Wednesday, November 19, 2008

white night: dresden files book nine

I'm so sad I finished the last book I can get my hands on without paying for it or lugging my ass out to the library. But I'm happy that now I get to go to the bookstore, because I also want to pick up Chalice and... something else that's escaping me just now. Damn.

Anyway, this book brings us Harry helping Murph solve the case of a serial killer that makes it look like suicide-- and who's calling card is mystically-imprinted references to the line in the Bible about not suffering witches to live (though using magic to leave it kinda puts him in a pot-kettle-black situation, and no one mentions that). Which leads them to realize that the women were all low-grade magic users, which leads them to the Ordo, an organization of witches that aren't strong enough to join the Council, but are mystical enough to need togetherness to help handle it. And some of them are Wiccan, and like the Circle. From there, we learn that the women were last seen in the presence of a very tall man in a grey cloak, and so people in the Community are thinking Harry's gone batty / murderous and he has to work against their distrust of him as well as their fear of getting killed. Eventually, we get around to the machinations of the White Court, there are flashbacks to something bad that happened between books and informs the climax of this one, there's secretivity from Thomas and a really crazy-fun clearing up of that storyline (though someone said there's a Thomas book coming out? hope, hope!), there's people stealing other people all over the place, there's working with Marcone and getting random benefits from his businesses, there's training of an apprentice who's too headstrong to realize why she needs to learn, there's Murphy kicking ass (and I'm always a fan of the books where Murph gets to do things) and being kind a little (which keeps the shipping going in my head), there's ghouls, there's crossdressing, there's the Return of the Ex (again) there's vampires of various ilks, there's infighting, there's fire, there's Harry manifesting anger issues, and there's alot of Lash / Lasciel the Fallen Angel (which just proves that Harry is stubborn as all hell, but comes to a good conclusion after several books of being there). And it ends on a fairly up-note, storywise, and that's a good thing. Happy Harry is more fun then Depressed Harry.

Harry seems to inspire people to do what he does, and it's neat that Jim Butcher is running with this idea and having Harry go more equality-- all magic users need defense, not just the Council. I like this tack.

But I'm still sad I have to wait for the next one now.

Up next:
Either UnLunDun or Three Days to Never, whichever I finish first.
Then, hopefully, Chalice, and maybe the next Song of Ice and Fire / the short stories collection. We'll see how well-stocked out B&N is before I say for sure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

classic who: planet of the spiders

And here we have Doctor Three's last story.

Yates is back! He's been trying to find himself and sort out his mind after the crisis of faith (and reality) of his last story, and he's let his hair grow out and joined a group of spiritualists following a Tibetan monk, but something's off with them, and when he witnesses the others of his group conjuring a spider in the name of power, he gets Sarah-Jane to bring in the Doctor and investigate. She does (though we aren't sure why, as he was crazy when she met him and left soon after, so there's no reason for the friendship they seem to share, but whatever). And that's the first-ish episode. Almost all of the second ep is an extended car chase-- a who2-bessie-and a cop chase, then a who2-and-helicopter chase that escalates into a boat-and-hovercraft chase. Really, it just keeps going on. And the baddie disappears.

He reappears after sixteen hours of recaps in the foyer of the retreat, where he's witnessed by the sweet but really slow Tommy, and then other stuff happens, and Tommy buggers off for a while. There's spiders on Metabilis 3, there's the crystal the Doctor gave Jo for her wedding, sent back to him because the natives in the Amazon think it's cursed, there's a plot to get the crystal to the queen of the spiders that's thwarted by Tommy stealing it and then again by the Biggest Spider Ever wanting it for herself. And yet there's more! Sarah-Jane is captured by the spiders after winding up on Metabilis just as the queen spider shows up to stop a rebellion of the natives (which look mysteriously Arizonan in a desert that is not at all blue), which of course comes in handy for the master plan. There's a developmentally challenged man who gets 'cured' by the crystal and can suddenly read and think clearly, but doesn't know what any of it means. There's the first baddie, who gets to hang around and twitch and get angry, only to get zapped by force lightning and die at the end without accomplishing anything. There's a lot of Yates listening through doors and getting tied up and getting knocked out, and he smiles up at Sarah-Jane so sweetly when he comes through. There's the Doctor being sick and getting better, only to get scared, have to face his fears, and getting killed by the Metabilis crystal energies. There's a head monk who turns out to be a timelord who happens to have been the Doctor's teacher / guru in his youth, who conveniently reappears in time to jump-start the regeneration so the Doctor doesn't die entirely.

