Saturday, August 2, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 7: If You Could See Her Through My Eyes

Christie still has a patch of make up from her little adventure last episode and it’s noticed by one of the Tar servants, Jalina, who nicely agrees to keep it a secret. She has to go to her next job serving the family – having sex with Datak. She decides to repeatedly say his name during sex which he finds off-putting, it’s almost like she thinks he’s an ego-maniac.

We can conclude from this that Jalina is a very observant woman. And he’s much rather chant Stahma’s name which is… very very creepy.

The next morning Datak finds Jalina’s eye-less corpse propping open his door. Wow, they gave her a name and killed her within 10 seconds. He calls in Yewl who explains she was attacked and dumped in a rubbish bin but survived long enough to crawl to Datak’s door. Datak actually feels guilty that he was too drunk to hear her call for help. Datak decides to swear revenge and also adds how devoted he was to her since she had been sworn to the family as a child. Yewl, being Yewl and awesome, isn’t impressed and thinks Datak should be more worried about Nolan suspecting him of murder (Yewl nicely dodges the question of whether she thinks he did it or not).

Yewl also informs Datak there are two kinds of friends in this world: “those who help you hide a dead whore. And me.” When he protests that he can’t do it alone she responds “you’re a professional criminal. I have faith.” She leaves

Yewl always has the best lines.

Alas, we have to leave the supreme awesomeness that is Yewl and go to Irisa who, in between sketching, cuts her arm and has another vision/memory/drug trip. Except she doesn’t see anything interesting so it’s more a reminder that she insta heals and sees things while doing so. She’s joined by Rynn who is worried about Sukar going missing throwing in some Irzu references. Irisa wants no part in that; but Rynn does recognise the guy she’s been sketching

She takes Irisa to see him and introduces an Irathient called Kai who looks exactly like the man from her vision. He’s also a little creeped out by Irisa’s odd staring (Rynn explains Irisa is touched by Irzu. Or mentally ill). While Irisa freaks out the poor Irathient lawyer, Stahma is also in the market, grabbing Nolan to report Jalina’s absence. Nolan has seen Irisa and is distracted – he promises to investigate. But his main worry is that Irisa has done to Jalina what she has done to Bertie – also lots and lots of frustration over Irisa’s very weird secrets.

Irisa doesn’t share.

To the arch where Christie has brought Deirdre and Alak lunch and Alak spots the… gem? Flower? Thing? That Marcado gave Christie. Apparently it’s a Castithan courtship gem, hand crafted on Casti, rare and not for sale (well, Mercado found one). Christie maintains that she bought it and Alak pouts and storms off. Christie feels all guilty for lying and when Deidre tries to spin it (she’s did the costume to try and understand Alak) Christie admits to enjoying the power of it. Deidre is all about reinventing yourself and defining yourself or, as she puts it, someone else does it for you. Deidre gives Christie her story – her mother was a prostitute who sold her when she was 13: she killed the man who bought her and ran, reinvented herself and got a job at the Need Want as “high class.” Now she has a job as a DJ and she hopes to marry a rich husband, like Christie. She says she is her own invention – and anyone can be anything if they want it enough

Datak has found someone to help – Rafe (who is only in it for the weapons Datak promised). As they carry the body, Datak regales him with what a wonderful and special person Jalina was (mixed in with the fact she was a slave). They drop her body for the hellbugs to eat – and while Rafe doesn’t like Datak, since he’s family he offers to help find who killed Jalina. They gather the gang to help with their epic revenge –though the gang makes it clear Datak is dead to them; they’re there for Stahma and Alak. Datak gets huffy but Stahma puts her foot down – this is for Jalina, not rivalry.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Black Ice (Midgard #2) by Susan Krinard

The battle to stop Loki bringing devastation to Earth continues – Mist has to gather her allies, call in her sister Valkyries and the Norse treasures they were holding, anything that can give her an advantage in the coming conflicts

She’s also attracting mortal allies – but is that through genuine need or her own powers changing their choices? Because Mist is also the daughter of the goddess Freya and that’s definitely a learning curve – and brings complications since Freya’s motives may not be entirely what they seem

And there’s Loki, source of all kinds of chaos – who has got his son involved.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love Norse Mythology and this story takes it and runs with it. We’ve got some decent research with a lot more myths than the standard, well known elements being presented, including the fascinating treasures that litter the Norse gods. This book takes them, the gods, the world setting, the mythology, the runes and makes something really fun and really fascinating with it. The story of the Valkyrie, unknown godchild, facing off against the devastating forces of Loki with numerous other members of the pantheon playing their own manipulative games is an really good one and definitely seizes my attention

The book even acknowledged that Freya is more than just a succubus. Well, just. There’s  a brief nod to Freya once having martial aspects before focusing again on all her terribad sexiness that drowns everything in sex and did we mention the sexiness?

The plot is complicated and involved with several threads and battles going on at the same time while Mist tries to handle them all, learn to trust others and learn exactly what she has become. She does seem to spend more time commenting on how exhausted she is than doing exhausting things though; there was also waaaaay too much dialogue and internal monologue for people desperately battling away

She and her sister Valkyries are all competent, but they’re also very different women. There’s a really huge potential for these women to pool their resources and skills and be a far greater whole.

There are greater problems though

I have a great way for Mist to defeat Loki.

Step 1: Stab Dainn
Step 2: repeat Step 1 until no movement is detected
Step 3: scrape up remains and drop into wood chipper
Step 4: assign Einherjar to watch the remains and stomp on anything that twitches.

No, seriously. I think Dainn may be one of the biggest barriers to Mist actually getting anything done. She spends so much time worrying about him, questioning his loyalty, fearing for him that she actually does very little outside of that, he’s something of an obsession of hers. In turn he does little that’s productive except mope and whine and angst and mope some more – occasionally becoming a big monstrous thing that can be thrown against the enemy (his one real use). It would help a lot more if he didn’t keep so many secrets – he keeps so much from Mist that he’s a constant liability.

