Saturday, January 5, 2019

Archangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh

The Cascade is rising again, the power swelling and ancient angels starting to influence the world with their ancient prophecies

Prophecies which focus a lot on Elena, the only human born angel in existence. She’s gone through many changes - but will she survive how the magic changes her again?

But while the world is shaken there’s a more mundane, but deeply personal threat as well. Someone is killing vampires - including an attempt on her brother in law. She and the world may be under threat from magic - but her family is under threat from a killer and Elena refuses to let that go

I find myself clinging more and more desperately to Nalini Singh’s epic worlds because we’re seeing so few of these beautiful epic series. More and more are closing and, damn it, I love me a long epic! More epics! More book series with more books than I have digits!

And so we continue to the story of Elena - and I like that we are going back to Elena this book after several books of following more and more of Raphael’s Seven and their relationships, we’re now returning to the original, Elena, the first human born angel and what she means in this changing Cascade world. I like this revisit because we can see so much of how Elena has grown now we’re refocusing on her - another advantage of these long series. Some of this is very personal to Elena which really shows both a lot of her personal growth and journey as well as how she is so very different from other angels. Her relationship with her family, her attitudes towards her brother-in-law, her sister and, above all her father. She has evolved and has some much more mature and nuanced emotions towards her family as she and they have grown. Equally it emphasises she isn’t an Angel - how so many of those angels have no real familial ties of note. But we don’t just see her humanity but also how angelkind has changed her. She looks at angels she thought as cruel and sadistic and now she sees them from a much different perspective - she can see the risks they take with vampires as well as the angel’s cruel response. She’s not as condemnatory even while, at the same time, not quite signing off on it

Throughout the book we see Elena elegantly straddling that line between human and angel - and even her ties with the Guildhunters still putting her both part of the organisation but also apart. I also really like how this is never seen as a bad thing - sure she has lost some commonality over the books with some of her friends, but she still has her ties and in a genre where difference is so often seen as exclusionary or isolating, Elena has a really strong friend network. Which I also appreciate in paranormal romance where so many women seem to live lives with few truly close connections beyond that with their love interest. In fact, huge amounts of this book happen with Elena completely separate from Raphael - I would even say he is a bit character in this book, there more for what he represents than his actual presence. I’m not saying Raphael should be sidelined - but it’s nice to see us revisiting characters in a romance and her having a life that isn’t entirely focused on him

Friday, January 4, 2019

Requiem: Z Nation

As the last season of Z Nation reached the finale it was revealed that there won’t be another –I saw the news on Nana’s twitter account. Honestly, part of me is shocked that such a gimmicky show lasted for five seasons – but I’m still going to look back on this surprising sharknado of a series…

The Good

It’s original, it’s new, it’s different. To bring such zaniness, so consistently to a long running zombie show was definitely surprising. It managed to maintain a level of comedy and weirdness that we rarely see. And yeah, sometimes it was annoying, sometimes it was silly, sometimes it really
doesn’t make sense. But still it’s different and I really appreciate that, Addie, Warren and Murphy (the relationship between Warren and Murphy has so especially when backed with a really strong core cast. Especially Warren who I both think made this show and is completely wasted on this show. But 10k, many levels, I really wish the show had continued just to see more of it)

The Bad

I think Z Nation has always suffered from something of a tonal dissonance. It is zany and that does make it unique. And equally if it was zany every episode it would become way way way way more annoying and I couldn’t stand it… but this contrasts a lot from other zany shows like, say, The Librarians or even Warehouse 13. Because Z Nation will not only bring the plot occasionally as well, but it will go all out for epic, heart rending angst and deep emotion and deep complex relationships like the one between Warren and binge watch this show as you’d be going along and then Warren will TEAR OUT Murphy and… it’s confusing. I  can’t even imagine what it would be like to
YOUR HEART with utter grief.

