Saturday, September 27, 2014

Haven, Season 5, Episode 3: Spotlight

Dwight and the Guard are looking for Mara – and Nathan is pretending he didn’t find her because AUDREY LOVE WAAAH; instead he’s holding her prisoner. Duke is also helping but isn’t a big fan of the whole help-the-evil-bad-guy-and-enrage-the-town plan. It’s also kind of uncomfortable to hear Nathan talk about how he can’t move on and he needs a chance to save Audrey after last episode when he make Duke face losing Jennifer – nicely done there Haven.

Gloria (who is awesome) and Dwight discuss the dead and we learn that Jodie is kind of like X-Men’s Cyclops – with stomach lasers (dear gods) instead of eyes – she absorbs light all around her (hence it getting dark) and then vomits it out of her stomach like the world’s worst digestive complaint. Worst she has another incident and Duke, talking to Charlotte, learns that Jodie started with one beam of light, Duke saw two and the latest incident had four which isn’t a good sign.

Mara and Nathan continue to snipe – and they’re found by two members of the Guard which leads to a fight and the two guard being tied up. Nathan reminds her that they’re just two of many who will now want to kill them both – time to go into hiding. To Nathan’s dad’s old cabin which we should probably remember from previous episodes but I don’t. There’s a cabin and no-one knows about it just it seems. They engage in mutual taunting (though Mara does interestingly reveal that it’s Nathan’s killing of Agent Howard and destruction of the Barn that allowed Mara to come back in the first place). She seems oddly pleased thinking of sexy flashbacks of Nathan and Audrey.

Back to Duke who is cutting his hair – which is one of those television grief clichés. He goes to the bar where Jodie is waiting for him – a friend who, it seems, was once involved in nefarious business just like Duke. She wants money to get some people out of town. She’s panicky and fearful and it all smells of a very bad Trouble; confirmed when everything goes dark and she shoots lasers from her stomach.

Wait… what? Even for a Trouble that’s kind of… weird. Dual stomach lasers? Really? Afterwards while Duke calmly puts out fires (conveniently confined fires) Jodie runs away. Duke goes to her house to find a crime scene with Dwight in charge – Jodie’s sister is dead and her daughter Charlotte is burned. Charlotte does have an idea where he mother might be but Dwight had just learned that Nathan is helping Mara – he sends a gang to the shack; but the wrong shack. How many shacks does Nathan own? Does he collect them or something? Duke continues to defend Nathan but Dwight (rightly) points out that Nathan doesn’t make good decisions when it comes to Audrey (personally I think the “when it comes to Audrey” is an unnecessary addition to that sentence). Duke also looks increasingly unwell so I’m guessing more Trouble trouble is coming for him.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Reckoning (Fallen Siren #2) by S.J. Harper

Special Agent Emma Monroe is an FBI agent who finds missing children – both as a profession and as a curse laid on the siren by Demeter in revenge for her failure to find Persephone. As part of that curse, Emma may not be happy, may not fall in love.

And love is not what she shares with Kallistos, the vampire king who shares her bed, though they certainly have fun. Less fun is her FBI partner Zack, werewolf, professional, fellow agent – and ex lover. If he could remember it – unknown to him they were once lovers and deeply in love and unable to be together without risking Demeter’s wrath. Saying no, is hard though.

All three are drawn into the hunt for missing girls – but it’s a hunt that spills over from her professional life to the supernatural as both werewolf and vampire politics raise their ugly heads.

There is a lot of sexual tension in this book, certainly more so than in the first book – but it’s just that for most of it, tension; there’s a lot of both of them lusting after the other, a fair amount of physical description that isn’t always necessary and more than a dollop of angst because of the curse that keeps Emma and Zack apart. There’s also a thread of angst between Emma and Kallistos; she has a no strings attached relationship with the vampire, the only kind of relationship that could work for her.

In many ways it does work, neither of them are embarrassed or ashamed about having casual sex, nor is their relationship considered wrong, something to hide, something to be embarrassed about or in any way it’s nice to see. But at the same time it’s inherently cast as inferior because it will always be the second choice to Zack and that shadows the whole thing – no matter how casual a relationship is, Emma pining after another man does not exactly make Kallistos feel happy and joyful. So it’s a fairly good representation of shameless sexual relationship but still holds it as inherently inferior.

