerie soft-focus world. Billith is not impressed and tries to find Jessica to ask her about the pull when he summoned her, but she’s missing. Billith realises his visions of vampires dying are happening and starts angsting

Solution! Induce a coma so he can talk to Lillith. Yes this is the level of logic Bill is working under now. I agree with Takehashi, Bill you are out of your ever loving mind. Bill glamours Takehashi into draining nearly all of his blood, leaving him for a day, then putting it back

In the land of saccharine twee, Warlow asks Sookie to engage in some bondage.  It seems with the sun sinking Warlow’s vampire nature comes out to play and he can’t always control himself, especially when he’s hungry. So they tie him to a stone which Warlow binds to the Earth with his light (I’m less worried about him moving the stone and more concerned about the fact you’re using VINES to try and pin a vampire, even with the knots sealed). Also Sookie sucks are tying knots and did Warlow deliberately choose a stress position?

They make small talk about Warlow being born in 3500 BC and how Sookie is special enough to be worth waiting for. Sookie asks why she thinks the contract was ok and he points out it was written in the 1700s, arranged marriages were hardly taboo at the time. It seems if Warlow turns Sookie it also helps him immensely with his hunger and pain – because they could both live just off each other’s blood. Just them together forever – which is totally not creepy coming from someone he just met.

At the vampire camp, Eric and Pam square off and Pam is not amused that Eric has made another vampire. They levitate into the air looking awesome – before blurring into motion, opening the gun ports at the side of the cell and killing the guards prepared to shoot them. The psychiatrist loves the show (I kind of like him in a deeply creeped out fashion) everyone else watches the show except Steve Newlin who is scared. Pam and Eric impale the guard with one of the stakes they’ve been given – driving the stake right through the bullet proof, one way glass separating them from the spectators. Eric looks through the hole and sees Steve who duly starts whimpering.

Truman and Eric engage in mutual taunting and Truman rolls out Nora information he got from that “vamp queen” Newlin. They inject her with a new plague they’ve created – hepatitis V, contagious, lethal and anti-vampire.

And Jason is volunteering to join the LAVTF – the anti-vampire police and he actually interviews really well because his long experience around vampires has given him a whole lot of experience and knowledge. He plays the part well and the enthused recruiter goes to get the boss, while Jason disgustedly mutters about them being “racist.”

He joins easily and begins regaling his fellow LAVTF members with tales of his exploits when he’s introduced to Sarah Newlin he pretends to be a stranger to her and she the same - after all, she’s hardly going to want to reveal she slept with Jason while with Truman. Which is exactly what he threatens her with which would work if he didn’t call her a “whore for Christ” which is wrong on many levels.

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 7: Adèle

One year ago, Thomas and Chloé return home to find Adèle passed out in the bathroom with her wrists cut.

In the present, Toni and Serge walk through the woods away from their house after Toni shot at the police; though Toni is struggling and also worries about their mother who he thinks they left behind (except, of course, she hasn’t returned from the dead and it was just Serge’s way of hiding Léna). In the woods they find a bonfire, with animal bodies in the ashes. In case there wasn’t enough creepy

They stagger through the woods for hours, walking in circles until Toni can’t go on. Serge looks for a way out while Toni rests – and he sees his mother, before she disappears in the woods. She may have Returned

They swim across the lake rather than going round – and half away across Toni struggles, but something drags Serge underwater. Toni makes it out of the lake, but Serge is still missing

Léna, meanwhile has found a shower – and is cowering in it. When she hears footsteps she hurriedly pulls on some clothes, locks the door and gasps in panic when someone pulls the handle – until she hears it’s Jérôme and she hugs him in relief.

Creepy Victor is till creepy and he wakes a sleeping Pierre at Helping hands and tells him to follow; to look at the pretty lake. While I was getting confused (Victor isn’t at Helping Hands), it turns out to be just Pierre’s dream, he wakes up to Claire worrying and fretting and seeking comfort. So she shows her his food bunker (not a euphemism – this guy stocks like the end of the world is happening tomorrow or there’s an epic sale in the local supermarket. Or like my grandmother). He rather ominously promises her they won’t have to leave (I think being evacuated because the dam is breaking and there’s no power makes leaving a pretty good idea) and shows her his big stash o’ guns. This was supposed to reassure Claire? She doesn’t look reassured, nor about him talking about protecting Camille. He also has a creepy looking medical room (looks like a badly decorated dentist’s office) and starts talking about the book of revelations.

Let it be said that Pierre is really really really bad at being reassuring.

At Laure’s house Julie wakes up and beckons Laure over as she walks past – they kiss, passionately until Laure starts to lift Julie’s nightshirt. Julie is self-conscious because of her scars, but Laure reassures her, lifts the shirt and kisses the scars – which is when Creepy Victor appears being creepy. Laure yells at him to get lost and stop creepily watching them make out like the creepy thing he is and he leaves. Laure then apologises to Julie but worries if Victor is safe; Julie sensibly points out Victor is actually a child. Julie tells Laure her worry that she is one of the returned but Laure points out all of the Returned have been dead and buried for years – not Julie who was clinically dead for a few seconds 7 years ago and stayed around since then. But being one of the Returned doesn’t bother Julie – because it would give her a reason why the last 7 years she hasn’t been able to live. Victor goes to stare creepily out of the window.

Adèle has another awkward discussion with Chloé – about Simon being an angel or just the returned dead and, therefore, able to stay. Adèle reassures her it’s impossible – hah! She’s in for a surprise.

Simon wakes up (yes he was actually asleep) with Lucy; he’s all moody while Lucy tries to convince him to stay away from Adèle, he can’t have anything to do with them – he’s dead. She wants him to come with her – apparently she knows where the dead should go, but he wants to understand something first

Him and me both.

At Helping Hands, Camille and Mrs. Costa talk dead people stuff – like her husband killing himself when she returned; Mrs. Costa gets defensive and doesn’t want to answer Camille’s many questions. Mrs. Costa tells her how she died – but it’s different from what she told Claire and different again from what she told Jérôme. Camille calls her out for lying and Mrs. Costa turns it back on her – the lies Pierre encouraged Camille to tell to give the parents of the other crash victims “hope”. Camille is sure it helped them – Mrs. Costa doesn’t think so and tells Camille to look in the storehouse. Camille goes with Claire – and finds the bodies. And the others realise that Camille is at least partly responsible, while Pierre continues to maintain his cult.