Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 11: The Distance

Aaron is brought back to the barn where the gang has gathered where Aaron begins his pitch about how he lives in a totally cool place and he’d love them all to join because more people would be awesome. Rick punches him. Because Rick.

Michonne is not impressed, nor is Maggie. Rick searches Aaron’s stuff and finds a flare gun, pointing to him not being alone and, Aaron being conscious again, questions him about his fellows. Aaron rightly concludes it doesn’t matter what he says, Rick will assume he’s lying. Aaron tells them he has one companion and offers to drive them to the community. Rick still doesn’t trust him even as Aaron points out they’re in the most perfectly vulnerable position and if Aaron had a gang of people looking to ambush them, they’d be dead already

Michonne wants to follow it up even as Rick insists Aaron is lying. Michonne says it’s all well and good for rick to be that sure – but she isn’t. Maggie agrees. Rick warns of the danger – but Michonne hits back that passing up a place where they can live, including baby Judith, sounds pretty damn dangerous too. She also doesn’t ask – she makes it clear they need to check it out so that’s what they’re going to do, Glen seconds her. Rick sends Abraham and Rosita with them and organises the rest to spread out so the death trap isn’t so death-trappy; leaving himself with Aaron.

Who still thinks Rick is a good man.

Michonne and co walk and Glen says to shoot anyone they see – but Michonne questions this assumption that everyone is a risk. Though Glen does point out that they’re 5 people with guns, anyone approaching them isn’t friendly. And if they’re people like them, then they’re scary and on that note, glen doesn’t understand why the group would want people like them after what they’ve done. Michonne doesn’t agree at all – they saved a priest, a girl who joined the prisoner and “a crazy lady with a sword”.

As they talk, a man watches them

Back in the barn, Rick wants to feed crying Judith ground up acorns and Aaron offers a stash of apple sauce he brought (to prove they have apples). Rick is super paranoid and sure that Aaron wants to work a diabolical scheme involving poisoned babies and have brought apple sauce for just such an occasion! He forces Aaron to eat some of it despite his protests before feeding his baby.

This is a world that encourages caution. But this level of paranoia isn’t remotely reasonable.

Michonne fine an RV full of supplies and co run into a pack of Walkers  and it shows a lot that they all pull guns when they hear a noise – then put them away when it’s walkers. It’s like “oh just more silly zombies.” Rosita and Abraham kill them then have a moment together – with Abraham especially trying to rebuild their relationship after he lost it on Eugene.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Operation Arcana Anthology

Rules of Enchantment by David Klecha & Tobias S Buckell
The Damned One Hundred by Jonathan Maberry
Blood, Ash, Braids by Genevieve Valentine
Mercenary’s Honour by Elizabeth Moon
The Guns of the Waste by Django Wexler
The Graphology of Hemorrhage by Yoon Ha Lee
American Golem by Weston Ochse
Weapons in the Earth by Myke Cole
Heavy Sulfer by Ari Marmell
Steel Ships by Tanya Huff
Seal Skin by Carrie Vaughn
Pathfinder by T.C McCarthy
Bomber’s Moon by Simon R Green
In Skeleton Leaves by Seanan McGuire
Bone Eaters by Glen Cook
The Way Home by Linda Nagata

This anthology is connected by 2 things: soldiers and speculative fiction. Which is a pretty broad remit which I think is probably the main flaw of this book. It isn’t a major flaw because there is a lot of overlap in the speculative fiction fandom, but the bringing of high fantasy, sci-fi and urban fantasy together with such little connection doesn’t make it that coherent but I don’t think that’s especially needed; though some of the stories seem a bit out of place. I think it also helped that there are only 16 stories in this anthology – I’ve read a few lately that have a truly immense number of stories that tend to leave me thoroughly sick of the book before I’m half way through (and the fact I say “only” with 16 tells you how long they’ve been).

I’ll be honest, I kind of expected lots of action scenes and little in the way of plot – short stories and big epic fights don’t leave much room for anything else. Yes, I had low expectations (and a little semi-guilty expectation of shameless epicy action which, yes, I like, I admit it) and they were countered – a lot of these stories are surprisingly deep with either very original settings or fascinating conflicts.

In terms of original setting, I’m most impressed by In Skeleton Leaves by Seanan McGuire. A truly dark and downright disturbing retelling of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys war against the pirates. It’s dark, draws on some excellent elements of the Fisher King and is wonderfully thematic and dark and just plain eerie and slightly horrifying. It also has a fascinating retake on Wendy and Pan, turning them into titles – with male Wendys and female Pan being possible. It’s creepy and wonderful and shuddery-awesome

The Graphology of Hemorrhage by Yoon Ha Lee isn’t exactly an original setting per se – but the magic style of calligraphy presented is the most original concept in the book and related to, but utterly unlike anything I’ve read before. The art of written magic, of literature and culture and writing all underpinning magic which, in turn, comes at a terrible price for the caster is eerie and original and beautiful and, ultimately, tragic. The ending is desperately sad and bleak in its power. The wizard is a woman as well – and the characters are all East Asian.