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 6: Lockdown

Mood on the ship is very very grim. In the radio room they still get endless requests for help through a vast number of SOS calls and the crew are becoming aware of that (but they’re assured it’s not their families asking for help. If you can call that reassuring).

The crew are also being kept in the dark – something Mike and Jeter (Master Chief) want to continue, hiding knowledge of what actually happened in Nicaragua. They don’t think the general crew (the “kids”) can handle knowing about the sick people they couldn’t help, the village, El Toroet al. (Tex seems to have become an honourary officer). Commander tom, being all good and pure, thinks this is a bad idea, especially given how pissed off everyone was about Rachel keeping the plague secret. Jeter and Mike are all for more secrecy for the sake of hope

Tom, after checking with Rachel’s vaccine tests, ignores their advice , and tells them everything that happened – including Rachel’s monkey experiments and his plan to head home. He also seems to be making promises – or indicating promises – that Rachel has to keep

Danny angsts about his relationship with Kara to Tex

And Kara worries that they’re just being fed a line by the captain to Alisha.

Quincy tries to convince his chess companion that he can help. But it’s not his place to help Quincy and he’s not a big fan anyway.

More problems, Rachel’s vaccine tests aren’t going so well. Tom is not happy but she’s not happy with him – she said she was ready to test the vaccine, not that she had a miracle cure all ready.  He’s all tetchy at her because he doesn’t understand how science works. He also tells her to hide the monkeys she disposes of, throwing them overboard at night, to hide the problems. So much for secrecy

Tom tells Jeter and Mike this and adds that they can’t head for home if they’re just going to have to turn round for more monkeys. Tom does a little “I’m not saying you’re right but I’m going to be secretive now so you kind of are”. The plan is now to stall – and stop moving.

But Quincy can see through that and tells his chess partner, Bacon, how Rebecca’s experiments must be failing because there’s no other reason they wouldn’t be heading to North America (South America was too badly hit by the virus to be a viable place to develop the vaccine, apparently). And it’s all because Tom would rather fail than admit there’s a mistake and make use of Quincy. He works to undermine Tom by spinning all the things he’s done.

Rachel is seen dumping her hidden monkeys, Tom and Mike continue to grouse about how Rachel hasn’t just waved her wand and created a cure. Some guys talk all paranoid about the disease – and Danny collapses. Rachel and Tom arrive and Rachel is quick to dismiss the idea he has the virus – though he does have a fever and is coughing up blood.

And the doctor arrives dressed in full Haz Mat suite. Rachel is not amused, she doesn’t think Danny has it and if he did have it they’d all be dead anyway so panic causing suits are not going to help. Rachel sharply stamps on any panic, irritated by all these people’s medical ignorance and more by being questioned by these medically ignorant people about whether she’s wrong or not, especially since it seems to be a dig about her being mistaken with the vaccine. Which also lets that cat out of the bag.

Mental Illness and the Non-Neuro-Typical in Urban Fantasy

Mental illnesses and non-neurotypical people are both very much misunderstood in society. Feared, reviled, pitied and shamed, there’s a lot of ignorance, a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of fear and a whole lot of damaging tropes that are assumed and encouraged. Collectively these present real barriers for the non-neurotypical to seek help and support they may need or want (or even be aware they exist) and create massive difficulties in interacting with neuro-typical people whose assumptions and worries can render it almost impossible.

Needless to say, media depiction has a huge effect on this - with repeated depictions adding to all of these problems as we see the same tropes crop up over and over

Almost ironically, the most common mental illness and non-neurotypical tropes we see in Urban Fantasy doesn’t even involve the mentally ill at all; instead it epitomises neuro-typical people’s fear of becoming mentally ill or, as it is repeatedly called over and over “going crazy.”

Indeed, it’s very rare for an Urban Fantasy series not to take a neuro-typical person, introduce them to the supernatural world and have them not think “oh my god, I’m losing my mind!” with additional levels of angst and fear. It is indicative of just how much we have demonised being mentally ill that, when the character is convinced that what they’re experiencing is real, they commonly feel profoundly relieved.

Because a world where there are immortal supernatural beings with immense power that literally feed on people to survive is much more reassuring than the idea you may have a mental illness in need of treatment? Hey a supernatural monster is currently hunting me, but thank gods I’m not crazy!

Looking at it logically, this is an appallingly ridiculous reaction - but in series where the supernatural hasn’t already been established and it has to be discovered then this doubt and relief is almost ubiquitous. It’s considered as much a staple as the dead parent.

This trope of mental illness being a terrible worse-than-death fate that may afflict neuro-typical people is really well ingrained in our culture and frequently arises in fiction.

In Witches of East End rather than have Maura live with the mental illness Wendy magically inflicted on her (and, perhaps, be treated for it), they choose to magically send her into a happy deluded coma instead. That’s an extreme example - but there’s innumerable examples of neuro-typical people suffering the terrible fate of being wrongly locked in an asylum (especially in programmes set in the past). The whole of American Horror Story: Asylum rests on the trope. Teen Wolf had Stiles wrongly confined in Eichen House, Penny Dreadful has Eva confined in an asylum. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has Alice escaping from Bethlem - in fact, Bethlem could have its own subsection of its own!. Her Own Devices has Claire rescue someone from Bethlem, one of the main terrors of Xandra in the Immortal Empire Series is being shut in Bethlem. The whole concept of Bedlam is set on the horrors of an asylum now afflicting modern neuro-typical people - and it’s even named after the infamous asylum.

