Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 12: House of Memories

This episode is a lot about Willa and I’m kind of torn about the whole introduction of this character. Mainly because we have virtually no episodes left and therefore no time to develop her or what she means or the implications.

I think part of that means we don’t really get to explore all of the development of her or her relationship with Wynonna and Waverley. The speed we’ve been introduced to her also means we don’t really get a lot of time to go through her emotional transition, her memories, going from cult member to now out in the world, being reintroduced to her family, being reintroduced to revenants and being the heir et al – that’s a lot of things to process

In doing that we have a lot that feels almost random – we get brief insights to Willa and Waverley not being that close as children. We get more hints about the deal Bobo and their father made. We get Willa going from hating Dolls and any authority and being a one-track Revenant killing machine and then a party loving woman the next. We can explain all of this because humans are complex and what she’s gone through has just added to that complexity – but we’ve gone so quickly that it all feels a little random and rushed.

Far better is Nicole and Waverley’s relationship which is still going strong with kissing, making out and Willa finding out that Waverley is “a gay” which prompts so examination between the sisters. And a lot more genuine affection between Nicole and Waverley this whole episode which I really really like. It’s not a one off or barely mentioned part of their lives – it’s present and it’s important.

Also interesting is Wynonna faced with the fact she’s not the heir, especially since peacemaker is shorting out on her… the real heir is back and she’s losing her heir-y powers. Which adds further questions to what exactly happened to Willa

Friday, June 17, 2016

iZombie, Vol. 3: Six Feet Under and Rising (iZombie #3) by Chris Roberson, Gilbert Hernández, Mike Allred

The veil in Eugene is thinner than anyplace else in the world.  That allows creatures from other worlds and dimensions to slip through.  These creatures can be accessed by those who seek power. Amon knows that things are coming to a head but thus far he has been unable to convince Gwen that she has an important role to play.  Gwen however is only interested in hanging out with her friends and her new boyfriend Horatio, the monster hunter who still doesn't know that she's a zombie. Gwen won't be allowed to to be passive for much longer though, the shambling zombies have made an escape from a secret underground labyrinth thus forcing her to confront the supernatural world on terms that simply aren't her own.

iZombie is at its best when it's doing the scooby thing. Six Feet Under and Rising opened up with having the group fulfilling and the wishes of a recently departed soul and sending if off,  it quickly shifted to dealing with: Galatea, the government zombie killing group the Dead Presidents and Spot's disappearance. Six Feet Under and Rising is action packed but all of the action also made it seem so very cluttered.  Where the hell did the Dead Presidents come from all of a sudden?  If that were not enough, we also have zombie Russian cold war era spies and the brain of a mad scientist in a jar.  It's all too much too soon and without enough context to make it feel anything other than chaotic.

The Dead Presidents did give us some added diversity in the form of a take no nonsense Madison the zombie.  Madison answers to Lincoln but while out in the field, she's the undisputed boss.  Madison like all of the other zombie agents pay a price in that it costs them their original meat.  I get the sense that there's so much more to her character and cannot help but wonder if she's actually the original Madison but placed in a black female body.  I must admit to laughing at the idea that Nixon is the president that seems to get on everyone's nerves.

We didn't actually get to see much of the scooby gang together this volume.  Spot spent a lot of time trapped in the catacombs with the zombies.  I love that Gwen jumped right in there to save him though Horatio suggested she should just wait on the sidelines.  From the moment Gwen entered the catacombs there was no chance that it would end well for her in terms of keeping her secret.  I love that she was willing to jump in front of Horatio to save Spot should Spot be discovered in his full were form.

Speaking of Spot, perhaps the most interesting revelation about him thus far is not that he is so virginal that he's never kissed a girl but that when the thought of kissing a girl occurred to him, he suddenly thought of Gavin, Gwen's brother. What does this mean? We know that in UVampire (volume two), there was a lot of taunting of Scott because he is perceived as gay by his friends but there was nothing overt in the story to suggest Scott actually being gay or bisexual. Scott's instantly confused by his thoughts of Gavin but it's enough to make me wonder if iZombie is going to make Scott canonically gay?  Given the homophobic taunting that iZombie's engaged in so far and the absolute erasure, it would go along way to improving this series.  I for one am sick of Scott mooning over Gwen; however, if Scott should in fact be gay, things won't run smooth with Gavin because it seems that Gavin is possessed.

