Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 5: Son of the Fallen

New Delphi is under attack from Angels (Michael and Gabriel among them) while Julian, again, tries to get Alex to join his Archangel killing side. He wants his amphora back – something General Riesen, Alex and Noma are not mad fans of. Alex also has a trump card – he’s quite willing to use the amphora right now, wipe out the city AND Gabriel at the same time (yes, including himself).

Julian cracks and shows them his secret lab where he thinks he can trap and study Gabriel to see how to kill him – since no-one has killed an archangel before (these guys don’t know about Uriel. But it does amuse me that they consider killing an Archangel to be some arcane process when apparently “explosions” is the answer).

Nome and Alex go to see, Alex kissing a doubting Noma first. They enter the city, filled with bodies and Alex runs into Michael. It comes with a flashback of when Alex was a desperate V1 orphan (lowest class of Vega’s vicious class system) and Michael saved him. This is all to add poignancy to Michael and Alex’s reunion.

Michael invites Alex to come with him and Gabriel because Julian, a Diad, is far too dangerous. Alex is unsurprisingly unthrilled to learn that Michael and Gabriel are working together. It isn’t exactly a good sales pitch “Julian is dangerous so you must trust the man who tried to wipe out humanity”

Riesen is left to guard Julian who has a tempting offer for the old general – become a Diad and he will stop aging, stop dying (Riesen is dying of heart disease). Riesen doesn’t want to play flesh-room-mate with an angel. Noma returns to find Riesen on the ground and Julian free – either Julian beat the human or Riesen accepted the deal

Julian goes to Alex to try and convince him Michael isn’t his friend - and that Michael could have ended the war at any time by just killing Gabriel. The brotherhood between the Archangels is just too big for them to turn against each other. He wants Alex to lead Michael into a trap so they can kill Gabriel. Alex decides to threaten to kill Julian which won’t actually achieve anything.

Michael and Gabriel are already at odds – they know Julian is a Diad and Gabriel puts the city in lockdown, trapping all the humans within.  This rather annoys Michael since he wants to get Alex out, while Gabriel just wants to kill everyone especially since he considers the city a threat. Michael stabs him. That’s one way to end an argument. Injured, Gabriel can’t walk or fight – only fly away, leaving Michael to do his thing.

After another flashback of Michael being all parental to Alex as a little boy which makes it all sadder when Alex lures Michael into a trap. Michael is trapped under a net with Alex being all “sad but I have to” until Noma arrives and she is Not Amused and takes down a couple of guards. He tells her his plan and how he has to trust Julian even though she’s very doubtful of the whole thing.

Under the Dome, Season 3, Episode 8: Breaking Point

Under the Dome used to air just a day apart from The Messengers with it’s opening line “prove that humanity is still worth saving.” It amused me that that would be said after the renewal of Under the Dome proved that no, we are not worth saving and even the most merciful god would put us out of our misery and bring on the apocalypse.

So we open with the reminder that the “resistance” include Jim who is the worst person ever who reminds us of this by calling Hunter a “cripple” and contemplating killing everyone

Though, to be fair, if I lived in Chester’s Mill I’d contemplate that as well.

Hunter and Jim stay behind to try and crack Christine’s convenient confession log – because every supervillain needs to record her guilt for the good guys to find.

In the caves Christine emerges from her Pod where James is holding Sam and she’s still convinced she can get Sam on side. She plans to lock him up and reprogram him, but not everything has gone her way. She isn’t fully healed  and drained most of the happy drug and energy to heal herself.

Barbie and Eva celebrate the end of Maine the world with sex. In the mirror, Eva still looks like a CGI pointillist painting while Barbie looks his normal self. By Eva’s disappointment I think this means he isn’t a pod person  - especially when he’s distracted by a weird light effect, the Dome is flashing, changing from opaque and cloudy (the sky blocked out by the clouds of dust and dirt) to a normal blue sky.