All of these feature a neuro-typical person being wrongfully detained in an asylum. And it’s not being locked up in an asylum that’s the problem - it’s that they’ve been locked up while being neuro-typical. It’s the wrongful accusation. This even applies when the conditions in the asylum are horrific and brutal - the horror isn’t horrific for its own sake, it’s horrific because these people are “innocent” of being mentally ill. In fact, mentally ill inmates of these institutions are often used as background wallpaper or to even add to the horror the neuro-typical protagonist must endure. The mentally ill are often freakish horrors that add to the protagonist’s misery and torment until they can escape the unjust abuse.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

City of Monsters by Andrea Speed

Hunter is struggling to get by as an undefined were in Nightshade – the city where all the monsters live, separate from Earth. It’s not an easy life – shapeshifters don’t always get a lot of respect, especially when you don’t even know what you shift into.

Of course, he doesn’t make that life any easier when he runs up a large gambling debate and has to figure out some way to pay it off – but his work life does become more interesting when completely new arrival Sakari drops in

This has an interesting concept that I wish were explored more. We have a city in a different dimension from Earth, where the monsters live. They have limited connection to Earth, but, for the most part, they’re stuck there. Any human on Earth who, while wandering around, gets all magicy or monstery pings out of existence and arrives in this city to try and find their feet in a world with a vast and incredible array of magical creatures, few rules but lots of customs and angry people you don’t want to fight.

It’s a setting that could be interesting. But like many of the “anything goes” worlds it has more breadth than depth. Everything’s there – but everything could also do with a whole lore more development and exploration to make them more than just random things. There are elements of development – like the werewolves and their disturbing habit of urinating on things – but most of it has great potential that is only really briefly touched and hinted at in this book.

Similarly, the writing style is interesting, it’s humorous, it’s engaging  but it’s very distracted by the budding horniness (which I will get to), trying to squeeze this whole world in through internal musings and info dumping and lectures to try and push this world in

And the story – it’s decently paced. It’s a nice introduction to the world and the characters. The story isn’t unduly complex to distract things but generally gives everyone an excuse to keep moving. Alright not the most awesome introduction to a world but a very nicely serviceable and one that is, generally, decently done – but it’s short. It’s really short, lacks several necessary twists and ends ridiculously quickly and easily. It felt more like the characters were mosying around doing their own thing when they just happened to stumble upon the answer.

Which is part of the main problem with this book – it’s a novella, it’s short – and there isn’t enough room or effort spent on anything; not the world, not the characters, not the story. It’s all far too short, everything is given a lick and a promise. Lots of potential but only really a hint of trying to reach it

Utopia, Season 2, Episode 4

In America, a nice normal family is settling in for the night when he gets a call – he has to go out, ah such is the hardships of working as a 24 hour plumber

Well, except this plumber actually finds a hidden, apparently long undisturbed vault. He removes a refrigerated container, puts it in a hidden, locked compartment of his car and takes it to what seems to be an old airbase where he abandons the car.

He goes home… and murders his family then kills himself.

Over to England and Michael has Jessica Hyde as a houseguest – he almost calls to report her but decides against it, settling on restless pacing as she sleeps for 2 days solid. Now she wants to eat and is very impressed by his eggs – less so by Michael’s excuses for helping with Janus (she has a very good silence while he babbles away realising his own excuses are so very poor). She’s also immensely creepy and has a thing for Ian.

And to the gang where Garth investigates Pietre’s bag (not a good idea) and finds a gun which clearly brings back bad memories. And Becky tries to prompt Phillip’s memory with the Utopia manuscript. Becky and Ian argue over what to do next, whether to show Phillip the TV show that prompted him to speak (which would involve breaking and entering for some odd reason – the excuse is because it’s American so they can’t get it on the net. Because killing people is fine, using torrents and not respecting territory releases is right out of line. Oh Channel 4, don’t be such a damn fool) as well as arguing over Ian telling Milner. At least he told them, I guess. Garth also notices a tattoo on Phillip’s arm

Backy recognises the number as death camp tattoos from the holocaust. She pulls out her lap top and runs through a few language with him, recognising that Phillip – or Anton – speaks Romanian.

Ian follows is own rather inept but effective plan to get a copy of the US TV show from the network, getting out by playing on someone’s racist assumption. From there he goes to Michael’s house – which Becky preciously told him not to since they don’t know if they can trust him – especially since Ian already wrongly put his choice in Milner. Where he gets hugged by Jessica Hyde. And kissed. And then he just runs with it, especially when she declares she’s not waiting.

Afterwards, Jessica tells him about Janus being in her, that Michael isn’t a true member of the Network and basically behaves oddly enough that Ian realises there’s something badly wrong with her. She also hides a phone in the lining of Ian’s jacket and goes to make some eggs – when he, predictably, runs like hell she watches him go.

Pietre has joined up with Lee and Christian; Pietre is arranging for Tess and Amanda’s, his family’s, safety. He has a completely emotionless, logical, cold – and still deeply moving and sad last goodbye with them as he ensures their safety. That done, Lee now gets his side of the bargain – and he kills Christian. But he still wants the rest of the gang. Pietre asks where Jessica Hyde is.

That’s still a very spooky question for him to ask.

This Week in Book Covers: 21st July - 25th July

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

Why? After all the excellent covers in this series, whyyyyyyy? What’s with the font? It’s like a bad 80s sci-fi at war with someone designer posters for a low budget Renaissance Fair.

Then we’ve got unnecessary leather, a woman who decides to face off against supernatural threat with her menacingly bared navel and a couple of completely random, not-in-the-book weapons. Since when is Anna a gunfighter? Since when is Anna defined by her badass weapon skills?

Thankfully there’s an alternate cover. Let’s pretend the other one doesn’t exist

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alice Through Bloodstained Glass by Dan Adams

Alice was a normal girl in a normal world, without a concern beyond looking after her little sister and the heavy summer heat

And then the infected appeared. Ravenous zombies determined to eat everything in their path until nothing was left alive. In the first wave destroyed so much and left her with no-one to trust, no-one to rely on

Only herself, her anger and her will to survive.