The other source of conflict in their relationship is Kallistos being a vampire ruler and, because of that, a man who does evil things out of necessity. This is one of the better conflicts of the book – because it’s very tempting to look at Kallistos as the good vampire and then Lamont, an antagonist, as the bad vampire. But there’s a lair of complexity there – Kallistos is not a good person, he cannot even be a good person and still hold power. In fact, it can even be argued (and he does argue) that he cannot be a good person and even be a vampire – he can be a less bad person – but ultimately he is a being that preys on humanity which, on some level, means the exploitation and use of humans; made more fraught by the necessity of secrecy. I like how it looks at many of the things that other books may present as hallmarks of a “good” vampire and points out that “less bad” and “good” are a long way apart – and messing with people’s memories, stealing their blood, etc are not ever going to go in the “good” column.

LGBT Tokens: Marketing Ploys, Hints and Broken Promises

Frankly, every single thing they said is so enragingly wrong as to be almost comical and I could go through each quote and tear apart how wrong each one is but Farid Ul Haq at the Geekiary already has done pretty awesomely (and in a previous post when Tyler Posey apparently thought Teen Wolf focused on a gay storyline at some point. I can only assume powerful hallucinogens were involved, or the show was cut EXTENSIVELY before reaching TV).

This is rapidly becoming a trend. The show creators of Teen Wolf definitely have a habit (and, yes The Advocate is an eager collaborator) of pushing their very slim inclusion as a marketing tool. In the past the cast and writers have been happy to play to slashers on multiple occasions. Before season 4 they pushed that they were introducing a new gay character - Mason. Check the quote, I’ll repeat it here for wry comedy:

but rumors of Mason being heavily involved in the supernatural elements of the show have started to surface”

Hey, remember his heavy involvement? Do you? No? No, you don’t because it never happened. Mason was a token lurking at the back of the cast who rarely appeared for most of the season and received zero characterisation. They also failed to mention they were dropping Danny (despite hints - yes more hints - of his heavier involvement at the end of season 3) without any explanation because they

“didn’t think there was anything left for Danny in BH [Beacon Hills]”

Of course there wasn’t! He had zero character! He had zero storylines! He had zero involvement in the plot! There was nothing there for him because there was never any attempt to give him anything. Which, also, is the reason why I have not the slightest word of praise for Teen Wolf’s “orientation-blind Utopia” because it’s, frankly, nonsense. Homophobia hasn’t been removed from Beacon Hills out of some vision of an ideal world when prejudice is dead (apart from anything else the plot rejects it - why would Scott dancing with Danny as a joke to put off Coach even have worked if there wasn’t a culture of gay kids being kicked out of proms?) - it’s a consequence of not wanting the LGBT characters to have storylines! After all, if there were homophobia in Beacon Hills then Danny or Mason or the blink-and-you-miss-her Caitlin would actually have to have a storyline around it. That isn’t praiseworthy - it’s just an excuse for tokenism and laziness.

Teen Wolf is not even close to an isolated example - too often we see hints and nudges passed off as actual inclusion, punch lines as characters and tiny tokens as main characters. Show creators, producers, actors, writers et al play to it for their marketing when addressing LGBT people or people they think are LGBT allies (or slash fans) - The Advocate is a repeated tool in this respect - previously having non-existent bisexuality being pushed in the Divergent film and scraping the barrel for an LGBT analogy in a Grimm episode. But it’s not alone - The Backlot actually wrote a separate post about their feelings on Goyer using them to  sell Da Vinci’s Demons as a pro-LGBT show.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Selume Proferre by E.E. Ottoman

An-An lives a rather casual life, happily doing her thing, involved in the LGBTQ community and working casually – when one of those casual jobs has her working for MC Anderson. MC is driven, determined talented and making a name for herself in the magical community. She’s an exorcist and an extremely good one

And she’ll need to be, because the demon she’s been called in to evict is not responding how anyone expected; though for all the curiosity, An-An is far more interested in her boss than any demonic activity

This book did a pretty awesome job of covering a lot within the format of a short story – cramming a lot in a short space without it feeling rushed or forced or out of place.

The world is painted pretty richly with just a few of these indications – the idea of magical universities, different branches of magic, the official qualifications and professional reputations of the magic users – the rather delightfully dusty, established-lawyer sense to the magical firm all excellently portrayed with just a few references. You don’t need pages and pages to describe magic as a legal profession – just these little hints really establish that aspect of the world

Similarly, the description of the several kinds of exorcism and the research into different kind of demons help reveal the full range of magic and creatures that our out there – by using a lens on a small section while implying that there’s so much more there the world is revealed without lots of minutiae that just aren’t necessary for the story and would bog it down. It’s a nicely restrained way to world build that works really well in the short story format where you have so little room to world build without bogging down your main characters.