We get to see Spiders controlling people (and keep saying 'there's something on your back'!), and we meet some fun characters and get a little sliver of backstory on the Doctor. There's this last-hurrah feeling, waht with Jo's crystal and the nifty cars that we haven't seem much and the return of Yates, all of which are very Pertwee-era plot widgets.

And then there's no more Jon Pertwee. Right at the end, we get Tom Baker, and I'm just thrilled by that, but I'll miss 3. He was grumpy and arrogant and charming and ever so slightly mysogynistic and he always wanted to reverse the polarity and always did what was right, even if he didn't want to or knew it would lead to his sure death. Which it did. Thank god we've got that nifty little plot device that allows a new actor to take over!

classic who: the monster of peladon (parts 4, 5, 6, of 6)

The second half of the serial is much more fun. At the end of 3, the Ice Warriors show up, and there's the cliffhanger; in 4, we find out that they've been sent by the Federation to stop the infighting between the miners and the royals... only they totally haven't. The leader of the Ice Warriors wants to take over the planet and mine it's trisillicate for himself, while the engineer wants to control him, and make himself the most powerful and richest man in the galaxy.

Of course, the Doctor has something to say about that.

With the Doctor's help, the two factions of the miners work together, and the Doctor proves to them that the monster is an illusion used to scare them-- and even the ones who don't think it's a fake do think that he's now on their side, so they fight back. The miners bump off the Ice Warriors that are in the mine, while the Doctor saves everyone, and Sarah-Jane and Alpha Centauri contact the Federation and tell them what's going on.

In the end, Sarah-Jane's taught the Queen Who Looks Like Drew Barrymore that women can rule as well as men, the Doctor's gotten the miners and the royals together, and Alpha Centauri has gotten everyone in line with the Federation, and all is right with the world.

I wasn't too enamored of the first half, but the second had alot less mine drama and a lot more adventure. This is how I like my Doctor, and I like this half much better. Overall, though, I'd say this wasn't a strong serial, and there's alot of running around and getting re-captured, which we all know is a sign of padding out the episode.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

news: catching up

I've gotten desperately behind in my newsiness, as well as everything else up in here, but this is part one of an attempt to get back on the ball.

So here goes:

I'm still all broken up that My Future Husband David Tennant is leaving the Whoniverse. (though I'm excited to see who's next, and there's always the alternate reality doctorclone hanging out and making babies with Rose, so he can come back without it even being a cross-time storyline or anything...). This points out the River Song issues, too, because she recognized him, and now she can't happen-- except that my roomie came up with the beautiful idea that maybe she sees him, not the form he's in, so it won't really matter who he looks like and she can still be there! Are you listening Steven?

Den of Geek is still working its way through X-Files, one episode at a time for the next six million years. Here's S01E11 - Eve (the one with all the Eves, and the first appearance of the clones), and S01E12 - Fire (the one with the English family, Mulder's ex blonde, and the dude who controls fire), and S01E13 - Beyond the Sea (the one where we find out that Scully's dad is General Hammond, and she has issues with his death while a psychic makes them switch roles), and S01E14 - Gender Bender (the one with the amish aliens), S01E15 - Lazarus (the one where Scully's ex partner and lover gets posessed).

Tom Baker hosted an interview show on the Beeb recently. I'll find it, watch it, and get back to you.

Two of Heroes' writers / executive producers have been fired because the network doesn't like where the show is going, they've been consistently over budget, and ratings are still dropping. And yet, they're still planning season 4.

Using math and crazy fandom, Den of Geek determines who the next Doctor will be and when they'll take over and how long they'll last. Chee!

My Future Husband David Tennant talks about leaving and being the Doctor and how he was almsot convinced to stay.

