Saturday, April 5, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Season 1, Episode 13: And They Lived...

The spell is finished – Amara squats by her son, ready to resurrect him as she is now one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world (with Jafar). Which involves turning her back on Jafar – which is damn foolish

Jafar refrains from killing when his dad arrives and tells him to stop because Jafar has super-epic, legendary daddy issues. The ex-sultan makes a plea for mercy which, it has to be said, is rather rich from the man who tried to drown his child. Jafar’s not impressed and uses his magic to finally claim his dad’s love. His father proclaims his love and devotion for his child – and then Jafar reals the second half of the plan; having secured his dad’s love he will then kill him so his dad can know what it’s like to be murdered by someone he loves. He then drowns him

Epic epic EPIC daddy issues. Y’know, all this seeking power has ended rather anti-climactically.

At least Jafar’s little act of patricide gives Alice, Cyrus and Amara chance to escape – by carrying him until they find a carpet to enchant. They flee to the White Rabbit’s burrow where Amara uses her magic to heal Cyrus. Introductions made, Amara announces that now they have to take down Jafar.

Jafar goes to hunt the Jabberwock with the Vorpal blade – because now he fears nothing. He stabs her with the sword (she’s apparently lost her teleport/super-speed ability) and pins her to the wall, imprisoning her.

Next he summons the Knave and tells him he’s brought Anastasia back from the dead! The Knave is overjoyed – except the catch is Jafar’s also used his magic to make Anastasia fall in love with him. Yes, Anastasia now loves Jafar – in a twist that is extra rape-tastic. He also decides to raise an undead army.

Amara’s plan is to return the water to the Well of Wonders, undoing the genie curse, removing the spell and her and Jafar’s super powers. Alice, not realising that Anastasia is back, protests that they promised to try and bring Anastasia back but Cyrus is on Amara’s side – they risk losing the Knave if they launch an outright magical war against Jafar. So new plan – Cyrus and Amara return the water to the well while Alice gathers an army to take down Jafar (he’ll still be a wizard even without super-god-power).

Jafar makes a stirring speech to his army – so they may be back from the dead but they’re not zombies – sending them forth to hunt Amara.

Alice delivers a much soggier speech to her army (that the Rabbit has recruited).

The first battles begin between the different forces - Amara isn’t much delayed – but Cyrus decides Alice won’t stand a chance without magic and, yes, she is defeated and captured and dragged before Jafar to be tied to the furniture. Jafar wants to know where Amara is and rather than use magic to read Alice’s mind or force a truth spell (hey all powerful and all that) he threatens Alice with going back in time and changing the past – making it so Alice and Cyrus never met.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Aliens have arrived in the waters of Lagos and sent their ambassador to contact a few special, gifted humans to carry their message of peace and inhabitation to the national government. They have remarkable abilities, but also goodwill – which they share with the inhabitants of the planet

Whether they are human or not. And some of those inhabitants have no reason to love humanity

But no matter how peaceful the message, it still shakes the people of Lagos. People react to this amazing revelation – and chaos soon follows as disparate groups clash, people react in fear and anger and others seek to understand the implications. And other still seek what they can get as order begins to crumble…

Where to begin with this book? It’s almost impossible because while there is one person I would say is the protagonist, Adaora, we also have a huge number of other characters, some of which are almost as prominent whose eyes we also see through. We get the few days of the alien arrival through dozens of different viewpoints – some of them not even human. Each of which has a new take, a new opinion and a new reaction to the amazing things around them

The different viewpoints bring a lot of fascinating takes to the reactions to the aliens – as we see different people interpret the major events differently, see it through their own lenses and react with curiosity or fear or greed or hope or awe. Each reaction within is shaped differently and even people coming from a similar viewpoint – for example, religious people – react differently despite their apparent surface agreement. People from the same family can be divided by fear, greed or hope.

I’m particularly amused by the man who ends up inviting a much hated alien to dinner and hosting him because no matter his opinions are he has good manners.

I think the reactions are so very real – which means this book full of aliens and wonders has a powerful sense of reality to it. Do we think people would be rational when faced with the presence of aliens? Do we think people would be irrational in the same way? Too often we tend to see stories that divide the population into the fearful/haters and the compassionate/realists. But it’s shows humanity in all its messy glory – people terrified of the aliens and thinking they’re a threat. People curious and desperate. People are looking for an advantage, some way to cash in. Some people are in utter denial and determined to continue their lives. Some people are terrified and think it’s the wrath of god. Some people think it’s a sign of god – and all of them meet together in one giant mess.

And, of course, there are people willing to capitalise on the chaos as well as people trying to bring some reason back to the whole mess. In between that we have chaos creating more chaos because panicking people just don’t make sense – not even close. I particularly liked both government officials not being entirely corrupt and useless (as is common in panic situations so the protagonists can save the day) and normal people stepping forward and being incredible heroes – even if they aren’t the protagonist.

The 100, Season One, Episode Three: The Earth Kills.

The 100 starts off with a flashback to a year ago of Wells, Jaha and Clarke watching what appears to be an old soccer game from earth. Abigail enters and whispers in Jake's ear that she ran into Bennett and the systems analysis is ready.  Jake stands and says that he'll be back soon days.

On earth, in present day, Clarke is looking after Jasper whose pulse is thready.  The rest of the 100 call out for Jasper to die. They're a supportive group aren't they. Clarke goes to get some water and she hears screaming, so she follows the sound.  Clarke wakes Charlotte, who is having a nightmare and introduces herself.  Really? Does this show really need a new character when it is already overloaded with characters? Charlotte was dreaming about her parents who were floated and Clarke reveals that her father was floated as well. Clarke asks how Charlotte ended up on earth and Charlotte reveals that she lost it and assaulted a guard when she was taking her parents things to the redistribution center.  Clarke points to the arc orbiting above them and suggests that maybe they can move past the pain because being on the ground is their second chance.  Charlotte and Clarke hug.