Orphan Black, Season Four, Episode Ten: From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths

The fourth season finale was a little bit underwhelming as far as I am concerned. Sure, it had the reunion of Cosima and Delphine and set the stage for season five, which will be Orphan Black's last but it all felt somewhat anticlimactic to me.  We all know that Sarah isn't going to die and that Mrs. S is going to find a way to deal with Ferdinand once and for all.  Shall we have at it?

Let's start with Helena because her role in this episode like much of the season was small.  Helena is now back in her wooded hide away with the Hendrixes and as to be expected, Allison is not doing well with the adjustment.  Donnie blames Helena's cooking and even without eating it or tasting it, I think that he's probably right.  Helena just wants to help and even offers to kill Evie but Sarah and Mrs. S advise her to stay where she is for now.  Awwww, I want more Helena.  I am not pleased with the way that she has been sidelined this season.

Now to the meat of the matter so to speak.  On the island, Cosima and Mommy Dearest are pleased that the fertilized egg has lead to a scientific breakthrough.  Cosima gets online to tell Mrs. S, Sarah and Kira that at last, she's got a cure. The celebration doesn't last long because Cosima quickly finds that she's locked out of the system and that her connection to the outside world has been severed. This of course is Mommy Dearest's handy work. No way was so actually going to do anything for her Leda Clones when she can get busy making more clones.

Evie Chow has been handed her walking papers by Neolution by unwisely chooses to resist, pointing out that the current PR disaster is not her fault.  It's quickly evident that Evie falsely believed that her contribution to Neolution was more important than it is.  For her trouble, Evie has her implant activated by none other than Dr. Ian Van Lier, her mentor and now replacement.  As the announcement of Dr. Ian Van Lier taking over the company goes public, he is recognized by none other that Crystal, who remembers him as the man who swooped in and saved Delphine after she had been shot.

Crystal thinks she is in the know and gets in contact with Felix, who pretends to be a secret agent. Crystal is no longer buying Felix's fake identity and so Felix has no choice but to bring her into clone club. Upon meeting Sarah however, Crystal is not convinced that she is a clone, pointing out that she is a ten while Sarah is a seven on her best day. Oh Crystal.  Crystal the most empty headed clone to date is convinced that there's a battle going on between Estee Lauder and a “Swedish company” called Neolution. That's it, no clone club for Crystal ever.

Sarah then pretends to be Crystal and confronts Dr. Ian Van Lier at a press conference. Sarah and Mrs. S hold Lier at gunpoint around the corner and she realises that mommy dearest never had any intention of handing over the cure for Cosima.  Back at the comic shop, Sarah decides to go after Cosima.  When Mrs. S asks to come along, Sarah says that has to do this alone.  As the only one who is immune, if she doesn't get the cure to Cosima, she's destined to watch all of her sisters die.  It's quite a statement and makes a massive impact.

While Sarah figures out how to get Ira to arrange for her to head to the island, Rachel is busy making big moves. What? You thought that Rachel would remain on team good? She's far too ambitious for that.  After some sexy times with Ferdinand, Rachel meets with the board and suggests that they move the corporation someplace where they will absolutely own all of the clones they create, allowing them to place implants inside each of them. Rachel adds, “If we want to know if our lab rats’ tails will grow back, we damn well will cut them off and see". Damn, Rachel is cold.

With the boards support, Rachel heads to the island to confront Mommy Dearest.  Susan feels that Rachel is in over her head and has betrayed all of the Leda Clones as well as herself.  Rachel however cannot be talked down and believes that she is fulfilling her destiny to follow Susan. When Rachel gets a vision of a swan in her eye, she grabs a knife and attacks Mommy Dearest.

Penny Dreadful and Race

Penny Dreadful is easily the most visually beautiful show that we are watching currently. It’s easy to get caught up in the gothic aspects and brilliant acting and ignore the many problematic elements which have come to fore from almost the beginning.  The Victorian Era was rife with thoughts of empire, colonisation and racism and yet Penny Dreadful is being aired in 2016 - a time far removed from what it’s attempting to portray.  Simply saying that this was the way the Victorian Era was does not give one carte blanche to continue the racist portrayal without any sort of nuance.  Race on Penny Dreadful is portrayed in the most hackneyed fashion without any thought or care about the message being sent.

