Saturday, July 26, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 6: This Woman's Work

I suspect this will be an angsty episode since we start with Berlin and Tom in bed having sex – and Berlin’s love of cameras stretches into the bedroom. Who bets Irisa is going to see that video and be the saddest of all sad pandas over it?

Viceroy Mercado, one of Niles’s least favourite people, drops in to let Niles know there’s a big shiny piece of Arc debris going to land nearby – which they want very much. Niles doesn’t think he has the resources or expertise for Arc hunting – but Nolan is an expert and Mercado expects him to use Nolan’s expertise. Not being Nolan’s biggest fan, Niles is not best pleased. It’s all politics as well – Mercado need something for the nest election

The Arc debris crashes which attracts the attention of several nasty mutant monsters. The debris has some kind of defence which promptly kills the nasty tentacle dog things. There’s something nasty and deadly in there, kind of like a spindly transformer

Niles and Nolan prepare to set out with additional information on why they want this so bad – it contains something that produces inexhaustible, clean energy. Nice. Nolan insists on being in charge because he’s the expert and Niles isn’t (also because they don’t like each other but they won’t admit to that).

Tommy and Berlin show up, rather than Irisa. Tommy thinks it’s a bad idea to mix them both so brought Berlin because a) she’s his girlfriend and b) she wants to make a propaganda video (she definitely has a thing for cameras). Nolan wants Irisa because a) she’s his daughter, b) she’s an experienced Arc Hunter and C) he doesn’t like Berlin. He also has issues with Tommy revealing him and Rafe trying to hide a murderer and thief; in response to this ridiculousness, Tommy quits. Nolan leaves – and Berlin takes the chance to congratulate Tommy and suggest they go to a different part of the E-Rep, to the border which will be good for both their careers. Tommy agrees.

Meanwhile Stahma takes Christie to one of the Tarr establishments – a casino. Which is being loudly protested by a Castithan called Belatok Kurr, a holy man. He accuses Stahma of heresy and she sends Christie home so she can make nice with the holy man. No, he’s not upset about the gambling – he’s upset that a woman “usurped her husband.” He dismisses the idea of Alak in charge and how their culture has survived because they don’t compromise – Stahma elegantly points out they are both speaking English. She calls assimilation natural, he calls it a virus and think he’s encouraging other women to “forget their place” (his wife looks on with “one day I will strangle you” eyes). Stahma finally decides “screw this playing nice shit” and reminds him she’s an empowered woman backed by a band of hardened criminals. They exchange more insults back and forth and he threatens to see her in a “shaming rack”.

To Rafe and Datak in the hovel Datak is staying in (and a little neat piece of world building – Datak now has a shower, which for Castithans is a sign of very low class). Datak shows something illicit dangerous, shiny and something we can’t see to Rafe. He leaves when Stahma arrives and accuses Datak of paying Kurr – which Datak denies, he doesn’t have the money and Kurr is unbribable. This boycott is entirely from their community and Kurr is dangerous because he is an “honest” man.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Memory Zero (Spook Squad #1) by Keri Arthur

Sam Ryan is a cop and, despite the rules, she’s investigating a crime – the disappearance of her partner. She finds him – but then nothing goes to plan, not least of which when she is suspected of killing him.

Suspected of murder and with some shadowy organisation apparently trying to kill her, all she can do is try to investigate with what little resources are available to her while dodging her attackers – but the only person she can work with is Gabriel, member of the Supernatural police and with his own very suspicious motives.

Things are confusing enough without changes within herself – and the mystery of her amnesia and the secrets contained in the missing years of her childhood.

There was a lot in this book.

We have a futuristic version of our world – with a lot of new technology that isn’t quite sci-fi level future but is certainly up there. We also have a world with the supernatural very much openly present, has been for some time and uneasily fits into normal, legal society. Which means we have laws and legal structures created around the supernatural to fit them into the real world. We have a large history complete with wars and tension between humanity and the supernaturals.

And that’s the world – a world that is detailed and broad with a large number of creatures, technology, magic and practices all worked in in a way that was believable and worked. It’s huge, it’s rich and it’s really fascinating. I think I especially like the slightly-future tech, we don’t have phasers and teleporters – we have technology I can see us having in the not too distant future and making it fit realistically rather than making it a mystical panacea, indistinguishable from the unexplained magic. Though at times I got a little lost and think I would have liked to have some of the points on how the law worked, how the supernatural creatures worked and how that related to the story. I also think the setting suffered, this book is set in Melbourne, Australia – but it felt very “any city, nowhereland”.

The relevant plot also involved vast conspiracies, historical societies, competing philosophies and further hidden agendas and nefarious characters. It’s complex, believable and really well done. But there’s also a lot that I wish had been clarified.

Then there’s Sam Ryan herself. She has a mysterious past, complete amnesia. She may have some unexplained woo-woo and this may or may not make her super desirable to both feuding organisations. However, so far, those powers don’t make her a special snow flake chosen one nor do they make her super powerful – and while they may make her desirable, that isn’t emphasised particularly in why she’s so embroiled in the plot. At very least, she’s not a passive actor, a gem to be claimed by either side- she actively investigates for her own reasons which are completely divorced from whatever special past or powers she has. She drives forwards into the plot – and she does so intelligently and with relative wisdom considering the extreme circumstances she’s in

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 5: El Toro

Chief Engineer is back on her feet, the and ship-that-is-held-together-with-chewing-gum-and-wishful-thinking is now working again so we can move on to the latest random issue. Now it’s time to find monkeys to experiment on

Rachel tries to exercise in the gym and is joined by Tex the flirty. Thankfully this is more an attempt for Rachel to explain why everyone hates her because military personnel don’t understand that top secret missions need to be kept top secret.