The story itself was also well balanced – interesting enough to keep things moving and intriguing with just enough elements of danger and tragedy to pull things along and add some stakes to the plot. But, ultimately, neither complex enough nor involving people are who presented enough to create any real dominance. This is a character driven story, the story is there as a background to show An-An and MC get to know each other, it’s not there to be the main plot. In some ways that disappointments me – because the world setting and plot line deserves some development and could have been an excellent book in their own  right. It’s well done to put the focus on the romance but, personally, I’d rather have had a longer book, more use of this excellent world than a romance story which was good, but entirely predictable.

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 10: The Fall of House Beauchamp

Freya and Ingrid are hanging from the trees and the Beauchamps are consumed with grief. And very not happy with Freddie.

They lay out the girls for a beautiful funeral ceremony and Wendy tries to comfort her sister, brainstorming any ideas she can to try and bring the daughters back (yes they will be reborn, but each incarnation is different).

Killian and Dash are both still alive. Killian briefly considers killing his brother but decides not to for dramatic reasons. Dash then realises his little body hiding spell has broken as well.

Killian goes to the bar where Freddie is already drinking and still nursing a grudge about whatever it was past life Killian did to him (apparently he was the one who corrupted Freddie). There’s a brief and pointless bar fight basically to remind us Freddie hates Killian and blames everything on him because Freya’s relationships need more drama

Killian hurries to the Beauchamp house and joins the musical montage of grief. It’s beautiful and moving and horrifying as Joanna in her bath tub slits her wrists to the music and Killian’s grief and Wendy’s helplessness. She does find her sister and use her magic to heal her before she dies. Joana is enraged by Wendy stopping her but Wendy is most definitely not letting Joana suicide and they have one of those wonderful moments that really sell their sisterhood.

Killian goes to the home he shared with Eva and breaks a statue in a fit of rage and grief – only it is then whole again. And Dash joins him for help with the whole not-so-hidden body thing, because Killian is going to be so eager to help out. Dash leaves and Killian finds a message from Eva on the bottom of the statue. He goes to the address there (because when grieving for dead loved ones, treasure hunts are the in thing). There he finds a shop and a man there who knows his names and is praying to the Orishas (so a Yoruba based religion – santeria, candomble etc). Killian decides to follow the man’s instructions and get his hand stabbed – and an Eva clone steps out the back room to heal him – she’s Ana, Eva’s great-granddaughter.

Wendy continues the trend of turning to the last person you think will help – and goes to see Freddie to help with Joanna. By freeing their evil dad, the king, and having him resurrect Freya and Ingrid. This strikes me as a bad plan. A very bad plan.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 2: Look Before You Leap

We start with a death – a woman in a taxi desperately trying to contact someone before throwing herself off the bridge.

Before we get to this death, we have another body in the morgue – and Henry showing his awesome intellect to Lucas (his assistant), Detective Jo Martinez (secondary main character) and Detective Hanson (Jo’s sidekick). Having established how brilliant he is declaring an obvious murder an accidental death, he then takes them to the body of the woman declaring the obvious suicide a murder

I’m sure he does it just to mess with them and to feel smug.

Anyway, his evidence is enough for Jo because Henry’s always right (how many chances has he had to prove this? 3? 4?)Of course Jo has to explain this to her boss, Lt Joanna Reece who is new and more sceptical. Reece also decides to comment on Jo’s dead husband because that’s the thing it seems. She firmly declares the suicide a suicide

Which Henry refuses to sign off on – and he’s not letting people without medical degrees make that decision (and rightly so). He also has to deal with the dead woman’s grieving parents which is definitely not part of the job he does. The parents barge in and insists she couldn’t possibly have committed suicide (she had a very very very bright future ahead of her) and they demand Henry tell them whether she jumped or not which he tries to dodge

It also segues neatly into musing about being a father – and a flashback of Henry and his then wife Abbie adopting Abe when he was a baby then back to the present with him an old man and Henry unchanged. Abe promptly smacks Henry with some reality, how emotional investment and entanglement is the whole point of living and trying to avoid all emotion and connection is bad (I sense an ongoing theme).

So informed, and after poking Abe about his e-Harmony profile, Henry makes his way to the bridge to examine where the jumper, Vicki, went off while expositioning on how awful a way of dying it is. There he finds marks from her shoes and fingernails on the bridge where she struggled. Surprisingly, he doesn’t fall in. He does get hit by a truck though – the bridge isn’t good for pedestrian traffic. One more naked collection

Back to the office and the creepy stalker guy who claims to also be immortal has sent another note “Your Fan” he seems to see every time Henry dies. Which he does do rather frequently. Anyway, Lucas, Henry and Jo have all found evidence pointing away from suicide so time to investigate

And yes, the detective is taking the medical examiner to do this investigating because TELEVISION.