And then the next episode we’ll have a giant ball of zombies taking out the liberty bell neither half realises the other half exists. No matter how serious Warehouse 13 or The Librarians got, they always remembered what show they were. It’s like two shows mashed together and

And I’m not saying the serious elements are bad because they’re really really not. Z Nation can bring the acting and pluck the heart strings… but it feels out of place.

The Diversity

Z Nation attracted our attention in the first season when we saw Obvious Designated Protagonist Straight White Male die. It may be the most stunned I’ve ever been watching a show - they killed the protagonist! Already!

And then Warren stepped up and made the show her’s and I didn’t have a second of regret. Warren was such an awesome character for so long, yes strong but still having scenes of grief and vulnerability, inspiring, positive while not being naive, caring and charismatic. Warren has always been excellent.

Of course Warren being excellent meant occasionally it was tempting to look past some of the more problematic portrayals in the series. The sexualised, servile treatment of Cassandra was appalling, their forrays among the Native Americans have been pretty cringeworthy and their jaunt to Mexico was fraught with stereotypes… but then it also has Vasquez and Escorpion, two definite complex, layered characters.

Sun Mei as an Asian stereotype pretty much ticks every trope box but she was a character despite that and the only word of criticism I could ever have for Kaia (and Nana) is there’s not enough of them. The show has always had a number of female characters alongside Warren and Addie, Red, Sun Mei, Kaia, George and that is always good to see in so many male dominated shows… but I do have to note that none of them are constants in her life like Murphy, Doc and 10k are.

LGBTQ wise we have virtually nothing for five seasons. Two recurring bit characters are revealed as possibly gay for pure homophobic comedy reasons and then never seen again. And Addie is bisexual - and if you just blinked and say “wait, she was?!” you may have missed it as this was referred two once in one episode and then never touched on again. Unlike both her male love interests. We’ve mentioned this trope so often - of course it’s not a problem that a bisexual character is in opposite sex relationships but it’s telling how often the only LGBTQ representation on a show will be That One Episode where a bisexual character briefly mentions their bisexuality for it never ever ever to raise again.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Z Nation: Season 5, Episode 13: End of Everything

It is the season finale of Z Nation and, sadly, the utter finale of Z Nation though I have a lot of thoughts on that to digest in the Requiem

Sun Mei died last episode and her brains have been passed on to Red to keep safe. Which she does. All episode. Bye Red, do you want a cushion for that plot box?

George is having one of her moments of struggle and doubt, struggle over what everyone has had to endure for Altura, if what it will achieve will be worth it or even be possible. If they are good enough for Altura and if she can keep going. This is an excellent emotional moment and perfect for George because she’s just endured torture. That should leave a mark - that should leave psychological marks. That should take some time to recover from it. And of course Warren gives her an excellent pep talk

Which… I get because Warren is a leader but at the same time Warren being George’s crutch has happened for far too long.

The bad guys continues being evil with Estes being all paranoid and Pandora using lots of sexiness to fight back. Including in front of Sun Mei’s corpse. Classy.

He has gathered all his militia and all his volunteers to send them to the staging ground identified by George… Pandora is so very very sure that she broke George

She is wrong… there isn’t an army of Talkers there. There’s 10k, Doc, Addie and Murphy all having awesome little character moments earlier. But now there’s Doc with a loud speaker making gun noises drawing them all in. And then 10k looking on, from a distance. Now, what can one sniper, even one as ridiculously good as 10k do against an army?

Weeellll, this is the apocalypse. And the show has belatedly remembered the real enemy out there isn’t Talkers or humans - it’s zombies. And how one human dead turns into a biting infectious zombie and how one sniper taking out 4 or 5 men in a tightly packed group can pretty much kill them all

I would think that this would cause 10k, Doc or George a little consternation? I mean they just caused a not-small massacre: that was Altura’s entire militia and a number of volunteers. That’s got to be a significant percentage of the population killed.