Tom is keeping an angsty video diary so we can focus on his pain when Mike arrives with news. Because there is unrest in Costa Rica (and the rest of the world) they’ve decided to go to Nicaragua instead because then they can’t take the shop or maintain video contact (so much more sensible). Also Rachel has to come as well since she needs a special kind of monkey. At least there’s probably few people there. For Reasons both Tom and Mike are going just in case there’s a disaster, that way they can lose their entire higher command in one go! Yay! The chief engineer Garnett seems to be in charge now

Off they go in dinghies with a nifty sound track (very important). They disembark, naturally leaving Rachel behind so I assume they’re just going to capture every furry thing they find have have her decide which ones are appropriate on the boat (“wrong monkey, wrong monkey, wrong monkey, taipir, wrong money, wrong monkey, jaguar, aha, right monkey!”). Thankfully this surprisingly equipped boat may not have enough fuel to go 3 miles without stopping to tank up, but it does come with tranq guns. She’s also left being guarded by Tex who asks about her love life and she throws back a “man your age” comment which hits bullseye.

The away team runs into a group of staggering, begging sick people and quickly pull masks on. They reach for the soldiers, begging for help while the troops have to back off unable to do anything. With this threat tom tells Rachel he can’t risk her up river, they’ll have to bring her a collection of monkeys to choose from. They sail off, leaving the sick behind

Tom and Mike realise that the chaos in Costa Rica is here in Nicaragua and is probably the case throughout Central America. And, y’know the world, what with the global pandemic and all that. Why they expected Nicaragua to be better I do not know – but Tom gets to put on his “I am making hard decisions” face.

They leave radio range and send up the flare telling the ship; they also find a wrecked boat marked “el torro” which is what the survivors were saying. On the ship Rachel tells Garnett where they’re going; technically a place that should have people. But then the last place shouldn’t have either

Tom and his men enter the jungle and the rookie guy steps on a trap right before a whole platoon of guys arrive pointing guns at them; ambush. The band takes them prisoner and takes them to a camp full of civilians who appear to be badly treated and exploited by the gunmen. Tom & co are taken to the head of the band, El Toro. Tom threatens the man with his 200 angry sailors with guns while El Toro points out that the wounded guy is actually poisoned and needs an antidote. They threaten him some more and El Toro tells them his generosity will save the man, not their threats (with a snipe at American macho, violent culture).

Women in Hemlock Grove

At the end of the first season of Hemlock Grove, we noted that there were many problems with the way the show dealt with marginalised people - and that definitely included women.

In season 1 we saw a lot of dead women. Letha, Brook, Lisa (and the other victims of the serial killer), Charlotte (the villain), Clementine. Even Olivia and Shelly were dead or missing at the end, though they made a return. The only thing matching the sheer scale of the female body count was the demonisation of female sexuality - from constant sexually misogynist insults to the serial killer that expressly targets women because she disapproves of their sex lives. All of this sexual shaming is topped off with a gratuitous rape scene when Roman decides to take out his angst on Ashley

With that as the foundation, season 2 was something to be approached with worry.

Season 2 didn’t bring us quite the same level of female death we expected - at least, not the blanket death that tore through the first season. Instead we have a pervasive commentary on what it means to be a good woman, a woman’s roles and a whole lot of women in service to or existing to help men.

Olivia spends most of this season seeking redemption. But part of that, to take a direct quote from Olivia, is being a “better woman” and a “better girlfriend” and “better mother.” To be a better woman, Olivia frames this in relation to her family; it’s not about being a better person, it’s about being more pleasant and useful to other people (predominantly men). Now, Olivia does have a lot to redeem herself of and she also has a whole lot to make right with people she has treated terribly for so long – Norman, Roman and Shelly among them. In that light, I can see why Olivia’s wanting to be a “better woman” involves serving, helping and generally being nicer to other people – it’s less about being a better woman and more about her own quest for redemption as she gets in touch with her empathy
But it sits unpleasantly with the depiction of womanhood not just in wider society (where women are presented as lynchpins in other people’s lives – even calls to respect women often come with “she’s someone’s wife/mother/daughter/sister” rather than invoking her own personhood) but also in this season – women in this show are generally servile, evil or both.
Look at Olivia – her whole storyline this season has been the consequences of her being a bad person last season – her selfishness has been punished by depowering, weakness, and even a creeping death as well as the scorn of all she cared about. She’s spent the whole season trying to redeem herself by seeking this selfless, serving ideal. From the strong woman she once was, she’s now rather defined by her family – Norman, Roman and Shelly – Shelly’s sweet forgiveness, Roman’s hatred and Norman’s scorn.
Contrast that with the other “villainous” woman in this season - Dr. Zheleznova-Burdukovskaya, strong, ambitious, intelligent – and desperately seeking agency. And failing. She doesn’t even start in open rebellion to Johann Pryce, chief scientist of the White Tower, she merely seeks to be respected as the capable scientist she is (the reason why he brought her on board after all). But no amount of overture gets her any respect or explanation of the demands put on her. She’s constantly put in her place by Johann who treats like a lab assistant and resorts to more and more “defiant” means to escape his influence. Finally her attempts to assert herself and gain power and freedom (however evil) are punished with death. Her attempts to be other than servile get her killed