Trina and Pascal come out of the bushes but Trina says that she is hungry. It looks like they are planning to leave the group behind. Suddenly a storm starts up and the two cover their eyes.  Trina screams in pain.

Bellamy and Murphy are practicing throwing axes and when Murphy misses it, he blames it on the distraction of Jasper's screams.  Kids come out of the bushes and Adam reports to Bellamy that there is no sign of Trina or Pascal. Okay, for the record that's now three new characters this episode.  The writers need to start thinning the herd already. Murphy snarks to Adam about visiting his special tree while he was out there and Bellamy instructs Murphy to let it go because Adam took his punishment. Murphy then suggests that the two took off to have sex. Adam tells Bellamy that people are concerned and that the morale is really low.  Bellamy replies that the morale will go up when he finds more food.  Jones (new character number four if you are counting) asks what they should say when people ask about Trina and Pascal. Bellamy says nothing and that they should keep an eye out for them when the go hunting.  Adam and Jones leave and Bellamy informs Murphy that he is to stay there in case grounders are circling the camp. Murphy is clearly not happy to be left behind.

Clarke is still working on Jasper and wonders if the wounds are septic.  Clarke asks if Monty has made any progress in contacting the arc and Monty says no. Clarke puts a knife into the fire.

Octavia asks Adam to take a trip with her to the butterfly field but he does not answer.  Octavia walks up to Bellamy and demands to know what he did to Adam. Bellamy tries the whole maybe he's not into you routine but Octavia is not buying it.  Octavia tells Bellamy that he cannot keep everyone away from her. Bellamy says that Adam had to learn that when someone disobeys, they pay the price.  Octavia tells Bellamy she is paying the price and that the next time he goes on a power trip to leave her out of it. Octavia hears Jasper scream and rushes away.

Clarke is trying to cut off Jasper's infected flesh and Octavia tells her to stop because she believes Clarke is killing Jasper. Finn explains that Clarke is trying to save Jasper's life.  Bellamy enters and says that Clarke can't save Jasper because Jasper is a goner.  Clarke says that she is sorry that Jasper is an inconvenience but this isn't the arc, which means that every life matters.  Bellamy calls Jasper a lost cause and Clarke tells Octavia that she spent her whole life watching her mother heal people and there is room to be hopeful. Bellamy is not convinced and suggests that Clarke simply doesn't have the guts to make the hard choices and that he does. Bellamy declares that if Jasper is not better by tomorrow, he will kill him himself. Bellamy tries to order Octavia to leave but Octavia says that she is staying there.  Finn suggests that Bellamy is right.

In another flashback, an exhausted Jake has returned home and reports that he told Jaja that the arc has a year of oxygen, maybe two.  Abigail assures Jake that he will fix it but Jake says that this time, it's not a glitch, it's a system failure. Jake suggests that people need to know but Abigail says no in fear that people will panic. Jake tells Abigail that she sounds like Cain but Abigail asserts that Cain is right. Jake argues that they cannot avoid the truth but Abigail is not willing to risk anarchy and begs Jake to obey the council's orders and keep it quiet.  Jake says that he cannot, so Abigail asks him to do it for Clarke.  Jake replies that he is doing this for Clarke. Abigail tells Jake that if he moves forward that the council will float him and she will be unable to stop it.

On the ground, Finn goes to see Clarke, who says that she is fine with him believing that Jasper is a lost cause. In her hands, Clarke holds some herbs which she believes have antibiotic properties. Wells sits down to look at the herbs saying that he aced botany in earth skills.  Clarke hands it over saying that the grounders used it as a poultice and that a tea may be more effective, if they can figure out what it is.  Wells says that it's seaweed, so Clarke suggests that there must be a water source near by.  Finn says that he knows just the place, so Finn and Clarke start walking.  Wells calls out that he knows what they are looking for and asks Clarke if she does?

Revolution, Season Two, Episode 18: Austin City Limits

Neville finds Jason staring into any empty field and says that they need to leave and track Monroe.  Jason is quick to say no and asks Neville if he even cares what the Patriots have done to him.  Jason is concerned that he doesn't remember what he was made to do or what he will be made to do in the future.  Neville wants Jason to tough it out but Jason is adamant that his mother is dead and will never be returned to them. Jason grabs Neville and asks for his help. Nevillle tells Jason that he has to hold it together for a little longer. With tears in his eyes, Jason walks away from his father.  Neville screams at Jason not to walk away from him but Jason keeps moving.

Back at the camp, Miles learns that the cadets are heading to Austin.  Miles snarks about wandering around Austin aimlessly until they find some suicide bombers.  Miles is not only concerned that if the Patriots take Texas, there will be no one big enough to stop them but that the Patriots are three days ahead of them on the road.

Jason walks into the camp with a gun to Conner's head and says that he wants to help the rebels.  He releases Conner and puts his hands in the air.  Jason pulls out a letter from Truman's office.  When Miles asks how Neville feels about this, Jason replies that he doesn't care.  Jason hands over the letter to Miles and says that the Patriots are sending cadets to Austin, specifically 19 Arnold street.  Miles asks why Jason is revealing this information and Jason replies that he needs to go with the rebels and stop the Patriots.  Charlie asks if Jason is joking because he has screwed them over several times.  Jason admits that he is the last guy they should trust and shows them the tattoo. Jason admits that he has nothing but burned bridges in camp and adds that he needs payback. Monroe asks how they know that Jason isn't a zombie now and Jason replies that if he steps out of line, they should shoot him.  Charlie is shocked that Monroe is even considering this but  Monroe suggests that Jason could come in handy.  Monroe adds that if Jason makes one wrong move, they shoot. him.  Jason is then handcuffed.

Rachel and Miles talk briefly about Gene, who is healing from his wounds. Miles asks Rachel if she is sure she doesn't want to come with them.  Rachel asks why they plan to do with the cadets when they find them but Miles doesn't answer.  Rachel tells Miles to take care of Charlie and to watch out for Monroe.   Miles leaves Rachel and heads over to a wagon where Miles, Charlie, Conner and Charlie wait.  Monroe tells Miles to relax because he can handle 72 hours with the ball and chain.  I have to say that Bass has a point. They pull away from the camp.

