Friday, August 26, 2016

American Vampire, Vol. 2 (American Vampire #2) by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque (Illustrator), Mateus Santolouco (Illustrator)

It's been about ten years since Pearl and Skinner last met.  Las Vegas used to be a sleepy little town but with the building of the Boulder Dam (Read: Hoover), Las Vegas has seen an influx of people. With drinking and prostitution now legal in order to amuse the workers in their off hours, police chief Cash McCogan wonders if Las Vegas well ever return to the town he was raised in.  When members of the consortium responsible for the building up the damn show up dead through exsanguination, McCogan doesn't have time to engage in a stroll down memory lane. The monsters have crawled out from under the bed and he is ill equipped to deal with them.

Once again American Vampire splits the story between Skinner and Pearl but in the section that deals with Skinner, the story is largely told from the point of view of Cash McCogan.  There's a part of me which is highly cognizant of the fact that Cash's story is predictable. Good guy finds out vampires exist and it doesn't end well has been done before but I found myself drawn in. I felt for Cash when he learned that his adopted father was a vampire all along and how it nearly shattered his world view. For all of Cash's life he has been lied to. I sincerely hope that we aren't done with this character. I want to know what he does with his vampire baby and if he seeks revenge against Skinner.

At this point, I believe Skinner to be just straight up evil which is actually a relief.  We've had an onslaught of anti-heroes recently, so it's weird to have a straight up evil protagonist who isn't troubled in some way or experiencing something which humanizes them to make people find the character empathetic.  There's absolutely nothing redeemable about Skinner. He kills for the fun of it, betrays his allies and is generally unrepentant about anything he's done.

The thing`about Skinner is that he keeps making enemies.  He seems to have more lives than a cat, making it that much more satisfying when the slightest thing goes wrong for him.  Because he is so unrepentant, it's easy to want to see him get his and I cannot help but think that when this series finally comes to and end, it will be with Skinner getting everything he has coming to him.  Pearl may not be actively chasing him, or ready to betray him because he is her creator but others have no such reason for loyalty.

Pearl's story is quite separate from Skinner.  She's settled into a happy life with Henry, but worries about the darkness in her soul.  She wonders if he's content with the life they are living given that she's pretty much immortal and he only has so many days in front of him.  For his part, Henry thinks about the day he will ask Pearl to make him like her and is certain that when it's time to make that decision, he doesn't want to make it from a position of fear.

Zoo, Season 2, Episode 10: The Yellow Brick Road

Since Jackson has gone berserk, been shot in the shoulder by Dariela he now does a runner. Abe and Mitch decide to give chase – despite Alison deciding she has much better plans for Mitch (a love triangle! Oh and Russian politics).

They don’t just want Jackson for their fun friendship, but also because they really need an infected human in which to infect the cure made up of fossil bones, jellyfish and extinct sabre tooth tigers (we’re not going to go into this this episode thankfully because I want to get through one of these episodes without being drunk)

So after a long hunt through a hospital (where we find that Mitch apparently has an ID card which gives him super powerful influence in Finland?) that and elderly Finnish woman’s house followed by a car chase using a parakeet

They don’t find Jackson but they get a consolation price in the form of an elderly Finnish lady who is unnecessarily invested in Mitch and Jamie getting it on. I’m really trying to avoid the Alison/Mitch/Jamie love triangle as each side decides to nobly let the other woman have Mitch because they both have a thing for passive aggressive sarcasm. Far more amusing is Mitch’s terrible attempts to comfort Abe over Jackson which is both awful and full of hypocrisy since Mitch has pretty much carried a storage container of his own angst around since the first episode.

Anyway, elderly Finnish match-maker lady is also infected so can be used to brew the jelly-fish/sabretoothtiger/earthquake sloth cure.

Jackson has a higher priority – SUICIDE!

The Hugo Awards

For far too many years now, we have had the various Repellent Puppies doing everything they possible could to keep the Hugo Awards whiter than a Trump Rally, more male than a Catholic seminary and as welcoming to minorities as a UKIP convention. While much has been said about Vox Day, he’s only the most repellent, reeking eruption of the whole festering mass.