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Steel and Song (The Aileron Chronicles #1) by Ani Bolton

Tova is a Sami and an airwitch – and like mist Sami airwitches (and a large amount of Sami in general) she is eventually shipped off to the war between Novgorod and the Franks, a battle that has claimed thousands of lives (especially Sami and the magical gytrash) and has raged for years

She is lucky enough to become part of Ataman Piers’s Aileron crew – it certainly beats near certain death in the trenches. The Cossack noble is in disgrace and can only gain back the glory of House Rus by heroic exploits in battle – but there’s only so far you can push an airwitch before her magic kills her.

But Tova isn’t one to silently suffer her fate and she quickly earns the respect – and more – of the Russian Ataman.

I can see myself writing a hugely long review about the culture and oppression of the magic users in this book so am going to try and write about everything else first before I ramble!

Tova is an excellent protagonist who really reflects the world she’s in. She knows the system is unjust, that her people are persecuted – both gytrash and as Sami – and she rebels against it, she resents it – and she absorbs the ideas of it. She is a wonderfully complex character full of contradictions as she both resents the society around her yet still absorbs its messages. She knows she’s treated as a disposable tool, but still dreams of flying the Aileron, the ultimate fighting machine. She wants things to be different and sympathises with the idea of rebellion, but also believes it to be pointless. She opposes the Novgorod imposition on her people, but is still patriotic in resisting the Franks.

In short, she is both a victim of the system and a product of it. And she shows it beautifully. She’s also brave, snarky, irrepressible (perhaps sometimes when she should stay quiet), has a wicked sense of humour, plenty of irreverence (but also an idea of where to draw the line. Usually) and is generally great fun. I like her, yes yes I do. I do think there are times when her grief isn’t properly maintained (Piers often seems to be more upset than she – but, again, that could be a reflection of her harsh life and his pampered one).

The relationship between Tova Vanaksya and Piers Nikolayevich Dashkov also grows interestingly. He regards her with contempt which very naturally and slowly melts, especially as he is pushed more and more from his own society by his disgrace and reputation. While Tova generally sees Piers as more than some untouchable, abstract force, even a man she’d put on a pedestal as one of the respected Cossacks. I never thought their relationship would work. It should never have worked. It worked.

The world setting is also an excellent one – the Novgorod Empire (Piers is of the House of Rus, but this is not, yet Russia). They’re in a long war with the Franks – it’s devastating and all consuming and fought with the gytrash magic users. Oppressed and regarded with contempt, they keep this whole steampunk-esque (if it can be considered steampunk without technology) world going. It’s a great setting to establish this small crew of aileron pilots. Though I do think the crew is a trifle under-developed. Anya is fun – a loyal scion to the House of Rus, desperate for everything to be proper, desperate for everything to be ordered, desperate to maintain appearances and discipline – she is part martinet, part comic relief as she tries to do the equivalent of herding cats. Igor is a fascinating character – she’s big and tough and an incredibly skilled gunner, loved by her crew – but she has a terrible past (reminding us that it’s not just gytrash who suffer in this system) which she deals with by drinking. She’s an alcoholic, she’s, functional but it’s a problem. She has a lot of pity from the crew, a lot of support and respect but also a lot of frustration from them. It’s a very good portrayal and I like her. She also matters because she and Tova get along – which is essential since Tova clashes with Anya and the only other female character she interacts with she loathes because of a rather unnecessary Mean Girl side plot.

Utopia, Season 2, Episode 3

The nefarious goes to Ian’s workplace and his place of employment to fiddle with his computer. Ian’s boss arrives and Lee tries a series of lies to convince him that he has every right to meddle with the computer. It fails. Mainly because it’s absolutely impossible to pass yourself off as a member of the MET when you’re a silly muppet wearing a lemon yellow suit and a hair right out of the 50s. He resorts to slitting Ian’s boss’s throat. It’s messy and, no, “suicide” will not be a reasonable cover up for this

Cut to our favourite gang with Garth, Ian and Becky all looking traumatised in a room full of creepy dolls when Pietre arrives to tell them he made breakfast. Yes, him announcing breakfast is slightly scary because just about everything he does is slightly scary. In the kitchen there are more scary dolls and a very very healthy breakfast. Over brown rice and nuts he tells them that since their DNA would be all over the battle scene none of them can run, that Christian is the one they’re after and they have to figure out why to survive

Also, Pietre is on their side now.

So time to question Christian (yes Anton is the source of a lot of knowledge but they don’t know about him) in this house that is FULL of creepy dolls! He finally admits to meeting his old professor, Gorsky who may have been in the Network – but he was drunk so it’s fine, right? Garth checks the internet – Gorsky is now dead. Pietre insists on hearing what Gorksy said – which was “Jimmy De Chelle is a fat man.” Oh yay, a cryptic code! Which Christian did not the wise thing of googling (turned up nothing except DEATH of course). Pietre suggests no more googling. And since it’s Pietre that reasonably worded request always sounds like a blood curdling threat

Becky hallucinates, possibly from trauma, possibly illness – and lashes out unfairly at Ian which leads to Ian pointing out how desperately he missed her (while this makes her curtness seem unfair, it also makes him look more than little like a depraved stalker). Then Pietre asks “where is Jessica Hyde?” Which makes for excellent flashback fears, given that was almost his only line through much of season 1. Right before mangling people

Ian, who assumed the whole Network was other, (and he still thinks Milner is on their side) reasonably doubts why they should even trust Peitre – and even asks how sure they can be that Pietre rescued them last episode – or killed their rescuers. All reasonable points that are neatly answered when the news reports that he has been framed for the murder of his boss.