I can see what this book is trying to do. I can see it trying to mash up Lewis Carol’s Alice with a gritty zombie apocalypse. I can see the attempt to meld the whacky and surreal with the dark and awful. Whimsical meets horrifying. Quixotic meets macabre. Outlandish absurdity meets cruel reality.
It was going to take the characters and concepts of Alice Through the Looking Glass, even lift entire chunks of Carrol’s dialogue and twist it into a desperate, gritty, horrifying fight for survival against the undead horde with lots of gore and loss

That’s a pretty tall order for any book.

And in places this book almost approaches it. I was amused by Catherine Pillar and her zombie killing magic mushrooms. Hare and Hatter weren’t too bad.

But that, sadly, is the limit of what it does manage it. Everything else – the Duchess, the Red Queen, the Cheshire cat (ye gods that was poor – a guy who grinned called “Chez” wasn’t enough, you have to actually have someone say he grinned like a Cheshire Cat? What’s the point of a melding/homage if you directly reference the source material like that?) was terribly convoluted or jarring. It didn’t work, it didn’t work at all.

It wasn’t silly enough, surreal enough or funny enough for the Lewis Carrol elements to work. The imported dialogue was clunky, grossly out of place and felt less like a homage and more like the author had hit their head – or the characters had. The references where either twisted sufficiently into the setting as to make them little more than a name or a reference (like the Mock Turtle or Gryphon) or so grossly out of place as to just break the whole scene – like the Queen of Hearts and her headchoppy silliness. This could work if it were more silly, if it were more absurd and ridiculous and laughable. It could have worked – but it wasn’t. The story wasn’t surreal enough to be intentionally ridiculous – it ended up just being plain ridiculous.

The same goes for the grittiness. We have the gore and the grief and the desperate battle for survival. We even have Alice who could be an interesting character – losing a beloved family member very early in the zombie apocalypse she is consumed by grief, guilt and hatred for the one she deems responsible for the death. She then goes through a series of traumatic disasters, sees groups form and die very quickly on the very first day. It’s actually quite realistic how it would happen – as she is a desperate fleeing survivor multiple times as various people try to come together only to be destroyed over and over again.

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 5: Reconciliation

Melanie wants to talk to Sam – so it’s Barbie’s job to track him down and, preferably, fill Julia in on the whole Melanie revelation.  Big supernatural revelations are derailed so Barbie and Julia can talk about the genocide, Barbie now claims he was only listening to Rebecca and Jim so he could prepare to stop them. Which then turns into love triangle pouting – because if she thinks badly about Barbie she’s going to think worse about Sam.

Sam is at his house and pulls out some papers from a hiding place James and Lyle missed (presumably the missing pages from the journal) – James is still around searching though. He rambles about his mother’s prediction and his belief that Lyle killed Angie and the bemusing information that James’s mother told him to trust Lyle. The rambling bring Sam up to date on everything, including the fact that his sister, Pauline, is alive.

They mope about this, think about finding Lyle, talking to Pauline and who knows what else. But Sam decides they need to find the missing journal page – which he has. But he doesn’t want James to know he hid it so he suggests they search Lyle’s place, again, where he plants it. The missing pages show a picture of Angie. Another shows four people’s hands touching something (the Dome, the egg, etc). Sam explains Pauline ranted about “four hands” who would be the Dome’s protectors. Quite why anyone WANTS the Dome protecting is beyond me. Apparently the Dome will fall without the four hands – is that a bad thing? James helpfully tells Sam (who has “real killer” written all over him) who the other three hands are – Norrie, Joe and him.

They go looking for the other hands and Sam decides they need a drink – which isn’t a great idea since he’s a recovering alcoholic (so we’re told anyway). Sam only pretends to drink though as he tanks James up

Once James is drunk and asleep, Sam plans to suffocate him with a pillow (Go Sam! Go Sam! Go Sam!) alas James wakes up and talks about Sam being the only family he has left and he just can’t kill him. Aaaaaaargh, sooo close.

In the diner there are definite tensions between those furious with Jim and those who believe in him. And Carolyn has been allowed out of her plot box to play lawyer for Jim’s trial.

In the cells, Jim is blaming Rebecca for it all going wrong and her not even going through with the plan, Rebecca is responding with logic – the minute she saw how lethal the virus was it would have been even more ridiculous to go through with the plan.

While that’s pending Julia is trying to organise a more peaceful way of dealing with their issues – including asking people to voluntarily share their food. Um… genocide isn’t the answer but this isn’t even an attempt at an answer. The trial begins and the crowd pushes and shoves angrily at each other. One angry man pulls a gun and tries to race to the podium – Phil shoots him. And he dies, DRAMATIC MUSIC!

In the bathroom, Rebecca is shaken – she’d run to the dead man and has blood on her hands. Julia is not very sympathetic since him or any of the people of the town could have died under Rebecca’s plan. Rebecca decides to tell Julia that Barbie was innocent – he wasn’t involved despite Jim’s lies.

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 6: Orphaned

Kate Argent wakes up in a car, seeming confused as to why she’s there (tequila, tequila will do it to you every time). There’s a cassette in the radio (a cassette? Is this a flashback?) labelled play me – she does and hears a history of the Hale family and how they used the triskelion to control their wolfiness

Outside the car, Kate and her berserkers have massacred a whole pack of assassins (presumably who got a copy of the list) and she wants to know, from one of the very very very few survivors, who is paying them. Unfortunately, none of them knows who the Benefactor is, which is so very pesky. Kate finds this all very tiresome that people only whine about the agonising pain and dying rather than giving her useful answers (kind of like trying to get any help from my bank). She has a new question about the tape and one of the not-quite-dead assassins tells her someone else got one, kids (or apparently kids) called “The Orphans”

Another assassin shoots Kate non-lethally with his last bullet which was… unwise. She tries to shoot him but completely loses control and werejaguars all over him which is much much messier

To the school! The fallout of last episodes events are still apparent, Coach is not happy about Garrett who is missing and wanted by the police and Scott and his dad have a whole moment (alas, this is a “I’m trying to be a better father” moment rather than a “rawr I’m going to kill you you awful character” moment.) Amusingly, Rafe thinks he needs to be around so Melissa can pick up double shifts at the hospital – as if Melissa doesn’t live at the hospital already!. Violet is arrested by Parrish and she realises his name is on the LIST OF DEATH.

