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Sunday, December 23, 2018
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Legacies: Season 1, Episode 7: Death Keeps Knocking on My Door
Ok, this show angers me. It actively angers me. Not the teen drama not the classic CW obsession with a main character Hope and her specialness. No, what annoys me so much are the so-called teachers in this school who are utterly terrible (also there’s like only three of them? Three for all these students?) and this episode is pushing me over the edge
So, this is Remembrance day at the school where everyone writes letters to dead loved ones and can they maybe address the fact that most of student body has a herd of dead people to write letters to. Is one school councillor sufficient?
Also someone may want to maybe cancel this whole ceremony focused on death thing when you have an actual necromancer in the basement. Maybe? Because he does what is entirely predictable and summons a dead person to hit people in the feels. In this case, he summons Cassie, Raphael’s dead girlfriend
Hey, remember how Jo buried Josie alive because she was controlled by the necromancer? Well a good thing everyone’s learned from this and carefully guards Cassie and are also prepared for more murderous zombies running about
Oh, they’re just going to let Cassie walk around and not have any preparations for more zombies? Ok, that totally won’t come back to bite anyone at all.
So Raphael is obviously super emotional about this but Hope leaves him because she’s busy with her own things. That leaves Raphael to beg Alaric to do something about making her permanent but Alaric has SOME capacity for learning and points out she could be evil or used for evil. I mean he doesn’t take any precautions against her, but he recognises the evil. Soooo…
Cassie does talk to Raphael about her death - she blames him. But as they talk she also forgives him: she isn’t trying to punish him or make him feel bad but trying to get him to see the truth. She died in a car accident which happened because he got jealous, got angry and drove recklessly. And while he tries to put his rage down to being a werewolf and he’s better now she points out he just had a rage moment. He has a lot of growing to do and he needs to acknowledge that.
He turns to Alaric for this. Good luck with that
While I roll my eyes because we have a Black teenaged girl rather convolutedly like an after school special about how Raphael needs to be a better person. She takes less than 10 seconds to deal with actually being dead. Doesn’t she have any actual personhood or is she just a narrative tool?
Over to Hope, she has decided that since Alaric is completely useless at Necromancer questioning (mainly involves threats of violence to a being that cannot feel pain which is… not useful) she’s going to use woo-woo to do it for him
And yes Alaric is going to pout about this. But can you blame Hope? This is how Alaric works - using the magical gifts of his students to do anything. This is how Alaric operates!
So she recruits MG so he can do that vampire mind reading stuff which this world setting remembers like once every 20 episodes and MG agrees despite it being against his better judgement. Because that’s also how MG works - a servant to the other cast members who need his shiny vampire powers
There follows much diving into the Necromancer’s subconscious, Hope mocking him rather well for his over dramatic posturing, the Necromancer poking Hope’s worries a lot, in particular where her dead daddy is right now. While she pokes him for being completely forgotten because that’s what happens to all the creatures of Malivore. They piece a lot together: Malivore is a place of utter annihilation. By sentencing a creature to malivore - which happened to the Necromancer with someone killing him with the knife, you doom that being to the void and everyone forgets they ever existed. They’re gone and no-one remembers they were ever there.
Labels: 2 fangs, CW, legacies, television, vampires, Werewolves, Witches
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Forbidden Witches (Tarot Witches #2) by SM Reine
Leah has led a sheltered life… she certainly has never attended many concerts. But even she’s pretty sure concerts don’t usually end up with you waking up on the tour bus surrounded by naked people - and sexy werewolves and witches
I am going to, again, reference my pledge to read every word SM Reine has ever typed in her entire life ever.