More interestingly restrained emotional scenes where Ian can’t deal with his boss being dead and hides in hostility and the reason why Chrtisian is creeping all over Becky all the time is that she slept with him once when she was extremely depressed and vulnerable, a memory that makes her “want a vagina transplant” which is a pretty unequivocal reaction. Also, Garth can steal cars better than Pietre.

Over to the badguys of the Network, and poor Geoff who thought he was so important is being firmly told how much of a tool he is – Milner won’t even meet him and Leah doesn’t care if him going forward with their plan (releasing the vaccine everywhere at the same time all over the world) destroys his political career and ambitions.

This Week in Book Covers 14th June - 19th July

Another week! Another round of covers to analyse! (And snark)

I said it on the previous covers and it still applies - generic, because it doesn’t have to be more than generic. The only real difference with this one is the full face look means you could mistake it for a Paranormal Romance, since a hot-guy-staring is a staple of the genre (see every Black Dagger Brotherhood, and every Dark Hunter book). So it’s not only generic but also suggests hot, plot less sex. Instead we have cold, plotless info-dump.

Ok, what is this and who is this person? First of all - the leather and low cut top? Given she’s hanging around with sex demons she doesn’t trust (and doesn’t have a huge budget anyway), I doubt it.

And this character looks… perky. Happy, even mischievous. The series is called “Miss Misery” for a reason. She isn’t perky. This character is actually empowered by her own angst. She is fueled by bitterness and regret. She is not perky

She also doesn’t spend much of the book flashing weapons around. Sure, she has a knife, but showing her brandishing one implies a level of combat badassery that isn’t really her thing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

True Blood, Season Seven, Episode Five: Return to Oz

Well it's cleanup time in Fangtasia now that the infected vampires have been vanquished.  Eric is still set on revenge but it seems that Nora has absolutely no interest in playing his game.  Pam makes it clear that Nora must obey because Eric is her maker but Nora argues back that Eric abandoned her and it was Tara who taught her how to control her impulses and how to feed. Pam succinctly reduces the issue to Nora having mommy and daddy issues when Nora points out that Pam abandoned Tara.  Finally, to end the conversation, Eric concedes that Nora has a point and reveals that the big plan is to kill the great embracer of religion, Sarah Newlin. Nora agrees to share the information she has only if Eric agrees to release her and surprisingly, he does just that. For her part, Nora reveals that Sarah has a vampire sister named Amber in Dallas, and Eric immediately starts making plans for a trip.

Ginger immediately gets upset realizing that if Eric leaves, due to his illness, she won't ever see him again.  Ginger demands to travel with Eric and Pam and is most soundly rejected.  In a fit, Ginger argues that she has been Eric's sex slave for fifteen years but since the relationship has never actually been consummated, she has actually been Eric's slave. Ginger demands that Eric either have sex with her, or allow her to travel with them. When Eric points out that he is diseased, Ginger is not deterred and claims to be diseased as well. Finally, we see the coffins being loaded with Ginger clinging desperately to them, only to be dumped unceremoniously to the ground.  I actually felt for Ginger in that moment.

Sookie returns home and gets teary eyed when she spies Alcide's iconic leather jacket hanging over the chair. Not to worry though, Lafayette and James are there to play clean up.  Heaven's knows that if Sookie is upset, everything must stop so that she can be comforted.  Lafayette, in full blown Mammy mode tucks poor Sookie into bed and even promises to be there when she wakes because he couldn't possibly have anything better to do, like mourn for the cousin he just lost.

When Sookie wakes, she find the house lit by candles and a big spread of food on the table. Sookie greats Jackson, who agrees that when Sookie is ready, they will go through Alcide's things. A laughing Jenny, James and Lafayette enter the room with even more food for the already overburdened table. Sookie declares that their efforts have been sweet but points out that she cannot eat all of the food which has been amassed. It seems that the big plan is to throw a party.  Jenny tries to suggest that death doesn't have to be sad but because that is not what Sookie believes, Sookie calls a stop to the party and  starts to take her angsty self upstairs. How dare people think that they can mourn any damn way they want to when Sookie is standing right there to be their example.  Besides, if they have a party, how can they spend their time doting on her? Lafayette stops her and suggests that they are celebrating life and that of course, Alcide wouldn't want her to be alone.

A knock on the door announces the arrival of Bill.  Of course, Sookie is still sulking that people dared to make plans without consulting her.

Eric and Pam show up at Amber's door to find that she is also infected.  After a quick search, Pam says that Sarah is not there, as Amber begins to relate how difficult it was to be the black sheep of the family, while Sarah played the role of little Ms. Perfect. Because Sarah was heavily involved in The Fellowship of the Sun, it seems that she paid Amber to stay away. It's worth noting that True Blood used the phrase, "stay in the coffin," which is yet another instance of them comparing the story they are attempting to tell, to the lives of GLBT people. When Eric reveals that the big plan is to kill Sarah, Amber quickly agrees to participate. It seems that Amber blames herself for the things that Sarah has done. Amber suggests that Sarah is going to rush straight to her parents for protection and since her parents are going to be at a gala for Ted Cruz at the Bush library, that is where they will find Sarah.  Of course, Eric plans to crash the gala.