In Season three of Penny Dreadful we have really reached a pinnacle of terrible tropes - perhaps most glaringly with the introduction of Kaetenay;  an Apache character.  As we know, during this time in history, the United States was busy slaughtering and placing its indigenous peoples on reservations in what would centuries later be understood to be an act of near genocide.   One by one tribes fought back against the white invaders only to ultimately be overwhelmed.  Penny Dreadful takes the time to talk about an incident in which Ethan along with his unit slaughtered an unsuspecting village including women and children.  We’ve known for some time that Ethan, like most characters on Penny Dreadful, is tortured but to discover that this comes from the guilt of a mass murder should make Ethan a less sympathetic character - but never underestimate the power of White Manpain.  How can this man be the shining knight who comes to Vanessa’s rescue, pure of heart and intention?

Penny Dreadful deals with the horror of Ethan’s actions by having Kaetenay claim him as son and by so doing washes away the evil of what Ethan participated in.  It absolutely sanitises Ethan’s actions as simply a thing he did in his past without meaning.  I often wonder how it is that Wes Studi can stomach to say the lines that Penny Dreadful assigns him because essentially, Penny Dreadful has Kaetenay not only take ownership of Ethan but elevates him into the saviour of the world (and totally and Apache, honest).  Ethan is the walking embodiment of the White Man’s burden and it’s being celebrated as though the slaughtering of the Apache is simply a stepping stone to greatness, thus justifying the crushing oppression of the Victorian Era upon Indigenous peoples. There’s no doubt that the colonisation of the Apache is a historical fact and needed to be addressed once the show crossed the Atlantic; however, at no time does this justify Penny Dreadful’s treatment of it.

This attempt to sanitise history through Ethan’s eyes is followed by the way he refers to Kaetenay and Ethan - and even the amount of time we spend describing the Apache attack on Ethan’s family (a very personalised and brutal description compared to the distant, impersonal report of Ethan’s massacre of the Apache). The context of who is the aggressor and who is fighting to survive is brushed quickly over in the recitation, with Ethan seeming to view his father and Kaetenay as almost equally culpable.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Lucas lives at least some of the time on the island of Puerto Rico, living in the wealthy powerful shadow of his property developer father. A father who is know to many islanders as “The Conquistador” for his business practices.

All his life on the island, he has heard legends of the cursed house and the cursed woman with in – but when he finally meets Isabel he learns her story is more complicated and more tragic than any of the stories he heard as a child.

In some ways, that it’s not exactly our genre per se. Sure there is something utterly unexplained about Isabel and her peculiar curse/biology is definitely unexplained and is hinted at being supernatural (and I doubt if there’s any physical way someone could be that instantly deadly) with its hinted/possibly backstory. But ultimately she could have had her skin replaced by cyanide, or electrified… the actuality of it doesn’t really matter. The story would not be appreciably changed if there was no actual potential supernatural reason and Isabel was simply ill with an actual disease – a potentially contagious one that is both killing her and isolating her. It wouldn’t appreciably change the story and really means that any speculative fiction elements to this book are pretty superfluous. Honestly that’s kind of off putting to me – it’s slightly vexing for the element I most look for in a book to be pretty much an off shoot.

I’m not saying that this makes it a bad book. Far from it – it’s an interesting conflict as Isabel seeks connection, fears for her life, is faced with some very terrible and difficult choices which are quite literally involve accepting clearly excusable evil or her own martyrdom. Though in some ways this does make me wish we followed her more than Lucas since she seems to have the more involved and important storyline. Especially since we also centre him and his grief with the disappearance of a girl he barely knew rather than her own family.

Wayward Pines, Season Two, Episode Four: Exit Strategy

Finally, we have an episode of season one, where an original character didn't show up out of the blue to die.  Work hard and enjoy your life in Wayward Pines everyone.

When Ben and Theo were tossed outside of the fence so was Xander, who was promptly snatched up by an Abbie. At that point, I'd pretty much assumed Xander died.  Wayward Pines has spent the last two seasons telling us that no one can stand against an Abbie attack because they are stronger and faster than humans.  At any rate, Xander wakes up and finds himself in what looks like a deep well without water.  Did this structure survive the end of humanity or was it something that the abbies built?  At any rate, Xander climbs out only to confront an Abbie and promptly drop back into the well. The Abbie jumps into the hole with Xander and a fight ensues from which Xander actually emerges victorious.  He even finishes the abbie off by using a rock to crack its skull.  I guess when it's convenient to the story, abbies don't amount to a huge threat.