Estes and Pandora have a freak out over their entire army being destroyed when Addie and Murphy arrive with a lot of conscious Talkers… all here and ready to vote. With sympathisers at every gate to to let in more Talkers. See it’s election day and Estes expected all of the Talkers not to be there so the paranoid living humans could then vote for security and his Supreme Leaderness. Except the problem with no real alternative and, at the same time, threat of bombing means most the humans have stayed at home. Curse those low turn outs, scourge of democracies and dictators who are doing dictatorship wrong.

Now with lots of Talkers flooding in they can all cast ballots (because Estes has still left peace justice democracy and a constitution on the ballot?) and the living who were willing to see their loved ones kicked out decided to… just let the Talkers in now? Apparently?

Anyway, this is happening

Meanwhile Estes and Pandora run away chased by the good guys and Cooper is here! Yes, Warren’s sort of love interest from the beginning of the series. He’s here to remind Warren that he loves her and… put a pin in that Cooper, currently saving the world, ‘kay

But for reasons Murphy is going to stay and glare at him so Warren and George can go on to their big confrontation on their own. This involves confronting Estes and he doing the proper supervillain thing and explaining his big bad plan

So he has to kill the Talkers because they eat Lithium to stay “alive” and eventually they will run out (Sun Mei’s quote aside) and eventually they’ll have to kill them all. Which would sort of have a plan except we’ve already seen that zombie brains can feed Talkers, there’s a load of zombies and it take relatively tiny amounts of brains to keep them human. And hey if you have to kill them all you could wait until they’re mindless monsters rather than… well… jump the gun? Also I seriously doubt his estimate of how much lithium there is in the country because… yeah, there’s a lot more than what they’ve found. It’s not that rare.

Perhaps recognising that “kill them now so we don’t have to MAYBE kill them later” is a dubious motivation the writers have a second motivation for him- the planet. See to keep Altura working and being eco-friendly, they need solar power and batteries to work when the sun is down and these batteries need to made from Lithium so we can’t possibly feed them to Talkers - we have to annihilate all the Talkers so we can run a green economy! Yes to granola! No to fragile loved ones!


Ok, look, I greatly praise Estes desire to make a better, greener future. But the population of the world is pretty much less than a million people at this point? At least as far as we can tell. And they’re not using a whole lot of industry here… global warming is not a pressing issue any more… burn some damn coal. Or set up a wind turbine! The wind still blows at night! We’ve seen the dam already for that matter! This is not a reasonable motivation.

So he explains all this and Warren is recording it and Citizen Z is broadcasting this live to everyone who collectively gasp “ZOMG HE’S EVIL!!!! All of our prejudices are now invalid, let us not murder the Talkers we were rounding up and massacring a few days ago!” Because this is how prejudice works.

Anyway, he is FOILED! And more he’s just said Talkers are like totally totally icky and Pandora heard him! And this sinister characters has just learned that the guy who hates all Talkers hates, her, a Talker. She decides to blow up all the things, as one does.

This has Warren working with Estes to try and not blow everything up while George and Pandora have Blatant Character Moments in case anyone was asleep through all the previous character building. So, simplified: Pandora is evil and hates hates hates herself because she’s a Talker and is ugly underneath that mask and thinks it’s terribad awful. In case you missed that the woman who always wore a mask and denied being a Talker, hates being a Talker. While George refuses to kill her and tries (and fails) to save her… because she’s George and she cares

Except, y’know, about the entire armed forces of Altura who are dead who no-one seems to care about.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Z Nation, Season 5, Episode 12: At All Costs

We’re heading towards the season finale and the big confrontation at Altura. Murphy has been marched into a load of busses by Estes and his cronies. Not to go anywhere just to detain them.

Because buses are secure?

Murphy is not amused and Estes really should pay attention to when Murphy uses his terrifying super powers to control all the Talkers around him. Yes he sounds like he’s joking when he says “undead demigod” but he really isn’t.

Everyone else is sneaking into Altura despite the security, facial recognition and habit of shooting traitors in the head.