This Week in Book Covers 15th September - 19th September


Blood Passage (Blood Destiny #2) by Connie Suttle

Ok, that’s just ugly. I have no idea what that building is supposed to be that dominates the picture. Is it a church? If it is a church I really don’t see why it’s relevant to the book and why it deserves top billing. The wolf and woman seem to have been pasted on by the world’s most inept photoshop user-  in fact, I think someone cut out the images, made a collage and then scanned it. Ugly ugly. I vaguely get why the wolf is there, but it’s a book far more about vampires than werewolves

On the plus side, Lissa is relatively unsexualised considering how she is described. She’s wearing layers, it’s not impractical, skin tight, nor involves clothes with bits missing or her anatomy twisted into weird and not-so-wonderful shapes.

Seven Souls (Harrow #1) by Elissa Stark

I am torn on this one. Aesthetically? I love it. It’s pretty, I like the blue, I love the eerie feel of it, it oozes spookiness and something deeply sad and sinister. Practically? It’s beautiful but I don’t think it belongs on this book. This cover screams horror story with a strong ghost slant; this isn’t a horror story. It’s exciting and mysterious and deep and rich - but horrific? Not so much. Creepy? Maybe a little. Eerie? Hmmm… not exactly. Sad and sinister? Not to me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 13: Go Now

Last episode of the season – and very appropriately named at that (I was chanting it before I even started watching).

So we have lots of people missing dead and dying and the dying Pauline pulls out a vision to tell Julia that the Dome did choose her (aaargh) and there’s a man who is chosen as well who doesn’t know who he is yet (shall we guess?). She is quickly moved to the school so Sam can work on her stab wound. Sam, Junior and Jim take her. Norrie, Hunter and Jo go to check if the wifi signal is up since the Dome shrinking and big craters opening may have helped make a hole and Julia and Barbie run to help some random guy in a barn who got on the wrong side of some falling farm machinery.

They try to save him to which the Dome declares “hell no, this person is DEAD!” and throws in some electricity as well. Be told humans, the Dome is killing that man (no doubt Julia will forget this in 10 seconds when she decides the holy Dome needs praising).

Pauline is taken to the school but Sam quickly points out there’s little he can do – while he and Jim look for help, Junior and Pauline have a good bye moment; all Pauline cares about is Junior (it’s the Dome’s will! Yes she works it in there). Also Pauline wants Rebecca to euthanise her because Jim “won’t let her go.” Since you’re dying of internal bleeding Pauline, I think what Jim will allow or not is beside the point

Having found no signal, Norrie briefly considers spending some time with her mother (that would be Carolyn for everyone who has completely forgotten about her since she’s so utterly absent) and maybe this whole idea that the Dome is on their side is so ridiculous it doesn’t even deserve to be laughed at. Alas, Jo treats her like she’s being hysterical rather than the only person on this show actually speaking sense. Instead they decide to investigate the huge sink hole Melanie was sucked down. Sense doesn’t last long around these parts. They find purple lights and butterflies so decide they may have a way out of the shrinking Dome and hurry back to Barbie (bravely jumping over the Chasm of-you-have-to-stretch-a-bit).

Barbie decides the spelunking butterly and glowing-hopefully-not-radioactive-rocks are their greatest chance to escape. Time to gather the town and head down into the great unknown and Jo finds Norrie crying – grieving for the mother she will leave behind (Jo actually suggested she join her still living mother which would have given Carolyn some screen time – so it’s belated grieving instead). She reflects on what she now sees are ridiculous reasons why she was being taken to a secure school in the first place, how her priorities have changed and Jo drops in with “the Dome Wills It!” Norrie continues to not give a damn about the Dome’s will. She’s the last person in Chester’s Mill who hasn’t succumbed to the Dome cult. Which is a shame because otherwise this scene is an excellently well presented scene of some dramatic and very belated grief.

Forever Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Time to meet Henry Morgan, our protagonist, with apparent Sherlock-Holmes level powers of observation which he uses to charm a fellow subway passanger. Personally I would think that this complete stranger mentioning lots of details of my life he didn’t know deeply and overwhelmingly stalkery.