One of the mild downsides to this is the Tarot Witches series - because this would probably be a series I would never pick up at any time. It’s a paranormal romance where the romance and sex both is the focus - and it’s a werewolf romance. And for some reasons there’s something about the canine and furry that invites the worst tropes round to play. But with this world, with its complex and overlapping characters, I can’t guarantee some of these characters won’t be super relevant later. Especially since the underlying concept of the Tarot witches is really intriguing - these witches who have some kind of plot to resolve linked to these destiny predicting Tarot cards. All of these women can be extremely different people, facing massively different challenged with this woo-woo bringing the disparate women together. All for a deeper, richer and more mysterious purpose
And damn it I want to know what that mysterious purpose is! This is the world with the whole godslayer narrative, an author who has produced some of the most unique and genre breaking storylines I’ve read and a world so complicated and interlinked that I NEED to read all of this to appreciate the vastness and amazingness. Whatever else happens in this series, I will charge through it because I know some of these elements or characters may inform the Dana McIntyre Must Die series or the The War of the Alphas, I want them to be included, I want to see all these vastness come together because there’s so much here I love
But… this book really isn’t one of them. It has so many romance tropes I find unpleasant: inexperienced female ingenou vs experience male love interest; Magical Mating Bond that get complete strangers to fall in love without getting to know the slightest thing about it; woman instantly trusting love interest despite the extreme danger she’s in; man barking orders and commands and control over woman; woman giving no more than a token protest to all this. And there’s not even a real story like there was in Caged Wolf. No dark past to escape, no figure to defeat - no, the meaning of her card is, not-even-a-spolier, to basically do what her captors say
Yes I said captors. Innocent, naive, Leah, good mormon girl with only a couple of ex-boyfriends and little experience in the rock star lifestyle goes to a concert at the urgings of her Gay Best Friend (yes a gay character. Yes, he’s a walking stereotype. No he does nothing in the book except be Leah’s friend. We even open to him giving her a make over. Actually that’s pretty much all he does). There because of woo-woo she’s given VIP treatment which means getting this very naive woman drunk (at one point tipping her head back and pouring alcohol down her throat when she seems reluctant) after which she gets heavily groped by two men and sat in a bus witnessing. No she didn’t say no. But she was extremely drunk as she makes clear on multiple occasions. This is not ok.
And when she falls asleep that bus drives off and leaves the state. And when she expresses a wish to leave she is denied. As we go on she is repeatedly stopped from leaving and even physically picked up and carried by her love interest when she tries to leave. And then tied up. Her protests to this are minimal… and seconds after being restrained they decide her sexy smell is distracting so it’s necessary to make her orgasm. If she’s less horny her smell won’t be distracting, apparently.
Consent is not something that is considered
But, hey, after being kidnapped, restrained and sexually assaulted she decides the guy doing that to her has too much of an erection so gives him oral sex. Because “I want to escape!” turns into “oh it’s only fair if I get you off too!”
Labels: 0.5 Fangs, book review, sm reine, tarot witches series, Werewolves, Witches
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Van Helsing: Season 3, Episode 10: Outside World
And lo it’s time to rocket back to the core of our three storylines - Vanessa.
Last episode she killed a man. And yes she’s killed a lot of people, but this is a man she killed to eat. Not to protect herself or others, expressly to feed on their blood. It’s a turning point, especially since her ancestor made it clear that darkness and vampiriness may be much closer. Which this episode is all about. First of all with some level of foreshadowing we have the shadowy figure who appears before Sam and Vanessa. Vanessa assumes that this self-identified seer is an elder who makes a big speech about how Vanessa’s future hangs in the balance
So when wandering alone she runs into Mohammed - yes vampire Mohammed. And shockingly, our Honey Badger reaches out to him and wants to help - specifically she wants to turn him back human. Yes this is rather a 180 over her refusal to try to turn ancestor guy back human, but whatever, reasons. Let’s pretend she really really cares about Mohammed despite them not leaving on the best terms (he sort of betrayed her for the sake of his sister and it was a whole thing). She chases him and this becomes a long fight and chase and struggle as Mohammed tries to escape… and through very bad luck Vanessa fall through a ceiling and impales herself on a meat hook.
She can’t reach the hook stuck in her back… every time she tries to lift herself off the hook she merely drives the hook deeper, bleeding into the floor.
Time passes with Vanessa unable to save herself… so on comes the hallucination
First up is John. Remember John? He was the arsehold from the first season who was first suspected of being a serial killer. He was also rapist and general arsehole. Vanessa killed him.
Labels: 3.5 Fangs, dystopian, Syfy, television, vampires, van helsing
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Van Helsing, Season 3, Episode 9: Loud Love
We’re going to the other half of the split storyline again - so it’s back to Denver.