Xander makes his way to a lake but when he stops to take a drink, he is attacked by none other than Adam Hassler. Yes, the same Hassler who sent Ethan to Wayward Pines in the first place.  Pilcher sent Adam and 12 others outside the walls of Wayward Pines in search of any other surviving human communities.  Xander has to coax Hassler into removing his knife from his neck.  Hassler may have survived but he's in very rough shape.  It seems that he's learned for instance that there's more to the abbies than the community of Wayward Pines realises.  The abbies have a sense of community about them and are organised.  They even send out scouts to look for prey before the hunting team arrives. That speaks of intelligence and it makes perfect sense given that the abbies used to be human. Hassler's big plan is to return to Wayward Pines and Xander decides to accompany him in the hopes that he will be let in and allowed to live in peace.

Once inside the safety of the walls, Hassler is haunted by everything he has seen and has visions of abbies munching on kids.  MMmmm yummy.  At Adam's check up, Theo tries to press him for answers on what he has seen and learned.  Hassler simply says that the abbies aren't their enemies, they're our replacements.   Theo checks out the scars on Hassler's abdomen which are horrific. Clearly, Hassler's had more than his share of run in with abbies and lived to tell about it.

After avoiding Arelene's plan to get get him a hair cut, pedicure, manicure and of course waxed, Hassler leaves the hospital and becomes Wayward Pine's first homeless person. This is when Theresa sees him and confronts him in an alley.  Theresa is pissed because she believes that thanks to Hassler, she has lost her entire family.  I'm totally with Theresa on this one. Theresa asks if Hassler has seen Ben but unfortunately for her he has not.  With a look of disgust, Theresa is happy to leave Hassler behind to rot.  What she doesn't know is that she's not done with Hassler yet.

 It seems that head fascist megadouche has come to the decision that since the Abbies have withdrawn, it's time to spread further a field and plant more food. True believer Megan is not down with this at all, suggesting that instead they should fixate on what Pilcher would have wanted.  Megan is going to be invoking Pilcher until her dying day. Ethan however cannot be dissuaded and comes up with a plan to send a team outside of the walls, wanting to secure food for the community.  Megan can force teens to have babies but without food to feed them, what's the point?

Containment, Season 1, Episode 8: There is a Crack in Everything

In the week this show wasn’t on I forgot how much this show annoyed me – it annoys me because the “good guys” have leaped upon the conspiracy train out of nonsense and ignorance and are RIGHT because the show has decided they when really any half way decent scientist wouldn’t even bother slapping them because they’re not worth the skin

Thankfully I have found a way to get through this show


Because Kate and Jake have ignored Dr. Victor Cannerts telling them that actually not every disease kills every person on exactly the same time scale, they are sure sure sure they have found the “real” patient zero – a guy called Henry (he also totally sneezed guys – PLAGUE!)

They tell this news to Alex who decides that all these doctor people are just WRONG with their SCIENCE and STUFF and instead hot cop guy is clearly right. Also his boss is totally an arsehole for suspending him for trying to break the cordon even though he himself defended the cordon early in the series and he was right then and his boss was right now. Because even if the disease was created by Evil Conspiracy People it’s still fecking contagious and in need of quarantine.

But what do you do when you’ve got a half baked conspiracy theory without any scientific evidence that won’t get you laughed at (except start the anti-vaccine campaign?)? Take it to Leo, the “journalist” with no concept of consequences or rules (was Jenny McCarthy busy?) who is totally happy to Hack All The Things. And he has decided the CDC has sent the virus! Because the CDC creates viruses. Yes yes it does. We’re not just going evil government conspiracy here – the CDC is literally creating a plague. And Leo pouts and stomps off because Alex isn’t going to put this ahead of the cure. But he does discover that maybe Victor himself created the disease

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Black City Saint by Richard A Knaak

Nick Medea is the Guardian of the Gate. It is his duty to protect the gateway to faerie, and has been ever since he slew the dragon.

