Thursday, September 17, 2015

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 2, Episode 4: The Best Little Horror House in Texas

We have a flashback – to when the Titty Twister was the Twister saloon – and when Santanico was still dancing for a crowd of men to gather blood of the vampires – and still watched and controlled by Malvado and used by him. Though Carlos, even back then, tried to insinuate himself closer to her though Malvado pushed him away. Because he knows she’s the super special one honest – while she continues to mouth the words he wants to hear while glaring at her, before he rapes her.

To the present, Sanatnico is lost in thought of the past and their plan to follow the trafficked women to Malvado’s hide out. She’s also wondering what’s going to happen next since Richie still wants to step into Malvado’s shoes.

She demands he pulls over and gets out the car while he tries to convince her not to break all the things while h rants on about how he’s going to do this she snaps, snarls and smacks him to the ground. They both go Calebros and the fight is on – it only stops when Richie gasps “the car” when she’s about to slam his head into it.

Yes I laughed. Yes I’m ashamed of that. Yes I’d laugh again.

She lays down the law – Malvado will die, his world turned to dust and there will be no more slavery.

Carlos and Malvado talk about the prophecy, the treasure that Aiden (Sex Machine) can find now he has his book – and Carlos is worried that Santanico may get the treasure first. This is just a lead in for Carlos poking Malvado about Santanico still being free and robbing his shipments. He isn’t impressed by the seemingly indestructible Regulator on the hunt. Malvado isn’t impressed – manhandling Carlos and accusing him of trying to have sex with Santanico again (after Malvado “shared” her with him another strike in the “ want to see Santanico kill this guy” column) and deciding he doesn’t need Carlos any more. Carlos pushes his luck taunting the Santanico will be looking for him.

Back to Richie who continues to do business with his verbose Nathan in a strip club while Santanico is in the back with the trafficked women, including Paloma the woman she recently forced to dance. Paloma is fearful and praying and refuses to go out to dance even when Santanico promises her no-one will touch her and they’ll both destroy the organisation. The Madam there decides to inject her with something – and slaps Santanico when she stops her. Yeah, Madam Diana becomes lunch and Santanico assumes his appearance. Paloma is duly impressed – even as Santanico uses the same worlds Malvado used on her to convince Paloma.

Carlos and his people arrive to see the girls with a plan to buy – Richie and Santanico quickly hide so he doesn’t recognise them; Santanico continues to play Diana, keeping on plan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Grimm: The Icy Touch by John Shirley

There’s a new threat in Portland – the Icy Touch, a criminal cartel made entirely out of brutal Wesen. The leader of which has a long standing grudge against Nick and his family

But how can the police face a criminal gang when they cannot be told about the wesen? And how can Nick fight as a Grimm when he is also bound by his work as a cop – and his own fear of what he is becoming?

This is a book based on a TV series which means it’s pretty much impossible to read it without contrasting to its source material. Not only that, I don’t think it’s intended for us to do so – especially with Grimm having so many seasons of world building and character development means that I don’t think you could read any of these books without having watched the show. There’s too much to recap and include to make this book stand alone

Though, I will say this book does a decent job of trying (albeit not very well) but I think it would be much smoother if it just expected all of its readers to watch the show – because I found some of the elements to make it stand alone to be… off. Like Nick can see Wesen as Wesen, including their type, even when they’re not woged which is a bit of a deviation. There’s also a lot more emphasis on some weird Grimm instincts. I did like how they managed to greatly explore the conflict between Nick the cop (often through Hank’s eyes) and Nick the Grimm. How he is often stepping outside the law and a lot of unsanctioned violence. This also couples with his own moral conflict since his actions are not only not ok for a cop, but are generally not acceptable anyway. I also liked how there was more of Juliette’s discomfort and distrust being analysed than we’ve really seen on the show

So, there are elements of moving above and beyond the show that do work and why have books of the show if you’re not going to develop them further?

However, I mainly think the adaption failed. There are some elements like Nick’s new powers that were just wrong.

But the most jarring to me is the voice of every character. All of them sound wrong to me. Hank sounds extremely whiny. Sergeant Wu has been written by someone with much less sense of humour but is still desperately trying to force his wit – so he keeps popping in, making bad jokes, then going away. But the worst are Renard – who is grossly autocratic and high handed and alien to everything on the show. And Monroe who… just bemuses me. This is not Monroe. It doesn’t even come close to resembling Monroe. My gods why would anyone write Monroe like this?!