A reminder that Stevel Moffet likes an older, weirder actor for playing the Doctor... which leaves Bill Nighy and makes me happy. Though the articles comments remind everyone that that statement was ages ago, and things have changed.

More about who will be Doctor 11. I'm still backing my roomate. He's ginger and not mean.

Another new character on Lost: Amy

Knight Rider is getting rebooted after the 13th ep, and they're leaving all the fun side characters in the dust. And the boring ones. And getting rid of the terrorist-of-the-week idea so it's more like the old guy-does-good-on-his-own deal. So... is he stealing KITT and going solo? That might be fun. And I like asian chick and wimpy geek.

Life On Mars US gets a full season. Even though I haven't seen a single aired episode. (I had to bump it to the summer-catchup list) So it's up to 22 eps, when the brittish version is, like 6? 8? That's alot of new story to come up with, not to mention the fact that the UK one is closed, whereas the US one is open-ended like all US shows.

Lost is moving to Wednesday and conflicting with more of the shows I watch. But I'm still excited that we're on the downslope and everything is getting wrapped up.

More of who might be the Doctor: this time, Colin Salmon
, who played Dr Moon. Is it just me, or are all the suggestions getting a little inbred by sticking with people who have already been on the show?

Den of Geek offers up the Ten Worst Dalek Stories Ever! And I'm kind of surprised that there's only the ten. Which points out many of the problems I have with daleks. But does not include Daleks in Manhattan??

And that catches us up with Den Of Geek. i09 Will take much longer...

Friday, November 14, 2008

news: opals on mars

They found 'hydrated sillica' on Mars. That's opals, baby.

This is exciting for several Sci-Fi worthy reasons:
1. It means water was free-flowing on the surface for long enough to change the chemical composition of the surrounding bedrock in very specific ways that mean it lasted longer then previously thought-- bringing a watery Mars into the timeframe of life development here on Earth (though it was still gone long before modern humans; not before archaic humans, though, and it just sparks the imagination all over the place to think that proto and early humans might have looked up and seen a blue dot where we see a red one...).
1a. This means there might have been life on Mars and it might have lasted long enough to grow big enough that we could find fossils with the naked eye, if we can find the sorts of terrain that would expose fossils in a weather-system entirely unlike ours.

2. It gives a reason to go to Mars and an industry to pay for it. Opals are expensive and still moderately rare here; Mars opals would be so much more exotic, rare and astronomically expensive, but if they're gem-quality in sufficient quantities, they'll pay back the cost of getting there to bring them back almost immediately. Seriously, who wouldn't want a Mars opal? And we know from experience that greed is a faster motivator for expansion and colonization for people then humanitarianism ever was, so why not prey on rich people's need to get more rich as a way to get the scientists and colonists over there? C'mon! It's brilliant! It'll be stupid-expensive, but it can be done in my lifetime!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

cartoon: wolverine and the x-men

We watched the first three episodes, what would be a movie if they put it on DVD, and I must say I'm kind of impressed. I've watched all the many variations of the X-Men cartoons, even the bad ones (I'm looking at you, early nineties), and this is not a bad one. So far, something inexplicable happened to the Professor and Jean, which seems to have wiped them out and destroyed the mansion, and in the wake of this, Wolvie went walkabout, Beast moved into the basement, Angel and Iceman went back to their parents, and Scott went all scruffy and reclusive. Senator Kelly is all up in the whitehouse, and the Sentinels have just been unveiled. Mutants are having to be registered, and the dangerous ones are being locked away. Genosha is open to the public and Magneto wants all the mutants to join him there, and Kitty Pryde is on the way to do just that.

A year after it all falls apart, Wolvie tries to get the team back together to do something about the missing team mates and the messed up world that needs them, and then it's a rollicking game of Name That X-Man while mutants are being attacked and jailed, and then break out and help or run off. Meanwhile, Rogue, who was all emo in the highschool version of the show, is still all emo, and has gone over to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (which has Domino instead of the more expected Mystique, which is fun), and Emma Frost has closed down her own school (which should have been the soon-to-die Hellions) because her students keep getting kidnapped and locked away, and she wants to help them. In her frosty, bitchy, can't quite trust her way.