He fights against fae incursions in prohibition era Chicago – but something far more powerful and sinister than mob bosses is manipulating the warring gangs. Not all old enemies are defeated – and he risks losing the woman he loves, again, and his soul to the very beast he once destroyed in his battle to protect the city – and the world.

The concept of this book is… pretty amazing

St. George, the dragon slayer, is possessed by the very dragon he slew. And haunted by Diocletin, the Roman Emperor who ordered him (hey that’s some cannon research there!) executed for not turning his back on his Christianity. And fighting to protect the gateway

All of this is against a backdrop of 1920s mob-torn film noir Chicago.

And the King of the Fairies is manipulating the mobs. Who is pretty much at war against the Queen of the Fairies – who also can’t be trusted. Both of whole are epicly creepy and powerful

You’re still reading this review? How can you not read that concept and not make grabby hands for the book right away? I know I did!

Shall I throw in faerie exiles including a werewolf trying out Chicagoan 20s slang?

I also really do like the plot – I love that these ancient, mighty, incredible fae lords who are 10,000 steps ahead of you at all times. I love the complexity of their plan. I love the craftiness of it.

I love Nick’s constant battle and worry about the beast inside him.

I love the concept of the very very creepy fae that inhabit this world. I love how they’re presented and Nick’s duty related to them – I even love lord of the fae’s end game and what it implies for the whole world. I love its twists.

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode Nine: Hyena

12 Monkeys continues to make less and less sense as far as I am concerned.  Does anyone really know who or what the threat to humanity is anymore? Is it the red forest? Is it the virus?  Does time travel bring about the end of civilization or is it the only thing that stops the destruction of humanity? I am just about getting to the point where I know longer care.

Let's start with Cassie and Ramse because they were the least interesting this week.  Now that Cassie has revealed to Ramse that she saw a place called Titan when connected to the Witness, they decide to search for it.  They are unable to find any reference to it on any map that they have, so Cassie laments the fact that databases no longer exist.  Cue the arrival of Hannah, who has just the ticket. Hannah suggests that they visit The Keeper, who just happens to trade in truths.  Ramse gets packed to head out and Cassie is quick to follow despite his objections.  It seems that Cassie has figured out that even though she is not immune to the virus, the fact that she hasn't left the message for Cole from the past about the virus means that she won't die in 2044. Did anyone else have to stop and think about what the hell Cassie was referring to for a moment? Yeah, that's because 12 Monkeys keeps switching threats.

Thanks to the fact that humanity had started digitizing documents, The Keeper managed to save many things when society fell apart. Take that all you purists who insist on reading paper instead of e reading like the rest of us.  So, anyway, The Keeper hooks up Cassie and Ramse to his uber lie detector test.  Given Ramse's obvious disdain for Cassie, he demands to know why they hate each other.  Cassie claims of course that the issue is that Ramse was willing to kill millions to save just one person.  Surprisingly, The Keeper's machine indicates that Cassie is lying. Wait, all those hours of giving Ramse grief for trying to save Sam is not her issue?  Yeah, it's a lot more shallow than that. It seems that Cassie hates Ramse because Cole supposedly chose him over her.  Similarly, Ramse's reason is exactly the same - JEALOUSY.  It's petty and ridiculous and had me rolling my eyes. So now that The Keeper has the dirt on Cassie and Ramse's relationship, though I cannot think for a moment why he would even give two fucks, he prints out a classified document which mentions Titan in Germany and offers a date.  Looks like there's going to be more road trips in the future.

While Ramse and Cassie are off on their road trip, Cole heads to see Jennifer about the fact that the red forest is growing because of a paradox.  Jennifer actually calls Cole out on his distraction and warns him to keep his eye on her hands.  She's trippy and fun and Cole realises that while this is all new for him, it's a part of Jennifer's history.

Back in 2016, Jennifer has freed a group of women who were in a mental institution and drawn a picture of a hyena on the wall because hyenas are the natural predator of the monkeys.  The big plan is using the women she has collected, (which she has named the Hyenas) is to take the fight to The Monkeys for a change.  Jennifer refers to it as her A Team but made up of a Murdocks.  Yeah, I love when she makes 80's references that fly right over Cole's head.