Which it is why with great joy that The Hugo Awards this year celebrated, POC, Women and women of colour. In the face of an active campaign to suppress marginalised voices, marginalised work and marginalised stories, we saw those very people and those very stories celebrated. With N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor and Hao Jingfang all winning prestigious categories and “no award” being voted for when a category had been stuffed with Puppy choices (and so many of these books were nothing about celebrating an author - but desperately using these books to slap people who dared to want to see themselves in stories).

We have spent so many posts writing about why this inclusion is important - but we don’t have to repeat them because N.K. Jemisin’s acceptance speech makes it clear why this matters to women, POC and women of colour specifically

This is good news for everyone. Yes, even cishet, white able-bodied men who don’t have enough empathy to care one iota

There is no upper limit to the number of stories there can be out there. This is Speculative Fiction, of every genre of media out there, this is where imagination lives, this is where creativity thrives in all it’s massive, incredible variation. This is what this genre is. Let others have their Literary fiction with carefully crafted elaborate text to sooth the insomnia of the pretentious, we have the huge vistas of human imagination to dance through, wallow in and be amazed and moved by the awesome vastness of this genre.

That is this genre. It is imagination. And even if you think diversity is some evil plot by those nasty nasty social justice warriors, the very idea of limiting the inspiration of this genre should outrage every fan.

No-one is going to stop cishet white, able bodied men writing books or being protagonists in books or TV shows. And I can’t even imagine any possible way that anyone could possibly think this was under threat or that cishet, white, abled bodied men didn’t dominate both as writers and characters to an overwhelming degree (and if you do think that and that the evil minorities be destroying your fiction, then I have a special token I can see you that will totally protect you from our evil ways. I might as well profit from your nasty and you’re clearly disconnected enough from reality that my sales pitch may have a chance). You will still have these stories - we’re not taking your stories, hell we enjoy many of those stories ourselves!

We’re adding to the genre, not taking away. We want more - more characters, more stories, more different stories, more richness, more breadth, more imagination. We want more from this genre and these Hugo Awards have proven that so do many more. Many of us see this genre’s potential and we should all be celebrating any sign that it is reaching for that - that this amazing playground of imagination isn’t building unnecessary walls or driving out inspiration.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Late Bite by John Matsui

Al Hamblyn is a lawyer on the edge of complete failure until he gets the strangest case of his career

A man has been arrested for a series of attacks. Attacks in which he drunk blood

He is representing a vampire on trial – and trying to prove this revelation not guilty in the middle of a media storm.

This book brings us a court case with a vampire accused of assault and drinking blood

That alone is an excellent twist as we see the whole concept of vampirism and drinking blood actually being out on trial

It also brings us a really fascinating concept of vampires – as a separate species evolving alongside humanity and slowly being wiped out by humanity’s numbers. Not because of hatred, or persecution or murder (except way back in out history where, thought provokingly, it points out that the lack of other subspecies in the homo genus does suggest that ye old homo sapiens did not adapt well to competition) but through simple environmental devastation. It’s a very original concept

The problem is that I find myself being distracted or becoming disinterested in a lot of this book. Many times I kept questioning why I was being given various pieces of information – almost from the very beginning this book introduces me to Al Hamblyn, the main character and Dragul’s lawyer and we get a mini biography of him. Or a not so mini biography. And it’s not bad or even badly written – but who is this guy and why do I care so much about his life? This happens several times in the book, we get more snippets of Al’s life and I’m just not really sure why I know

And it’s not like Al is a bad character. He isn’t – far from it. He’s intelligent, driven, far from perfect, with good flaws even though he tries. He has some great friends and some great people in his life who really make up a really fun legal team. This is not a bad thing even by close – it’s not a bad story I just don’t really know why I’m reading it

In some ways it feels like Dragul is almost tangential to the story

There’s also a surprisingly smooth pathway. Everything just seems to go so well. The court case, their life after the court case. It also does the annoying thing of introducing the middle of the book as a prologue so the court case fails any attempt at tension because we already know the result of it. I find myself fighting not to skim this book simply because I know exactly what is going to happen for so long.

Colony: Season 1, Episode 4: Blind Spot

Oh layers upon layers upon layers, it keeps on coming – all against a backdrop where a teacher being brutally arrested and kids beaten because they were being taught Fahrenheit 911.

And one of those cops was Broussard – resistance fighter.

Because nothing is ever simple.