Julia and her sidekicks, Norrie and Joe also see this and realise that the Dome is flashing from a fake image to a real one (looks like Maine the world didn’t end last episode). They follow happy pod people to where they pull a healed Christine from the tunnels and she confesses that the potentially interesting apocalypse was all an illusion and sensible people who shouldn’t all be strangled in their sleep still exist out there. It also proves the pod people are completely mesmerised including Barbie and Carolyn (yes! She still exists!) Christine is using her minions to bring up the glowy amethysts

Julia remembers Christine’s weird schematic in her office of conveniently-discarded-incriminating-evidence and realises the crystals are part of it. She sends the minions off to go get that design while she keeps spying.

Christine elaborates on how she used the illusion of Mainedeath to bring the town together tells Barbie and Eva that she’s bringing the amethysts to the surface to try and charge them up. Barbie seems completely fine with this as a pod person – or as a person who learns that the unpowered Dome calcifies and stops letting air pass through (would that make it brittle and breakable?) though he also demands Christine arm herself for her own protection. Christine is also super happy Barbie and Eva have had sex – but Eva isn’t convince Barbie is 100% podded.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Forsaken (Fallen Siren Series #2.5) by S. J. Harper

Emma and Zack’s relationship is fraught – Demeter’s interference has left Emma reeling and Zack angry with a terrible case of magical amnesia

But all of that has to be put aside when a multi-billionaire’s son is kidnapped and his babysitter murdered possibly due to an extreme act of revenge or just simple greed? Answers that can only be found by being professional, putting their issues aside – and going undercover in a sex club

As a book reviewer, there’s a repeat problem I have when reviewing a series I like. How do you say “I love this book for all the reason I loved all the previous books in the series” without sounding repetitive or lacklustre? It’s hard to make it clear that the elements that you love about a series are still making these books ones you really love to read without sounding like it’s stalled or run out of ideas

This is a short story in the Fallen Siren Series and, yes, it contains many of the elements that have made this one of my favourites:

We have a police investigation that is interesting, tense, exciting and relies as much and more on actual investigative skills as it does on magic (now I do love magic heavy series but I also prefer my investigative protagonists to actually have skill rather than deus ex machinae powers that are so often used as an easy way to solve the mystery without a coherent plot).

We have characters who have a romance – but put it aside. Again, in a genre where all too often characters have sex at inappropriate times, especially a character whose woo-woo is sex based, it is refreshing to see characters that have such a good sense of priorities. In this story there could be no alternative - you cannot have people in charge of finding kidnapped children be distracted by sexy times. But this also reflects not just in the romance but also the other character developments between them.

Over the course of the books, Zach and Emma have had a fraught history. Her curse, her justifiable fear of love and the constant threat of Demeter has made their relationship difficult and have left them with a lot of issues and rifts between them. And, as professionals, as capable dedicated adults, they are quite capable of putting aside all this emotional drama to focus on the essential task at hand. I really appreciate that.

Tragic Love Interests: Tortured Pasts and Abusive True Loves

Author: Dennis Skley  Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License

What makes for a really hot male love interest?

If we’re feeling restrained we would mentioned kindness, compassion, understanding, willingness to listen, patience.

If we’re less… high brow… we’d mention bulging muscles, smoldering eyes, a firm backside and a massive… personality. (Though I still think some of these men have “personalities” that can rupture internal organs, which is sexy apparently. But we’ve already looked at the bizarre things that are considered sexy).

But there’s one other trait that seems to be even more required for your hot love interest to truly make everyone’s knees buckle: a horrendous tormented past

Yes, nothing makes your hot guy truly smoking like knowing he is dealing with some terrible trauma. Knowing your man is fighting off desperate PTSD symptoms seems to really get people going.

Of course part of this just an extension of the same writing habit that kills off the parents of protagonists at a truly alarming rate. A traumatic past is quick and dirty characterisation. When you’ve created a walking penis carrier who you don’t especially want to define nothing allows for quick and dirty characterisation like a huge whack of angst. Instant characterisation, life goal and general motivation and attitude in once, nice, tear-stained package.

Traumatic backgrounds are not inherently a bad thing (though there are many issues with a traumatic background being slightly more common than completing high school in the genre) if it’s done well (and not just lazy characterisation) and it’s certainly good to explore issues like PTSD, triggers and other manifestations of trauma as well as careful well written road to healing. Unfortunately, we rarely see this - and especially not with the sexily brooding love interest. Instead, all too often their oh-so-sad lives are used as a reason for them to be arseholes - and even abusive.