50 Miles outside of Willoughby Texas, Aaron sleeps as Patricia stays awake in front of the fire.  Patricia puts her had into the fire and it starts to burn but she doesn't make a sound.  Aaron awakes and says that something smells good.  Eww, that means Patricia's burning flesh smells good. When Patricia pulls her hand out of the fire, the burns heal.

Miles, Charlie, Conner, Jason and Monroe get out of a boat and start walking. Conner asks Charlie what kind of number Jason did on her and she replies that the only person she trusts less than Jason is Conner.

The scene shifts to a very thriving downtown Austin with the crew walking the streets.  They arrive at 19 Arnell street and find a gun shop.  Charlie and Conner make their way inside and ask if a couple of kids have from out of town have been seen in the last few days.  The proprietor clearly does not trust them but says  that they are tell their deadbeat friends upstairs to stop making noise all night and pay up on the rent which is owed.  Charlie and Conner head back outside.

The crew heads up to an apartment area and Jason reveals what he thinks the Patriots play will be.  When they get the door open, they find the room empty.  Jason marks on the floor where he believes the grenades to be .  Miles says that Jason is paying off already. Jason picks up a lighter with a bald eagle on it and Miles digs through the ashes and finds a burnt piece of paper with an Arabic word. Jason translates it and Bass realizes that the Patriots are going to hit Blanchard, who is not a fan of theirs.  Miles suggests that if they help Blanchard, he will help them out.  Miles and Bass leave Conner and Charlie in charge of Jason, with the order to shoot him if he looks at them funny.

Bass and Monroe are in a large house and they hear the sound of someone being beaten.  When they open the door, they find a dominatrix beating Blanchard.  Bass takes the whip away and beats Frank a few times and he screams his safe word.  Bass takes off Frank's blindfold and Franks shocked to see Bass and Monroe.

Conner and Charlie continue to search and Charlie finds identification for California.  When a patriot sneaks up on the apartment, Jason attacks him and chases him down the hall.  Charlie has to pull Jason off the man, warning Jason that he will kill him. Charlie asks Jason who the man is.

Responding to Author Comments on our Review of Masks by Karen Chance

We have received an email from the author about our review of Masks by Karen Chance.

We don’t usually publish emails we receive but this email indicated that she tried to comment but could not, presumably due to Intense Debate (we’re not sure why the comments tool isn’t working for all our readers - if anyone else has any problems can you let us know). In addition, we will not edit our review to add the email as suggested, because we don’t agree with the points raised but also because, even if we did, amending our reviews after the fact because an author emailed us is really not something we, or (we think) any review blog should actually be doing. In both cases, however, we feel there’s a clear wish to make these views known publicly on Fangs.

We also feel that the comments made are more generally applicable to comments we have received about a number of reviews and would benefit from being addressed in general

The email in question:

Hey guys, I appreciate the review for Masks. But I had a few comments I wanted to make on it. Unfortunately, the website isn't allowing me to do so. I am therefore sending them in , in the hopes that you will amend them to the review. They're below. Thank you I appreciate you reading the book and doing the review, but I would like to briefly point out a few things.

1) The book is not "erased". There are four major players who are non-white: the consul (Egyptian), the senator (mixed race), Hassani (Iranian) and Marte (Egyptian). On the subject of Marte, Mircea describes her early on as having dark, curly hair and eyes, but doesn't mention her skin tone. But then, why would he have? They are in Venice. Olive skin is normal there. He took her for an Italian at first, because that was how she was presenting herself. There are also many other people from all over the world mentioned in the book: a gondolier is African, the consul and senator are Egyptian (or partly so, in her case), Hassani is Iranian, a hat seller is Spanish, Bezio is Sicilian, Martina is Greek, etc. It was a multifaceted, multicultural bunch that, I think, fairly represented the Venice of its day.

2) LGBT issues weren't mentioned because there was a rash of homophobic hysteria sweeping Italy at the time. I wrote about this on my blog (, specifically in the entry Inspirations VI if you want to read more. But basically, being an out person in Venice of the day was illegal and homosexual people were subject to death--by burning--if caught. I have LGBT characters (including Mircea's brother Radu) in my Dorina Basarab series, but it would not have made sense here. Any LGBT people in Venice at the time would have been keeping very, very quiet about it.

3) Class issues: Can I point out that a person being born poor doesn't make them a good person, any more than it makes them a bad one? There were characters born into poverty who ended up on the "good" side, and other who did not. Just as in life. The book was about the hand we are dealt in life being important, but not all important. We still have to play that hand, and we still make some crucial decisions for ourselves. The characters made their decisions, some good, some not so good. And their fates depended on that every bit as much, if not more, than on the class they started out in.

1) On the Racial Erasure

We have spoken before on the problem of Invisible Inclusion. Unless a character is depicted as otherwise in fiction, they will be read as the most privileged body. Even when they are described otherwise this is often a problem, as we can see from many corners of fandom being shocked when Rue was depicted as Black in the Hunger Games film and when an Asian actor was cast to play Magnus Bane in The Mortal Instruments.

Relying on the readers’ assumptions that a character would be a People Of Colour (POC) is, therefore, highly fraught. We are trying to avoid spoilers here so we will talk around one of the characters in question: the Consul is a person from history - and they do have a POC ancestor. But holding that to be sufficient to make them a POC raises a very dubious and highly prejudicial “one drop rule” argument.

And even if they were - this would require the readers to be aware of the fact to read her as a POC. And ignore that fact that she has been depicted in fiction on numerous occasions - as white. Fictional portrayals of this character - and, indeed, numerous historical POC - are repeatedly depicted as white. Fictional whitewashing was prevalent and even the norm; history is no guarantee of a POC portrayal in fiction.