And Kate ends up right in the middle of a hot mess of complexity and difficulty. Part of the various complicated plans going on with Kate involves having the resistance staging a fire bombing of her home. I’m not entirely sure how it’s supposed to help the cause because this being a brutal police state it just ends up taking the excuse to search the house from top to bottom. Which ends up with mastermind Phyllis having a drawer full of illegal Geronimo tapes from Will’s son.

Ooops, this has Will even further under Phyllis’s control. And she’s good – while Shnyder (and, presumably, the aliens) picture a great big conspiracy with a mastermind she more accurately sees lots of independent cells because that tends to be how it is.

Phyllis is dangerous. Even more so because while Will is busy questioning his son and trying to track down Geronimo, Phyllis has recognised the real resistance fighter in their household – Kate

Yup, her super super super super creepy filing system has finally turned up that Kate is one of the insurgency which firmly puts Kate under Phyllis’s thumb. Because she’s just that terribly good at her terrible job (though I do wonder why she keeps harping on about cheating on their husbands). We also see from here that she’s clearly aware of what a terrible world they now live in – she has no illusions

Glitch, Season One, Episode Four

Kirstie gets into a bath outside and then promptly has a vision of how she died.

Maria gets into Vic's squad car and he suggests that they (read: the returned dead) need proper medical attention away from town.  Maria points out that Elishia has been taking care of them but Vic suggests that this is only because Elishia wants to be responsible for the scientific discovery which explains why everyone came back from the dead.  Maria brings up the barrier which is keeping them in town but Vic says that Elishia could have been the one to make her sick. Vic then pulls his trump card by saying that if the right doctors and scientists can figure out why Maria came back, then maybe they can bring back Anna.  A guilt laden Maria agrees with this but says that she needs to speak to someone first.

Okay, so Vic got into a car accident and has been acting weird since. Does this mean that he's dead? Are they ever going to explain why he is so determined to find out why exactly he is so desperate to find Elishia and all of the other dead people?

There's a party going on in the woods and Kirstie encourages Charlie to join it with her.  They grab a beer and when the music starts, Kirstie begins to dance, drawing the attention of the local boys.  Kirstie then starts to grind against Charlie and he is not at all cool with it.  When Kirstie kisses Charlie, he tells her to stop, so she makes her way over to another guy.  Charlie is approached by a girl who is happy to call Kirstie a slut after first learning that Kirstie is not in fact Charlie's girlfriend. I guess we can add random slut shaming to this stellar show now. The girl asks Charlie if he wants to smoke a joint in her car but he turns her down. While Charlie was distracted with the girl, Kirstie disappears.  

James and Kate are back at the hideout and Kate invites him in. Because it's pretty late, James decides that he needs to go home instead. That doesn't stop them from sharing a passionate kiss which is promptly interrupted by a panicked Charles, who cannot find Kirstie. Kirstie has made her way down to the lake with a guy from the party and she entices him to go for a swim. When Kirstie jumps into the water, she remembers being drowned and so she entices the guy she is with now to pretend to drown her as a form of sex play. At least Glitch bothered to get the guy to ask for consent before he started to choke her. I suppose that's something.  It's James to the rescue and he pulls the dude off of Kirstie, as said dude tries to explain that this is what Kirstie asked him to do. Once Kirstie affirms that this is the case, James sends the guy on his way and Charles back to Elishia's.  Once alone, Kirstie explains that she was murdered, so James says that if that is what happened, then they can chase down police records.

Later, Elishia calls to report that John took off and that Maria is missing. James brings up Kirstie's murder and his plan to look into it but Elishia wants him to prioritize finding Maria and John Doe.

John Doe is walking through the street and he enters a market and grabs a box of cereal.  John then finds some milk and it first he seems confused but he opens it up and takes a big swig.  A worker catches him in the act and tells him to leave the store, causing John to go on the attack once again.

James is back home and explains his absence by claiming to have to deal with a domestic.  Sarah brings up Vic's visit and the fact that someone had been interfering with the graves. James explains that Kirstie's grave was disturbed and of course Sarah has heard of her. Apparently, Kirstie was found naked after being strangled down by the lake. Sarah asks James to come with her to her last ultrasound appointment and James agrees but asks her to return home afterward so that they can talk. With everything going on, are we really supposed to care about this damn love triangle?