And because they have a tragic past we’re expected to accept that - or even find it romantic.

At the mildest level, your super sexy guy with his oh-so-special personality is (or believes he is) cursed/tortured/hunted/just-too-tortured and simply is bad for the girl (who he loves beyond reason, of course). This inevitably leads to that common and aggravating trope - driving her away for her own good! Of course, the idea of actually letting a woman decide whether she wants to take a risk or plan her own life or decide what is actually good for her or not. That would involve respecting her decision making.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Black Blood (Black Bloods #1) by John Hennessy

Despite the pills that Aberdeen Dareday is forced to take each day, she feels deeply.  Abby works hard to suppress her emotions and fit in with all of the other humans living on the alien ship who have been saved by WWIII by the Khahireans.  When her veins turn black and the Kahahireans turn on her, Abby is forced to flee the only home she has ever known.  This is when Abby learns that she has been lied to her entire life.  Facing reality is not easy because it means learning that not only have the Kahahireans duped humans but were creatures, sorcerers and vampires are real.  Abby is force to run for her life because not only are the Kahahiereans on her trail, the other abnormas are fascinated by her strange blood.  Can Abbey find a way to survive in this brave new world is save humanity from its captors?

Black Blood grabbed from the very first chapter.  It's absolutely a different take on a dystopian novel and I simply love the fact that it is one of the few examples in this genre in which we don't have a White, male cisgender heterosexual saviour.  Abby has to learn how to read people for the first time having had no experience with emotion and it leads to some awkward situations.  She's never sure how or if she should express herself. Abby often becomes overwhelmed by her emotions but it works to her advantage because of her magic.  With a single thought she can kill and set someone on fire.  Though Abby is scared of what she can do she has to keep pushing forward in order to survive.  

We are introduced to several supernatural creatures in Black Bloods but learn little about their society beyond their weaknesses.  Were creatures for instance are instinctively drawn to silver even though it has the ability to kill them.  Abby is unique amongst the abnormals because she is immune to silver sickness and gold does not bother her.  I wish that Hennessy had Abbie learn to fight instead of using woo woo to have her instantly be able to defend herself and escape sticky situations.  Abby is also a reader in that she can read any text in any language.  Apparently, this is a rare skill but it reads as Abby pulling another magical skill out of her ass in the nick of time to save the day. 

Much of the book is spent trying to figure out exactly what Abby is and when the big reveal does finally happen, it's so rushed.  I feel like I didn't really get to enjoy the ending.  Just about everyone Abby and her love interest Ash meet tries to kill them yet when they meet to humans despite being repeatedly told that everyone tries to kill Black Bloods, when they meet Nora and Collin things change.  All Abby has to do is prove that she is a witch and say that she wants to save the word and voila, these humans invite them into their home and agree to help.  Huh?  Clearly, Hennessy plans to have Nora and Collin play some role in the second book in this series but it caused me to break my belief in the story.  We need to be given some reason why Collin and Nora are so trusting.  This makes the set up for book 2 awkward.

Good Witch, Season 1, Episode 1: Starting Over... Again

We have a woman in a posh house and rather dated taste in lighting. She’s Cassie Nightengale and she’s getting new neighbours – Sam and his son Nick (who doesn’t want to be there) who have decided to move in in the middle of the night. She thinks new neighbours, personally I would have thought thieves. She uses woo-woo to help them get in the house – aiding and abetting their house breaking. Sam think she has a magic touch because this show is not even slightly subtle it seems

She also responds “I think you already have” when he says “I’ll see you around.” What does that even mean?

The next day she is being all domestic with an old man in which they both run down a mind boggling array of people whose names I won’t remember because the show hasn’t given me a reason to yet. From this I get that he’s a grandfather, she’s a mother and a widow and her husband was police of chief. She also doses your drinks with weird plant extracts so if you have allergies you might not want to have tear with her.

She also has a daughter who is a melodramatic teenager who may have broken a record for contrived dialogue – she does establish that the old man is her grandfather so we’ve established the family unit. Mumsy serves her daughter what sounds and looks like a Pot Porritt. She may also be psychic. Or have caller-display.