It is always dubious to assume that an audience will read a character as POC when it has not been expressly stated (especially if descriptors are, at best, ambiguous - like dark, curly hair and brown eyes); time and again we have seen that to expect that from a western audience is simply unrealistic and highly disconnected from societal attitudes. If you describe a character as having brown hair and brown eyes with no further description they will be read as white.

To further stretch this and assume that readers should read a character as a POC because of (a very questionable reading of) history, despite how that character has repeatedly been depicted in fiction without any other markers is to stretch this to breaking.

In my review I used the words “largely erased” to describe Masks. This doesn’t mean that there were no POC in the novel but that they didn’t play any significant roles in the story. A minor character of colour, even when they fit into a privileged role in the story does not mean good inclusion. It simply means they have been promoted to obscurity. These characters don’t drive the plot because the book could clearly exist without them; such is the case with Hassani. To the suggests a group of Europeans constitutes diversity is to completely ignore that diversity means more that multiple Eurocentric ethnicities occupying the same geography.

Good inclusion involves fully fleshed out characters of colour with important storylines. They don’t act as sidekicks and they most certainly are not passing characters like a gondolier. Running afterwards and counting POC without considering them within the context of the story itself is problematic.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez

Imagine if you will a nameless witch cursed with beauty, the inability to die and a hunger for flesh.  Such a life would not be an easy one and indeed, for our nameless witch, it means a tortured childhood filled with little but neglect until she is found by her mentor.  Time passes as it does and our witch wakes to discover that today is the day her mentor is going to die.  The witch now has a choice to make, she can seek revenge for the one person she ever loved, in the process taking on a quest that will force her to confront her true nature, perhaps find love and actually die, or she can take a different road. Nothing is ever simple in the life of a nameless witch, even with companions like a demon duck, a troll, an animated broom and an honest to goodness White knight for a love interest, events might demand more from her witchly nature that she can possibly defeat.

As you might have guessed from my synopsis, A Nameless Witch is quirky and ridiculously delightful.  It is clearly set in an alternate world because the witch, does not cause much of a concern to the residents of Fort Stalwart.  The humans are in fact more concerned that the witch just might be a prostitute in disguise because the prostitutes outnumber the men 3:1 and this of course has over saturated the market.  Since the economy of  Fort Stalwart is largely based in prostitution, one can easily see how this is a problem.  

The nameless witch is a fascinating protagonist.   Though she is a witch who consumes raw meat and has a forked tongue, she is cursed with beauty.  Her hair shines, her breasts are perky and her behind round and firm.  The nameless witch goes to much effort to hide her curse by covering herself in dirt, ugly clothing and affecting a limp.  The beauty she despises makes her quest to live a good witchly life difficult. Through it all, people still see through her mask, making her more determined to hide. I found this to be quite the interesting twist on the well known trope of the beautiful woman bemoaning her perfect ddd breast size.

From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 1, Episode 4: Let's Get Ramblin'

Kate Fuller remembers better times of her father’s preaching while he sleeps off the booze – she decides where they’re going (and gets an email back from the not very assiduous police force about her father’s vehicular homicide issue) and that is to the Dewdrop Inn.

Which is where the Gecko brothers are, with Seth trying to think of a way to cross the border into Mexico. Seth isn’t in the best mood for listening to his brother given the escalating murders. Richie talking about being invisible by closing their eyes probably doesn’t help much.

Meanwhile Freddie’s boss, having found the dead body of Kate’s very-annoying boyfriend, calls Freddie all kind of annoyed that he’s charging off after the Geckos using the “pretext” of the Cartel serial killings. Freddie explains what his expert last week told him and gets an awesome line back
 “my son tells me lots of crazy things when I get home. That’s ‘cos he’s high on weed. Don’t make me listen to it at work.”

While his boss wants him to quit, he recognises that Earl’s last words pretty much make that impossible. I think I may like Crusty Boss Guy.

Back to the Fullers, and Jacob rams his son into a wall for referencing his drinking which just makes his daughter regard him with further outraged disgust. He makes his apologies to her in the room but she’s pretty clearly not very moved by it. She goes to the pool.

Family drama is interrupted by the arrival of the Gecko brothers and guns. Richie is sent to the pool to collect Kate (Seth doesn’t want to leave him alone with the hostages – I’m not sure sending him alone after a girl is a good idea either). She’s check the email – her father lied about the car crash that killed her mother. It wasn’t drunk driving – but it was speeding and an apparent fight between her parents. Richie arrives and starts hallucinating – starting with blood but quickly becoming disturbingly sexual.

Seth explains his plan to Jacob – he’s going to use the Fuller family as cover to get them across the border. Meanwhile Seth is bonding with the underage girl in a bikini and yes it’s exactly as creepy as it sounds. His psychic sight lets him see and comment on Kate’s pain and encourage her to talk to her father. And then really scares her by reading her memories back to her. Well it sends her running back to her room. Jacob makes all the standard pleas about only taking him but, as Seth points out, a creepy old man isn’t nearly as good a cover.

Time for a random flashback to Freddie’s first day on the job – because From Dusk Till Dawn simply cannot operate without a random flashback every 10 minutes. He and Crusty Earl kill a girl’s kidnappers and it’s very very gory, of course. I think this was inserted randomly so we don’t have his entire screen time be spent driving and obsessing over the knife. As he drives, his sat nav acts up, the radio changes, he starts zoning out and he accidentally cuts himself with the knife. All of that pales next to the ghost of one of those long dead kidnappers appearing to tell him to give the knife back to its rightful owners before yelling about tears of blood and spurting blood everywhere.