Julius is officially done with feeling that guilty over Phil and his big dramatic attempts to commit suicide. He sneaks into the morgue to free him and cover up that Phil keeps dying and then reads Phil the riot act. He can keep trying to kill himself but Julius is done covering it up and will allow the people of Denver to discover he’s a quasi-immortal and then he can see if vivisection will be the thing to finally kill him. Phil takes this into consideration and decides to find his wife
Julius is super happy about this and on cloud nine tries to flirt with Frankie his boss - and we see some consequences of Julius being a vampire for so long: he has no knowledge of modern slang. Frankie brushes over this so she can get to climbing that tall, hot bunch of muscles. Make the most of it Frankie, the fridge is calling.
Phil goes to the record office to find his wife and is told it will take several days. To which Phil responds with a deeply menacing death threat. This is a foreboding warning of things to come… he learns his wife has beens shipped to Loveland. A prison camp where people never ever come back. And Phil can’t go there unless he commits a heinous crime
Yeah… that was probably not the best advice to give. He promptly shoots the guard giving him this advice and then gives himself up so he can be taken to the prison camp.
As an aside we also learn that Denver keeps track of your “debt” and you’re not allowed to leave until you’ve paid up. Including the “debt” you accrue while eating while in quarantine
Another person facing imprisonment is Jolene. Jolene has been handing out pamphlets warning people that the vampire repellent they all are injected with causes psychotic breaks. Jolene has no regrets, she will continue to inform her patients of the risk. This isn’t really a crime but no-one cares and she’s locked up - so Caitlyn can control Sarah and her brilliance.
Caitlyn openly says this to Sarah’s face and Sarah begins her Done Era. She demands a captured vampire and a gene sequence - barking angry orders at Caitlyn in a nice little power play. She gets her sequencer - with ominous words from Caitlyn about their power and reach. Sarah doesn’t care much, she gets the elder blood gene sequenced, does some weird experiments with the angry vampire - which she then uses to murder Caitlyn
Including letting the vampire bite Caitlyn, killing the vampire, watching her feel the pain of turning… and then kills her. Do not piss her off - she does not take prisoners.
She then tries to rescue Jolene - but she’s being shipped to Loveland in the evacuation.
Well -first let’s catch up with Axel and the survivors who are derailed in their trip to Denver by Kit going into labour. There are complications in pregnancy… and when their uneducated attempts to turn the baby fail they resort to caesarian section. Which is, of course, a commonly used and success medical procedure in 21st century hospitals… and pretty much guarantees the death of the mother when performed by non-medical personnel, in non-medical settings without medical tools, drugs or even herbs.
And Kitt dies
And while it is very sad and emotionally powerful it is surprisingly rare to see dystopians acknowledge things like how dangerous childbirth is when you don’t have 21st century technology and resources.
Of course it also means that Kitt has existed entirely to be a baby dispensary. Baby has now been dispensed so she can shuffle off. They continue to Denver where Axel drops them off and goes his merry way. The rest of them go into Denver and notice that all their defences are very good against vampires who die under ultraviolet light and pretty much useless against day walkers.
Labels: 3 Fangs, dystopian, Syfy, television, vampires, van helsing
Monday, December 17, 2018
Z Nation: Season 5, Episode 11: Hackerville
Time to follow this nonsensical storyline further - they need to bypass Altura’s security so they have gone to Hackersville, an old telephone switching centre which is now occupied with Hackers who have been hacking into Altura’s systems. At one point we even see people using mobile phones
To which I have to ask… how?! Why? For most of this series people have been hard pressed to even find electricity - and a radio mast is something unique and special. The whole power of Citizen Z was that he still had the technology to speak to the world. So where did this all come from?
And why does Altura even have public network? How are the Hackers attacking this? Why does Altura have a network that isn’t self-contained? Given that outposts are pretty self sufficient in this new world, why would it have any kind of open internet which the hackers can access? And why would they connect their CCTV to it? My own firm doesn’t link their CCTV to the internet! Why is Altura? Why can Altura connect to the internet?
But hey let’s not let common sense get in the way of a plot. So they go see the Hackers and shenanigans ensue. There’s a series of geeky clues to get in which is solved by George kicking down the door. The head of the hackers can be a little awkward but Warren keeps pointing a gun at him. Because she has no time for arguments. Also Citizen Z is super protective of Kaya and it’s nice to see the power of their love… but at the same time there’s way too much jealousy about it all
There’s a brief attack by zombies and some nifty drones hunting them down which everyone loves except Warren who has no time for these nonsenses.