Ok, let this rant hereby stand for the whole episode because otherwise I’m going to have to say this over and over and over and over: 5 seasons of canon do not support the technology of Altura. The conditions the Alturans have been living under since the apocalypse do not support the technology of Altura. Computers are dubious from what we’ve seen, computer networks more so and even less necessary, mobile phones are ridiculous and, most of all, all this electronic and cybersecurity makes no sense. The enemy for these survivors has been, for the most part, mindless zombies. You don’t need facial recognition for this - it’s ludicrous that Altura has this kind of security structure

In classic Z Nation fashion they even lampshade how ridiculous this is with Murphy repeatedly being bemused by the fact they have phones. So take my rant as done so I don’t have to repeat it

Inside Citizen Z joins Kaia and they do a fair bit of hackingness while George and Warren are captured - apparently by design. Their presence is convincing Estes that the Talkers are preparing to attack. And he may be right because Doc, Addie and 10k have rescued all the Talkers to take them to a place they start fortifying… and we have a really nice father/son moment with Doc and 10k (in that it’s really real because Doc is all real and emotional while 10k is faintly bemused and doesn’t quite know what to do with all this emotion. The accuracy is painful). Addie is also still not entirely sold on Newmerica, not having enough faith in humanity to have it happen.

Pandora finds Murphy all alone and fails to get him to talk except to snark. I would have liked him to use his super powers on her but apparently not. The most disappointing part of this scene is that Pandora vehemently rejects the idea she’s a Talker. So rather than having some kind of long running sinister plan, it turns out she’s just utterly in denial over what she actually is… it feels like a missed opportunity to have a character more complex than evil character is evil. Anyway she leaves because she hears the vote is on - some dastardly vote of Estes to make himself supreme leader (only the living may vote, of course) so she decides to leave the demigod behind untouched. This is not a good idea

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking back at 2018

2018 has been a rocky year for, well, just about everyone and the world in general.

On Fangs, various commitments have caused us to reduce our postings and we’ve had a shift in format to some of our recaps and reviews

Another big shift has been in Urban Fantasy itself - while we had a boom of all things vampire and witchy a few years ago, we’ve definitely moved into a nadir at the moment with increasingly less shows that are what we might consider pure urban fantasy, more with dystopian edges and, of course, the utter overwhelming domination of the superhero genre which has pretty much consumed speculative fiction. We mentioned this in our 2017 year in review post - the decimation of many of our shows and that has either continued or simply not seen many step up to replace them

We see a similarity in the book world, fewer Urban Fantasy books along with a distinct movement away from the epic series that used to so dominate the genre. It seems more and more of the 6-13 book series that used to be the staple of the genre are coming to a close while new books are generally stand alone or trilogies. I miss them I do.

But let us look back on 2018 on Fangs and look at the Good, the Bad and, perhaps especially, they Conflicted - which we will start with


Conflicted covers a lot of issues with a lot of shows in 2018 - because for several of them there was a definite attempt for greater inclusion and awareness. And even an actual attempt, not a token appeasement while continuing business as usual… the problem is that so many of these fell flat or had major flaws: I think Adele definitely brought the theme of the year.

Doctor Who is perhaps the most iconic example of this - an excellent new female Doctor (who we love and adore), a racially diverse set of companions including one with a disability and… a lot of lacklustre writing, a lack of old school Doctor Who villains and plots. And then Yasmin was grossly and conspicuously underused. It could have been so much more

Star Trek Discovery definitely jumped in here as well - excellent diverse cast with completely unnecessary gaydeath and So Many Storylines that so badly needed culling. It could have been so much more

And Charmed? Oh new Charmed, you talk the talk, you know all the language, you have a racially diverse main cast, feminist issues front and centre, a lesbian main character… but the pacing was awful, the issues they covered were often shallow and contained problematic issues (like virginity being an inherent mystical characteristic), their lesbian character had her love interest unceremoniously put on the bus and… aaargh WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!