Their budget for fake blood must be huge.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Masks (Cassandra Palmer World) by Karen Chance

Mircea Basarab is a vampire who readers of Chance's Cassandra Palmer series are well acquainted with.  In Masks, Mircea is no longer the confidant, powerful centuries old vampire whom we have come to know. Masks travels back to fifteenth century Europe where Mircea is a newborn vampire, trying to adjust to his new undead life.  Even though Mircea is powerless relative to the courtesan who owns him, the senator who is intrigued by him. Though she has bigger fish to fry dealing with a  consul who has most certainly gone mad.  There are certainly good and bad vampires but when powerful vampires with unknown goals, grievances and priorities take interest in a newborn, it can be a dangerous thing, as Mircea is about to find out.

I have read all of the Cassandra Palmer's World and so when I learned about Masks, I jumped quickly on this book.  To see a different side to Mircea, was a huge hook for me. Though Mircea doesn't know much about what it means to be a vampire, he really isn't that different than the character we have come to know.  He continues to be confidant in his abilities and hyper aware of the world around him. Even though Mircea is essentially a slave and a prostitute, he eschews this label and instead sees himself as a free man in a precarious situation.   

Chance doesn't go as far as to give us an origin story for vampires but she does widen the world by telling us of the different ways in which a vampire can be made and the various talents they are capable of. This means that you cannot take any of the characters at face value.  It's a constant game of politics.

Being a former Prince, Mircea is a vampire with a lot of preconceived notions.  He thinks about the castles, power and wealth that he lost and it is not until he meets Bezio that his perspective on the world really changes.  Chance uses Bezio, a former farmer made vampire against his will to discuss class poignantly. To the poor, powerless person, it doesn't matter who is going rule because it essentially will not change their day to day life.  Chance also uses Bezio to talk about loss.  Mircea grieved for all of his worldly losses but it was Bezio who points out that as a poor man, he didn't lose any less; it was just valued less because he is poor.  One's home, one's family and one's identity is sometimes all someone has and that is worth something.  I loved their discussions and how it taught Mircea to look at power and identity differently. I do however feel that some of the good work was undone with Marta and her revenge.  Poverty exists because of an imbalance and greed and the way her storyline ended made it seem as though she was not entitled to her rage for the wrongs done her.

Being Human US, Season 4, Episode 12: House Hunting

Aidan drops in to see Kenny who has lots of passive aggressive hints about who really killed Astrid and makes it clear he’s not leaving town until vengeance is his. Aidan tries to talk him out of it because vengeance is totally no fun, honest. Aidan also borrows a moving van off Kenny because he likes to push it, it seems.

Back at the house, Ramona (the creepy girl ghost) is worried about them all leaving and Sally has decided to make it her mission in life to save her. Partly because she knows what it’s like to be trapped in the house and partly because she doesn’t have a life to move on to, unlike the others  who are kind of moving on. Sadly, no-one takes the opportunity to remind her that SALLY INTERVENTION ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS GOES WRONG! But Aiden will help because he’s totally not leaving without newly found true love Sally

Ramona disappears which everyone writes off as totally fine and not even slightly ominous, honest.

Josh and Sally pack and Josh looks for boxes for his things – and Nora says he can totally use hers. The big subject – is Josh moving in with Nora – is finally addressed. He doesn’t want to assume, seems to accept the awfulness of what happens and even if Sally’s little possession cure worked, he doesn’t know that for sure and understands Nora not wanting to risk this. She still wants him at her flat so they can start married life together

And in the basement after much dancing around the subject and Sally lamenting the fate of some tights, Aidan invites her to come with him – to haunt him. Ramona seethes upstairs in her room all alone.

Like any set of room mates leaving a place, they argue over communal property which is delightfully normal (why does Aidan want a coffee maker and cookware?) I love the bickering, yes yes I do. They’re arguing over a really ugly statue too.

Beatrice, Ramona’s sister shows up to double check if Aidan REALLY saw her ghostly sister. Because there’s a problem with that – see her parents were sort of devil worshippers and they summoned a big bad demon called Haymen (as you do – this was before the internet. People were much much more bored). But they needed a sacrifice. Luckily they had twins – one of which, Beatrice, they named and raised as a daughter. The other they stuck in a secret room and shut them off from the world (Beatrice named her) until they were 10 and Ramona just disappeared after another demonic party.

Ramona appears and Beatrice can see her – something Ramona puts down to them being twins. Problem is that Ramona blames her sister for her death, for not stopping it and, despite Sally et al saying otherwise, she’s not in a forgiving mood. She kills Ramona then spookily announces “she’s not part of our game.” The gang runs being not entirely stupid – but upon passing through the front door, they’re all teleported to different rooms.

Even Sally? And you’d think ghostly powers wouldn’t work on a ghost, especially a ghost with witch woo-woo.

Each of them faces something bound to cause lots of angst. Aidan is locked in with Henry – his vampire child who died from the virus – who is now a ghost (impossible since vampires can’t become ghosts). Sally is locked in the bathroom with Kat (Aidan’s ex who rejected him when he showed her his vamprieness) who says she can see her and isn’t happy. Josh gets Julia, his ex-fiancee who died when she saw he was a werewolf. Nora gets Emily, (Josh’s sister), who is drinking.

Aidan, confronted with a vampire ghost, sees a possible vampire afterlife which is a mixed blessing because over the years the only reason he hasn’t committed suicide is because he didn’t think he had an afterlife waiting – and Henry thinks Aidan should join him in order to save the future people Aidan will inevitably kill. A stake appears. And if he commits suicide… Aidan can be with Sally.

Emily tells Nora how terribad Josh is and how he’s ruined everyone’s life. A journal appears supposedly documenting Josh’s continued inability to control his wolf, the rage and the urge to kill. Emily also throws in the big surprise that Nora is pregnant – and she can’t protect her baby from Josh.

Kat wants to tell Sally how impossible a ghost/vampire romance is and how much better she is for Aidan.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 18: Smoke and Mirrors

The Founder has taken over Ultra and declares to everyone that they will no longer hunt Paranormals, that they were blessed beings who needed to be part of society and it was all the evil evil evil Jedikiah’s fault. In future new breakouts will be educated and told to behave and released!