I think Rules of Enchantment by David Klecha & Tobias S Buckell is probably the story I’d most want to see develop into a full novel and full series. Earth with portals opening up to a High Fantasy world with trolls and orcs invading Earth and human soldiers having to make alliances with elves and battle against the invaders. What I really like about it is the interesting way magic and technology meet – from helicopter gunships shooting trolls to using magic to give a military squad a more unified viewpoint and almost a hive mind. What I absolutely hate about this story, though, is it is written in the second person. This never ever ever ever works – I’ve never liked it. We follow one squad which includes a female soldier (who uses her mind bond to keep wandering-eyed men to focus) and it has a latino character as well.

The 100, Season 2, Episode 14: Bodyguard of Lies

Jaha and his happy pilgrimage towards a mythical city end up in the middle of a mine field. This is not the paradise they were looking for. Tragically, only extras are killed.

They decide to wait in the mine field all night until daylight shows them their footprints and a way out – but when dawn comes the sand has blown and moved, erasing their prints. But the sun does have a nice light display – they’ve found the city of light. This prompts Jaha to go all messianic on them – calling the mines a “test of faith”.


Messiah Jaha leads them out of the wasteland. Next week he parts oceans and gets really pissy over cow statues.

But when they reach the top of the rise, they see light reflecting off the ground – no shiny city. But the light is reflecting on solar panels. Murphy has a fit of pique and breaks one and they’re surprised by a drone flying up from the panel array. Lead by Jaha, they follow it, watched by the drone’s camera

The drone flies over a lake, with a convenient boat left for them. Rather than shoddily convenient writing, Jaha calls this destiny.

Over to Mount Weather with evil president Cage looking the remnants of the 100 (or the 44 as they are now). Realising that they’re managing to hide because of sympathises, they decide to spread the knowledge that the 44 irradiated a level of the mountain and killed 10 soldiers. Cage isn’t worried about the army outside Mount Weather, confident the base’s defences will keep them safe behind the death fog

With that army, Clarke is fretting about their battle plans, waiting is letting her doubt a lot. Lexa advises against all the second guessing as it just wastes energy and she is an efficient robot. Clarke is especially worried about Bellamy while Lexa tells her hard truths about what it means to be a leader during a way, especially an inspiring one.

Clarke goes wandering and ends up talking to Octavia who knows there was something fishy about Clarke and Lexa surviving the missile hit. Clarke doesn’t deny anything and Octavia realises Clarke let all those people die – and was willing to let her die. Octavia isn’t impressed with Clarke deciding who is disposable and says “you would have fit right in on the council” which is both painful and accurate – and nicely runs on from Kane and Abbie’s realisations last episode. But Octavia will keep it secret

Urban Fantasy Award Voting! Part 2

The nominations are in for the Urban Fantasy Awards! These are the contenders for the GOLDEN FANGS awards - and the the DREAD FANPOODLE condemnation

Now it's time to place your votes! Who deserves our praise - or scorn?

The Dread Fanpoodles

Urban Fantasy Award Voting!

The nominations are in for the Urban Fantasy Awards! These are the contenders for the GOLDEN FANGS awards - and the the DREAD FANPOODLE condemnation

Now it's time to place your votes! Who deserves our praise - or scorn?

Golden Fangs!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Legacy (Require: Cookie Short) by Grace McDermott

Novellas are always tricky, especially for pre-established worlds, which is why I generally don’t like them. I often find it’s hard to make them pointful, it’s difficult to put something in such a short book that actually adds something meaningful to the overall world.

This is even more true for complicated world settings because you have so much to remind the reader of, so much relevant information to refresh, and little space in which to do it.

The Require: Cookie series seemed to be a particularly tall order. The world is huge, complicated, nuanced and requires a lot of concentration. I was dubious, I admit.

But it worked – it worked by not covering all the vastness of the world but by covering one, gritty, grim corner of it. It alludes to the hugeness of the System and the various supernatural beings out there, but all the reader need know is they exist, not the specific details of them. By resisting the urge to explain the fundamentals of the world it works. And it works because it’s a very personal story. This isn’t a story of the world, the setting, how anything works – this is the story of Rhys. We don’t need the details of the bigger picture – just that there is a bigger picture and that Rhys doesn’t fit in it.