Between them they do guide Kaya through Altura and past the security to find Estes’s laptop. There they find about his plan for “The Final Mercy” which has some unpleasant words about elimination. This is not good.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London #7) by Ben Aaronovitch
The Faceless Man, Martin Chorley, is moving closer and closer to his mysterious but doubtlessly destructive final goal. But the Folly has gathered all its resources, all it connections to begin Operation Jennifer which will final stop him once and for all
And Peter Grant, detective constable and apprentice wizard, boyfriend to a river goddess is going to be in the centre of the front line
I like Peter a lot, as a character. There’s so many aspects to him which are so refreshing and fun to read. Perhaps most surprising of them is he’s a person. A real person with a life. He’s a police detective and a wizard but he also goes home to his mum for dinner and fending off her massively spicy Sierra Leonian cooking. He has a pint. He goes home to Beverley. In a genre where so many people, especially detectives, seem to just exist for the drama, he actually has a home life. He’s not sitting there declaring “I am Police! My Life Is Fighting The Crime!”
I also like that he’s a good man - and how he’s a good man. Peter isn’t naive. He knows there are times when being a bit of a bastard would be more effective and safer. He overtly thinks that there would be a better way to do things - but those would involving not caring for people, not following the rules and, ultimately, not being a good man. Peter isn’t a fool and is aware that he is sometimes actively making his life more difficult and dangerous -but these rules matter to him. But nor is he self-righteous, he doesn’t think he’s better than other people, he isn’t judgemental. He’s hopeful without being naive and he’s cynical without being bitter. He doesn’t expect the world to be better but he is determined to make it better. And oh my gods, can I say how much I love seeing a fictional police officer who cares about the rules? It seems to be a staple of fiction to have the police break the rules gleefully and we’re supposed to support it. I like to see a fictional police officer who actually cares about the law. I really like how Lesley stands as counterpoint to him - because again she isn‘t super demonised as all evil - but because maybe she just doesn’t have his same lines. And she maybe has a point? These rules and laws have been put in place for completely non-magical people and do they even apply, can they?
And he’s extremely funny and fun with a lot of very wry observations which were hilarious. I love Peter, I love his voice, I love how we get this incredible hard balance of being a good person without being naive or bitter is just hit perfectly. He’s wonderful.
He also fits the world - this wonderful setting in London, full of research and knowledge and pure love of the city - but that love is the same as Peter’s goodness. It’s love that is mixed with cynical knowledge of reality - whether it’s Lesley’s angry retort that London sucks all the wealth and attention from the rest of the country or Peter’s cynical knowledge of London Traffic, funding, neglected areas, some truly awful architecture and more - he sees ALL of it and loves it despite it.
Posted by Sparky at 6:21 PM
Labels: 5 Fangs, ben aaronovitch, book review, gods, magic, rivers of london, wizards
Legacies: Season 1, Episode 6: Mombie Dearest
It’s Lizzie and Josie’s 16th birthday. Which means a big party and Lizzie making everything about her as usual. There will be a lot of teen drama about this. Yay.
But there’s still a story about this shiny knife of why-has-Alaric-kept-this-my-gods-doesn’t-the-supernatural-world-have-someone-more-qualified-to-handle-this-aaargh-I-can’t-even-get-up-without-asking-Hope-for-help to deal with. And the latest monster to collect the knife is… Alaric’s dead wife Jo
Jo, as we recall from the Vampire Diaries trainwreck, is Josie and Lizzie’s mother who was killed on her wedding day to Alaric by her evil twin (since her whole family has twins and oh, one is destined to kill the other at age 22 and no-one has told Lizzie and Josie this yet) and her family magically stuffed the babies into Caroline’s womb. Vampire Diaries went to some strange places.
Alaric is pretty suspicious about his dead wife coming back from the dead and points a crossbow at her. Well, I get the suspicion but, as Jo points out, this is Mystic Falls. Everyone has come back from the dead at some point. She also makes a hilarious comment about Alaric looking “seasoned” since he’s 16 years older than she remembers.