I’m impressed – I thought Stephen “undercover” was the most ridiculous attempt at subterfuge on this show, now they’ve topped it! Seriously no-one can possibly believe the Founder here.

Meanwhile John is angsting over having killed Cassie which he rapidly gets over when he makes out with Cara when Stephen interrupts them. AND HE COMPLETELY BELIEVES THE FOUNDER HAS HAD A CHANGE OF HEART

Oh for gods’ sake! Someone get me a bottle of something at least 30 proof, because there’s no way I’m getting through this episode without it.

Anyway, we have a new breakout using his powers to do magic tricks in the street. Hillary takes this to the Founder with Stephen and the Founder is being creepily nice – wanting to be called by his first name and his door is always open – is anyone (except the not very bright Stephen) actually buying this? Stephen then has a little hissy fit at Hillary and now he chooses to be cynical about the Founder when it gives him the chance to get on Hillary’s case – but he was defending the guy to Cara and John. They have a bet on whether the Founder can be trusted or not

And Stephen is ambushed by Jedikiah for a meeting. Jedikiah wants help bringing down the Founder, Stephen point out that Jedikiah was the one with kill squads. He says the Founder plans to kill millions of humans and he needs Stephen’s hardly-ever-used time stopping ability. Stephen isn’t ready to jump to Jed’s team.

Hillary and Stephen go out for a drink and see Monty’s act (hey, anyone remember Stephen is supposed to be 18?) and track down the break out – though Cara (for once making sense) points out they are actually risking the life of a very harmless Paranormal just to test whether the Founder is telling the truth or not (or, more accurately, they’re risking the life of a paranormal to test whether the founder will reveal his evil now or later). Cara and John decide to intercept. So all four of them get to see Monty’s act and Cara insists that she and John sit with Stephen because… because… because forcing socially awkward scenes that could expose the Tomorrow People to an Ultra agent is funsies?

Hillary ambushes the magician after the show, slamming him into a wall (new caring Ultra still includes abductions) – and Cara does the same to her. Hillary and Cara fight. John and Stephen watch until Stephen points out they have to fight or Hillary will realise something’s up. In the end, Cara escapes with the magician.

While Jedikiah visits Stephen’s home - Marla is out, only little brother Luca is at home. Of course, in keeping with ridiculous family habits, no-one has told Luca about anything. And Jedikiah is carrying a gun – because he conspicuously checks it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Circus Escape by Liliana Rose

Nessie is a stifled daughter of a local politician with so many hopes and dreams – that feel like they will never happen. And a deep fascination in the mechanical that is deemed very much unladylike by her mother

Joy is a mech controller – a battle mech that fight for the entertainment of the masses. She’s skilled and confident – but stifled by the boss that controls her.

And they meet each other and they may have the keys to each other’s hopes.

I didn’t realise this book was a short story until I read it – it would have put me off because I’m usually not a big fan of novellas, especially novellas that seem to be stand alone.

Still, I’m glad I did get it because it turned out to be a sweet little story. It’s a romance and we do have some of the standard tropes we all know and expect – heavy awareness of each other’s bodies even when it’s not realistic and a rather rapid falling in love that goes far too deep far too quickly given the time scale.

But it does them well – the lust isn’t too heavy or overdescribed and the love isn’t presented as “quick lets run to an altar now!” kind of thing so much as it is very intense interest with a hope for much much more to develop.

It’s also a relationship between two women, which is a definite plus.

I also like that romance isn’t the entirety of their lives. They have hopes and dreams and ambitions and interests and histories and goals that go beyond each other and their romance. They have wishes for independence, a great love of the mechanical and a mutual appreciation for an extremely well made machine. In the little snap shot this book provides, they’re both clearly intriguing and developed characters

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 3: Minute to Win It

Start in the future, with a roving firefight between Kiera’s squad of enforcers and Liber8 – it a resembles a war more than anything. During the fight she runs across their informant – but they don’t need him any more so her bosses order her to murder him; when she balks they use the CMR’s mind-control override (which is apparently a thing) to make her do it.

In the present, Kiera consults Catherine, head of the Freelancers, voicing suspicion of Curtis (who tried to kill her in the other time line) and worry about the killer of her double still being out there. Catherine is happy, though, that the newly rejiggled police force is increasingly resembling the one Kiera remembers from the future – a sign the time line is on the “right” track. Towards a dystopia.

In the mental institution, Lucas seems to have got better. And he’s also reminding us he’s an utter genius by repurposing random stuff around. His inventions cause rather a large amount of chaos, mind control a dog and allow him to escape to where Garza is waiting with a getaway car.

Carlos and Kiera investigate the escape and find that at least some of the parts were smuggled into Lucas – and that he was experimenting on cockroaches. And Carlos is still confused as to which Kiera is which.

Meanwhile men with big guns and big, ominous looking electronic vests rob a bank (and spray out the CCTV cameras in the vault). There’s an electronic buzzing around one of the robbers and he drops his gun in shock and starts reassuring a hostage. She grabs for the gun and he snaps back into violent robber mode.

As they leave the bank one of the robbers walks into something which seems to fry his circuits as well; only this one becomes even more aggressive – and then he pushes the button on the bomb he’s wearing (screaming “no” as he does)… the button doesn’t just make his bomb explode – but all the robbers’ bombs go up as well.

On the plus side, the vests don’t see to do any damage to anyone but the robbers themselves. Carlos and Kiera are called in and apparently this is a second bank robbery with respectable looking thieves in suicide vests (the thieves in the last robbery were identified as white collar criminals). They try to figure out why the thieves exploded themselves before leaving when they were definitely getting away with it, though Dillon points out that in the last bank a number of safety deposit holders with the bank are claiming on insurance: after all, how do you prove something wasn’t stolen when only the owners know what’s in the boxes? They do find a Liber8 connection.