Despite the stalkeriness, this gets him a date. Right until the subway train they’re in is involved in a horrific crash. Ok, that made me jump, I admit. In the aftermath while Henry’s impaled and reached for an antique watch, his voice over explains his history

Starting 200 years ago with him as a doctor on a slave ship (with the same antique watch) and him being willing to die to save a Black slave from being thrown overboard on suspicion of having cholera. They shoot him and throw his body overboard.

Which brings us to the present – every time he dies he returns, always in a body of water; and we see him swim to shore. Naked (an unfortunate downside of the immortality thing).

We follow some really clichéd musing about the curse of being immortal because everyone you love dies (and you have to walk through the city naked) and are introduced to Abe, the human taxi driver who conveniently knows the big secret and works to try and life the immortal out of the angst caused by his amazing super power.

He lives under an antique shop where he keeps a very morbid journal of the ways he died and how much each one hurt – the voice over helps remind us he regards living forever as a curse he needs to break (and the guy doesn’t even have to avoid sunlight or drink blood!)

From here we go to Detective Jo Martinez (please be more interesting!), sneaking out on a one night stand. She’s called in to investigate the subway crash and picks up Henry’s antique watch (for plot reasons) which is still working. This introduces her apparent partner/colleague, Detective Hanson and her boss, Lt Roark (no they don’t pronounce Lieutenant correctly. Beheadings for all of them).

While Henry may own/live in an antique shop he works as a pathologist at NYC Medical examiner’s office. He gets to work slicing and dicing the driver of the subway (his heart attack is suspected to be the cause of the accident) with his colleague Lucas when Detective Martinez arrives (Lucas does the clichéd nervous nerd stammer).

Henry pulls out his Sherlockobservationbullshit and comments on Jo being a recent widow (assuming she was married to a man – or at all and she’s not wearing her mother’s wedding ring round her neck to remember her, or to keep a family heirloom or any other explanation. Yes, this annoys me – and this is aside from how utterly inappropriate it is) and has a drinking problem. Leaving aside the personal comments, Henry concludes that the driver was probably poisoned (with Lucas adding how utterly infallible Henry is). He then gets a call from an ominous anonymous caller ominously telling Henry he saw him survive. Henry treats this as scary

Henry goes home and tells Abe and plans to move away, hide and outlive the ominous guy – Abe points out the flaw: Abe isn’t immortal. Henry protests he needs Abe so Abe insists they actually stay. Henry’s afraid though – since he has been experimented on (and hanged for heresy) in the past. Abe brings up how isolated and lonely Henry is – throwing in a picture of long dead lost love Abigail, to hammer home how Henry is just existing, not living. Henry finally agrees

To add to the pressure, Detective Martinez and her computer expert colleague check CCTV and see Henry get on the train.

Henry gets into work the next day to find an anonymous package containing a picture of him and his then wife, Abigail, in 1955 – who apparently had faith in Henry being immortal for a big important purpose. Co-worker Lucas also comments on how little he knows about Henry before Henry makes the leap that the anonymous caller is probably the one who caused the subway disaster – to prove Henry is immortal.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 1: This Is War

After the extremely dramatic events of last season, Abbie is trapped in a doll’s house (simultaneously the most creepy and most embarrassing prison in history) and Ichabod is now buried alive, imprisoned by how own son, the Horseman of War.

Things like that make family reunions rather awkward.

We rejoin them – apparently in the cabin having a birthday party for Ichabod. Abbie is patient, Ichabod is snarky and out of depth and it all reminds me how I like these two. Especially as it turns deeper and they angst about loss. Emotional moments are interrupted by a call from the police department – a history professor wants to speak to them. Them, specifically and urgently

That doesn’t seem good – confirmed when they arrive to find headless bodies. And in the down time Ichabod has invested in a nifty crossbow and Abbie to machine guns. Alas, the professor is dead but they find some research about Benjamin Franklin – whom Ichabod knew and loathed. (Abbie rather accurately guesses that Ichabod’s ego didn’t appreciate another arrogant intellectual).

The horseman appears with a shotgun – and both Abbie’s bullets and Ichabod’s arrows are now nifty improved versions (consecrated and magical). They are very effective at causing the horseman to stagger backwards. A bit. So not the greatest upgrade in the world, especially as the horseman has invested in grenades but only so he can run away. Ichabod wants to follow on a huge, raging vengeance kit for the death of his wife – Abbie is more sensible, despite also wanting to avenge her dead sister (so she didn’t survive the last episode? Damn).

They return with the research including a rubbing of the key that Franklin attached to his kite for the famous electricity experiment – only Ichabod’s exposition (yes he was there, he was everywhere. He’s omnipresent history guy) reveals Franklin actually did it to try and destroy the key – which he failed to do. More reading – the key is the key to Purgatory, allowing them to free people and demons trapped there (which, as Abbie points out, would have been really helpful in season 1). Including Moloch.