Not satisfied with inflicting random herbs on her family, Cassie also invites herself into the house of her new neighbours (Sam seems oddly unperturbed with having a neighbour who doesn’t know how to knock) to insist they also drink her drowned plant cuttings. Sam is in my camp when it comes to strangers invading his home to inflict random plant products on me, and opts for coffee. He’s not big into herbs, nor is he, as a doctor, big on strange women deciding to lecture him on a healthy diet.

The estate agent thinks Sam won’t last long. With neighbours like Cassie, nor would I.

Time for some more characters – the new police chief, Derek (the last one being Cassie’s dead husband who I have decided was poisoned by herbal concoctions and/or drown when he dared to say no to one). There’s also a big dedication ceremony for the recently deceased Jake apparently being organised by the world’s most annoying woman, Martha the Mayor. I judge this whole community for electing this woman.

Now we need more characters – Brandon and Tara, husband and wife whose marriage has hit some rocks due to some nebulous things he did.

At school daughter Grace and her friend Anthony discuss new arrival Nick and how Grace totally won’t be all impressed by him. So love interest is established, I guess. Grace continues to be psychic and runs into Nick and it’s misunderstood hate at first sight so they’re definitely going to be a couple. They talk later and Grace decides she hates him because he wants to go back to New York. Definitely a couple.

Sam sets up his new medical centre with in a place that only snows from one angle (bad continuity editor! Bad!). Cassie has stalked him to this new location, she has a shop next door and uses random woo-woo to convince a kestrel to leave his shop. Because kestrels often enter buildings. He also finds that there isn’t a lot of demand for a doctor in the town because of Cassie and her magic shop

He does have one potential patient – Steph, a woman who has seen an unmarried doctor and is ready to hook him and reel him in. She makes a point that Cassie has been single for a long time. Brandon appears to tell everyone he should go. You just arrived man. Did you come in just so Steph could tell us she owns a restaurant and that you’re in a band? Apparently so. I think Brandon is Cassie’s son

The mayor has apparently lured Sam into town with a lot of lies and exaggerations and continues to be an appallingly awful caricature. She now decides she hates the doctor because he won’t crumble in front of her so tries to acquire personal information illegally.

Old man George has a health scare (aha! Cassie’s poison is kicking in!). Sam is concerned that the old man has blood pressure problems and has decided to ignore his doctor’s medication and instead take herbal medicine from someone with no apparent medical qualifications. George decides he just doesn’t like doctors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Undead and Unemployed (Undead #2) by MaryJanice Davidson

It's been a couple months since Undead and Unwed.  Betsy has still not adjusted to the fact that she is queen of the vampires and that with that title comes responsibilities.  Betsy is determined that she will regain some semblance of a life and for her, this means getting a job and paying her own way through life.  It should be simple right?  Well, it might have been were it not for the fact that someone is killing vampires in St. Paul and as Queen of the Vampires, it's Betsy's responsibility to keep her people safe.

In case you are wondering, Betsy doesn't get anymore likeable in Undead and Unemployed. Betsy remains extremely vapid, whiny and just plain sarcastic.  I don't think I have disliked a character this much since Charlene Harris's  Aurora Teagarden and believe me, that's saying something. At this point, I am just going to go ahead and give up on any kind of character development in this series. Yes, I know it's early but Betsy is simply beyond hope at this point, even if she claims to be a feminist.

Betsy's relationship with king and consort Eric, continues to be stormy at best.  On the one hand, I can understand Eric's frustration with Betsy's intentionally obtuse attitude towards everything vampire.  Betsy has access to the Book of the Dead which will inform her about her role in the life of vampires and what she can expect as their queen.  It would make sense for Betsy to read it from cover to cover but of course, Betsy cannot be bothered but whines when she gains new information from Eric and Tina, which she could have learned on her own, had she bothered to read the damn book.

Eric is controlling and possessive in many ways.  Normally that kind of behaviour in a male love interest is beyond irritating to me but I cannot see any other way for Eric to make Betsy see the real danger she is in.  I do however think that Eric took it a bit too far when he showed up at Betsy's job, demanded that she quit and when that didn't work, attempted to use his powers to force Betsy's boss to fire her.  This scene is the only shining moment in the book for Betsy.

"My queen," he said, glaring down at me, "does not work."