no fucks given nashville idgaf hayden panettiere i dont give a fuck

Beau is at the police station and he is told that he is lucky that the Fitzgerald's aren't going to press charges.  The cop then brings up the supermarket being robbed but when Beau says he knows nothing, his mother encourages him to speak up.  Beau tells the cop that he won't believe him and then says that the person who robbed the grocery store was Paddy. Speaking of Paddy, he's in the woods trying desperately to get his box opened.

damn packaging

James is at the police station on his day off and he's looking through Kirstie's case files.  He's told about Beau, who was caught in the old Fitzgerald house and that Paddy is behind the robberies. Apparently, Beau revealed where Paddy was camping and so James agrees to check it out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Between, Season Two, Episode Four: Extraction

Gord collapses to the ground and Frannie cradles his head.  Hearing the gun shot and the screams, Wiley, Liam and Chuck rush outside. A tearful Frannie tries to explain that Renee thought that she killed her brother. They help Gord into the clinic and work feverishly on Gord, as he tells Frannie that he's sorry and that he tried. Gord adds that she needs to be strong and then dies on the table.  A crying Frannie begs Gord to wake up. I knew this character was destined to die.

It's apparently been 53 days since the town has been closed down. In a voice over, Adam talks about reaching a point of no return and no longer recognizing their former selves.  Adam has determined that he cannot live like this because there's nothing left. He feels they are like helpless caged animals. Adam wonders what they have become and explains that this justifies his actions.

On his SAT phone, Liam receives a message informing him that his identity has been compromised that that they will be extracting him at 19:00 tomorrow.  Liam is stunned.

With gun in hand, Adam confronts Liam about his identity and wants to know why Liam lied about working for the pharmaceutical company. Liam remains calm and orders Adam to put the gun down.

Renee returns to the compound and Ronnie immediately confronts her about why she went to Pretty Lake. Renee isn't playing though and is quick to tell Ronnie that it's none of his business. Renee tells Ronnie that he doesn't matter on the compound and calls him a little bitch.  Renee continues to get in his face and Ronnie actually makes a fist, forcing Lamar to tell him to back down. Renee orders Ronnie to get out and he actually complies. It looks like Ronnie has finally found a woman he cannot bully. Nope, I haven't forgotten about Ronnie trying to force himself on Wiley.

no kanye west hell no swipe left

Liam admits to working for Horatio, claiming that he is only doing the contract work that Adam's father couldn't finish. When Liam notices Adam's STAT phone, he tells Adam that he has no idea what he has done, adding that he now has less than 24 hours to find someone who is about to turn 22. Adam keeps pointing the gun, demanding to be told the truth and Liam makes it clear that if he cannot prove that he has a cure, their only hope is gone. This time the government will finish what they started. Wiley finally has to get between Adam and Liam and makes it clear that no one put Adam in charge.  Adam frames it as a choice between him and Liam and Wiley says it's Liam or death. When Chuck throws his weight behind Liam, Adam leaves the room.

Frannie is now at the orphanage and when she sees something in the window, she calls for Harrison. Harrison and Frannie wonder if the CCTV is still working because she wants to get to the bottom of what happened.

Stacey still has Mark locked up and when she refuses to release him, he points out that she barely knows him. Stacey however is adamant that there's something between them.  Mark thanks her for looking out for him but is adamant that he knows what he is doing.  Stacey refuses to comply saying that she cannot lose him. Yes, more boring relationship possessive drama.

Harrison starts rewinding the tape and rushes through the attack on Gord and Frannie.  Finally they get to the point on the tape where Mark is dropping off the backpack. Frannie doesn't immediately recognize him though.

Liam and Wiley decide to look through the files at city hall to see who has a birthday coming up.

Renee unlocks a trailer on the property unaware that she is being watched by Ronnie. She heads inside and closes the door.

Harrison leads the charge into the bar screaming for Mark. Stacey is quick to say that Mark isn't there and that she hasn't seen him for awhile.  Harrison however is not buying that and bashes a bat against one of the tables. Harrison orders a search of the property which Stacey tries to block but it's all for naught because wouldn't you know it, that's when Mark calls out for Stacey.

Chuck is starting to lose it as he wonders around in his blood stained clothing. He hallucinates Gord telling him that these deaths are on his hands.  To try to block the pain, Chuck starts to drink and turns on music loudly.

Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

Things are not going well for the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations in Chicago.  Not only are young people being kidnapped by a Shade (read: Vampire), several agents have lost their lives trying to fight them.  The government has only been studying vampires for two years and so far they really aren't equipped to deal with them. Alex McKenna takes the job no one wants and becomes Special Agent in charge of the Chicago bureau. Now that he has the job, he has to figure out a new strategy for dealing with the Shades and this might just involve finding himself someone on the inside.

Nightshades is clearly a novella and meant to start off a new series.  I've never been a fan of beginning a series that way because I don't feel that novellas offer enough room for character or world building.  I'm sorry to say that Nightshades didn't buck the trend on this, though it was a fairly good attempt.

Nightshades is as much a police procedural as it is a a vampire story.  In the last ten years, vampire stories have been so widely produced and distributed, I for one have given up on the idea of anything new being added to this particular supernatural lore.  Olson does include a few differences from traditional vampire lore in that her vampires can go into the sun and are said to by symbiotic with humans because their saliva can heal.  Vampires do need human blood to survive but the feeding of a vampire benefits a human because it boosts the immune system. Granted, it's not the first time we've seen vampires heal but for me at least, it's the first time it was described as symbiotic and explained that the reason we are having so many problems with diseases is because the vampire population is too low to counteract it.

One of the things I like about Alex is that he fought for his new position to prove himself.  I like that Olson had him trying to escape his mother's legacy as the first head of the FBI.  That's a bit of a gender bender there.  None of this however stops Alex from pulling rank and hiding vital information from his team.  Alex reminded me of Picard and Kirk in the sense that he damn well should have stayed with the ship but then came up with a B.S. excuse to put himself in the line of danger. Like any good captain, it looks like he's going to get the girl at the end of the day.

Lindy is a 1000 year old vampire and she actually reads like one in many respects.  Lindy speaks multiple languages and constantly has to work to make sure that she keeps up with things like human slang.  She studies her coworkers to learn about how to be more human.  When she learns that her coworker has a cat for instance, Lindy adopts one.  She even goes as far as to stain tupperware and leave it in the office to give the impression that she consumes food. Lindy is both smart and capable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Last Ship, Season Three, Episode Nine: Eutopia

Eutopia begins four weeks ago with Asian workers creating torpedoes to block the cure. The shipping crates they are loaded onto are marked for Vietnam. At the Vietnam/Chinese border, soldiers patrol. The torpedo lands at their feet and the soldiers take cover. After a few minutes they decide that the torpedo is a dud and come out of hiding. They are mistaken in that because a green mist rises into the air.

Later, we see the same soldiers receiving what they think is the vaccine but of course they are unprotected.  The soldiers are later shown dying in hospital beds of virus.  Chandler calls what happened genocide as he speaks to President Oliver about how lethal the missiles are. Chandler however does assure the president that they are now pretty sure where the missiles are being created. Sasha jumps in to say that Peng is building them on a former U.S. base, being too smart to do this in the open.  Tom asks for support and Oliver is quick to throw it in Chandler's face that Michener once offered him those same ships and at the time Tom chose to go solo. Oliver makes it clear that if he is going to declare war against China, it has to be done on more than the word of smugglers and pirates. Oliver orders Tom to go to the base and tie it to Peng, but does authorize the two additional ships to be under Tom's command.  Clearly, Oliver feels like he is stepping out on a limb given that he and Tom aren't as close as Tom was with Michener.

Kara is still trying to get the proof of life videos and learns that there is something wrong with the signal; it seems to contain encrypted information. It's time to brief the president and Kara unsurprisingly is shut out of the room.  It seems that her comments about what Michener wanted have not been forgotten. Alex simply gathers her information and walks into the oval. Allison however shows a softer side and promises to help Kara get back on the inside lane.

Back on ship, Slattery interrupts Doc Rios check up on Takehaya. It seems that while his son is doing fine, the blood transfusions aren't working as well as they used to on Takehaya. Takehaya asks to help saying that he has men, ships and knows these waters. Takehaya wants to fight Peng with them but his weakness is apparent. Slattery tells Takehaya to get some rest and notably calls him captain. It's clear the relationship between these two men has changed in light of the truth surrounding Peng's actions.