Like I said, I'm pretty impressed. There's an interracial couple right at the beginning, and their kid is not a stereotype, which is great. The characters are complex and seem to actually have emotions without being overly melodramatic (I'm looking at you again, early nineties). And best of all, the plot line is complex and variable, even when you know the storylines they're basing all this on, and it's pretty fresh-seeming without feeling like it's too updated, which is almost my biggest problem with the highschool version.

I like. Let's see if it holds up to weekly storylines after the three-part first ep.

side project week 8: classic who

The Monster of Peladon (parts 1,2,3 of 6)

The first half of this story finds us back on Peladon with the Doctor, and this time with Sarah-Jane. The Doctor wants to see his old friend the king, but they find that he's been dead for ages and his young daughter is on the throne-- and, as usual, he's a legend. Alpha Centauri is there, and he recognizes the Doctor, but the planet of Peladon seems to be plagued with advisors to the crown who are more suspicious than wise, and so he thinks the Doctor is a spy. See, there's this problem in a mine-- like always for the third Doctor, who is more in a mine than in a quarry-- where the Galactic Federation is trying totake over some mineral and the people don't want to, they just want the weapons. There's a rebellion and there's doublecrossing, Sarah-Jane is often separated, and starts out kinda whiny before she gets the hang of doing things for herself, the Doctor sings his song again, they get tossed into a pit and are immediately brought back out after the cliffhanger, there's political intrigue that's not very intriguing, there's people who have weird fros that take over much of their faces and contain skunk-like streaks...

So far, I'm not terribly impressed with the show, but we're only half way through, so maybe it will improve by the end. Mostly, though, it seems that it's all things we see all the time on this Doctor's run, social upheval, the need for strong women, people in charge not knowing what's going on and / or lying to everyone else, mining disputes... I want something new to happen, but I'm not holding much hope. It almost feels like parts that were taken out of the original story, especially when Sarah-Jane goes all Jo-whiny, but if that's the case, they were cut for a reason and I could have been fine without them.

This is the second-to-last episode for the Third Doctor, and I hope his last one is better.

Friday, November 7, 2008

proven guilty: book eight of the dresden files

The second to last one I can get my hands on without having to buy one!

This installment brings us Harry helping out a grown-up and gothed-out runaway daughter of a old friend and her drugged-out boyfriend. In no time flat, he's involved in a Horror Convention whose name includes three exclamation points and is being plagued by grisly horror-movie themed murders. This leads Harry to the trail of a warlock, through the very heart of the Winter Court of Faerie, against the oldest creatures to feed on fear and to something entirely different then he expected to wind up at. Meanwhile, Red Court vamps are attacking the Council and Wardens even when they should be under Faerie protection, and neither Summer or Winter will move to help because it'll divide forces and make one side weaker then the other, which they only just avoided in Summer Knight a few years before. Added to that, Harry's falling for Murphy, and the two of them have some sweet moments and long talks that crush my shippy little soul but make perfect sense within the characters, Thomas is acting weird and being distant, we get to hang out with Rawlins-the-cop, Mab might be nuts or it might be another plot, the Summer Lady and Summer Knight are under a compulsion not to help Harry with anything, Harry's building a new metaphysical toy in the basement, and the scare-mongers are getting loose. And there's another shadowy organization taking the field. Harry goes up against the Council and manages to piss off the Merlin, but wins more support amongst the rest. Molly is more than she seems.

I fear I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but these books really do keep upping the ante each time. He's cranking them out at a rate of one a year, slowed only by the start of another series between books so that he's still making one book a year, and yet there's no evidence of fatigue. Storylines make perfect sense. Nothing falls through the cracks. And really, who other than Harry could attack the center of all Winter's power and survive? Who could have a fallen angel embedded in his brain and not give in to temptation? The plot's thickening all over the place, and yet it manages to still make sense, building on previous plot twists, bringing back already-established characters rather then introducing new ones to do what they do so that there's a sort of continuity to the world, a sense of community. And the relationships between the characters keep growing the way real ones do.

And the whole book was worth it for Harry freaking out over some kids dressed up as vampires, before he realizes they aren't real.