Lettie Mae argues with her husband to have the right to go to the party which is being organized at Sookie's. Lettie Mae suggests that this will be her only chance to say goodbye Tara and points out that there isn't even enough for her to bury but the Reverend Daniels is adamant that because there are going to be vampires there that Lettie Mae should not attend. Instead the Reverend Daniels suggests that he wants to take care of Lettie Mae tonight.  Under the guise of getting more seasoning for the food, Lettie Mae heads to the cupboard but instead of grabbing cumin, grabs the Benadryl.

The party is in full swing at Sookie's and even Bill is starting to get his groove on a little bit. Jane declares that she is finally going to get her shit together after everything she has been through and promptly takes a drink. Suddenly Bill gets a far off look and it's time for another flashback.

Blood Gem (Night Spirit #1) by Robin White

The city has succumbed to darkness since the last of the white-winged angels was defeated. The city grows darker with every passing year and while that brings man new opportunities, the chaos is growing

And one being in the city thinks Raven is the key to changing his.

I always think it is a terrible idea to start a series with a novella. The first book in any series has to introduce the world setting, establish the characters, lay down some thematic elements and tell a good story as well. That’s tricky to get right in any novel, in a novella it’s nearly impossible to fit all that in

This book is a classic example of what happens when you try to ram it all in one book

It opens with Raven being kidnapped – and he infodumps a little about the world he’s in and what he is. And it is an info-dump, I can’t imagine in any fantasy world that anyone has to infodump about their species and powers. He has been kidnapped by his ex-lovers. Why they are ex is not really well explained, the relationship between them isn’t developed. What we do get is lots of innuendo and flirting and a sudden decision to nibble on the prisoner’s erogenous zones

Honestly, it’s the fantasy equivalent of the pizza boy showing up at the door and the home owner declaring “but I don’t have any change for a tip”.

They do have sex at some point and the sex scene is very long in this very short novel. Also, the dungeon happens to have a ready supply of lube and sex toys because of course it does. It’s a sex scene between a woman and 2 men, 1 man (the protag) is bisexual and the other gay (or possibly had a terrible experience with women – because we really need to keep this trope of “is gay because of trauma” alive, it seems).

Anyway, for reasons that are inadequately explained, his sexy-exes (who have various woo-woo abilities which are not explained or explored, not even their species, because they’re place holders for sex organs anyway) are working for the big bad boss, Lord Infodump.

Which is the vast majority of the rest of the book – Lord Infodump infodumping like a champion. He claims gold in the info-dump Olympics, endless pages of the city’s history, the history of a big important shiny guy who he wants to make everything good again. He did explain why they needed this guy and why it was bad without this guy and why it was particularly bad for Lord Infodump not to have this guy as well of the history of why this guy isn’t around any more and why this guy is so very special and what the city is like without this guy – dear gods there was so much explanation. In the middle of this was a painfully long and utterly awful metaphor about how people behave and what they’re really capable of, told via snails turning into crows and dragging a bucket. It may actually be the worst metaphor on self-confidence vs overconfidence there has ever been.

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 4: Revelation

Jim looks through the census information while Rebecca harries him to pick people to kill already! She’s raring for this genocide (remember, again, the Dome has been around for 3 weeks at most but mass death is needed now!)  Even more fun, Jim hopes the Dome will guide him in making this decision

Yes, who lives and who dies in Chester’s Mill will be decided by YAY!GENOCIDE Rebecca and Jim looking for signs from a Dome that randomly does things for funsies. The leaders of Chester’s Mill, everyone – maybe the Dome is in place to protect the rest of us from the intelligence deficit within.

Rebecca is still massively Praise Jim the Saviour but still steals a card from his wallet

Barbie himself isn’t a big fan and asks Jim about it (Jim objects to his extermination plan being called an extermination plan because it sounds bad). Barbie wants a veto power – that the mass death plan is only implemented if both of them agree. Well I’m sure it’s reassuring to those killed that Barbie and Jim agreed on it!

Lyle, in prison, is preaching to himself apparently. James shows up to release him because his mother said Lyle had answers but also because James does terrible things (though the show seems to forget this).

When James takes Lyle to his barber shop he reveals that Pauline (James’s mother) faked her own suicide and got out because she may have known the Dome was coming. James questions the niceness of a person who would leave her son alone not just with Jim but also with the Dome coming; especially since it meant he attended his own mother’s funeral. She also sent a load of postcards documenting everything that was going to happen under the Dome (hey skip ahead! Never mind stuff that has already happened!). Unfortunately the cards end with the burning rain – which is what Lyle took to be the rapture. I mean, lack of pictures = end of the world. We can see his logical progression here… yeah.

They go to search Sam’s house for Pauline’s journal and the two men-who-need-to-die squabble and Lyle clubs James unconscious and runs with the journal.