Because Rhys‘s story is also a nice snap shot into the history of the world. If you’ve read the original story, we know about Agents, the enforcers, police and general facilitators of the System who generally make things works. But the Agents in that book are very modern in their outlook and feel; this is a nice insight into what came before and how the System updates itself and how it needs different agents/employees/enforcers as the world changes

If you haven’t read that book, it still works as we look at the updating of agents of the powers that be, as bewinged angels give way to dark and gritty Duskers who in turn fall back to the precise and robotic Agents. It works as a concept even without the excellent back story.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 16: Memories of Murder

We have a woman setting up to meet someone, putting in lots of effort – when her phone rings. She’s hidden it and quickly snatches it up and argues with the person on the other end who apparently keeps calling her. The door opens and she drops the phone and apologises to the person joining her

And we cut to a crime scene in a dump by the river and her murdered body. Jo and Hanson snark (her crime scenes are always in nice places, his always dumps). Jo notes the woman’s clothes and hair are very 70s. Hanson and Joe continue to snark – they should snark more often.

Over to Henry and Abraham and Abraham digging up a lot of sentimental stuff from his attic which he doesn’t value very much (like bronzed child booties) and, much more poignantly, Abigail’s cookbook; Abraham quickly pulls back his “junk” comments. This brings us to this week’s theme and Henry’s voice over – nostalgia, remembering or forgetting the past

To the morgue and examining 70s lady’s body and Henry gets all Henry-ish about her perfectly period she is – not only looking 70s but using genuine 70s products, some of which are discontinued or banned. He concludes, with the photographs, that she’s the object of someone’s obsessive fantasy

Jo fills in Reece so we can have a bit more snark (more snark!) and then Henry and Jo go off to interview the dead woman’s, Sarah, room mate. Jennifer mentions how Sarah had changed, becoming secretive and obsessed with one class, dropping the rest

To that course where there’s a lecture of sexual fantasies – led by Iona, Molly, professor Dawes; the dominatrix. Henry is full on I’m-going-to-be-professionaly-while-being-transparently-into-you.

They talk to her about Sarah and Molly tells them Sarah asked some advice about being in an unconventional roleplay relationship.

Lucas and Hanson examine the crime scene (and are actually kind of fun together) and get an address from some mail – so off Henry and Jo go and find a flat that’s a 70s time capsule. Complete with blood stain. There’s also an old polaroid, one actually from the 70s, of a woman who looks a lot like Sarah even wearing the same dress.

Time for some more Henry and Abraham moments – Abraham teasing Henry about his love life and a flashback to Henry and Abigail – but long after the war, when Abigail was no longer a young woman and Henry still looked young. Abigail was very self-conscious about what people would think seeing them together.

Back to the investigation and they find a video – an audition video – from Sarah to whoever was fantasising over her. Henry keeps pushing to have Molly involved which is kind of cute, especially with Jo being all knowing and indulgent over it. So consulting and flirting time and making the not particularly surprising conclusion that the fantasy is about recreating a memory – which has them analysing more details in the audition video and Henry’s mega-memory and experience suggesting a date and time.

Cover Review

Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop

Sadly, I don’t like this on any level. If I didn’t know the book, it’s too uninformative - it’s just Meg’s face, it tells me nothing about the book, it’s topics, themes, or even genre.

And as someone who has read the books, this is probably how someone would paint Meg if they heard her physically described, but not if they read the book. Meg died her hair red in a clumsy botched attempt at a disguise - she didn’t got to a salon. I can’t imagine her wearing that much make up - and her expression, direct, confident and almost sexual seems very un-Megy. What is that expression anyway? It’s Meg physically but nothing like the character we’ve grown to know and love

Free Agent (Grimm Agency #1) by J.C. Nelson

Hip thrust! Wind blown hair! Casually held weapon! Jeans tight enough to be uncomfortable! Leather! Random swirly stuff in the background. It’s like a paint-by-the-numbers-Urban Fantasy cover!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dead but Not Forgotten

Nobody's Business by Rachel Caine
Tyger, Tyger by Christopher Golden
The Real Santa Claus by Leigh Perry
Taproot by Jeffrey J. Mariotte
Knit a Sweater Out of Sky by Seanan McGuire
Love Story by Jeanne C. Stein
The Million-Dollar Hunt by Jonathan Maberry 
Borderline Dead by Nicole Peeler
Extreme Makeover Vamp Edition by Leigh Evans
Don't Be Cruel by Bill Crider
What a Dream I Had by Nancy Holder
Another Dead Fairy by Miranda James
The Bat-Signal by Suzanne McLeod
The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars by Dana Cameron
Widower's Walk by MaryJanice Davidson

The whole concept of this anthology is an unusual one – this is a book of short stories set in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse World written by other authors – a kind of licensed fanfiction. I have to say I was very very sceptical about the concept after the debacle of After Dead and I feared another cynical, exploitative money grab aimed at squeezing every last drop out of this series and its fans.

Do I think this was another cynical money grab? Honestly, yes – but despite that, there are some quality authors here who managed to pull out some interesting elements and tell some decent stories despite that which made it a far better book than the preceding debacle.