With less and less of our favourite genre out there, that means we’re going to need what’s left to step up…

Julie Plec: I’m on it!

So, The Originals finally round up its well-acted but awfull written, angst-ridden trainwreck of its last season; but Julie Plec is like OG Dracula. Until someone scatters her ashes over four different bodies of water, she’s going to keep this world going and flog that zombie horse for every last cent. The Legacies, the latest incarnation in this ongoing world’s longest trainwreck and it has all the problems of previous series: problematic racial and LGBTQ portrayals, a protagonist who insists on being the centre of attention and a concept and world setting which isn’t really well thought out. In other words, it is EXACTLY like The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

Despite this ongoing awful, Discovery of Witches is here to be just so much worse. A grossly under-developed world setting, minorities either problematic or sidelines, a plot line that is consumed by one of the most awful romances I’ve ever had to suffer through linked with a new Clary Award winner. The whole damn thing is Twilight but somehow worse.

The Good

There was some good! I especially have to give kudos to Magicians which has been a perennial trainwreck of awful I’ve dreaded watching but somehow this season managed to bury so much of what was truly terrible about this show and instead give us something shockingly good, informed and epic. Hey it wasn’t perfect but my gods it felt like it after what came before it.

Lucifer has a lot of ups and downs and issues - but it’s also immense fun and zany and compelling and sexy. And Wynonna Earp is just doing (almost) everything right... just so much awesome and they may be making the few weaker areas better

While Handmaid’s Tale bordered on torture porn more than a little, its power cannot be denied and Westworld was delightfully complex and brain breaking

I also think it’s worth noting that Fear the Walking Dead has finally managed to put together its own identity more separate from TheWalking Dead itself. It’s beginning to feel like something more than a cheap tie-in or money grab but as a product with its own identity unlike some *cough*Legacies*cough*. In some ways

Shows We Lost

The Originals will not be missed and, sadly, are still lurching forward in Legacies form. Nor will we be missing The Last Ship and its cringeworthy American propaganda.

But I admit to being rather sad by the end of Z Nation. Yes, it was often cheesy, often ridiculous and suffered from some severe tonal dissonance  but it was FUN and Warren was awesome and pretty rare as a Black female lead in a dystopian. Speaking of cheese, I’m also not over Librarians. Both of these have divided us - the right thinking and righteous Paul will miss their zany fun. The completely wrong and possibly soulless Renee is happy to see them both go.

And then there’s Sens8. Alas poor Sens8 you will be missed so much!

Once Upon a Time leaves me torn - on the one hand, looking at the last season, yeah… I can understand why it was cancelled. But oh if they’d just had the courage to run with the reboot

Good Things to Come

American Gods, Handmaids Tale, Magicians and Star Trek Discovery are all coming back in 2019! And Lucifer was saved, praise be to Netflix!

Honestly I don’t think we have anything new on the radar we’re actually looking forward to - this nadir is not lining up a lot of excitement - but I am hope

What I am looking forward to, perhaps somewhat naively, is for the shows that have Adele’d this season to pick it up next season. Siren, Charmed, Star Trek Discovery, Doctor Who still have that potential. Anyone can have a shaky first season - so time to step it up!


While our reading has been down, I am still clinging to a lot of treasures for as long as they last, including anything written by Ilona Andrews (always amazing and a favourite), the excellent and beloved Rivers of London series. I also have new favourite (and bonus Own Voices publication) Blue Unicorn series for some excellent cyberpunk. And while most long series are dying, I am glad I can still rely on Jennifer Estep and Nalini Singh to keep these epics rolling. Other gems include the amazing why-isn’t-this-a-series Black God’s Drums. I’m also very happy to see Shelley Adina has rebooted her main steampunk series

Unfortunately, despite international treaties protecting human rights, both P.C. Cast and Laurell K Hamilton are continuing their series.