Vulture team, led by Chandler make landing but the island seems deserted. A golf ball is launched into their midst and a man appears dressed like a golf pro asking about his ball. Vulture team end up catching a ride on the man's golf course as he talks about hearing about safe places to life which weren't infected with the virus and that they came there to be safe.  It seems that a settlement has been established on the island. The people stay in hiding until the man calls out that Vulture team are friends.  The man explains that they have a factory and that everyone buys from them. The man takes Vulture team to what looks like a sweat shop but it's clear that Tom and Sasha are not convinced. Tom makes it clear that this isn't the factory he wanted to see as a girl rushes by chasing after a dog.  The man tires to distract attention away from the girl. so Tom sends Danny to investigate. The girl immediately asks for Danny for help saying that she is a slave at the big factory near the big guns. The man tries to silence the girl but Tom won't allow him to do so.  The girl is insistent that the American be told about the Chinese warship that came yesterday. Tom makes it clear that he wants to be taken to the factory.

Kara notices Alex rifling through her office.  He claims that he is worried about Kara and whose team she is on.  Kara makes it clear that she is committed to the U.S and when she invokes Chandler and the genocide he uncovered, Alex is unimpressed.  Alex says that they need to focus on the American people because the country is collapsing, suggesting that Kara figure out who her friends are.

Chandler reports to Slattery that they've found the entrance to the factory and on the ship, Slattery prepares to fire.  When the factory area appears deserted, the man tries to lie and say nothing is going on but he is shot from behind. Vulture team starts to take fire and so Tom orders everyone to take cover. Despite being outgunned, Vulture team kills all the bad guys,  Rah Rah Rah U.S.A. The team moves in and finds the factory empty causing suspicion as to whether someone gave Peng a heads up that they were coming.  Sasha finds a sign which reveals that the missiles are headed for Korea.

The tech has figured out what is blocking the transmission but so far is unable to break the code. The tech however does tell Kara that the source is in the building.

Back on ship, they discuss plotting a path to Korea. It's Slattery who turns to Takehaya for advice and he gives them a different route than that offered by crewman.  Slattery orders the crew to take Takehaya's course. Tom coordinates a plan of attack.

Back stateside, Kara gives a briefing to Allison, the president and Alex regarding the position of The Nathan James and the plan of attack. Alex reads a message and quickly excuses himself saying that he hopes it puts an end to this chapter.

The ships coordinate now that they have found the Chinese ship.  Tom orders the Chinese ship be sunk. Slattery points out that this will be war and Tom says that he will take the heat. Slattery however suggests that they take it together. Kara heads back to the tech and is told that three words are coordinates which maps every nine square meters on earth.  Dennis hands the information to Kara when he is called away.

Time Siege (Time Salvager #2) by Wesley Chu

In the toxic wasteland of Earth, Elise still clings to her hope that she can cure the plague and make Earth liveable again. But that hope seems more and more as they – and their tribe – constantly have to flee from attacks from Chronocon and the Valta corporation.

But she isn’t alone, James, while struggling with his own issues, has put together a powerful alliance of brilliant minds to help them. Elise is putting together her own alliance – determined to create something better.

I love how this book portrays the dystopian world – because it’s clearly grim and awful in many many ways, but we portray this through daily existence, how everyone lives and survives every day. There’s no need for pages upon pages upon pages of melodramatic awfulness and description – because it’s portrayed by people’s experiences and what they’re used to. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for characters who are used to the world they live in to spend an excessive long time moping about it.

Because this is a book about time travel (though the focus is very much on the book’s present in this book) there is a large amount of the setting’s history present. There’s a lot of excellent references to this created history, to wars, to the conflicts between the core planets and the outer rims and the very different standards of living and histories of both regions. This leads to interesting resource conflicts – with the outer-rim planets being the most modern and luxurious but with time salvaging being the source of the most precious resources, the core planets, especially broken, diseased Earth, is the motherlode.

Securitate Kuo’s thought processes does give us some insight into the views of the villain who, like most villains, does think of herself as the good guy. In some ways it’s very well done but in others it’s just a little overdone, almost cartoonishly. She is a loyal follower of the corporations and their capitalism = everything motto. And in this dystopian solar system of dwindling resources, she doesn’t just see capitalism as the most profitable but literally the way to save humanity. She knows there’s few resources and she firmly believes in the ruthlessness of obliterating waste – including wasteful people – so that humanity may go forwards

But even through her own eyes we see that the corporations are repeating the same mistakes as the governments and non-profits she disdains so as well as seeing flaws unique to the corporations –like their inability to plan for the long term.