Cole splinters in and the Hyenas are not down with a man invading their sisterhood. They've all set a trap for the Pallid Man hoping to be able to take him out for good. That's right, The Pallid Man and Olivia are back in action.  Olivia is now a wheelchair user and is filled with doubt about The Witness.  I think any reasonable person would be given how much he has gotten wrong recently.  The Pallid Man however isn't down for any questioning of their lord and master and chokes Olivia for daring to speak her doubts.  It's a pretty violent scene that actually had me rooting for Olivia to find a way to end the Pallid Man.

Unsurprisingly, The Hyenas and Jennifer have way under estimated the Pallid Man and he scores against them big time.  The Pallid Man has all of the Hyenas save Jennifer killed, along with their source, who was going to reveal of his dirty little secrets.  To add a little more salt to the wounds, The Pallid Man informs Cole that the paradox has already happened and then taunts him about trying to stop it. The Pallid Man even takes the time to taunt Cole about killing his father. Sure, Cole gets to punch the Pallid Man a few times but I suppose for the Pallid Man, it's a small price to pay.

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 7: Ebb Tide

Let’s start with a really cringe worthy storyline. Ethan and his “dad” Kaetenay – who is desperate to get Ethan to join in this way through a series of really really really bad tropes.

He compares Kaetenay with his biological father both fighting the same war which really really badly handles the invading perpetuator of genocide and the people

And Kaetenay decides that he has predicted that an Apache will save the world from darkness. An Apache will save the world. An Apache is prophesised to save… oh that’s Ethan

Ethan? Yup, Ethan is an Apache because the Native American mentor character has declared Ethan an Apache. The White man who slaughtered Native Americans and then felt sad about it.

He also performs some woo-woo – of course he does – to see Vanessa and gasp that she’s half damned and going to cause the end of the world! To the ship!

We have a far better moment with Ethan and Malcolm with Malcolm pretty much embracing his own damnation and considering killing Ethan’s father an act of mercy because it’s a terrible thing to have to kill your own family. He also considers it a good sign that Ethan couldn’t kill his dad – it shows Ethan is still redeemabl and basically good.

Now to Vanessa. Beautiful, amazing, tragic Vanessa. Oh how I love Vanessa. How I love her acting, her amazing intensity. My sheer fragile glee when she manages a smile, that delicate beautiful smile and that joy for deciding to be happy (though the awesome Dr. Seward believes she is a split personality)

And she will be torn down again, of course. But first she meets with John Smith to try and discuss the past he no longer remembers. She encourages him to find happiness, she praises his gentleness and kindness and above all, both of them decide to dare to be happy.

John goes to his wife, Marjorie – and in a rejection of the tragedy that consumes this show, she embraces him as the husband she loves who has come back to her. She hears his story and doesn’t reject him and brings him to their son who accepts him. On any other show I would probably say something snarky about tweeness – but bring on the twee. We could use some happiness on this painful show.

Except there’s a downside – when Catarina Hartegan shows up to give some more information about Dracula she finally realises who he is. Yes, she confronts Dr. Sweet – when they were so happy the night before.

The confrontation is, of course, epic. With Vanessa furious, outraged, deeply grieving and Dracula making excellent points about night creatures, broken things, outcasts and the continued excellent image of the scorpion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Lives of Tao (Tao Series #1) by Wesley Chu

This book is probably more sci-fi than what we’ve seen before but it’s different from your average sci-fi as the alien possessors are so free from your many of your usual sci-fi markers

That’s my excuse. But I’ll be honest I just wanted to read this series as it was well recommended and I already liked Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager and since it’s generally frowned upon to hunt down authors that intrigue you and demand they write the genre you like on pain of am armadilloing, I decided to read this one. And save my armadillos for another day (also spellcheck, I disapprove of that lack of “e” on armadillos but after 10 minutes of struggle, I lost).

This book has aliens, the Quasing find human hosts which they then influence – but don’t take over. They have no super powers, they give no super powers – they just give knowledge. Thousands and thousand of years of experience – the experience of all human civilisation. Civilisation for which they were behind a lot of it, with a huge amount of the most famous and influential people of history were possessed by quasing.