Alaric tries to keep this from his daughters but they quickly find out and don’t remotely respect his no because he’s helpless and useless anyway so discover their biological mother. Lizzie is kind of hostile to Jo, having the idea that bonding with her is somehow disloyal to Caroline. While Josie instantly wants a closer relationship. Alaric wants to keep her away from them until he is sure that Jo is who she says she is. Which involves testing and that huge huge hugely useful lie detector orb which really really could have been really super useful in The Originals. Where were you little plot breaking orb? All the tests point to her being the real deal
Dorian’s research does turn up the idea of people being resurrected in order to murder someone though. So she’s still a risk
Teenaged angst time! So Hope is all crushing after Landon but at least she is self-aware enough to recognise this. She also tries to make peace with Rafael - he’s super angry at her for kicking out Landon for his own good but he also needs Hope’s help. He agreed to be Lizzies date for the party and, especially since he just slept with her (which he regrets) he feels he needs to do right by her. Which means learning all the ornate, rather old fashioned party etiquette which Mystic Falls loves so much. Hope is happy to teach him since Aunt Rebekkah has a weird fixation with this kind of nonsense.
This gives them chance to bond, Rafael admit he’s not all that into Lizzie and Hope to realise that he’s still mourning for his dead girlfriend and kind of working through his issues by being afraid of letting Lizzie down. Honestly that amount of angst means you probably need to not date for a while. Hope seems to agree and encourages him to be honest with Lizzie
Labels: 3 Fangs, CW, legacies, magic, television, vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Zombies
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Supernatural: Season 14, Episode 9: The Spear
Time for an epic opening with an epic voice over from Dean about how they are the people who monsters are afraid of. Which is, yes, kinda epic. But this is Supernatural. Epic pre-ambles to any kind of find finale need classic rock. It is known. Know your brand, Supernatural.
So we have a bit of domestic moment with Jack eating late night cereal and asking Castiel not to tell his other dad, Sam, who disapproves of high sugar food. Which is kind of cute and I think a lot more of these would have done a great job of turning Jack into someone I actually care about rather than that extra who keeps tagging along for no apparent reason. But really these scene is for Castiel to remind Jack not to tell anyone about the deal he made with the Empty
We’re already setting that up for a lot of angst because Dean is so super happy because they managed to bring Jack back from the dead and nothing went wrong and they didn’t have to pay a price and everything is awesome
So that’s definitely going to be future angst. But can I say again that we have another angst or personal drama moment that is centring on Dean even when this should be more Cas’s woe. Dean doesn’t have to be the centre of all.
But we’re back on track with Michael. Naomi has told them where Michael is. Kansas City. And he has a new body, a woman’s.
And I’m sure there are many reasons why anyone, let alone an Archangel, would go to Kansas City
I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure they exist. Yes.
Sam has also snuck Garth into Michaels’ orbit. Since Garth is a werewolf so fits his whole army of monsters thing. Garth hopes to actually not consume the Michael Blood/Grace potion… which doesn’t go to plan because it’s hard to deceive an Archangel and he ends up taking the upgrade potion which is definitely not going to end well.
Between this spying they know Michael’s plan - send his army into Kansas city and turn every one there into more monsters. I am sure there are many… sensible reasons to begin your invasion of North America in Kansas City…
So the counter plan is to get the angel-killing spear from Dark Kaia (Dean and Castiel on that) and Ketch has some mystical golden egg which will help imprison Michael which he’s put in the post. Yes there are convoluted reasons but he still put it in the post. Sam and Jack are off to collect that.
Predictably it all goes horribly horribly wrong
To begin with Sam and Jack are attacked by Michael and it goes horribly wrong because, well, Michael is an Archangel which makes him pretty unassailable. He knocks Sam out, doesn’t kill him because… because… the script says so that’s why! He also destroys the magical egg so that’s out of the picture. Personally I don’t remember the egg was in the picture so there’s that.