To a random farm – we have a sick piglet so naturally the farmer calls in Rebecca. Seriously? Ok, I can accept that there are no vets at all under the Dome, but an experienced farmer is going to know far more about piggy diseases than a high school teacher! The pig has died from contagious swine flu, time for a new panic – we’ve found the random Dome threat of the week. More ridiculously – Rebecca is careful to mask up when entering the sty and taking a blood sample from the dead pig then, while standing over it, in the sty, she takes her mask off so she can say something dramatic.

Julia goes to Sam (because we’re forcing this damn love triangle come what may!) to get his help on the anti-genocide plan since Barbie has abandoned her. They decide to go search Rebecca’s house, finding sciency stuff, a whole lot of organising and a leaflet for a prayer group. They also find lots of information about pigs.

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 5: I.E.D

A girl runs, clearly being chased, to the school. The school?! This is Beacon Hills, girl, you may as well run into a mine field filled with angry honey badgers – you’d be more safe than the school! She’s already had one hand cut off by something hot enough to burn – probably Violet’s garrotte

Sure enough, Violet is hunting her – and the girl’s eyes glow gold. She’s a werewolf. What’s with these werewolves who are running from 1-on-1 fights with hunters? Even the Argents loaded up for those fights (especially since a garrotte is a good ambush tool and a crap weapon). The girl chants “the sun the moon the truth”, the same chant the dead werewolf used last episode to stay calm and stop from changing.

Violet finds her hiding place and the girl knocks her down and runs – right to be rescued by Violet’s boyfriend Garrett who finishes her off.

Time for Stiles to recap the deaths and the killers with added tit-bits: the werewolf who delivered the keg was part of a pack (per Scott’s nose) and Parrish can disarm claymore mines. The dead werewolves are DeMarco and Carey. And Sheriff Stilinksi is still awesome when presented with the Supernatural and adding banshee weirdness to a murder investigation. They also only have a third of the list – there are 2 more names that will reveal the rest (along with Allison so far). Lydia is desperately trying to push her banshee powers and getting nowhere.

The Sheriff also points out the elephant in the room – the gang didn’t know these werewolves. We’re reminded that the Nemeton is pulling supernaturals to the area (or has been) but the Sheriff wonders what the “area” is –the city is 30,000 people, but the county is 500,000; so the list could have hundreds of names.

Back to the numbers on the list – they will add up to 117, since $117 million is how much was stolen from the Hale vault and, they think, is being used to finance all the deaths; this gives a limit on how long the list can be. (this also upgrades the gang who had low numbers – since they’re assumed to be $15 and $20 million rather than $250,000). They also realise that to know Demarco was going to be at the party, the killer had to be a student.

So to the school! Where Violet is hiding scratch marks from fighting Carey – and she and Garrett are planning on going for the high ticket items on the list.

Mr. Yakimura corners his daughter because he knows she’s been keeping a secret. She crumbles completely within seconds (never ever trust Kira with secrets! She’ll fold the minute the Sheriff turns his confused eyes on her). She spills about assassins and deadpools (wait, she didn’t want to tell her supernatural mother about this?) and all that. Which is somewhat of a surprise to Mr. Yakimura who was actually wondering about her joining the lacrosse team without telling him.

In the gym, Liam is finding being a werewolf allows him lift bigger and bigger and bigger weights while Mason tells us that Garret doesn’t live where he claims to – and throws in a little passive aggressive poke at how weird Liam has been acting lately. He’s worried about Liam, especially since they’re playing against the school Liam was kicked out from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 5: Mind Wars

Tom is hunting rabbits since they haven’t eaten in three days, but Matt decides the death of bunnies isn’t something he can tolerate so he scares it off. How has Matt lived these last few years of scrounging existence without making peace with the idea of hunting?

They reach the location where Hal was – and see his message to them about where they went. They also hear the crackly radio (that once played Lourdes message about the Creepy Cult) – and hear Skitters. And not just a Skitter – but an Espheni as well. Since when do the Overlords do their own dirty work?

Matt and Tom try to replay the raptors-in-the-kitchen scene from Jurassic Park with aliens rather than dinosaurs (dinosaurs would be better – but, hey, with the writers of this show it could still be an option!)  They make a run for it. When they get out, Cochise hands over a gun he found but now has to leave because he has his own people and his own mission (finding the vague Espheni power source that is this season’s Mcguffin) and can’t babysit Tom and his issues.

Tom, Weaver and Matt run across a camp with 2 men – and while their suspicious that disappears when they learn who Tom is – he’s got a reputation as the Ghost now and is a complete hero (does that mean these 2 are from that Ghetto? If so, why aren’t they with Hal’s group? How would news of the Ghost have spread beyond that Ghetto?) They’re happy to share their food with the hero.

The two men, Cooper and Nick have escaped from a camp where they tried to transform humans, grafting harnesses onto them, trying to transform them. The results so far have been terrible deformed, in pain and largely dead. Tom and Weaver remain suspicious and that night Tom asks Nick where he learned about the Ghost and is also dubious about his claim over where he got all his supplies from. Nick jumps Tom while Cooper shoots the sleeping bags containing Weaver and Matt – Cooper looks torn up over it

Except, due to being suspicious, Weaver and Matt weren’t in those sleeping bags. Tom is taken prisoner and Cooper and Nick intend to sell him to the Espheni. Matt and Weaver follow with very very clumsy dialogue about not getting so angry and obsessive with revenge. They catch up while Tom works on getting through to the guilt ridden, torn Cooper. Matt demands to be the one to snipe Cooper and Weaver lets him but he can’t do it, as Weaver expected, he can’t kill someone.