The stories I liked where ones that took regularly occurring characters who were present enough in the series to be identifiable characters and whose little vignette added more to them or the world. So I really liked Nobody’s Business by Rachel Caine which followed Kenya and Kevin, the two under-used police officers who grew to love each other as they pursue crime as normal humans in a supernatural haunted world. It was cute, impressive and fun with Kevin’s admiration and respect for Kenya really shining through even while also conveying the prejudice against interracial couples that overshadow them. Equally I liked The Bat Signal by Suzanne McLeod for taking Luna, an interesting werebat we met only briefly, and expanding her role in trying to be more involved in helping her fellow shapeshifters even if they don’t respect what a bat can do for them, instead favouring the larger predators

Similarly, I liked Tyger Tyger by Christopher Golden which followed weretiger Quinn and touched on a lot of issues with wereanimals being revealed and why it was more shocking than vampires (blood drinking night walkers are inherently separate from humanity – while shapeshifters could, by definition, be absolutely anyone making them a more immediate threat) as well as touching on inevitable military exploitation of wereanimals and issues like senility and elder care for a secretive community like weretigers. It covered a lot in a short space and was a very satisfying story when it ended.

I quite liked The Real Santa Clause by Leigh Perry and Knit a Sweater Out of Sky by Seanan McGuire not because I was especially interested in Amelia or Diantha (or in Sookie’s domestic bliss) but because it did a lot to flesh out the concept of witches and magic which I think the series always left so very neglected. Magic was there, occasionally it got used when it was useful but we didn’t get as much into the full effects of it – like how devastatingly it could be used against a business, or the mindset of witches that was so well displayed from Amelia’s point of view.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 18: Tempus Fugit

So time travel… this could be so messy

And we open with a fight, Ichabod fighting in the Revolutionary war, doing lots of killing and leading his men and looking for magical Hessians when he gets a report that the imprisoned Abbie wants to speak to him. She’s been smart enough to seed her demand with some clues on his mission so he would know it’s important.

Awkward meeting time in which Abbie confuses Crane with slang and tries to convince him she’s right (see, a little time travel doesn’t change that much!) She wants to get out, he quotes the law at him to which she snaps back that she’s been held without any legal principles because, at this time, she has no legal rights. Crane starts to leave so Abbie adds that the Horseman has an ally – and predicts a note that he was just handed

Meanwhile evil Katrina is in the infirmary looking for Ichabod – when she hears that Abbie has called him away from the battle.

Ichabod takes Abbie to the aftermath where Abbie continues to tell him all about the obvious signs of the horseman (in between handing out some basic medical knowledge). She continues to slam him with knowledge and then hits him with the time travel whammy and realising that, by taking Ichabod from the battlefield and his confrontation with the horseman, she’s just changed history.

Of course, Ichabod can’t just abandon the battlefield on his own whim and is duly dressed down for it. Ichabod wonders what will happen to Abbie and is told to “buy” her, Abbie’s expressive eyes speak volumes. Ichabod suggests he can interrogate her, inferring she’s an enemy agent - but his commanding officer wants to throw her in an encampment for runaway slaves and has Ichabod escort her. Ichabod also gets a warning that he’ll be shot next time he deserts. I don’t think his commander likes him much

To the carriage (which Abbie does not approve of) and Abbie thanking Ichabod for going out on a limb for her with wants-to-shoot-him commander. Time for Ichabod to ask questions and see if Abbie can prove she’s from 2015, alas she tells the story of Ichabod and Katrina. Bah. She finally decides she needs back up of people who know more about the infernal forces – the founding fathers. The only one nearby is Franklin. Ichabod has never liked Franklin

Over to evil Katrina finding the not-yet-headless horseman who is looking for Ichabod to slice and dice. She wants to recruit him in her quest to kill Ichabod and Abbie, yes she’s gone full on evil. I do hope Abbie kills her. She kills a random soldier with magic to ensure they’re not overheard. Yes she has competent magic while evil too; if she were still good that much power would make her faint and Abbie eye-roll at least once.

The Originals, Season 2, Episode 14: I Love You Goodbye

Having rather awesomely used himself as a spark for the bomb, Elijah joins up with Camille and creepy-demon-baby Hope (she and the baby off Grimm are going to go to the same creepy demon crèche)

Haley has heard of the big explosion and her daughter under threat and wants to ride to the rescue before Klaus stops her; it’s her wedding day and becoming Queen (and being respected as queen) will do more for Hope’s safety than her running off

After a brief interlude with Josh being sad that he tried to eat Aiden, he’s hurried off so Davina and Kol can flirt and we’re all supposed to not consider how utterly creepy it is that this thousand year old vampire is lusting after a 17 year old. Kol offers to make Davina the magic dagger which we are sure she will use with all her demonstrated wisdom.


Freya isn’t out of the action just yet – and uses woo-woo to resurrect Finn (so they don’t have to change actor, again, I guess).