Unfortunately, there’s no indication of where the key is so they are forced to question Henry – Ichabod’s son, the horseman of War. And their prisoner. They bribe him with potted plants – well, at least he’s a cheap prisoner – and he is all sinister about his ability to read and eat sins. Sadly, the research appears to have been handled by relatively sinless people despite its origins. Henry tries to poke Abbie into letting him rummage around her sins but prompts her memory instead – Jenny telling Abbie she’d gone on a mission for the old Sheriff to find out about a key.

Mentioning the dead  - Jenny in particular – causes Ichabod to have a strange little fit (for the second time) and he realises that he can’t remember the last year. Since Henry put him in the coffin he can’t remember how he escaped, how they captured Henry, anything (nor can Abbie. Nor, more importantly, can I, so please fill in some gaps, Sleepy Hollow).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deamhan (Deamhan Chronicles #1) by Isaiyan Morrison

Veronica is determined to find her long missing mother – even if it means returning to Minneapolis which her family – and the Brotherhood – long abandoned.

Alone, she must find what support and contacts she can among the Deamhan and vampires of the city – none of them particularly friendly at the best of times; but the city is overpopulated and the Deamhan have abandoned their old rules. They, and the vampires, hunt and prey on whatever they can. A researcher looking for answers is just looking for trouble.

This world is definitely one I’m interested in – the concept of the different kinds of Deamhan, the idea that there were more kinds before, that these Deamhan rest on a world filled with dark magic and vampires and werewolves and who knows what else – with added complexity with how the Deamhan and the vampires actually interact even when someone of them seem to share a lot of similarities considering their similar feeding habits. The Deamhan have a society and rules that I really want to delve into – a history, a hierarchy, laws and rebellions all that just begs to be explored.

Which is why I’m kind of frustrated that it wasn’t. On the one hand, I’m glad some wasn’t since they were irrelevant to the plot – like werewolves, for example. But there was a lot more about Deamhan and vampire society that would definitely have been relevant but wasn’t explored.

Especially since we have the Brotherhood, an organisation of mystical researchers who have spent generations investigating Deamhan – and just Deamhan. I’d like an explanation – they know so little about vampires or the dark magic Deamhan use – why the indifference? Why the research in the first place? What do they hope to achieve? And if they’re generally non-threatening to the Deamhan, why do the Deamhan hate them? And if the Deamhan hate them, why do they do so little about it?

This applies a lot to the plot and character motivations as well – like, I understand Veronica wanting to find her mother. But why did she go to the Dark Sepulchre, what did she hope to learn? Why is she going around the various Deamhan Sanctuaries that have been burned down – what clues does she hope to gain? She seems to do a lot of things and I don’t know why. This whole book could use a lot of why and how – why do people do things, how are things organised, how are things connected, what is the history. It means the world and characters are intriguing enough for me to ask questions about them but I’m not getting answers which I think would really hold this book together more.

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 11: The Third Rail

In the pawn shop we have weapon testing, Ephraim being snippy and Nora trying to help her mother who is very very confused and lost. Killing the Master is still the one and only plan and Ephraim has finally got on board (though he’s still snippy – and declares that Vasiliy and Abraham can be more kill happy because they have no loved ones to lose. Except we’ve seen Vasiliy has living parents). They leave Zach and Nora’s mother, Mariela, behind but Nora insists on coming (nice little moment of Abraham giving Nora Jim’s chosen weapon as a nice little gesture).

This leaves Zach, a boy, with a room full of sharp things and an increasingly agitated Mariela. Eventually, to try and calm her down, Zach agrees to go out and get more cigarettes. This involves a store that has been vampired and Zach hiding from looters in the dark basement. The basement with a vampire in it. Because Zach wears a pretty hefty suit of plot armour, it’s the looters that get eaten, not him.

Augustin, having escaped from police custody, goes home to find the flat unlocked – and his brother vampirised. He kills him, before having some heavy angry acting when he realises what he’s done. Gus then takes it to the next level of powerful acting and grief when he finds his mother – mid transformation.  He cannot bring himself to kill her and leaves – grabbing a fire axe and having a cathartic rampage through every vampire he finds.

In said rampage he runs into Zach, reinforcing the kid’s plot armour. Afterwards Zach takes Mariela her cigarettes and plays with the sharp things.