Tom continues to turn Cooper and Nick against each other with Nick confessing to his brother he made a deal with the Espheni that resulted in his kids being killed. Because lying didn’t occur to him apparently. Cooper kills Nick then kills himself.

The Strain: Season 1, Episode 2: The Box

Brooklyn and we’ve given up the big ominous times it seems

Introduction to another new character – Vasily the exterminator. As in rat catcher. Well, in this he’s a pest control and city inspector


Augustin delivers the big box to a warehouse – but Eichorst isn’t there. The box starts moving though and Augustin decides it would be healthier to run like hell into the pre-dawn light. Sensible man.

Airport! And if these mini-scenes continue I’m going to stop doing the bold lettering – it’s stylistically useless and in the way

Anyway, the CDC team are shown the man who died last episode with his head all nastily splattered. They confirm the head was splattered, that there is ammonia all round and they pick up a sample of the ooze. Which they call guano – vampire guano

This crime scene musing (including Nora wondering what is wrong with Jim – um… the body with the head caved in, maybe?) is interrupted by the four survivors being released which  spurs Ephraim into action. Because the survivors are being released – what? I don’t even begin to understand this? Even if some TV reported has declared it to be carbon monoxide poisoning, you don’t get to break quarantine because of a TV report! The Director, apparently, has decided quarantine doesn’t apply (I’m going to assume corruption rather than incompetence) but Ephraim and Nora insist and have the legal power to make it stick

Which Eichorst reports to Mr Palmer the evil one (hey, we stopped with the silly bold place labels?) who isn’t worried because he’s confident he can rustle up enough media pressure to have the quarantine broken. Palmer is more interested in meeting the big boss cloaked monster

And Eichorst wants to meet Abraham, still in a holding cell at the airport (while Palmer’s media team go to work). They knew each other from a long time ago - and if there was any doubt where, Eichorst repeatedly referring to Abraham as “Jew” and by the concentration camp number tattooed on his arm (which Eichorst put there) should make it clear. Eichorst gloats, throws in some mockery of a woman who Abraham loved and he killed. While Abraham makes it clear he’s not finished fighting yet and throws in a bad guy he sliced into itty bitty pieces. The old good guy vs bad guy dialogue – but dramatic and powerful still with some real sinister evil going on

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: 2014, Episode 20

It's time for another Episode of the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast

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)

And those reading along can see our next books of the week:

(Our list is always subject to change should we need to squeeze something in or something random happens)

14th July - 21st July: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

21st July - 28th July: How the White Trash Zombie Got her Groove Back, by Diana Rowland
28th July - 4th August: The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
4th August-11th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neil
11th August - 18th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
18th August - 25th August: Blood Passage by Connie Suttle

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3) by Patricia Briggs

Anna is worried about Charles – ever since the werewolves were revealed to the world, the laws have been enforced with brutal, almost draconian, strictness. And Charles is the enforcer of those draconian laws. The killing always wore at him – but not nearly as much as the deaths he feels are unjust

A serial killer case with the human investigators asking for werewolf help presents an excellent opportunity –Charles can help stop a killer rather than being one, helping the authorities for some good PR for the werewolves (and some careful education) and remove a monster from the streets. A monster who is apparently targeting werewolves and the fae.

This book added a few pieces to the world setting here – elements I’d seen from the Mercy Thompson series but get to see much more closely with these books since we’re closer to the decision making. We get to see the conflict that arises after the werewolves are revealed to the world, the difficulties this causes, the way the werewolves have had to change and the problems that has caused. The idea that werewolves are now having to avoid anything that could make them look bad (including loss of control when very young) leads to what is considered an almost draconian rule. There’s lots of interesting political nuggets – like trying to declare werewolves an endangered species as a sneaky way to have them classed as animals rather than humans.

And Charles is the one to enforce it. I would say this is some decent character development with Charles – and it is; after all he is viewed by the werewolf world as the ultimate boogeyman, the executioner who comes for you when you are bad, the monster lurking and that reputation hurts him – and gives him a terrible self-image. This knocks on with Anna because he’s worried about not being good enough for her, that he’s too blood stained or that she will be especially horrified by his death count (especially since, as an Omega, she’s one of the few werewolves who doesn’t face the wolf’s urge to kill).  My only question with this development is that it’s old ground. Charles has been going through the exact same issues since he and Anna first met, so I want to know when he’s actually going to make sufficient progress on them – not necessarily to get over them, but at least not to shut down and decide that Anna is going to think he’s a terribad monster.

What is great development is how it shows how these things can wear on any person, but also how these issues mix with the political realities of the world they’re in. This is a minor theme of the book - with Bran trying to juggle everything and realising that, frankly, he cannot, something has to be sacrificed. And that sacrifice may be his son. The political and the personal are difficult things to balance especially in these fragile times which involves a clot of co-operation with people they don’t necessarily

This all fits excellently with the ending which is both supremely complicated and satisfying – showing off both the injustice of the human justice system and still giving us immense satisfaction of the bady guys being well and truly finished off. But it also fits the political vs personal theme – was the ending a mistake on the part of the actor? (Behold my dancing around the spoilers!) As much as it was satisfying, did they allow the personal to overwhelm good politics? The fact it was maintained or returned to in the book looks good for the rest of this series

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

It's Monday so time for another episode of Fangs for the Fantasy podcast - our weekly podcast where we discuss all our shows and our book of the week through our social justice lens.