The Strain, Season 2, Episode 10: The Assassin

It rather hilariously tells you how little plot-relevant things happened in the last episode that the recap-thing at the beginning of this episode barely mentions it

Feraldo’s war continues - and the mayor has got his way – the next stop on her vampire killing tour is the rich people area of Manhattan. He makes a big speech about it while she watches him with serial-killer eyes. Ferraldo’s speech contains a snarky reference to how rich and expensive the area is and how her backgrounds wouldn’t let her close to it. She also emphasises that they’re saving all of New York – and since they’re coming here first she expects the rich folks to dip into their vast pockets to fund the fight. The mayor is not happy about this. Nor are the rich people to which Feraldo points out the people of Red Hook came out of their houses and fought and died against the vampires – which she’s pretty sure these people are not going to do that.

I like her.

Eldritch goes to find Coco in her less than salubrious flat. He’s trying to win her back after she stormed off, making a plea for romance and her coming back to him, waving his tragic life as a flag. Coco isn’t buying it – he caused the break up by not trusting her and he isn’t the only one who has had a hard past, that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to her.

Dutch and Ephraim are setting up techy things in a sky-scraper to look at Eldritch Palmer were, possibly, in several episodes, they may do something. But probably not. While they’re there Dutch discusses the downsides of monogamy with Dutch referencing Ephraim’s multiple relationships and her caught in her love triangle.

They’re there when Coco and Palmer return, it looks like he convinced her. They mayor arrives before they can discuss their relationship more and he’s super shocked and horrified about Ferraldo’s tax and how it’s going to destroy him. Rather than talking to Ferraldo himself, he’s pleading with Palmer to appeal to her. So Palmer is going on a field trip which will give Ephraim chance to set up his sniper ambush. Yeah… last week proved that Ephraim isn’t actually good with that rifle… has he practiced a lot since then?

He decides to drink while waiting instead. Because that’ll work.

Feraldo is facing push back from the rich people but she has the best “I’m not impressed” face. She’s quite happy to take her people back to Brooklyn. She is so awesomely not impressed by their threats.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Ties That Bleed by Jami Deise

Diana Rowan was a vampire assassin, part of the FBI’s squad specialising in destroying vampires. Then she married Robert, had a child, Katie and took a desk job training new recruits. It’s a happy life… but missing someone

Then an old enemy seems to return to the grave and Diana is pressed to return to the hunt again, once again entering into the vampire world… but can she balance her newly domestic life with the return to the hunt?

This book almost reads like an origin story for me – even though the main character, Diana, has been a vampire hunter/executioner/trainer for some time. This is clearly the start of a whole new chapter of her life, and setting her up for the new series revolving around her in her new life

Despite that, it didn’t feel temporary or transitory. A lot of origin stories will introduce characters and you know most of them won’t be relevant or will be replaced or will change rapidly. It can be a barrier to get invested in them – you see the character starting a series in domestic bliss, know it’s not going to last so the characters that make up that domestic bliss are not exactly people I’m inclined to get to know.

But Diana’s marriage and her life and her family are all such excellent parts of her development, her origin and really contribute to who she is. Especially since it isn’t blissful and I felt like it could have continued.

The central concept of the book is one of very every day sexism. Diana was a vampire executioner, she worked for the FBI as part of its secret supernatural police unit and, like many working women, she chose to change her job (and become a trainer rather than the more dangerous, irregular hours and taxing role as an active duty agent) when she had a baby. I think there is a lot of excellent balance in how this life is depicted. Her husband, Robert is not a terrible person and she’s not unhappy – far from it. But she does have moments of frustration, this isn’t entirely the life she wanted even if she enjoys it, and there are parts missing, parts she does miss from her job before she benched herself. She’s not miserable or sad or angry – but it isn’t perfect.

We also see that not-perfect fray and show all of its sexist flaws when Diana begins to return to her old job, become more active and the cracks show. And it doesn’t require Robert to become all Gorian on her to get the point across – it’s much more subtle and pervasive than that: and not just from him, but her own instincts and assumptions. Like when he is working late is it assumed, when she is working late it is a vast imposition. When he looks after their daughter it’s him doing extra, when she looks after their daughter, it is her job. When she stays home with her, it’s the normal acts of a parent. When he stays home with her it’s “baby sitting”.  As she tries to spend more time to do her hunting (exacerbated, of course, by her inability to tell Robert what she is doing) the cracks and the strain grow more and more. It’s all fuelled by his expectations of what she should be as a wife and mother and even her own expectations and assumptions imposed upon herself.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blood Domination (Blood Destiny #4) by Connie Suttle

Due to her being hunted by various forces, Wlodek decide the best thing to do with Lissa is get her out of the way for a while. Thankfully mysterious Griffin has an idea

Send her to an entirely new world where she can use her great powers to solve a whole load of easily-fixed-by-violence problems in a not-very-alien-society

Meanwhile Wlodek & co try to continue the hunt against Xenides while simultaneously making terrible decisions.