Meanwhile New York is collapsing into complete chaos. The hunters work their way into the tunnels under the World Trade Centre hunting the Master, following the trail of ammonia, walking through the remains of numerous human victims (which Nora finds sad, Vasiliy isn’t that moved by and Ephraim gets to be a bit more snippy). There’s also a pile of recently turned sleeping vampires to creep past which is extra creepy – but this tense moment is turned into bad Ephraim angst because he thinks one of the sleeping is Kelly, his wife.

They also have to dodge a train, mainly so Ephraim can be an arsehole to Vasiliy some more. Why doesn’t something eat Ephraim? A petty argument follows (though I think Vasiliy’s point that a pawn broker and a rat killer knowing more than Ephraim is what’s really annoying him). Abraham has no time for these childish shenanigans.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blackwood Farm (Vampire Chronicles #9) by Anne Rice

Quinn can see ghosts and has been haunted his whole life by a particular tenacious spirit. Now he has become a vampire, that spirit has turned violent and he turns to Lestat for guidance, after telling Lestat his life history. At length and in great great detail.

This book is labelled as a Vampire Chronicles novel. It has also been faintly labelled as a Mayfair Witches novel. I’ve heard it discussed as something of a cross over novel. Personally I’d call it a Mayfair Witches novel into which Lestat and Merrick have been crowbarred in with extreme force and zero elegance. If I were being less kind (yes, that was kind) I’d say it was a vast waffle of not very much with little hints of both series randomly thrown in but really not much about anything

Because like every single book in both series this book is rammed with a truly ridiculous amount of minutiae that is grossly unnecessary for anything resembling a plot. New vampire Quinn seeks to tell his story to Lestat. In that telling he covers his genealogy back 5 generations. No, really. He covers the genealogy of his servants back the same length of time as well. He even tells the genealogy of the vampires who made him who, almost immediately, decided to tell Quinn the same thing in ridiculous detail. He tells every last tiny detail about his life, so much of which is utterly irrelevant – Pops (his grandfather) having an illegitimate son? Meaningless. The bed and breakfast and the soprano he cries over that we were told about three separate times (ye gods why?) irrelevant. The fact he constantly shares a bed with elderly Black servants (ye gods why?) irrelevant. Every sexual encounter he’s ever had (why would you tell a stranger this? Why?) His first teacher and how very good she was? Really really really irrelevant. Why is this all here? 

Why is this story which should have been about the ghosts that were plaguing Quinn and, perhaps, the vampires that made him and maybe the people who can see Goblin (and Rebecca – though, again, Rebecca ghost was another storyline that did nothing, went absolutely nowhere and was resolved in pointless seconds) so clogged with this much completely and utterly random backstory? Why would Quinn tell Lestat so many utterly personal secrets about himself?

And can everyone stop falling in love! I’m not even talking about Quinn seeing Mona across a restaurant and moseying over to declare that he intends to marry her (but, really? He sees a 15 year old girl across the room and wanders over to make marriage plans? What the hell? Why? Who? Where’s the damn restraining order?!) But Lestat, after hearing Quinn’s horrendous monologue declares how much he is in love with Quinn. Of course. After meeting Merrick for 5 seconds Quinn decides he loves her. Merrick probably loves him, I forget because everyone loves everyone else. Quinn loves Arion, random Greek vampire who is just kind of there because why not. They use the word “love” so often it no longer has any real meaning. I know it’s a running joke with this series but it’s actually a problem – because all of this overwrought, appallingly purple, melodramatic declarations of emotion are meaningless. All his excessive adoration of Aunt Queen and Mona means nothing because he’d use exactly the same language to describe someone he happened to be passing in the street. All of the emotional connections in this book – in this series – fall apart because they mean nothing, there is nothing special about them. True love is described in the same terms as casual acquaintance.

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 5: The Shepherds and the Fox

This show clearly isn’t confusing enough- time for a 9 year old flashback, to when the police caught up with Marcus (in his own body – or the body he was using then anyway) and the bodies of his many many victims.

In the present the police question Jack about Anderson being murdered in front of him last episode. The police aren’t accusatory but are kind of arseholish when there’s zero indication Jack did anything wrong

Madison/Marcus continues doing whatever it is she’s actually doing – and we continue to have almost cartoonishly awful things being said by a 10 year old. She eventually finds her way to a house, barges in and tries to call her parents; the man whose house she barged in manages to give Madison’s mother his address and we see that the house she’s found is Marcus’s old house – where all the bodies were. Marcus takes over and the creepiness emerges – and the knife wielding 10 year old.