Kol and Davina create the Dagger of Inevitably Foolishness and are all ready to celebrate by making out when Finn as a terrible headache and nose bleed (possibly caused by Freya’s shenanigans). Kol covers the curse Finn dropped on him, because enlisting the help of the (apparently) powerful witch Davina would be very sensible so there’s no way that’s going to happen on this show. He calls Rebekah, completely inexperienced (for some damn reason) witch instead

Which means Rebekah can’t go to the wedding so she gives Hayley a beautiful wedding dress instead and Hayley raises the possibility of human!Rebekah and Marcel getting together. Rebekah decides to keep that on hold until she’s sure how long she’s going to be in a human body. She also adds that Hayley will also be a Mikaelson though Hayley rather awesomely snarks about how good a thing that is.

She goes to help Kol – and fails. Kol, the reckless rogue is now afraid of death having endured it once, especially since he loves living as a human without all the blood lost and HUGELY MELODRAMATIC VAMPRE MOODS (well, he calls it “heightened emotion” but, honestly, making “melodramatic angst monster” a side-effect of vampirisim is an ideal way of explaining just about every character on this show).

Over to the wolves and Aidan and Jackson look at burning bodies of all the Alphas who died when the vampires had their little moment, thinking how best to spin it. Klaus shows up with a bag of even moooore werewolf heads – but these are werewolves who followed Finn. Jackson is still slightly put off at the idea of his slaughtered fellows being presented as a gift but they realise, in Klaus’s twisted little way, this was meant to be a kind gift. Because Klaus, basically. Klaus also offers his compound for the wedding

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Armageddon Rules (Grimm Agency #2) by J.C. Nelson

Marissa has a new wonderful life. She’s Grimm’s partner, fully involved in running the agency with all its wonders and petty annoyances. Her best friend Arianna has put her princess past behind her and is settling in as an agent. And her boyfriend Liam is still with her and it’s wonderful –barring some singeing from the half-dragon

But she made enemies – and those enemies have a lot of resources and a lot of patience. When they come for her Marissa finds herself alone, her friends endangered, absent or depowered and her juggling saving them and keeping the agency going

Also, she kind of started the apocalypse…

This book is exponentially more silly than the first one. And it works

It works in a way it wouldn’t with the first book because Marissa is now Grimm’s partner, not his indentured servant. By putting her in charge, by making her an equal, the book has more scope to be fun and silly than dark and gritty and angsty. There were certainly elements of the silly in the first book, but the darker undertones pulled us away from it and stopped it going too far

The darkness has been dispersed, Marissa has moved on from her previous wishes, her laments of the life she is forced into and her general moping. She now has a career she’s embraced, power and agency, a man she loves and some very good friends. She even has a new intern to shoot. She’s happy. She’s in a good place and it really changes the entire tone of the series

So we have gnomish monster-truck death cults! We have infernal energy manifesting as plagues of murderous poodles! We have princesses blessed with so many positive attributes so there has to be balance – and they cannot drive. We have a love sick wraith of pure hatred dancing attendance on Arianna. We have a prince and true love’s kiss bearer with a phobia of physical contact. We have a zany apocalypse complete with plagues of encyclopaedia salesmen, we have the need to kill golden-egg-laying geese before they destroy the market and a weekly gig of turning frogs back into princes (finding which are which because princes are far lazier and more entitled than frogs) and dwarves digging up balrogs (“nothing says ‘you shall not pass’ like a howitzer.”)

It’s fun, it’s hilarious and it works. Sometimes you just need a book that’s fun.

The 100, Season 2, Episode 13: Resurrection

After the missile strike of last episode, we have the horror and the fire of the aftermath. And it is very very horrific – I give The 100 max points for making the atrocity as atrocious as it is.

Lexa and Clarke escaped and Lexa leads Clarke into the woods so they’re not seen among the carnage. Others run around the wreckage trying to save whoever they can, including Abbie, Octavia and Lincoln. They find Indra but she’s badly injured – barely able to do anything except snarl angrily at Lincoln (are we surprised she finds the energy to be angry). She also manages to call Octavia to action and leadership before she passes out.

But the carnage isn’t over yet, the Spotter who guided the missile is still there and sniping at the survivors. Killing more and pinning the others down in cover. While they hide, Abbie hears Kane struggling under the rubble and tries to dig down to him.

He’s trapped and bleeding under rubble which she can’t move – but she refuses to leave him even when she hears other people crying in the rubble. At any suggestion it could be Clarke, she avoids the question not wanting to admit that Clarke knew how to get to safety. When Abbie succeeds and moving the rubble she realises it’s the only thing stopping Kane from bleeding out and has to pin him again – and again he tells her to find Clarke and Abbie tells him that Clarke is safe, and why she’s safe. More rubble falls – clearly excess drama has disturbed the weakened structure.

