Book Review: A Vision of Fire (by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin)

The reviews for this were optimistic and vague. Most seemed to center around the fact that the novel (the first of a series) is by Agent Scully. Taglines on the back proclaim, “Gillian Anderson is returning to the genre that made her a cultural icon.” -Entertainment Weekly, “This is basically the dream of nerds everywhere.” -Flavorwire. But is it? it’s cowritten by Jeff Rovin, he’s written 130 books of varying genres, fiction, non-fiction, TV shows. He frequently ghostwrites. Which makes me wonder how much of this was written by who. Not that it actually matters or not, a good book is a good book but if it is depending on a big name in Sci-fi to sell books and it’s that of an actress instead of an author… well, it seems like selling out.

Anyway, the characters are great. Caitlyn, Maanik, Ben, Jacob, Flora, Gaelle are well thought out and planned. No one appears just to stumble on clues for the MCs. Caitlyn is a professional woman with a well rounded life who embarks on this journey to find the cause of a traumatised child’s suffering and ends up finding ties to an ancient race. She travels the globe and starts a romance with a colleague without coming up Pollyanna-ish or forgetting she has a son, a family and other professional obligations. Which happens a ton in the fantasy genre (how is Sookie Stackhouse still employed?).

Book One of the Earthend Saga, as it also is called, starts out slow, the characterization works well, but we don’t get to the meat of what is happening until the last quarter of the book. The daughter of the ambassador to the United Nations witnesses an assassination attempt on her father and starts coming apart at the seams. Across the globe a boy spontaneously self-immolates. A political conflict in Kashmir threatens a world war. A woman watches her mother nearly drown in Haiti. And all these events are connected.

And Caitlyn comes to discover that the suffering is connected to events like this across time and space.

Suffering does not exist in a vacuum. We are all connected.

That is the main theme of the book, and it was enjoyable. But not astounding.

But if you think about it deeply, we are becoming more of a global society and we need to stop think of events in other countries as far away, about past tragedies as “long ago” or barbaric, we need to stop thinking of those suffering in war torn countries as “other”. We only have one planet here and no matter what, we are all connected and we are connected to events past and present and we have more in common than we may realize.

3/5 Stars

Extant- Episode 6

This is super abridged because I couldn’t/didn’t want to concentrate on the live tweet with the injustice that is Ferguson, MO right now. It took over my twitter, which is good, since Boston news ain’t covering shit.

Man (“top scientist”) gets circles in his head and gets all crazy over Molly’s baby/fetus that’s incubating in a fish tank and murders someone and destroys thousands of dollars worth of equipment..

Ethan is having dreams even though John didn’t invent that yet.

Julie flirts with a babe at the gym (who checks out her stellar bionic legs). She was part of the team that designed her new friend’s bionic joints. And this is the kind of thing that I like, that she’s a woman of science but can use it to flirt -not with her married coworker. 

Molly goes off to the office to nose around. She asks Sam for another session, there’s a security breach. The male astronaut (the other one affected by the spores) is the one who caused it. Molly listens in and hears the dirt that Alan has on Sam. 

Odin, Julie’s crush sees Ethan at the lab. Odin comes in to get his joints checked. Ethan creeped out Molly by breaking all of the pencils to draws those circles. Julie brags about the work she did designing Ethan, and Odin agrees.

Meanwhile, John, Krieger and Molly have a meeting of the minds about “the circles” Krieger thinks it’s a distress signal. Krieger then separates and gets flogged by ISEA’s head of security.

Sparks’s daughter was impregnated by aliens and died on another ship. She ejected herself into space. Molly somehow concludes from this that the baby is still alive. That makes no sense.  

And there will be 2 hours of this next week. ohhh boy.

There are things I enjoy about this show, but the pacing is weirdly slow especially in the past couple episodes. And I wish we would get to the part where things start to make sense… like whose fucking baby is this? And what does it have to do with Sparks’s daughter.

Also I hope that Ethan stopped killing birds. 

31 Horrifying Days- Day 13: Godzilla (2014)

Lazy as hell. Make due with Radio Of Horror‘s official video review.

The only thing I’d like to add -Aaron Taylor-JOHNSON (told you he had 2 last names)who plays Ford finds a little buddy at one point and saves him from monsters on a train. When the monster’s are around Elizabeth Olsen’s Elle, the shots are all her running for her life. I’m just saying, she could have had a side adventure. The bus driver on the bus that her son was on got in on some heroics and he was in the picture for 5 minutes. 

4.25/5

Don’t be cheap, go see it on the big screen.

Almost Human: episodes 1 + 2

Pilot. 

So the plot of this show, taking place in 2048 is essentially the plot of Dredd, which also starred Karl Urban. Which is fine, I like Dredd, Drugs have taken over schools and streets and cops are given robot reinforcements to help fight drug lords and violent gangs.

Karl Urban is there, as detective John Kennex with his robot back-up who he is arguing with because his robot does not understand the value of human life, he only understands odds, statistics. He does everything he can to save his partner but in the end they are blown to bits by the criminals they were pursuing. 

He’s getting some controversial treatments after being through the trauma and then a 17 month coma.

John gets called in to investigate following an armed robbery. His leg got blown off and he has a mechanical leg. 785 has been assigned to him. He wants a human partner but he is told by Lisa from Six Feet Under that robot partners are mandatory. She shows him the robbery video and points out why she thinks it’s connected to Syndicate. 

Richard, a fellow officer, blames John for getting his partner killed in the raid. He disobeyed instructions… blah blah.

While at the crime scene he has a flashback to the day his partner was killed. The MX says he thinks John had a seizure and he’s going to report what he saw. John says there’s nothing to report (which there is and isn’t) and it goes on from there until John pushes the bot out of the speeding car.