In many other books I would comment on how this is appropriative and how it dismisses real human history. Especially since it does a very good job of not just focusing western history (so much of our fiction is western orientated): Tao, the Quasing we follow, has most prominently been in the head of Ghenghis Khan and Sun Yat-Sen among others. So this would suggest putting he achievements of great people in history – great POC in history – down to alien intervention (which is borderline “aliens built the pyramids” level of problematic)

It manages to avoid that by the simple amount of influence Tao has. Sure he can guide, but he can’t control. He can enhance but ultimately the quasing is not in the driver’s seat. On top of that Tao is as much – or more, willing to claim his failures as much as his successes. He not just blames himself for the failures of his past hosts but also Quasings in general. I found the brief reminisces of Tao’s previous lives, how Quasing history has developed, how world history has developed and how Prophus and Geijix factions came about. But thin it was excellently balanced by not including too much – we introduced the history and goals of the factions without completely overwhelming the whole book or turning it into an info-dump.

Preacher, Season 1, Episode 3: The Possibilities

Jesse decides he has to tell someone about his new shiny powers – and who better than his live in vampire (who is finding odd jobs awkward when he can’t go out in the sun). After a particularly ridiculous demonstration of his super powers, Cassidy declares this super awesome

He’s not the only one, people in town are already hearing of how he opened the comatose girl’s eyes (showing the limit to this power – she’s still comatose. Her eyes are open, but she’s comatose). But we also see the consequences – with annoying Mother-Issues’s guys funeral and the limits – with the paedophile school bus driver noticing the girl he’d been ordered to forget. This little bits are threaded into the rest of the plot quite neatly to show the scope of his shiny new abilities

Tulip has had a series of adventures in Houston with some strange people (and refusing the murder said strange woman’s husband) to finally get some information

That information is the last known address of a man called Carlos. Who is Carlos? I’m not sure but what we do know is he did some terrible things to Tulip and Jesse – so bad that vengeance against him is enough to stir Jesse from his path of goodness and rejoin Tulip in brutal murder

More interesting than this is Tulip’s emotional turmoil, shown partly with her rather funny and poignant traffic stop in which she emotionally talks about going all out to desperately try and save a friend who has gone down a bad road. It’s touching because we see how much Jesse means to Tulip and it’s funny because the whole bad road she’s desperately trying to save Jesse from is being a preacher and bring him back to the right path of mayhem and murder.

Of course it doesn’t last as we follow Donnie – the guy who Jesse brutally beat and left with a broken arm. Donnie has had the awkward conversation of trying to explain to his son that he doesn’t abuse his wife, they’re just in a BDSM relationship. Very very awkward. He also teaches his son the not very great life lesson by congratulating him for beating another boy until he cries. It’s no surprising then that this typical man is feeling all emasculated by Jesse

This is further shown by him working for his boss Odin Quincannon – he who drives around the place levelling farms and sits in his office listening to the sounds of live animal slaughter. A nice guy then. And like last week where Donnie had to struggle with a briefcase and pen with one arm, he again makes Donnie struggle with a task he can’t do one handed, noting he has a “right hands man with no right hand”

Yes, this guy’s pretty much an arsehole. Let’s hope Cassidy eats him.

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 8: No-One

As is pretty clear by the title of this episode – a lot of this is Arya’s storyline

Actually there’s not a lot there – given the title I expected more. But Arya, after last week’s bizarre decision to let a stranger just come up to her despite knowing she’s being targeted by shape-shifting assassins seeks sanctuary with the actress she spared

That actress is indeed very skilled and, honestly, I can’t think of Arya having many other people to turn to. But at the same time she should have realised the contract on her head isn’t just going to disappear – and low the woman everyone is calling the Waif assassinates the target. And then targets Arya

We get a lot of running and falling through the streets with Arya getting steadily more beaten up and us all knowing that Game of Thrones will kill anyone… until Arya, her stitches ruptured, bleeding, bruised and overmatched, faces the Waif with a Needle. In a place lit by one candle only. Which she extinguishes

Arya, who spent weeks blinded, cuts off the Waif’s face and displays it for Jaquen. He assumes she’s finally “No-one”. Nope, she’s Arya Stark and she’s going home. Time for the Starks to strike back, hopefully with them all being mildly more intelligent than their deceased kin. Because oh gods, let us remember that this family is known for monumentally bad decisions.