Richard Shepherd, who has just killed Armstrong, gets a visit from Frank Shepherd who is not all that impressed by the noise Richard’s making in order to preserve the silence, which is a nice way of putting it. While Frank and Richard have a rapport, Frank isn’t keen on Richard’s doubts of their bosses and he reaffirms their current task: find Marcus, kill him and find out who it was – which on of them it was – who helped Marcus return. Which is a problem for Richard because it was probably him. After asking Richard if it was him (and lots of shiftiness in response) Frank tells him to find the guy and kill him too.

Jack angsts and drinks in a hotel, talks to Amy on the phone for more angst and gets another menacing call from Rose wanting to set up a meeting – she even does a “I know where you are” speech and there’s a half-seen shadowy figure at his door. Seriously, they need to stop doing this random poking of Jack every episode, what’s it supposed to achieve?

The next day Jack tries to call Gary who isn’t answering his phone – and when he calls Gary’s firm he learns Gary hasn’t worked for them for months.  Gary does contact him – cryptically asking to speak to him at his room.  Jack agrees but first he has a meeting Rose set up with Frank. Crypticness follows and Frank tries to kill Jack – sadly Frank is a terrible amateur and waits until he’s said “you’ll see her in your next lifetime” before putting gloves on – so he announces he’s going to kill Jack just as his hands are entangled with gloves. Frank still gets the upper hand until Richard shoots him. Yes, Richard just saved Jack. Richard leaves – warning Jack that if they meet a third time he’ll kill him

I think the whole goal of this show and the organisation is actually just to mess with Jack’s head. Jack goes from there to Gary’s hotel room which is scattered with papers – both of them look like hell. Gary tries to explain things – about hearing Anderson’s machine and it causing lots of fear until it turned off – and afterwards sickness and insomnia. When looking at his baby girl he saw a strange darkening of her eyes which he decided was another soul (really?), Donna the girl from their high school who killed herself (remember the first episode, that bit that was never explained?) Gary decides Donna was possessed and is now back to warn Gary.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Z Nation, Season 1, Episode 2: Fracking Zombies

Y’know, after the Zombie Baby of last week, I’m not even sure what they’re going to do this week. But I have a curious sense of… morbid curiosity

The very annoying Simon (no I cannot call him Citizen Z and keep a straight face) who is now a radio DJ and quite possibly all that is left of the NSA manages to contact Mount Wilson, the place in California the gang’s trying to get the annoying Murphy to. They’re being overrun by zombies and the only thing Simon can do is helpfully fry their power (which is… helpful. Apparently) but in doing so he may have also fried their files and all their work. If they don’t have backups. C’mon, no backups?

After which he gets no responses and starts to go just a little zany, presumably from isolation. Or because, this show. He starts to fall apart a little with it – until he see a dog sled arriving. People! He’s overjoyed before he realises this may not be a good thing. But it’s ok the guy is dead (Simon puts a bullet in his brain just in case) though his huskie isn’t. Citizen Z now has a pet.

And a zombie huskie. Yes, a zombie huskie to fight. Basically take the scene last week with a baby hiding in a room and change it to a dog hiding in a room. Yes the zombie hides, no it doesn’t make sense. Simon ends up killing it with a wooden stick rather than have it kill the only living thing he’s seen for a year. Afterwards he injects the first real emotion into the show with his tearful joy/despair about being alive.

The gang, meanwhile, is ploughing their way down the road through packs of zombies in a convoy lead by a big armoured truck and Warren is having WAAAAY too much fun. Though it does mean stopping for fuel and maintenance and killing zombie that is mangled into the wheel well. Time to search for fuel, Addy continuing to record everything for the future (her explanation is they may be the last generation of humans. Which… doesn’t strike me as an argument for recording anything. Who is she recording for, visiting aliens?) Murphy is still an over the top arsehole and the mystery sniper hitch-hiker is called “10K” for the number of zombies he intends to kill. Oh, Z Nation, cheesier than fondue.

They run into a survivor, a biker they passed earlier who offers the location of more petrol in exchange for a ride. To the refinery or, as Murphy dubs it, the zombie factory – because it’s crawling with zombies attracted by the noise of the pump. Also, zombies are so flammable they can’t use guns (I think simply saying the petrol was flammable would make more sense). To draw the zombies away, Cassandra has a music box.

No… really… zombies are attached to high pitch music. Apparently. It’s Z Nation, don’t think too hard guys. She and the new guy (dubbed Travis because why not) are on distraction duty where we learn she used to be called Sunshine, be part of something called “the family” and Travis was sent to bring her back.