Rafe, as an FBI agent (who is not dead) realises that Violet’s weapon of choice, a thermal cut wire, is very very unusual and she may be behind rather a few murders he has on file. Garrett and Violet are the “Oprhans” because they don’t have parents. Well, as far as nifty nicknames goes it kind of fails when it’s just a literal descriptor.

Scott and Liam search The Orphan’s locker to find a whole wadge of money. Scott tells Liam he’s found nothing

At the vet’s office, someone has pulled Dr. Deaton out of his plot box because he’s useful! They’re trying to cure the now frothing and seizing Brett since he’s been infected with yellow wolfsbane by The Orphans (wolfsbane now comes in colours. Kind of like kryptonite). Unfortunately, they have to hold him down so Deaton can cut him which leads to lots of snark, stiles being thrown across the room and Peter applying a fist full of anaesthetic. Well, a fist acting as anaesthetic anyway.

While Deaton saves Brett, Derek and Peter share significant looks about the claw marks on Derek’s arm – that insta heal after a brief delay, and Peter’s super strength. On the floor, Brett keeps chanting the same chant the other wolves have used to hold control: Three things cannot long be hidden, the sun, the moon, the truth.” Which Deaton recognises as Buddhist and the music department recognises as Significant. Derek and Peter recognise the chant and we have a brief flashback of an Asian werewolf, Peter calls Satomi.

Over to chez McCall and Melissa is on the phone with the electricity company that has cut off their power – she’s three months overdue (hence the double shifts, I guess, though she has always worked them). Scott hears everything with his wolfy hearing. Under his bed is the money from The Orphans’ locker.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

True Blood Season Seven, Episode Six: Karma

Eric staggers through the hallways of the Bush library and though his vision isn't clear, he manages to hold his own in a fight against several Yakuza, that is until Pam calls out his name. That's right, you guessed it, Pam has once more been over powered and Eric is forced to stop fighting in order to save Pam from certain death.  I for one am sick of this shit because it turns Pam into a liability rather than a strength. Is someone ever going to get around to explaining how it is that humans manage to always get the upper hand on a vampire who is over 100 years old? The two are draped in silver and dragged into the corporation, where a clock counts down the time until dawn. Eric snarks that this is his first sunrise with Pam.

After discovering his positive status, a shocked Bill sits on the bed. He stands, makes his way to a computer and looks up the number of a lawyer's office.  As he about stresses the urgency of getting his affairs in order, Jessica returns home and overhears the entire conversation. Bill learns that the office is so busy that he  has to come in and wait for his turn.  Bill rushes downstairs to grab his things and Jessica makes her presence known.  Jessica is clearly sad but says nothing about the elephant in the room because Bill asks her about her relationship with James.  Jessica explains that she broke up with James and Bill offers his condolences, adding that he cannot stay but that he is sure that things will be fine.

Lafayette brings Lettie Mae back to his place though she tries to say that she has to get home because her husband will be waiting. Lafayette is not buying this because he knows that Lettie Mae drugged the Reverend and so he will be asleep for a good time to come. When they enter the house, they find James waiting for Lafayette.  James asks to stay and Lafayette says, "sure thing".  Lafayette introduces Lettie Mae to James and warns Lettie Mae not to take a cleaver to James in the middle of the day. Lettie Mae again says that this is not her disease talking and that she knows Tara is trying to communicate with her.  James is instantly sympathetic and offers his blood.  Lafayette agrees to take the trip with Lettie Mae so that he can get to the bottom of this himself, though he believes that this is nothing more that Lettie Mae's addiction talking. Lafayette and Lettie Mae stagger to the couch and James heads off to the cellar, telling them to enjoy the ride.

A nervous Jason sits in his car which is parked in front of his house.  He checks the mirror for traces of makeup on his face. Shouldn't he have been worried about Violet before he slept with Jessica? When Jason walks in, he finds petals strewn across the floor, the room is lit by candlelight and smooth jazz  playing in the background.  Violet appears wearing sexy lingerie and Jason brings up the fact that Violet left without him. Violet claims that she wanted to surprise Jason and Jason wonders if Violet is feeling okay. Violet explains that she is aggressive because she comes from a time when that approach to life was necessary; however, now she is in this time and she wants to show Jason that though he belongs to her, she belongs to him as well. What better way is there for a woman to show how submissive she is by getting on her knees and fellating her partner. Yes, that's snark.

Bill pulls into the parking lot for the lawyers office and when he enters, Bill finds the office full of infected vampires in need of legal advice. The secretary is so disinterested that he reads a book and tells Bill to take a number. When Bill asks how long his expected wait is, he is told seven hours. Bill rightfully points out that it will be daylight then but is told that there will be cabs waiting to ferry him home.

The clock is ticking down and Pam and Eric are still draped in silver. Pam being Pam is not impressed and snarks about meeting the sun in a room with wall to wall carpet. Mr. Gus enters the room and explains that he is the North American president of the corporation which makes True Blood. Mr. Gus is an Asian man with a ten gallon hat and a strong Texas accent.  Mr. Gus wants revenge for the annihilation of his corporation and of course, wants Sarah Newlin. When Mr. Gus asks for information on where Sarah is, Eric and Pam both refuse to comply, under the understanding that when they gives up this information, Mr. Gus has no reason to keep either of them alive.  Pam demands that Mr. Gus give them his word on his honour, (since honour seems to be his motivating factor) that after they give him information on Sarah, they will be allowed to live. Eric adds the right to kill Sarah as part of the deal but Mr. Gus says no.  Eric and Mr. Gus talk about the various ways in which she has harmed them.  Pam tells both men to stop the pissing contest and make a deal.  Finally, they agree that Eric can kill Sarah and Mr. Gus can have the body. Pam reveals that Sarah has a vampire sister in Dallas and with her parents dead, Sarah will have no place to run.  Eric agrees to give the address at night fall so that they can go together.