On the note of the Starks striking back with Brienne and Pod making it to Riverrun to try and get the Blackfish to lead the Tully forces north to Winterfell. Except for that whole damn siege thing. This brings Brienne and Jaime together (and Pod and Bronn)

Jaime and Brienne continue to be excellent together. Their obvious, desperately unrequited chemistry is very very very clear. We also see a lot about both characters – who they want to be. Jaime wants to be a good man, an honourable man and… just fails desperately. He knows he’s never as good as he wants to be – though Brienne inspires him to try

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rocked by Love (Gargoyles #4) by Christine Warren

When Kylie Kramer gets a phone call to inform her that her best friend Bran has died due to a previously unknown heart condition, she's certain that something doesn't smell right about the story. After breaking into Bran's computer and doing some research, Kylie is even more convinced that there's more to the story than she has been told.  Her search for the truth of the death of her friend causes her to enter a battle for the survival of humanity that just might cost her heart.

As you can tell from the man titty on the cover, Rocked by Love, is paranormal romance.  This fourth novel of the series is almost identical to the previous three.  A woman unaware that she wields magical power is attacked close to a statue of a gargoyle which bursts to life to protect her, thus introducing her to a world of magic and danger.  Naturally, she turns out to be the gargoyle's mate. Kylie, like all of the other female love interests balks at the idea that she is destined to be the mate of a Guardian/Gargoyle but is of course convinced by the end of the novel. It's all rather formulaic.

I know, I know. There are those of you who feel that the paranormal romance genre should not get knocked down for being formulaic however, I don't agree.  In the case of Rocked by Love, while the romance itself comes down to paint by numbers, it does have an intriguing plot which continues to hold my interest in the series.  The gargoyles series is focused on stopping agents of darkness from ending humanity and in this entre, Warren even included a surprise ending quite separate from that of the predictable HEA. I want to know what is going to happen with Nocturnis and how our heroes are going to defeat this great amassing power.

In Rocked by Love, Warren used technology as a form of magic to power Kylie.  I found this interesting largely because tech is an industry largely run and ruled by men.  Kylie is an absolute tech mogul and genius, successful enough to never have to work again in her early 20's. Not only is she sure of who she is, she sure of her capabilities.  My biggest problem with her portrayal is that Warren made so much of Kylie being a geek but couldn't seem to follow through with the requisite references and no, tribble slippers alone don't count.

The most obvious thing about Kylie is her Jewishness or rather non Jewishness.  Kylie's father is Jewish; however, she doesn't attend synagogue. or keep Kosher and so does not self define as Jewish. However, Kylie's speech is constantly littered with Yiddish phrases.  Her Jewish heritage is clearly an important part of her identity and something that Warren continually reminds the reader of.  Let me start off by saying that I am far from an expert on Jewish culture, religion or mysticism but as I read Rocked by Love, something felt really wrong to me. I very much want to give Warren credit for not shying away from making her female love interest someone other than the prototype that has come to proliferate this genre but I am not the only reviewer to take issue with her stereotypical and empty characterisation.

Outcast: Season 1, Episode 2: (I Remember) when she loved me.

Kyle takes a painful trip down memory lane this episode – remembering a lot more of the abuse and horror but also the good times he had with his mother – which is especially poignant since last week we had Joshua fully restored to himself after his exorcism (if that’s what we’re going to call it –more on that later).

So he looks at his comatose mother and thinks that he could go back to his mother with whom he had a wonderful relationship with. He visits her in her care home and promptly takes her out when he disapproves of the way she’s been cared for. He takes her home to look after her himself, desperately trying to care for her.

All through this desperate and completely inept but very earnest attempts to care for his mother we get flashbacks to both the good memories and the abuse interachanged. We can truly see the huge morass of Kyle’s issues here.

To add to that morass of pain, Kyle also begs his sister Megan (who is taking her daughter to Kyle’s daughter’s birthday party) to take a present for his daughter. It’s, again, painful especially when we remember that at least part of the reason he is split from his family appears to be further possession.

Even now there’s still ongoing ructions against Kyle after last week – his brother in law particularly is furious that Kyle wasn’t arrested for child abuse last episode after the brutal exorcism of Joshua. Even the Nice Church Ladies who are such fans of Reverend Anderson are uncomfortable with his friendship with Kyle. It looks like the deeply conflicted and damaged Kyle is now facing every increasing ostracism  - I see a theme developing.