Now Abbie is buried as well as Kane and she has a big dramatic confession on how it’s all her fault because of what Clarke did. Dramatic confession and Abbie being all tearful about how could Clarke do something so evil. Kane hits back that she did grow up on the Arc where the government (i.e. him and Abbie) constantly did evil things because they felt they had no choice. Why wouldn’t Clarke do the same thing? Abbie realises the same when she considers her own crimes (including killing her husband for the greater good). Abbie wonders if they even deserve to survive after what they’ve done

No – and rocks fall and kill them both. Alas no. But it would have been nifty.

On the surface facing the sniper, Octavia creates a smoke screen of burning booze to lead her forces to where they can dig down to help anyone buried.

In the woods Clarke dramatically declares her intention to kill the sniper while Lexa remains cool and collected. As they walk Lexa tries to give another lesson – this time about being unemotional, recognising that both sides are ruthless in their quest to survive and getting all angry about it isn’t helpful. Also that revenge doesn’t help matters. Good advice but it makes Lexa seem like an emotionless robot, Spock is more warm and fuzzy than this woman. They run into Lincoln who is also hunting the sniper.

They find him and, with Clarke’s distraction, Lincoln attacks and wins, but the sniper has one of those annoying, noisy Reaper controlling buzzers. He holds Lincoln at knife point to try and make Clarke drop her gun. Lincoln tells her to shoot him anyway to save her people and she says “you are my people” and shoots Lincoln in the upper shoulder, killing the sniper behind him.

With the sniper dead, Octavia’s team can dig more easily- and are helped further when an aid team from Camp Jaha arrives lead by Sinclair, they saw the missile and realised help would be needed. They rescue Abbie and Kane, presumably muttering “all this work for these two?!”

Everyone reunites and Lexa and Clarke make a dramatic speech about vengeance. Abbie irritatedly interrupts to call everyone to work on the rescue of everyone still buried.

Indra wakes up, not dead, and praises Octavia. She also gets over her Reaper aversion of Lincoln. Abbie and Clarke have something close to a reconciliation and Clarke tells Abbie that since the sniper wasn’t wearing a hazmat suit, they have to hurry to save the 100 before they’re all killed for their bone marrow. Abbie also asks Clarke not to forget they’re the good guys – which Clarke dodges.

In Mount Weather, the captured 100 barricade the floor they’ve taken over. They destroy cameras and security measures while Monty works some technological shenanigans with the rest. As they prepare for the attack of the Mountain Men they realise some of them aren’t wearing Hazmat suits – the bone marrow treatment from their friend’s bodies has worked and made them immune to radiation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4) by Patricia Briggs

Anna and Charles are travelling again – but this time for a nice simple holiday to see an old friend of Charles’s before he dies. It’s a painful reunion and a harsh reminder of the cost of the werewolves’ immense longevity

It’s also a chance to buy Anna a horse from his friend’s excellent ranch. But soon after arriving the quickly find something far more dangerous going on. The fae are finished playing nice with humanity and to push negotiations in their favour they’ve released some of the darkest monsters among them

One of which preys on children and his hunting in the area – including his friend’s family. While neutral in the conflict brewing between the fae and humanity, the werewolves won’t tolerate children being targeted, especially not children connected to the pack.

I think this book was an excellent follow on and contrast to Fair Game. There our sympathies are very much with the fae – it is the fae who are being attacked, cruelly abused and not supported or helped by the human government which leads to the major event in the world setting of the Fae withdrawing to their compounds. We open with this tense moment and both the werewolves and the humans bracing for the possibility of a human vs fae war or, at very least, some very tense relations.

This book shows the other side – that the fae are not nice and are rarely the victims. After most of both this series and the Mercy Thompson series in which the fae tried to play the PR game with humanity and had it fail so dramatically in Fair Game we now see the fae basically letting their monsters loose. They tried to play nice. They tried to keep their greatest monsters hidden and constrained but if humans aren’t going to work with that then it’s time to let loose the kelpies and the child snatchers.

I love this change of direction because it adds so many shades to the whole conflict. The way the fae were treated was unacceptable, but sending out monsters that target children? Equally awful – this puts both the reader and, similarly, the werewolves in the position of team nobody. Or, rather, the position of defending whoever is being unjustly abused regardless of which “side” they’re on. It promises for a lot of interesting plot lines in the future and also adds to the greater meta-feel of Alpha & Omega compared to the much more personally focused Mercy Thompson series.

So we’ve got a nifty little murder mystery with lots of horror and surreal elements from the fae all with a backdrop of big political happening which I really like.