"This one does," I said shortly. "And do you hear yourself? Jeez, I knew you were an ancient motherfucker, but even you must know women can have jobs now.  And dammit! You made me say 'motherfucker' at work."

It's the only time where Betsy stands her ground and it actually makes sense.  Yes, vampires are dying but Betsy should have the right to earn her own income as she sees fit and not be dependent upon Eric or Jessica for money.

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 7: Strange Frequencies

We pick up where we left off – with Theo demanding Stiles’s silence in exchange for not telling everyone about Stiles killing Donovan. Theo explains how he knows (which, even more than the fact he was harassing a werewolf) convince Stiles to stop trying to manhandle a werewolf.

After some doubt and questioning, Stiles agrees to lie and hide the body (he’s wry, slightly sad note that he has a lot of practice lying to his dad is sad but true.

They take the body to Deacon’s vets and lie to Scott about what killed him – the plan is for Theo to stay with the body to see who is stealing them.

He stands vigil alone and a Dread Doctor checks in – the Dread Doctors don’t care who is taking the bodies and they don’t feel any special need to keep Theo informed, much to his irritation. Anyway, Stiles has a new plan – product placement cell phone cameras (and his new iWatch. Really? Stiles can afford that?)

Meanwhile, baby wolf Liam has just decided to tell Hayden everything and, to the surprise of no-one, she doesn’t take it well and thinks he’s the freakiest freak ever. He doesn’t exactly make things better by showing glowing eyes and fangs and growling at her. She has a good punch though. She drives off – and her fist magically heals. Then the Dread Doctors arrive – being horrendously menacing, communicating through her radio and stopping her car working.

Liam pulls her free from the car and they run.

Later Liam calls in the gang to report another chimera. She heard the Dread Doctors say “your condition improves” and is juuuuust a little freaked out. She’s tried to hide in a bathroom – because she’s getting steadily more feral, complete with fangs and glowing eyes.

When they’re alone, Liam tries to be all reassuring so we can get this love interest thing moving.

Kira is generously and gracefully helping her dad at school on a Saturday morning. And her mother decides to attack her with a katana before giving her a sword so they can duel. She keeps yelling at Kira in Japanese, asking who she is, demanding she show herself, until Kira gets her flamy Kitsune aura – and almost kills her mother. Something Noshiko blames on the fox inside her.

 The gang brainstorm a place to keep Hayden safe and due to woo-woo decide the best place is the school. They think up defences, including something involving frequencies (which has Parrish and Lydia continuing to be the Do Not Want couple). We also have awkwardness with Scott clearly being leery of entirely trusting the new foxy Kira and Kira herself having “lost” her belt – which feels like she’s deliberately leaving her sword behind. They quickly stop dancing around it and Kira honestly says that last time her Kitune-ness made things worse and she needs to understand what is happening with her before she can help, we then get a nice romance montage.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Lucky Vampire (Argeneau #19) by Lynsay Sands

Nicole Phillips, the daughter of Margarette's maid is getting a long overdue divorce and putting her life back on track.  The problem is that someone doesn't seem to be pleased with the changes Nicole is making.  After several attempts on her life, Margarette is convinced that the naive Nicole needs to hire a body guard but Nicole doesn't agree.  Margarette finally convinces Nicole to hire a housekeeper/cook to help her with her busy schedule.  Margarette contacts Jake, who has been estranged from his family since his turn and talks him into guarding Nicole.  What neither of them realise, is that Margarette is playing match maker again.  Can Jake manage to keep Nicole safe while he works out his issues with being immortal and struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has just met his lifemate?

One Lucky Vampire, is another in a long list of formulaic Lynsay Sands books.  If you have been reading this series for awhile, you're completely familiar with the drill.  Immortal meets mortal, discovers their lifemates, a few problems arise and then boom eye boners and HEA.  I've read Harlequin romance novels that are more inventive than this series.  I know that Sands has to make these books accessible to people who decide to pick up the series along the way (who picks up book  19 of a series and says, "I think I'll start reading here"?), but the explanation that Jake is an immortal is just long winded and drawn out.  I found myself quickly skimming, having read this bloody explanation so many times already. I am also sick to death of Margarette playing matchmaker.  At this point, Sands needs to find a new hook to put her lovers together.