This is, somewhat, the underlying conflict of the books. The megacorporation have co-opted the Time Agency, they have the power and the control. They’re ruthless, devastating and view people as resources to exploit, use and dispose of. They’re cruel, they’re ruthless, they care about the bottom line only – they may be efficient, but it’s a selfish efficiency that is only focused on their own gain.

Then you have Elise and her vision. She’s kind and compassionate and her kindness and willing to share manages to win her massive loyalty from the beleaguered tribes. People coming together in common cause as they’re shown equal respect, share resources and training and expertise to form a much more respectful, honest and greater whole that, in term, is looking forward to the betterment of them all

Yet even with this we see James and many others fretting over the fact they simply don’t have the resources for this generosity, let alone to achieve their long term goals. Without the ability to jump into the past for resources, technology, weapons and even experts, the whole society would collapse over night (though, equally, it has to be noted time salvaging is a major resource for the corporations as well). The equal respect of people and voices means a thousand confusing titles and names, endless arguments and jockeying and a general slowness that leaves Elise conflicted between the principle of all voices being heard and the practicality of everything being so much easier when everyone does as they’re told.

The Frankenstein Chronicles, Season 1, Episode 3: All the Lost Children

I’m, sadly, beginning to get a sense of the pacing of this series. Which is basically glacially slow. I know it’s full of emotion and pain and… it’s just that that seems to be the go to marker for any drama trying to present itself as “serious”. So I’ve seen a lot of it (and, really, In the Flesh not only set the bar for dramatic tragedy but shattered the bar and used the remains of the bar to beat our emotions to a bloody pulp)

So lots and lots of scenes of Marlotte woeing about his syphilis and dead family are very well done, definitely worthy of respect and praise form their impact. But at the same time they’re all just kind of predictable and I kind of want to just skim past back to the plot rather than circling (circling because it doesn’t really go anywhere) round in the same mopey, well acted, sad, but tired orbit.

Anyway, this book Marlotte decides to get Mary Shelley involved for… reasons. Some reasons. I honestly have no idea why Marlotte has seen a child murder and decided that popular literature is really the way to solve this.

Conveniently Mary Shelley is the woman who handed over William Blake’s last work to Marlotte and is even now all kinds of torn and consumed about her work and the pain it caused (not least of which appears to be rejection by what remains of her own family). She paints herself, in some ways, as a rebel – a rebel because she would do anything, including break the laws of god, if it will bring her family back.

Yes, more Marlotte angst, of course more Marlotte angst.

And we still have Nightengale – continually dismissed and ignored by Marlotte in a way that I dearly hope will be called out at some point. And Marlotte keeps sending him to secretly follow people which is beginning to look like a bad joke because the casting director still badly needs to throw in some Black extras so Nightengale doesn’t look like The Only Black Man in London

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Eight: Grotesque

Last night, Fear The Walking Dead came back from its midseason break and it was a Nick episode. For me, Nick is absolutely the least interesting character and so I was hard pressed to pay attention to the whole thing. At any rate, let's dig in.

When we last saw Nick, though everyone was fleeing Celia's twisted sanctuary, he decided to abandon his family and walk into the flames and zombies, certain at least the smell of the zombie blood would keep him safe from the walkers.  When Nick awakes, he finds himself on a bed with Sofia standing over him as a boy named Juan plays outside.  Sofia is determined to go and find Juan's father, having decided that there are too many orphans in this world and invites Nick along for the journey. Nick however is wondering if there is room for people who think like Celia did about the dead and decides to head into the city.  Sofia does her best to talk sense into him, warning that he will encounter “la manas,” who are “the worst of men," along the way but Nick is determined to do his lone wolf thing.

Sofia provides Nick with bag of supplies and gives him directions.  Nick makes his way into the desert.  If you remember, Madison's plan to deal with Nick's withdrawal (which the show never dealt with) in season one was to take him out to the desert. Nick passes a sign indicating that it's 100 miles to Tijuana. Nick stops at a car and catches his reflection which is used to segway into the past.

Nick is in rehab playing a thumb war with a fellow resident in order to avoid dealing with how he is going to react to seeing his parents for the first time since being hospitalized. Gloria calls out Nick on his deflection, warning that should he fail to engage, the judge could potentially give him more time in rehab for being uncooperative. Nick decides to pretend to confront Madison, claiming that because of Madison's work as a school counselor she's better able to understand but Gloria refuses to let him off the hook and makes him speak about his father. Yes, it's officially time to deal with Nick's daddy issues.  It seems that Nick feels that his father was emotionally distant and it upsets him to the point that he starts to cry. Nick suggests that his father is overwhelmed with the process of living. It seems that the writers are implying that Nick's father suffered with depression.