One potential issue I can see is this book has a lot of horse talk in it. One of the hooks to get Charles and Anna on sight is that Charles is getting Anna a horse. I have a feeling the author loves horses and is very involved and knowledgeable about them. Personally I am pretty indifferent to horses and know next to nothing about them and I didn’t find the horse talk engaging – but nor did I find it particularly dull or book breaking. Since I’m not a horsey person and it didn’t bother me I can’t see it being too much of a barrier, but your mileage may vary.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

It's another Monday and usually time for another episode of the Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast

Sadly, because we've been hit with the dreaded moose plague, we're not up to doing the podcast this week. However, we will continue our books of the week for the Monday review ans because we do intend to talk about them when we're back on the air and the mooses (meese?) have been banished

9th February - 16th February: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
16th February - 23rd February: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
23rd February - 2nd March: Dark Debt by Chloe Neil
2nd March - 9th March: Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance
9th March - 16th March: Ash by Malinda Lo
16th March - 23rd March: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price
23rd March - 30th March: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
30th March - 6th April: The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

If you have missed any of our previous shows, all our archives can be found here

Bitten, Season 2, Episode 3: Hell's Teeth

Time for a flashback! 1 week ago in Massachusetts

We have Paige looking after Savannah who is a young teenager with a truly wonderful attitude (suddenly kidnapping her and putting her in a cage doesn’t seem that unreasonable) when magic stuff happens – it’s not Savannah. The ceiling cracks, the eerie whispering begins and a man appears (hey, they’ve got a cute guy summoning spell. Where do I get one of those?) freezing Paige in the process. The guy introduces himself as Aleister – which briefly causes Paige to escape and more shaky house quaking before the freezing comes back.

He tells her how mean the coven his and how she’s super awesome (c’mon even the most narcissistic teenager won’t fall for this) and then gives her a sweet which she eats (candy from strangers? Savannah, really! Who accepts food from the sinister guy who teleports to your kitchen table?). He then says “I am the lock” and she replies, by rote “I am the key” which causes another mini-unfreeze for Paige.

The freeze ends and Paige is alone, Savannah and Aleister are gone.

To the present and the pack realising they’ve lost Malcolm and his trail and that witches are behind it. This is a problem since the Alpha council will be coming back and demanding Malcolm’s head and, without the explanation of treachery, they also have a dead Alpha on the floor after Jeremy killed Roderigo. They have a body to hide

The ring Ruth hid in Jeremy’s nuts (not an innuendo) decides to slide around the place, attracting attention. Jeremy follows it and its pull to the front door where Ruth and Paige are waiting. He refuses to hand it over without them giving back Malcolm. Paige magically forces him to release the ring.

Ruth tries to apologise before she marvels over Elena (and Paige insults her, of course). The whole pack gathers and they don’t decide to kill one witch and torture the other (would be my plan) but talk (how tiresomely civilised). Ruth finally decides to tell them about Aleister kidnapping Savannah and how dangerous it is for her. Jeremy agrees to work with them. Ruth’s plan is to use Malcolm as a lure and afterwards Malcolm can return with the pack.

More drama – members of the Spanish pack show up looking for their alpha (there’s two of them – kill them both and put them in the body pit. Job done). Jeremy talks to them with lots of posturing while Elena and Clay get on that whole body hiding thing. By the time they give the wolves a tour, the evidence is sufficiently covered (especially since the recent Mutt attack left blood and gore and then cleaning products everywhere, covering the smell).

Elena and Clay are nastily thorough about body disposal (snipping off fingertips) and Clay has a bad moment imagining his mother’s death. He tells Elena about what Malcolm did and now he and Elena are both on the horribly murder Malcolm train.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

12 Monkeys, Season 1, Episode 6: The Red Forest

We begin exactly where we left off – with Cole and Jennifer chasing after Cassie who is kidnapped by the 12 Monkey people and a gun pointed at her head. And Cole vanishes


Cole arrives back in the future – but there’s ominous dripping stains on the time machine and no-one around. Someone has hung laundry about the time machine room. He finds people in one of the side rooms – and the symbol of West 7 painted on the wall. Looking back in the time machine room it briefly flashes to the reality he’s used to before fading out again. His old membership with West 7, and their mark on his arm, convinces the people there he’s one of them. He asks after Jones who they call “Repair Hag”.

They take her to Jones, who doesn’t recognise him. She tells him that the West 7 attacked and took over 2 years ago. She also says her time machine failed – and Cole was never sent back in it. Showing the marks on his body from her experiments and repeating her old words back he tries to convince her even as he gets confused by new memories/hallucinations/visions. She checks his blood and concludes it’s freaky and only her injections could have made it like that. They realise he changed the past

They compare notes – and find that in this reality the plague was released in 2015 in Chechnya by an intelligence agency as part of something called Operation Troy. Jones has never heard of Cassie or Leyland Goynes or the message she left that indicated Cole was the time traveller.

They do some research and find that Cassie was shot in 2015. His death caused the time split. Jones also explains that Cole’s brain scramble is being caused by two sets of memories – from his time and the new timeline and that the conflict will probably kill him.