To Liber8 and Lucas who is using drugs to control himself, much to Travis’s disapproval. But they do have safety deposit boxes from the bank – apparently containing ill defined by compromising secrets of certain corporations.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 15: Quiet Minds

Group meeting at Granny’s to discuss Rumplestiltskin being out and about – Hook points out that the now vanished Neal was looking for Rumple to try and get him back to Storybrooke and Emma and Henry – so could be a possible cause. Regina doesn’t care how he’s back – she’s more concerned with what he’s up to and is going to search again – and make it clear she’s ready to take on any other witches

Zelena also wants to know – because she’s lost Rumplestiltskin and the dagger doesn’t seem to be able to summon him. Told you it was a bad idea to hold Rumple prisoner. Though at the minute he looks less menacing as he flees through the wood.

The gang talk to Belle about Rumple and hope she can find some clue in his shop for how he managed to come back from the dead. Guarded by Hook who, Belle points out, tried to kill her twice. He does apologise though (yes I laughed, yes it was wrong). From there it’s time to track in the woods – without Snow White despite tracking being one of her very very very very very few skills (sogginess is not a skill) because she is The Pregnant Lady and must be carefully shelved.

Go back to a year ago – before the most recent Amnesia curse – and Belle and Neal looking for a way to bring Rumple back from the dead to defeat the Wicked witch – because having the Dark One on side is always a good thing. They also face the uncomfortable truth that they’ve both pushed Rumple to avoid his dark side but, ultimately, that’s what they need. But first they need to do some research in the library – apparently helped by a talking fiery candlestick – Lumiere.

And back in the present Hook and Belle’s research is interrupted by the arrival of Neal. Awwww, one of the best points of this half of the season was the disappearance of Neal. Couldn’t he have been a flying monkey?

Emma has a moment with Henry – who tells her he knows she’s lying a whole lot and the whole town is in on it as well. He doesn’t like it but he’ll trust her for now when Emma goes running to see Neal-who-should-be-a-monkey. Not-Monkey Neal as the same memory loss as anyone else, is confused at the idea of his father being back – and has an odd triangular brand on his hand (which isn’t a monkey paw, but should be). He and Emma have a moment and he learns of Henry’s amnesia – and also that Emma is not 100% eager to get Henry his memories back, because he is happy.

Back to the past and Lumiere; who made a deal with Rumple and failed to fulfil his part – so now is a living candlestick who can only communicate through the flames when the candles are lit. He’s, obviously, not thrilled to help Rumple be resurrected but Belle assures him that Rumple will release him from the candles. He shows them the hiding place of a key (the head of which looks just like the brand on Neal’s palm). It’s the key to the Dark One’s vault, apparently where the first Dark One was created. But when they leave Zelena appears – Lumiere is working for the Wicked Witch (though not eagerly).

This Week in Book Covers 24th March - 28th March

It’s time for our review of the past week’s book covers. This week was brought to us by a lot of underwhelming covers. There wasn’t a lot of the usual horrible tropes - but most of them didn’t have a lot of anything either. Beware, sometimes stark minimalism works - but sometimes it’s bland, generic and uninspiring.

The Walking Dead, The Fall of the Governor: Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

This cover is expected. We have a great view of the Dystopian destroyed world.  The typical figure on the front. This time we have Lilly. I cannot say that I'm blown away but it is an adequate descriptor for the story within.

I like that this is a close up of a face - which instantly focuses us on the character (and not her body). And her having a sword is well done for all its minimalism (not like some covers where the weapon seems out of place). But it is minimalistic. There’s no background, there’s no sense of who she is. She could be a dystopian warrior fighting for her life in a zombie apocalypse. She could be captain of the high school fencing club and trying it impress that hot boy. It could be YA, it could be dystopian, it could be Urban Fantasy…

There’s not enough there. It doesn’t sell the book and it’s really original concept and world.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: 2014, Episode 12

It's Monday! Time for another episode of Fangs for the Fantasy, the podcast where we examine many of the shows we've been following this week, along with our book of the week and dissect them all from a social justice lens (though those with odd fish fixations will continue to be disappointed).

You can join us here and you can listen live on our youtube channel, here, or in our sidebar. All will also carry a recording after the show is finished. As ever all our previous podcasts can be found in the archive

The podcast begins at 7:00pm EST (technology willing)

This week we talk about The Walking Dead finale and our thoughts of character development and our theory on Terminus. We talk about the Teen Wolf finale and the awesome acting. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and it's amazing side characters. In Bitten we have more problems with Jeremy's portrayal. In Helix we're leery of the romance.

24th March - 31st March: Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
31st March - 7th April:  The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
7th April - 14th April:  Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
14th April - 21st April: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
21st April - 28th April: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
28th April - 5th May: Night Season by Eileen Wilks
5th May - 12th May: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Interview with a Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1) by Anne Rice

Louis has a story to tell – centuries of life as a vampire that he recounts to a very surprised and very curious human.

Over the centuries he has experienced many things – tragedies, drama, bitter losses and terrible, guilty confessions and he lays it all out to one mortal listener, along with the lessons he has learned along the way. Perhaps in some vague hope that they will be heeded.

The writing is often incredibly beautiful and classically gothic. The descriptions are full and evocative, the settings are clear and powerful and presented in exquisite detail. The story, recounted as Louis recalls it – is still heavy with emotion that permeates every scene. In fact, the format of Louis recording his memories further helps underscore how Louis grew, what he learned and how he became what he is now. Simply seeing the vampire Louis is now, recounting his experiences, and contrasting him with the vampire he was, the vampire he describes, is a powerful literary tool. We see his cold detachment against the heavy, powerful emotion of his youth and it’s an unlabelled exposition throughout the whole book

This book also covers a lot of philosophy and fascinating questions that naturally arise when you consider immortal vampires – issues that are so often brushed over in vampire stories. What does it mean to be immortal? How does an immortal, ancient being adapt to the ever changing world? When you consider that our own parents and grandparents are often quite bemused by the latest technology, how much worse must it be for someone from the 17th century? What toll must it take on them to see a world that they must constantly struggle to understand?