From almost the beginning of One Lucky Vampire, attempts are being made on Nicole's life but she has a reasonable explanation for each incident.  It's one thing to be laid back, but Nicole is ridiculously calm.  We see this again when Jake finally tells Nicole the truth after being badly poisoned from sitting in her hot tub.  So, Jake tries to bite her, and she sees his fangs, learns that there are immortals and just lets it soak in as though it's no big deal.  The calmness with which she accepts this is ridiculous.  Nicole is actually more worried about meeting Jake's mother and being thought of as a whore, than with the knowledge that immortals actually exist.  She doesn't even give much thought to Jakes suggestion that she become one, other than her fear that it might hurt.

In terms of female love interests, beyond Nicole's lackadaisical attitude towards her impending murder, she's not as bad as some of the women Sands has chosen to introduce us to.  Nicole is a talented artist and a successful woman and though she does have some issues with her weight, she's not constantly harping on it.  I did however dislike that she thought she needed to diet the moment she found herself attracted to Jake?  What is it with Sands and her inability to create a love interest who is secure in who she is?  Nicole also suffers from a near constant worry that she is a whore for having so quickly slept with Jake.  Of course, Jake's mother suggests that it's all the fault of the nanos and therefore informs Nicole that she is not a whore.  This just got on my last nerves.  Why couldn't Nicole have simply slept with Jake because he turns her on, rather than all of the bullshit slut shaming?

What Nicole lacked in physical acceptance, she made up for in financial independence. During her marriage, Nicole was the bread winner and she takes great umbrage to the idea that she simply got the house in the divorce, rather than the house simply belonging to her, as a result of her hard work.

Falling Skies, Season 5, Episode 6: Respite

Tom wakes up to find he is being tended by a strange woman who is surprisingly well dressed for a dystopia, in a room that looks like the aliens never invaded, with kids playing outside and an older man, similarly well dressed with a gun

The gun is because Tom decided to respond with violence and a knife to medical care. The old man, William, has treated his injuries and, because of that, Tom now can’t go anywhere until he’s healed. He declares his home a safe place where there is no war and no fighting. Which sounds ominous given the dystopia, aliens and all.

It’s all very creepily twee complete with saying grace and no food shortages at all. Faced with the normality of it all, Tom collapses into tears (I can get this is a major emotional moment seeing everything he has lost, but personally I think it would be more appropriate to yell “alien collaborator’s/clones/pod people!”)

Apparently Willie just stocked a whole lot and has a decent farm and has just kept his head down and the whole war has just passed them by. The kids don’t even know the war is happening because YAY DENIAL! That includes the 15 year old. Tom declares it not to be his business right before passive aggressively judging the hell out of them. He calls out Alicia for basically raising her kids to be so sheltered that when the war eventually reaches them they’ll have no chance. Of course she angrily declares that she doesn’t need advice on how to let everyone else do the fighting while she lives in denial land and raises kids to be complete victims because she can’t face reality, of course she does

Which then leads to Tom going snooping (despite hardly being able to walk) and catching the 15 year old Kyle drinking and smoking *gasp* (what they stockpiled booze as well? And cigarettes?) Kyle realises something off is happening

Later Alicia is happy to recruit Tom to teach her kids now-completely-irrelevant history but then Kyle goes missing trying to find out the truth. Tom finds him by the ruin of a mech and, of course, tells hi, all.

Did anyone, for one second, think Tom wasn’t going to tell this kid the truth?

Kyle demands to be a soldier and returns home to pout and tantrum and Alicia, of course, asking Tom’s advice. She agrees to let him take Kyle back to the 2nd Mass to fight. And she kisses him.

Over to Hal who is still with Isabella and they share stories of their history teacher dads and her dad being a diplomat and how, in war they have to do naughty bad things. And they kiss – so this is how the love triangle will be resolved – a random love interest dropped in! Hey it took Hal, what, 3 days to move on from Maggie?

The Strain, Season 2, Episode 4: Silver Angel

For some reason I’m watching an ancient black and white film about vampires and Mexican wrestlers. I’d say it’s terrible but, honestly, I’ve watched worse. But it does go on way too long

It’s been watched by an older, Latino man called Angel who has a limp very similar to what the vampire-hunter wrestler (Angel de Plata – angel of silver) had on the old film.