Sarah breaks into Amber's home and Amber jumps on Sarah's back, so Sarah calls out her identity believing that her sister is unaware of who she is attacking. Amber moves to bite Sarah but then starts coughing and brings up blood all over Sarah's back. When Amber stands, Sarah learns for the first time that he sister has Hep V, so Amber informs Sarah that she did this to her.

A concerned Jessica calls Jason saying that she needs him to bring Sookie over to Bill's. Jason at first believes that Jessica wants to talk about what happened between them but Jessica quickly says no and stresses how much she needs to see Sookie. Though Jessica won't explain why she needs to see Sookie, Jason quickly grabs his things and leaves.  The moment his car door slams, a very unhappy Violet sits up in bed, screams and starts wrecking shit.

Andy is about to head downstairs when he hears what appears to be crying coming from Adilyn's room. Instead of knocking, Andy barges in and finds Adilyn in bed with Wade. Andy immediately loses his shit and Wade smartly takes off running.  Andy chases Wade right out of the house and Holly and Arlene come running.  Holly is upset by the possibility that Andy might have hit Wade, while Arlene is concerned that all of this noise will wake the baby. Adilyn calls out to Wade that she loves him and Andy orders her upstairs promising to deal with her later.  For her part, Holly promises to deal with Andy later. Holly storms off with Wade and in the process, Lauren Bowles manages to cop a feel from Noah Matthews but who can blame her really.

Jason arrives at Sookie's place to find the place still messy from the party.  Jason makes his way upstairs to find Sookie asleep on the bed still wearing Alcide's jacket. Jason wakes Sookie saying that she hasn't been answering her phone and that the mail box is full. Sookie opens one eye long enough to tell Jason to go away. Sookie is clearly hung over and Jason reveals that Jessica has something that she needs to hear in person. Finally, Sookie crawls out of be complaining about a headache and Jason hands her clothing before heading downstairs to make coffee.

Lettie Mae and Lafayette are on their blood trip.  Lettie Mae leads Lafayette to Tara, who is still tied to the cross mumbling unintelligibly.  Lettie Mae and Lafayette both fall to their knees in front of Tara. Lafayette takes the snake off of Tara and Lettie Mae helps her get off the cross. Lettie Mae briefly holds Tara in her arms before Tara disappears. When they see Tara again, she is running and so Lettie Mae and Lafayette decide to follow.

Sam returns home with coffee and donuts for him and Nicole. Nicole gets off the phone with her mother and tells Sam that she is going home.  Sam thinks that it would be good for Nicole to have a visit but Nicole makes it clear that this is permanent because she does not belong there.  Sam tells Nicole that though he cannot understand what she has been through, they both belong in Bon Temps. In frustration, Nicole says that it wasn't until last night that she realized that the town is crazy, making Sam the mayor of crazy. Nicole asks Sam to come with her.  Sam replies that Bon Temps is the only place that he has ever felt safe but Nicole will not be deterred and replies that her mother is coming to get her tomorrow.

Jason, and Sookie show up at Bill's to meet with Jessica, who says that she overheard Bill tell a lawyer's office that he is Hep V positive. Jason suggests that maybe Bill just wanted to get his will done because of how crazy things are with the world. Jessica affirms what she heard, so then Jason turns to cheer up routine and suggests that because Bill is tough, if anyone is likely to beat Hep V it's Bill. Sookie gets a flashback to her ridiculous plan to act as bait in the woods and slash her arm.  Of course that ended up with Sookie being splashed with infected blood and Bill drinking from her to gear up for the fight at Fangtasia at her request. Sookie tells Jason that she has to go and get tested. Jason is shocked and tells Sookie that it's not her and Jessica points out that just a week ago, Sookie was negative.

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 6: Door Number Three

Ben is having sex with Maggie when his brother Hal staggers in, with a big, blood stained wound over his heart.

Ok, maybe the stomach, but this works so much better.

It was all a dream we find out when Maggie wakes Ben up (and is there anything more awkward than having a sex dream about someone and then having them wake you up?)  to get him to help search for

Lourdes has a little cult meeting with Lexi where everyone continues to forget about the whole genocide of the human race and instead thinks everyone’s problem with the Espheni is fear of change. (Well yeah, because that “change” is “all of us dead or slaves.”) And Lexi’s hand has gone all slimy which can’t be good

Tom  & Weaver et al connect with Hal’s group (Hal also sees some green light on the moon which I’m sure will be relevant. Or random, knowing this show). Then Ben joins them  and Anne because they’re just outside the sanctuary and they have a whole big reunion. Anne takes Tom aside to talk about their sister. Everyone else moves into the hippy haven and begins eating and Hal and Maggie have their own kissing reunion (Ben looks on being all creepy).

While Lourdes drops in on Lexi and finds  she’s made herself a cocoon. Lourdes decides to tell Tom and Anne that this is a wonderful thing. Unsurprisingly, they don’t agree. Anne panics and decides to stab things but Tom points out this may not be the best idea and random stabbing has limited problem solving capabilities.

With the gang gathered, Kadar theorises that Lexi has entered a chrysalis from which an Espheni will emerge but she will die if they cut her out. Also he is basing this entire lecture on caterpillars and butterflies and really don’t have a clue about Espheni biology but let’s run with it. They ask Cochise about it but he gives basic information followed by “I have nothing more to share” which isn’t quite the same as “I don’t know” and he hustles out very quickly. Since Anne was cocooned once, Kadar decides to try repressed memory strategies.