The podcast will be 7:00pm EST tonight! We hope to see you there

If you need to catch up on any of our previous podcasts, you can find them here

And those reading along can see our next books of the week:

(Our list is always subject to change should we need to squeeze something in or something random happens)

14th July - 21st July: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
21st July - 28th July: The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
28th July - 4th August: Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein
4th August-11th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neil
11th August - 18th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
18th August - 25th August: Blood Passage by Connie Suttle

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hemlock Grove, Season 2, Episode 10: Demons and the Dogstar

Roman and Peter have a whole load of bodies to clear up after the massacre at Roman’s house while Miranda and Destiny get through several huge bottles of bleach inside, and the maid cries over her dead partner, the butler.

Aftermath – I actually like to see a bit of aftermath. Sometimes the protags leave a trail of bodies in their wake and no-one cares about the cleanup.

Miranda mention the baby’s dead stare which everyone ignores and Miranda decides she hates them all for pulling her into the murder world. Destiny tries to clam the moment by pointing out they’re all alive (the maid rather hilariously cries audibly in the background – which is such a perfect lampoon of how Red Shirts die and no-one grieves before she insists on a proper burial).

Miranda isn’t reassured, she’s surrounded by monsters and being hunted by killers – Destiny seems pretty impatient and Roman’s reassurance rings very hollow. Peter appeals to her being needed and they put her on the sofa with a spiked drink to settle her down and get her out of the way. Everyone has moments – over Nadia being the target all along, Roman saving Peter, etc etc.

Everyone leaves except Miranda and Anna, the maid – and Miranda offers comfort (Anna still hates her) then starts lactating blood. Which is probably not good.

Roman goes to the White Tower and Johann is a little annoyed. Oh, not about killing the doctor, he was probably going to do that himself – but Roman has been a bit of an arsehole to Johann for a while and now he has a truck of corpses for Johann to deal with. Johann seems to know more about the attackers than Roman though – since he knew about Francis dying (Francis also had shares in the company). Johann agrees to help – so long as Roman stops interfering.

Norman finally goes to attack Olivia – doctoring her medicine cabinet with anti-coagulants which upir hate. He’s there when she gets out the shower and standoffish – which Olivia adds to her list of things she’s been doing wrong as an Upir (bad mother, bad girlfriend…). She goes on to lay out all the things that are going to change – how she’s going to be noble and inspiring fighting cancer, how she’s going to be a better mother, a better girlfriend, better everything (including a better woman which is something to unpack later) – and Norman scoffs at it all. And then viciously describes what will happen to her as she faces the side effects of the drugs and the cancer advances and then throws in that he knows she’s an Upir.

She tries to appeal to him but he shouts her down – he’s also not going to try and kill her. He thinks watching her die slowly from cancer will be better. He leaves and Olivia seems to go from tragic to angry

About time

Hemlock Grove, Season 2, Episode 9: Tintypes

Peter isn’t dead (no surprises there) but he is captured and being tortured by the freaky cult of kiddy killing. They think someone sent them and they’re holy warriors doing wonderful things by piling up the bodies. They also want Nadia – who they call “the beast.” Peter won’t tell them so it’s more torture including special anti-werewolf torture using mercury. Even worse, he gets incomprehensible babble from the cult leader.

Roman has noticed Peter’s absence and is worried – so worried that he doesn’t want to take his last Upir treatment – though Johann warns him that refusing to go ahead will bring all the upirness back and probably more.

Olivia stomps into Johann’s office to demand he stop experimenting on her children – having found Prishelly last episode. Johann has no time or patience for her bullshit, points out she has zero maternal instinct, doesn’t care about her kids and generally treated them like shit so cut the false outrage. Johann is so calm but still capable of epic smackdowns when riled.

When she tells him she’s dying and asks for his help he points out the sciency reasons why his methods can’t help and why Dr. Zheleznova-Burdukovskaya is a dubious person with a dubious history and really not to be trusted. It also leaves him ragingly furious with the doctor and he stomps about demanding she come see him.

Still Olivia goes to the basement where Roman is preparing for his last treatment and
Dr. Zheleznova-Burdukovskaya is there to ask if she is really sure she doesn’t want to kill her son because “death solves all problems.” She also thinks Johann’s cancer suggestions are bullshit

Meanwhile Miranda has the creepy baby who ups the creepiness by spelling her own name – and she’s a little young for that. And Destiny contacts and pays an older Roma for some dubious means

Norman pays of Letitia and tells her to leave in between his angsting and then goes to Olivia’s house with a gun. Can you please eat him Olivia? Letitia isn’t a fool she’s followed him, she’s a trained detective after all and tries to talk him out of it – especially since she will testify against him for murder. She takes the gun and he leaves. Awww I wanted Olivia to eat him.

Letitia goes to Michael to try and get him to make Norman back off but he has been looking at the evidence she gathered – including finger prints and DNA she obtained through breaking and entering. Naughty Letitia! To the cells! Then Michael does go to Norman to tell him about Olivia killing Clementine – and he wants to help Norman make sure Olivia is really dead.

In the cult warehouse, Peter uses more off-moon shapeshifting to get free and kill his torturer – and make a run for it. He calls Destiny as he escapes, but can only get Roman’s voicemail.