Gus goes to eat in the Indian restaurant where he works and there seems to be some tension between the two men.

Afterwards Gus goes home to get supplies – and finds the body of his brother and the still living (unliving?) vampire of his mother. Gus is desperate not to kill his beloved mother and the Master uses her to speak to him attacking Gus squarely in the very sensitive Mother issues and general fear he disappointed and failed his mother. Guy leaves, leaving her “alive” and locks the door behind him.

He goes back to the Indian restaurant where he’s welcomed by the owner’s daughter, Aanya and both Angel and her mother decide to put the kibosh on that right away, deciding they don’t want “his sort” talking to her. But Gus recognises Angel from the Angel De La Plata film and has a complete fanboy moment. Angel denies it all.

Ephraim et al release their infected vampire to spread his merry plague. After some vampire killing and a nest in a mental hospital, their infected vampire nests with the others.

This calls for a flashback to Vienna in 1966 when Abraham was a professor, Palmer a young man and even back them Fitzwilliam was a lackey of Palmer’s (wow, he’s looking good for his age… must be his father. A generational lackey?) They were tracking the Lumen special book of specialness to a nunnery – one the vampires already got to – they only find a boy who claims the Mother Superior decided the book was evil so burned it.

While Abraham fight to protect the boy from vampires, Eichorst made an appearance and made Palmer an offer he chose not to refuse. When Abraham rejoins Palmer, he decides the book is gone and there’s no further point in looking for it – or in hunting vampires.

In the present, Nora tells Ephraim to spend time with Zach. Oh yay, more father son bonding time, just what I wanted to see. This comes with parental angst and moodiness.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The First Twenty by Jennifer Lavoie

The world has fallen apart. It is twenty years after the fall of civilisation, there’s only a few scattered remnants of humanity left who are trying to struggle to survive and, maybe, rebuild.

Peyton is the newly elected leader of her Settlement’s security, they’re trying to rebuild and keep themselves safe from raiding Scavenger looking to steal their resources. One raid recently killed her father

Nixie is a Scavanger, desperate, under-resourced and driven to scrape what living they can. The Settlers seem to live a life of high luxury in comparison and the resentment is strong.

This is a post-apocalyptic dystopian world – humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction, the cities are abandoned and the remaining people are desperately trying to struggle to survive in the ruins.

And I really like this dystopian world – I like how it focuses a lot on the practicality of surviving and the possibility of rebuilding. Not with lots of despair and angst and “are we living or surviving” (yes this genre is really getting over-stuffed) but simple practical matters like how they’re producing food and finding clean water and standing together. It’s a lot less militaristic than many, far less combative and far more about survival.

A lot of apocalypse fiction loves to realy make a huge point that it’s not the zombies/vampires/plague/hockey-stick-wielding-were-beavers that you need to worry about but other people who are evil murdering raping arseholes. Usually with all the subtlety of a chainsaw wielding guy wearing his last victim’s skin.

And that kind of savagery is certainly not an unrealistic message – but this book looks more at communities coming together. Sure, it’s not perfect but the community tries, it is genuinely coming together and supporting each other and collaborating in the face of this difficult new world. We have a community of people that doesn’t need one leader to keep everyone in line with the threat of violence. We have different communities working with each other, trading, co-operating and not trying to fight each other or scrabble for advantage.

That’s not unrealistic either. Time and again history has shown us that people have faced terrible conditions and rallied wonderfully together. When faced with adversity people ARE good at rallying and supporting each other – it’s how communities started. It’s nice to see a world where humanity isn’t 3 days without a wifi connection away from eating their neighbours brains (now, cut my wifi AND my coffee and your brains are fair game). Not everything has to be grim and gritty to pretend to be “realistic”.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Killjoys, Season 1, Episode 7: Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye

So last week everyone agreed to kill Khylen – and this week John has found a staticy image from the neural link Khylen embedded in Dutch’s neck.

When it goes down, D’avin distracts the very tense Dutch with target practice and tries to talk about her feelings and past – her urge to find her own past which is what Khylen knows. While John, very unwisely, decides the best way to figure out how the neural link works is to plug it into his own neck.