So they drug her and hypnotise her to remember when she and her child were together. Which is sadly unspecific because Anne flashbacks to the death of her first child. Oops. Rather than just try again Anne decides she will double the medication because RAWR and it may kill her so DRAMA. Remember this woman is a doctor

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 3: Gone Smooth

We open with Eichorst’s true form – noseless, earless, wrinkled, grey skinned, hairless – and all the makeup and prosthetics he uses to make himself appear human. And you thought it took you a while to get ready every morning

Ephraim and Nora, last episode, discovered that all 200+ bodies have disappeared. They confront Everett about it and he doesn’t know what happened to them either – but he makes a wild guess on the military removing them to prevent them being autopsied (which Ephraim doesn’t buy because the military wouldn’t let the 4 survivors walk away). They also point out how utterly ridiculous “carbon monoxide poisoning” as an excuse for the deaths is – they saw the bodies. Everett doesn’t care so long as they’re not responsible. Everett is only concerned with the press and reputation of the CDC

Ansel, the every-day-man of the 4 survivors wakes up to find all is not good – bloodshot eyes and really sharp teeth. Yeah, that’s me on tequila. The press are also bombarding his home for fascinating interviews with a guy who is sick and his neighbours, I guess. His wife, Anne-Marie frets about the whole thing and the sick Ansel maybe having to go back in quarantine (which may be better for him because Anne-Marie’s frantic worrying is probably not good for any sick person).

Vasily the pest controller (who is still completely irrelevant to the plot if you haven’t read the books) picks up his jobs – a huge up-tick on rat problems (and a brief argument with his boss who insists he makes the mayor’s friend a top priority rather than the hospital or schools).

Ephraim and Nora have a whole team of doctors trying to help another survivor, Captain Redferne, who is not doing well. Ephraim promises him they’ll make him better which Nora takes issue with – c’mon Nora, it’s a white lie. Nora also wants to talk to Abraham because the old man certainly knew things even while they all decided to ignore him for REASONS.

Jim is angsting a little about his betrayal last episode and goes to the Stoneheart group to meet his contact – and instead gets Eichorst who offers him money and refuses to answer his questions. Jim decides to go to the police so Eichorst brings up plan B – Jim has cancer that will kill her unless she gets on a special, limited experimental drug scheme – which he has been denied. Stoneheart funds that research and can get her in. He takes the money and stays on board, Eichorst is his new boss. When he gets home, his wife tells him she’s been accepted into the drug trial.

Abraham is on trial for his little ruckus and plays “confused old man” to the judge which gets his case dismissed (no-one wants to prosecute and elderly, lonely holocaust survivor, even if he does carry a sword). Nora is waiting for him when he leaves and the confused act drops – and he knows she’s there because the bodies have disappeared. After much ominous vagueness he tells Nora she needs to find the bodies, destroy them and everyone they came into contact with. When she’s hesitant he storms off in disgust – she’s useless until she’s willing to do what needs to be done

It would, perhaps, help just a LITTLE if Abraham would explain why it needs to be done. Y’know rather than “I want you to have a big big big bonfire, possibly with living people on it, because I said so that’s why”.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: 2014, Episode 21

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)

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
25th August -1st September: Blood and Gold by Anne Rice

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back (White Trash Zombie #4) by Diana Rowland

Angel’s life seems to be heading in a good direction – she has her GED, she’s even considering college courses. She’s doing well at her job and is growing in confidence as she realises how much she now knows. She has some relationship issues to get through with Marcus, but things are working out

Until Pietro, the leader of the zombie “Tribe” is kidnapped. And there’s evidence of a traitor in the organisation. They have to get him back, but how much of the Tribe’s membership can they really rely on? Who can she actually trust?

She was just getting her normal life sorted out, covert operative wasn’t in the job description.

I like this plot – it certainly follows some concepts I’ve seen before: evil corporation kidnaps some good guys and some more goodguys swoop in to the rescue, with lots of travel, sleuthing and then some kick arse action. But, then, you take most plots down to their basic elements you come to an old structure. What counts is what you do with it – and this does it well

The pacing is great – there’s no big down time, there’s no massive floppiness from frustrated red herrings (there are false leads but they are handled well with enough action to keep the story moving). The world has its wonderful originality with the zombies, their organisation, characters who Angels doesn’t always get on with but she’s seeing them with more nuance. We have a really interesting world and concept with these zombies which continues to grow and develop with new information and background adding to some of the major characters and the very nature of zombiedom.

I also quite like the antagonists – not only do they bring a lot of complexity with Naomi, since they are her family (with some really wonderful scenes where she tries to connect and some harsh realities and all kinds of emotional conflict) but they’re also interestingly powerful; not overwhelmingly unstoppable, but still dangerous enough to be a very difficult challenge. It’s interesting to see the “evil corporation” route that doesn’t involve some vast, shadowy multinational conglomerate; instead an actual family run business. It adds more motives to the antagonists (emotional connection) and makes the maintained secrecy more conceivable.

I have to say, though it kills me to, that I had some trouble getting into this book. There were a lot of characters coming back, not all of them I recognised or remembered (clearly this is because these books aren’t released close enough together – I hint most subtly). So much has happened in the White Trash Zombieverse even if it is only four books in – there’s been a lot of events and characters. I was a little swamped as characters seemed to be coming out of the woodwork. But it quickly evened out, a lot of characters fell into the background and I could focus more – I was still a little lost with the importance of some of them (was I supposed to remember Brian? I didn’t remember Brian. Apparently Brian is a big deal. Sorry Brian.)