So I pick up the next book in this vampire series and….


Ok that was unexpected. I admit to having reservations, but I’m not adverse to genre mash-up even if I’ve rarely actually seen it do well and if, after three books in this series, I’m not confident that this series would be the one to do it well. And, alas, I was surprisingly right.

So, Lissa ends up going to another world and meeting a range of new species and it is done so incredibly lazily that was just quite depressing. Lissa is moved to this new world through woo-woo. That woo-woo also comes with convenient understand-any-language woo-woo to avoid any kind of culture shock

Of which there is absolutely none. The world is called Refizan, the people are Refizani and may or may not be human. If they’re not they look entirely like humans. And by humans I mean white western humans (there’s an Asian-appearing-alien-who-looks-human-because-LAZY who is apparently clearly not from this planet because he’s not white). Their culture seems to be a vaguely western parallel. Their buildings, cities, market place, food, manufactured products, modes of travel, news dissemination, media – none of it is presented as any different from what Lissa had experienced in the US and London. There was no real description of the world to make it seem any different from a generic western city. Flying over the city as mist, Lissa can pick out buildings like shops and hospitals and religious buildings. Their government is a fairly generic democracy which, like anything el

Honestly, you could replace “Refizan” with “Ohio” and not really make any real difference to the story. An alien world that is completely unrecognisable from a western nation populated by people who are indistinguishable from white westerners with all language and transports difficulties being resolved by woo-woo is some of the laziest damn aliens I’ve ever seen – and that includes every film and TV show that decided a little bit of heavy make up would be sufficient to depict an alien species. Though we did have a giant blue dude. Who was giant. And blue. That’s kind of it.

Even on the supernatural side, the world has its own vampire circle which is basically a direct parallel to Wlodek and his people on Earth. Except lazier

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Continuum, Season 4, Episode 2: Rush Hour

Kellogg gets his little message which appears to be from older, future him (who isn’t in great shape) who is trying to get Kellogg to change the future to make things better – and telling him to trust the team he’s sent back. He especially needs young Kellogg to trust them – trust others occasionally (and to trust his future self because, basically, he’s not as much as a snake as his young self is).

Which is when he gets the message from his minions saying they’ve successfully kidnapped Emily. He then sends a picture of her to Alec. Threat and dramatics follow with Kellogg demanding Alec returning all of Pyron’s stolen data. Kiera, being classy, is quick to tell Alec that stealing all that data was a bad idea, especially since all the time travel knowledge isn’t actually all that useful to Kellogg without a time machine. Which Kellogg has –and presumably so do the troopers from the future. Now Kiera’s worried.

Kiera argues to get Carlos involved, while Alec calls in his own help. Carlos apparently has no damn clue how to handle a kidnapping and wants to just go arrest Kellogg. Really Carlos? Carlos also wants to know what Kiera’s recent issues are all about – and she tells him about her dream of her family and how it’s hit her, not being able to go home and see her family. She’s back to accepting that she will never be able to go home. Carlos also asks the fraught question – would she go home if she could She doesn’t hesitate to say yes.

Carlos agrees to put surveillance on Kellogg’s people – but also to go see him because that’s what Carlos would do and it’d be weird if he didn’t.

Kiera and Brad manage to meet up – and he decides to continue to be a spy though he is not really accepted or trusted by the future squad. Kiera is covering for Brad with the police and Brad is covering for Kiera with the future squad and it’s another load of complex that Continuum specialises in.

Kellogg gets a visit from Marcellus, leader of the future commandos. Marcellus has a list of gear he needs and a very specific building as well. Marcellus is cagey about what he’s there for, telling Kellogg he needs to trust, well, himself. That’s a problem, Kellogg knows himself after all. Marcellus tells Kellogg he’s about to save the world and millions of lives. I’m not sure Kellogg cares.

Carlos goes to see Kellogg as he said he would – and the newly recovered but heavily scarred Dylan joins them. He’s retiring as a police inspector (which he was terrible at) and joining Piron (which he’d already done before retiring anyway). With Carlos gone, Kellogg double checks that Dylan would support him in the event of him doing something naughty!bad!wrong! Dylan is adopting a hear-no-evil-see-no-evil approach.