And there’s the nature of morality. What is evil, what is not – especially when you are a being driven to kill? Does the definition of evil change? Is there a moral murder? Is there a less evil murder? Or is everyone just deluding themselves?

And there’s Claudia – a fascinating character and concept. The girl who can never grow up, the woman forever trapped as a child and in turn being a woman in a twisted family, blighted by love and hate in equal measure.

I also love the ending twist about the simple truth about how people will react to vampirisim no matter how it is described.

These are some really fascinating concepts that lend themselves to some real depth.

And the book goes into that depth. We have a lot of deep discussions and debates about these questions and more – including about what truly makes a vampire a vampire and what makes their immortality worthwhile. The topics are revisited over and over with extra nuances and new lines of enquiry and revelation as the characters learn more, meet overs and grow steadily, bringing new life and thoughts to old debates.

Bitten, Season One, Episode 12: Caged

Elena rushes into the street and hops into a car.  Before she can take off, Nick and Jeremy knock on the window.  Elena hops out of the car and tells them that Olsen stabbed Philip and that she called an ambulance. Elena adds that Clay has been taken.  Jeremy tells Elena that when he dropped by Logan and Rachel's, he discovered that they had been taken as well. Elena wants to split up to track the mutts but Nick believes that the mutts can be anywhere by now.  Jeremy assures Elena that Santos is not a fool and reminds her that if the mutts catch her, there will be no further need for Clay. Jeremy orders Elena to return to Stonehaven with Nick

Clay awakes to find himself naked and tied up.  Santos holds up battery chargers and places it on Clay but gets no response.  Olsen snarks about needing a bigger battery. Santos instructs Olsen to call Marsten and LeBlanc and let them know where they are. Olsen says that getting someone to talk is child's play and that the real trick is convincing them to stay quiet. Santos says that this is about respect and puts the chargers to Clay, who screams. Olsen says that this is not respect but revenge.  Santos calls Elena to say that they need to talk.  Santos proposes they meet at the Bear Valley diner alone at noon.  Santos shocks Clay again and when Elena hears Clay scream, Elena agrees to meet Santos at noon.  Santos shocks Clay one more time for good measure.

Marsten pulls up to farmhouse and asks Santos if he is detecting a faint whiff of Clay. They are joined by LeBlanc and hands over supplies he gathered at a local emergency room. Marsten says that he is not worried about Clay but about what they are going to do with him.  Santos sends LeBlanc to check on Olsen and LeBlanc is not impressed and asks when he became the diddlers babysitter. Santos orders LeBlanc to do as he is told. Santos asks what happened at Logan's and Marsten blames their inability to capture Logan on LeBlanc going rogue. Marsten says that Olsen didn't kill Philip as planned, which means that Philip can identify Olsen to the police.  Santos says that he was forced to take Clay to lure Jeremy since they didn't manage to grab Elena.  Marsten wonders about the obsession with Elena.

Diane and Olivia meet at the hospital and Diane tells Olivia about the home invasion and that Philip has been taken in for surgery.  Diane assures Olivia that Philip will be okay.  Olivia asks about Elena and Diane says that Elena is not answering her phone.

At Stonehaven, Jeremy bans Elena from meeting with Santos and she makes it clear that she is not asking for his permission.  Nick sides with Jeremy but Elena says that Clay will end up just like Denis Sidwell.  They are interrupted when Rachel pulls into the driveway with an injured Logan in the backstreet.  Jeremy tells Logan that he did the right thing coming to Stonehaven.  Rachel freaks out, saying that Logan needs a doctor but Elena reminds her that they cannot involved the police.  Nick takes Rachel away, after Elena promises not to leave Logan's side.  Nick tells Rachel that Logan will pull through because he has a lot to live for. Rachel wonders what kind of world she is bringing her child into.  Nick says that she is bringing a child into a family who will adore him and promises to protect Rachel until this is all over. Nick assures Rachel that she and the baby mean the world to Logan. Rachel asks if after this is all over, if she and Logan can go back to their normal lives.  Nick says that things will never be the same but that's what happens after you have a baby.

Logan is doing better and apologises for bringing Rachel there.  Jeremy says that he understands and that Logan did what he had to do for now.

Santos wakes Clay saying that he has questions.  Marsten snarks that everything which is wrong with Santos can be fixed with a good therapist.  It's nice to see at least one of the mutts is self aware. In the meantime, LeBlanc prepares an injection. Clay struggles in the chair and screams, so LeBlanc injects him, causing Clay to pass out.

Elena calls Philip's cell and it is answered by a frantic Diane.  Diane tells Elena that the doctor says that Philip is going to be okay and asks where she is.  Elena does not answer and asks if Diane spoke to Philip about what happened. Diane tells Elena that Philip claims to remember very little.  Elena asks for the hospital and Diane tells her Toronto General. Elena promises to get there as soon as she can and hangs up the phone. Elena looks at a ring briefly before putting it away

Rachel is at Logan's bedside.

Elena slips downstairs but is stopped by Jeremy and Nick.  Jeremy says that he cannot let her meet with Santos.  Elena charges forward but Jeremy grabs her and locks her in the cell. Elena begs but Jeremy tells Elena that he won't let her compromise his negotiations with Santos. Jeremy tells Elena that he was wrong to let her go to Toronto and that the only way he can keep her safe is inside the cell.  Elena concedes that Jeremy believes offering himself in exchange for Clay will keep Clay safe but says  that he cannot trust Santos. Jeremy admits he does not trust Santos but adds that the must important thing is to protect Elena from herself.  Jeremy leaves, promising that he and Nick will deal with this.

Rachel sits and looks out of a window and Logan regains consciousness.  Logan asks how she is holding p and Rachel replies that she is fine.  Rachel asks why she doesn't feel safe here and Logan replies that the people who attacked them cannot hurt them at Stonehaven. Rachel asks if they are supposed to live there for the rest of their lives and Logan says that when he is able, they will go far away.