He wants to use the time machine but to do that they have to convince the head of West 7 and Ridley takes them to him – the boss of West 7 in this reality is Ramses. He’s a bit shocked to see Cole alive. After some quick speaking where he convinces Ramses he’s real we learn about Cole’s death. Ramse and Cole found the time machine base, but this time Jones didn’t speak up to save Cole since she hadn’t received Cassie’s message through time. Cole died and Ramse returned to West 7 and killed Deacon, the old/current leader before taking over the base.

The problem is that to fire up the machine would drain the power left in the base, dooming the West 7 people that Ramse leads. Ridley is very against this idea and he pulls a gun when Ramse decides to doom them all because the ghost of his dead friend asked him to. He shoots Jones, non-lethally, and Ramses breaks Ridley’s neck. Before Cole leaves in the time machine Jones tells him to ask the other version about “sacrifice being the only way.”


Cole arrives back in 2015

And we switch to Aaron (Cassie’s sort-of ex, remember him?) who works for Senator and they’re both very concerned about a guy called Adam Wrexler who appears to be a hacker determined to go all wikileaks on America’s secrets. The senator asks pointed questions about why Aaron was interested in Leland Goynes – and they get a fax about Operation Troy (the government operation that releases the virus in Chechnya).

Cole decides to apply his usual subtle problem solving skills – and kidnaps Aaron. Aaron tries to escape. He’s very bad at it.

Helix, Season 2, Episode 6: M Domestica

It’s jarring interposed images time – at, what I assume is an Ilaria boardroom, some guy tells his fellows that Hitake is all bad bad wrong but they have a new strain of Narvik which is awesome (with a video of zombies reminding us that zombies are actually the goal of Narvik – with the nice words of “making the planet sustainable) intercut with Julia and Sergio having sex before she decides to stop. They get a call finally learning about the board meeting that they weren’t told about

Julia arrives to the meeting and is snarked at for being late, she throws side-eye at the guy giving the speech for not telling her it had been moved and snarky lady joins her in giving the evil eye to the guy. This would be easier with names. The guy continues his speech basically about culling humanity because we’re ruining the planet; he plans to use Narvik to destroy 75% of humanity within 3 months. Julia isn’t a fan of genocide as she’d been assured she would have chance to find a non-lethal way of stopping people destroying everything. Julia openly calls it genocide which everyone considers so very uncouth and she’s demeaned for being so very young among that room full of silver-eyed immortals with added lectures about the persecution the immortals have faced in the past.

The board votes in favour of genocide, Julia being the only dissenting voice.

Flashback over, it’s time for          Day 6

Michael sadly tells his little fiction of how Agnes died to Anne who confirms Agnes was her mother (why do I think Michael is the biological father not just metaphorical father of Agnes, Anne and Amy?). He also calls Anne his favourite daughter which is exactly what he called Agnes.

Anne tells Amy and she doesn’t believe their father that Agnes died of a stroke, especially since she saw Agnes go to accuse Michael of lying about being the only Silver Eyed in the world. Anne won’t question, she’s a loyal servant and demands Amy do something on her upcoming 20th birthday; something that Anne and Agnes and her mother did before. Amy confirms that all of the women over the generations are his daughters and his lovers (Julia’s only half-silver-eye and she became immortal – I would have thought over the generations of nasty incestuous inbreeding Amy would be an immortal herself). Anne thinks it’s all wonderful and really wants Amy to have a daughter by her father/grandfather/great-grandfather/great-great grandfather. Amy wants no part of it.

Alone she tearfully tells Landrey what’s going to happen to her and he’s all confused with his hero worship of Michael and devotion to Amy. He refuses to even let her talk of her father raping her. She reveals how desperate she was for everything to get worse since it would give her a chance to escape – and resorts to seducing Landrey to help her

Alan has been handcuffed by Kyle after his attack last week, which is when Sarah returns and it’s revealed that Kyle was here undercover to hunt Alan. But he is a doctor and while everyone distrusts everyone else, he tries to get them focused on the source of the plague – where the bees picked up the new zombie plague. That would involve matching the pollen to every plant on the island but Alan already knows the truth because Special (and it gives him more chance to snarl at Kyle) and points out it is an apple tree (they use the latin name so they can further snark at Kyle).

Peter is still stuck in the Oubliette and Michael has questions – is Peter an Immortal, is he part of Ilaria etc. Peter plays ignorant so Michael dumps in a crate of rats to encourage Peter to talk. Who even has a crate of rats? It’s not like he even dispatched his followers to hunt them down because he says they haven’t eaten in 2 days. He just keeps a box of hungry rats around in case they’re useful.

At Agnes’s funeral (the other dead people didn’t get funerals it seems), Michael leads the eulogy talking about a blackberry Agnes had created as testament to her skills. That blackberry is handed out in bowls to everyone attending, but before the service Landrey covered them in infected honey.

Kyle comes back from collecting apple pollen to find a huge outbreak of fungus-zombies running amok. Kyle quickly tells Anne to round up all the new zombies and lock them up, by force if necessary.