They return to find John in pain, not seeing anything and unable to use it. Time to go to Westerley and Pawter to pull it out. Despite being arrested last episode, Pawter is there for the surgery (she tells them she was arrested and the information she found about Dr. Jaeger – she got out by lying through her teeth).

In the extraction the neural link is broken – John runs after Dutch apologising profusely. Which leaves D’avin to speak to Pawter – she is annoyed he was ducking her calls, he thought they were personal and was basically trying to leave a relationship (if they can call what they had a relationship) without saying goodbye which she, rightfully, calls arsholeish. At the same time D’avin points out she entered a sexual relationship with a patient she was treating for mental trauma which is rather more than arseholish, which she acknowledges.

She does give him the location of a man called Grayson who Jaeger was treating and who filed a complaint – he’s in Westerley Mental Institution.

So it’s time to break in with electrical shenanigans and a drugged guard. They speak to Grayson who agrees to take them to see Jaeger if they can bring him along. They agree.

To a floating space station thing known as Utopia which involves dress up and going under cover.. This involves lots of leather and vinyl. It’s a place where you can basically buy anything even if it is illegal so long as you wear appropriate fetish wear (standards! Got to have a dress code). D’avin and Dutch flirt with D’avin taking some fun narcotics and he worries about what truths Jaeger may have for him – and whether he wants to hear it. The drugs kick in and he kisses Dutch – and she kisses him back. The world cannot contain my “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

John takes the chance to speak to a woman about the neural thingy they broke. She agrees to help fix it so long as she gets to keep the chip after they’ve finished.

The gang gather when Grayson finds Dr. Jaeger – or, rather, Dr. Jaeger’s assistant. She now implants memories for clients so they can live new experiences. Johnny steals her data so that when they go to Westerley they can have Pawter look it over.

Defiance, season 3, Episode 9: Ostinato in White

An Indogene is hunted through the streets, she grabs a weapon to try and protect herself, but something growling and bestial manages to grab her and, apparently, eat her. My money’s on an Omec

The next day and we have a memorial of the people who died during Rahm’s attack while Amanda gives one of her excellent speeches. After her beautiful speech, she asks Nolan to say a few words – but Hindler, the father of the dead Irathient sniper objects – blaming Nolan for his son’s death. Perhaps they should find a new lawkeeper.

Nolan’s, very emotional comment is about how thing go wrong in war. It’s well done, but given the givens he’s still not great as a Lawkeeper. General maybe, not Lawkeeper. His speech is very powerful and emotional and really carries the pain of what he did.

After the meeting T’evgin offers his condolences to Alak who isn’t interested and he has nothing but cruel words for his mother despite T’evgin’s attempt to speak in her defence.

He passes on the message to Stahma who is grieving and conflicted and emotional (this is an excellent episode for high emotion). He tells her about Alak, the funeral organised by Amanda and Datak’s sacrifice. And that she has been pardoned.

Stahma checks to make sure T’evgin isn’t going to kill her for the secret she knows – but he’s sure she won’t since it’s not in her best interest. And she always does what’s in her best interest. Oh he knows her well. She also continues to try and turn T’evgin against Kindzi, pointing out she has vanished. She also wants to know if his family, the people he has in stasis, will follow him or Kindzi. He’s sure Kindzi will be obedient.

Stahma returns home to find Andina scrubbing the word “terrorist” off their doors. Inside they talk painfully of Alak being gone and the dead McCauley family. She warns Stahma that Alak intends to kill her.

At the Lawkeeper’s office, Irisa finds Nolan with Zero’s rifle which he intends to take to Hindler – which is such a bad idea, Irisa thinks so as well and there is emotional hugging. He goes and takes the gun to meet with an angry, painfully grieving Hindler who points a gun at Nolan before tearfully putting it down. It’s a very tense and emotional meeting in which Nolan again admits his guilt and how he isn’t really a general. Nolan also cannot think why Zero is the one who hurts him so much and Hilder appreciates

Meanwhile Amanda has found the dead Indogene – completely dismembered – and takes Irisa to the scene. There’s a brief hope that, with the Stasis curtain down, it’s a wild animal though it’s a long shot. They bag up the pieces and take them to Yewl’s clinic. She greets them with her standard cutting sarcasm