What really makes this book, though, are the characters

Dominion Season One, Episode Six: Black Eyes Blue

Michael arrives at an old casino vault to find Alex waiting for him. When Michael enters the vault, he finds Clementine tied up in chains begging to be let go.  And let the bickering begin!  Michael is upset that Alex radioed in to say that the eight ball had been killed and Alex defends this actions by saying that he was only trying to buy time. Alex explains that Clementine is no ordinary eight ball because she is Claire's mother. This of course is no surprise to Michael and he tells Alex that he was ordered by Edward to take care of this personally and now because of Alex's false report, Edward believes that Clementine is dead. In Clementine's defense, Alex argue's that she is different and knows things about Claire only a mother could know, leading him to believe that Claire's mother is still somehow hidden inside. Clementine stands and promises to leave Vega but Michael is adamant that Clementine is not going anywhere.  Alex brings up the text which apparently says that the possessed shall find relief in the hands of the chosen one and Michael calls it the words of scared men and orders Alex to get back into the vault and end this or he will. More bickering and finally, Alex decides that he is going to perform and eviction on Clementine despite the great risk to himself.

Edward is sitting in his office when Claire walks in with a big smile on her face.  It seems that the music box which Clementine had placed on her bed had fallen off  and landed on the floor so she didn't see it. Of course, Claire assumes this a gift from her father because it plays a song her mother used to sing her as a child. Claire thanks her father and talks about how much she misses her mother. Edward admits to missing his wife and Claire kisses her father calling it a perfect gift. As Claire moves to leave the room, Edward asks Clarie to wait so that he can request her help with David's attempt to initiate the call for a vote of no confidence. Claire is surprised that this is still going on given that she threatened David last night with absolutely no proof. How dare he not capitulate to the Lady of the city's command. Edward asks Claire to attend a meeting with him which will hopefully put a stop to Edward's plans.

William is outside at his gathering area for his fake religion in his ministerial robes. William calls David's visit a pleasant surprise but David quickly informs William that this is not a pleasure visit and pulls out the cloth which represents collusion with Gabriel.  David informs William that the cloth was found in their home and adds that he is impressed by William's work looking into Gabriel's under-church and the black acolytes. At this point, David is clearly no different than a cat playing with a mouse before going in for the slaughter. David promises to end the black acolytes the moment he finds them and tells William to have a good day.

Michael drops in on Uriel, who is dancing like ballerina and unimpressed by the intrusion.  Around the room are famous works of art. Michael hands Uriel another painting for her collection saying that he would like to make a trade for the apocrypher. Uriel is shocked and points out that the apocrypher is only used for one thing, then questions if a human soul is more important to Michael that one of his own kind. Michael tells Uriel that the chosen one is demanding it and since Uriel told him to train Alex, that is exactly what Michael intends to do. Uriel points out that even with the apocrypher, trying to save the possessed is a fools mission but the ever so arrogant Michael intends this as a lesson in failure for Alex. Uriel then points out that this would greatly upset Gabriel but Michael claims that this has nothing to do with Gabriel.  Uriel questions if Michael thinks she is a fool, given that if even one eight ball is released, it would change the balance. Uriel then hands the painting back to Michael with a smile and says that there is something else she wants.

Later, Alex sits on Michael's bed, while Uriel examines his tattoos saying that she now understands why Michael has been keeping Alex all to himself. When Alex complains that Uriel is making him uncomfortable, Michael replies, "welcome to my world." Alex points out that he is the only one who can translate them and is having difficulty doing so but Uriel says that she is not interested in the translation at the moment. Alex questions Uriel's desire to see them and Uriel respond that the markings are divine creativity handed down by her father. Finally, at the max of his creep out level, Alex declares that Uriel has seen enough and demands the book. Uriel hands it over and Alex removes the cover and asks what they are to do now. Uriel snarks about Michael not telling Alex about the book's history and Michael snarks that it was premature given that he was not sure if they would ever actually possess the book. Michael tells Alex that the book belonged to the only prophet to ever evict an angel and though many have held that book, all have failed. Alex realises that there have been angel possessions for hundreds of years and Michael explains that this is the only kind of possessions there ever have been. it's just that humans have always failed to see them for what they were. When Alex opens the book, he finds that the pages are faded away and are not readable. Michael of course stalks over to Uriel and says that the only way to save Claire's mother is to find that prayer. Alex closes his eyes and begins to concentrate causing his tattoo to start moving across his body. The words begin to appear on the page and Michael realises that Alex can read the prayer.

William heads to a restaurant where he is seated by Paul, one of Gabriel's acolytes. William tells Paul  that Edward found the scarf which he forced into his hand. William orders the other acolytes to gather and then disband for the time being. William says that if the acolytes are exposed, they will all be dragged outside the city walls and shot and demands that his orders be fulfilled.

Michael goes to see Clementine and she falls to her knees in prostration once again promising to disappear if Michael will release her. Michael asks where Clementine will go and and points out the obvious - Clementine is an eight ball. Clementine rejects the label but Michael argues that this is what she is and she has already murdered two people in Vega. Clementine says that she had no choice because the humans were going to hurt her but Michael says that Clementine made her choice long ago with the other lower angels. Clementine argues that she panicked and that as soon as she had completed the possession she regretted it and therefore tried to reduce the damage as much as she could. Clementine questions if Michael had expected her to wait in the nothingness because she didn't have the luxury of a body like the higher angels. Clementine argues that she has respected the body and lived an honest life - a life of love and redemption. When Clementine questions if Michael believes in redemption, he quickly draws his sword and puts it to her throat and then promptly walks out in a fit.

Aryka enters Edward's office and walks right by him and heads to see Claire. Edward points out that Claire will be a part of running the city soon and Aryka clearly approves, given that she is from a matriarchy (which btw does not make any sense) The topic quickly shifts to David, whom Claire calls a threat to their plans and Aryka says that she does not fear David's influences but values the promises which David has made. Edward questions Aryka's confidence in David keeping his promises. The little conference is interrupted when a message is delivered to Claire. Claire stands and excuses herself for a moment. Claire meets with Alex in the hallway and he asks her to come with him but Claire says that she cannot just leave. Alex replies that he is on a "top secret" mission and that Claire should just come with him and not ask any questions.  Claire tells Alex that whatever it is will have to wait and moves to leave but Alex grabs her hand and says that it cannot wait.