Posted by Sparky at 9:26 AM
Labels: 3 Fangs, Angels, CW, hunters, mid season finale, nephilim, Supernatural, television, vampires, Werewolves
Friday, December 14, 2018
POC as Origin Story
An ubiquitous element of the superhero genre is the origin story. How did this extraordinary individual get these amazing powers? Is he an alien from a dead planet powered up by our sun? Was he bitten by a radioactive spider? Was she forged from clay and empowered by the Greek gods? Did he have a ridiculous budget and some deeply unhealthy coping mechanism after the death of his parents?
In Urban Fantasy we see a trend of another origin story to explain the special magic a protagonist has. Being a POC - or having a POC ancestor at very least.
To be clear here, we’re not talking about having a magical POC protagonist. This is Urban Fantasy, your characters will have magic or other woo-woo, it’s kind of what this genre is about and we’re definitely in favour of several of those characters being POC. Awoke, The Shadowmancer, The Keys Trilogy, Rayne Whitmore Series, World of the Lupi and many others are not problematic because they have POC who happens to have magical abilities - far from it. They have magic and are POC but at no point did the books try to suggest that their woo-woo exists BECAUSE they are Black or Asian.
Equally we’d expect many of these POC, their lives and their magic to be affected by their ethnicity and culture. We love and celebrate books like The Black Dog’s Drums, which excellently incorporates Yoruba derived religions into the setting, the world building and the characterisation. The same applies to the Habitat Series and the Egyptian elements of the Shadowchasers Series. The Jane Yellowrock Series links a lot of Jane’s woo-woo to her being Native American - but being Native American also informs her characterisation and her history. It’s not just a convenient label to justify her accessing exotic woo-woo. The Changeling Sisters has a lot of the magic related to Korean, Latinx and Hawai’ian culture - but that’s because it has Korean, Latinx and Hawai’ian characters whose ethnicity is an integral part of who they are, the world building and the story. Ultimately they work because there is considerable research and respect for the source material - something we can see with depictions of western mythologies like Irish and Norse in, for example, the Iron Druid Series.
We want more of this, so much more; with both white and western dominated media there are so many stories this genre could be telling by integrating POC and the mythologies and magic of other cultures and I’m still mourning that some of these series have come to an end.
But that isn’t achieved by having books treat Voodoun beliefs, Rroma heritage, or Native American ancestry as the same as a Freak Lab Accident, super-soldier serum or a Green Lantern Ring.
A glaring example of this, as well as why it’s so problematic, comes from Midnight Texas. This has the special prize of having Manfred have his psychic powers in the books because of a Native American ancestry. And in the TV series because of his Romani ancestry. It says a lot about how a minority culture has been represented that you can easily exchange one for another and not really change the story, magic or anything else.
Ancestry is a common trick in these origin stories - after all, if Superman can get his powers from being an alien, why can’t Jeremy in the Otherworld series get his hands on some quasi Japanese Ofuda from his absent Japanese mother? Hemlock Grove threw in some basic Romani stereotypes to go with their using being Romani as why characters were psychic and… werewolves somehow. Twilight is also notorious for creating an entirely fake Native American mythology to justify the presence of a pack of werewolves. The appalling on several levels Houseof Night series also went with that Native American woo-woo - deciding to have the protagonist, Zoey, be Cherokee - but only so they could introduce lots of woo-woo and turquoise and smudge sticks and a whole fake mythology while the Mercy Thompson Series is pretty notorious for treating all the Native Americans in the book as walking avatars of woo-woo. Literally all of them.
In all of these cases the actual ethnicity, culture or characterisation that should stem from having a POC character is absent. The writers weren’t interested in creating fleshed out, well researched and developed POC characters or in respectfully portraying and representing non-western cultures in a way that showed research and regard. They want the woo-woo. They want the different, the exotic, the alien.
In many ways it’s similar to how many book and TV series will introduce a monster from a non-western culture for a more “exotic” episode-of-the-week that we’ve spoken about tbefore… why have a werewolf when you can have a wendigo? And it shares the same flaws - deciding one of your main characters is POC or has POC ancestry purely so you have some backstory for their woo-woo isn’t representation or respectful. It’s appropriative and it’s belittling - it clearly sends the message that the writers are pretty indifferent about these actual cultures and just wants something suitably dehumanised and “exotic”, something that is sufficiently “other” to most of their readers to justify why they would have such different powers. For DC that meant an alien from Krypton. For Urban Fantasy a Romani or Cherokee are considered alien enough.
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