Okay, it's back to the present where Nick finds shelter and builds a fire. His comfort doesn't last however because he wakes up to a women beating him with a bat while her daughter hides in the corner.  Nick tries to explain that he isn't going to harm them but since he doesn't speak Spanish and she doesn't speak English, he's unable to convey his intent. With few options, Nick rushes out into the night but in the process leaves his meager supplies behind.

It's now daylight and Nick is back on the highway. He comes across more abandoned cars and reaches into one though there's a zombie trapped inside to take some water.  Clearly, Nick still has no fear of the dead. Even the walker going for his hand because the blood is no longer working doesn't faze him.  As yet another walker shambles towards him, Nick reaches inside again to get a radio. He fiddles with it but is only able to hear static.

Caressed by Ice (Psy/Changeling #3) by Nalini Singh

Brianna was terribly traumatised by her abduction by the Psy serial killer. Her family and her Pack are determined to protect her, moving her home, sheltering her and almost guarding her every moment

Only Judd, the cold and terrifying Psy seems to be the man who knows what Brianna needs.

But Judd has always been the Psy out of place – desperately sheltering behind the shield of Silence, he needs the emotional control to keep people safe from his lethal abilities. Brianna may have the ability to crack his shields – but will it ever be safe to do so

One of my main concerns with this book isn’t about this book per se at all – but about how this book contrasts with the previous two books in the series

The previous two books had a pattern: we have a female Psy struggling with Silence. They’re vulnerable, imploding and desperately at risk because of the repression that silence represents. They cling to silence because it’s all they’ve ever known – but a shapeshifter male decides that he knows better than the Psy and repeatedly pushes her, even physically ignoring her boundaries, until Silence collapses and she feels emotion. In each case we have a narrative of a vulnerable female Psy whose agency is largely ignored by a shapeshifter male who knows better and saves her from her destruction by ignoring said agency.

Now take this book which breaks the trend – here we have a vulnerable, hurting Changeling who is, at least in part, healed by the love and support of the Psy. That Psy breaks silence, but on his terms – in fact the Psy is menaced by the loss of silence so much that the shapeshifter has to back off and give the Psy space rather than pushing the Psy’s boundaries past what is safe.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Killjoys, Season 2, Episode 8: Full Metal Monk

First and most tragically we have the inevitable confrontation – Dutch finding Johnny imprisoned by Jelcho, learning he’s been lying to her and learning that he has risked their license as killjoys

She’s devastated and it’s emotional and painful and very very sad and a large part of me just wants to cry “no no no no – whyyyyy!?”

But it’s not entirely all about Johnny’s betrayal. He points out he loves Pawter – and that both Dutch and Pawter have their things (sixes, Khlyen) (Westerley, old town). What isn’t said but I think we can clearly imply is that neither of them are Johnny’s thing – Dutch does say “you’re my thing” but is he, though, really? Even D’avin is more connected than him. And, really is Dutch risking their license any more than Johnny? Not to say Johnny’s in the clear with the deception et al – but there’s something there

What I can’t help but thinking about this is how many marginalised sidekicks we’ve seen in the genre I would have loved to have this beginnings of a storyline. I would have loved to see them do their own thing while the lead is surprised and feels betrayed that the sidekick has their own life and isn’t content to just follow in their wake. It’s even slightly frustrating that when we finally see this challenge of assumed service it’s a (one of the few) privileged sidekick and a marginalised lead.

Dutch leaves Johnny for Pawter to rescue – which Pawter does by invoking her mighty authority and making Jelcho bow and scrape because she is one of the nine now and is awesome.

But there’s another authority – Delle Sayah who is behind all evil, is the one pulling Jelcho’s strings and orders him to speed up the plan even if it is way ahead of schedule. So what is this ominous plan

Pawter thinks she’s hit on it from last episode – “eugenics execution” the wall will kill all the old and weak and everyone who the company thinks is not a useful worker. She and Johnny run around Old Town testing blood and air and water trying to find exactly how the company intends to do this – eventually hitting on a shipment of special rations which is due to arrive soon.