Saying his MX bust have experienced a software malfunction, he goes to get a new one (one who isn’t accusing him of getting black market medical treatment) and they give him a robot that got scrapped, one that was closer to human.

Dorian was decommissioned 4 years ago. “I express most data conversationally, man.” 

Richard calls the new team 2 from the scrap heap. 

Criminals in the same masks as in the robbery kidnap an detective Vogel and destroy his MX and John questions a suspect who was injured in the robbery. He shot himself to get away from the Syndicate. John threatens to throw Dorian out of the car. 

The suspect makes himself vomit and pulls a small explosive out of his stomach and sticks it on the back of the toilet.

They go to find Vogel and Dorian disobeys the MX models. Finding an elaborate trip wire and set up John knows they’ve been tricked. The tries to call in to Patel who is transporting the suspect. 

They gas Vogel right in front of him.

the suspect escapes.

MX units are made to feel nothing, Dorian wasn’t created that way. He read the file where John blamed the MX for leaving his partner behind to save others. 

Vogel was a test, the gas is designed to target cops. John heads to his doctor to undergo more treatment to remember what he needs to know about Syndicate to stop them from targetting police. While in the chamber, he recovers a memory, his girlfriend who disappeared while he was comatose was there. She was a member of Syndicate. Dorian busts in and gives him a shock to the heart. Saves his life.

Over noodles in the rain Dorian says he really did it for himself. If John were dead, he would be back to the scrap heap. John’s just lucky that he wants to be a cop so badly.

They discuss the differences in programming between MXs and Dorian’s type. John decides that they should recover the memory from Vogel’s MX’s memory and give it to Dorian because he can make the connection. Which he does, and they find that Syndicate is planning to hit the police evidence locker TONIGHT. 

Syndicate drops the MXs but Dorian, who runs on a different frequency, stays up. Evidence files get destroyed but John and Dorian save the lives of the human officers and apprehend a man high up in Syndicate.

Thanks to John and his DRN bot, lives are saved and Richard (and other haters) have no choice but to acknowledge this.

Skin.

A “bang bot” or a female robot designed specifically for sexual purposes is having tests performed on her while she flirts with a man. They are being watched and someone becomes concerned when they see she is not being used for her intended purposes. After he cuts a piece of her hair, 2 Albanian men bust in and kill the man performing the tests then they explode a DNA bomb so that there will be no traces of evidence that are not tainted. 

The man killed was an inventor, Sebastian Johns. He invented the first “sex robot” (used some of the same tech from the DRN models to make them more empathetic to the need and wishes of their partners. 

John and Dorian are showing off how cool they are to kids. Dorian shows them his glowing electrical veins under his skin… John stabs himself in his synthetic leg… the kids freak. Shocker.

They investigate the murder. The men’s faces show up as flashes of light on the security cameras, the girl shows up, the test for DNA wherever she touches on the footage and she is leaving behind traces of DNA from a 25 year old woman who was abducted from a parking garage. There have been 3 other cases that follow this pattern. The latest one was witnessed by the woman’s young child. 

John decides to show off that he can be good with kids, he gives a miniature giraffe that moves like a real giraffe to the boy, Victor, and tells him that he trusts him to take care of it, but that he needs him to be brave and tell him what he remembers with his mom. He remembers a big silver car- they find the car on security cameras with stolen plates. But atleast now they have a lead.

Sebastian Johns was being sued by his former business partner. John and Dorian go to see him. The company went bankrupt because their largest investor- Albanian business men- backed out. They said they could “cut out the middle man” but he finds it hard to believe anyone could make a bot as realistic as theirs. Of the Albanians he says, “They were good clients and they always paid on time,” that’s all he’s willing to say. 

Dorian hacks in and they find the connection. Then they head to the club and test the bots for human DNA. John is approached and asked if they want a bot. Special rate for cops.

The others have tracked the sedan to a warehouse and Detective Kennex and Dorian are dispatched. 

Dorian, noticing that John is attracted to the female robots, creates a profile for John on a dating website (his testicles were at maximum capacity). John describes what he wants in a woman and pretty much describes detective Stahl. who, speaking of, calls to say they’ve found the suspect’s vehicle. They get on the scene and find Vanessa, a sex robot who tests positive for human DNA, a woman named Lorraine who was abducted from a parking garage. Dorian is visibly upset because he knows that Vanessa is illegal and that she also has emotions the way Dorian does.

They attempt to question her for information but that doesn’t work out, so they access her data and find she was first activated in Kingston Heights. They raid Kingston Heights and find 2 of the 3 recently abducted women (including Victor’s mom) alive.

Dorian learns that Vanessa has to be deactivated but chooses to go and comfort her as it happens. John confronts his past and goes to see his former partner’s widow and son. 

There’s a ton going on here in the first two episodes, I’m glad we got further away from the “war on drugs” plotline from the first episode. I like Dorian, he’s caring, brave, determined to be a cop… but also missing many social cues while being tuned in meticulously on other levels. The idea of robots with empathy isn’t totally unique, but I think it’s really interesting that the police force was largely more comfortable with the MX models as opposed to the DRN, more inclined to use the models that played the odds, those that they don’t have to care about or feel anything for. That distance between the “authority” and other humans. It’s also very telling that the DRN models were decommissioned because they “snapped.” As robots given agency and empathy they process complex emotions but are still treated as “things” and not as people, those they risked their lives for and connected with considered them “less than.” Dorian was very concerned about who will remember him when he is gone while still worrying that he will end up back in the heap again and then witnessing Vanessa, a robot programmed to form connections, meet a cruel fate. 

Movie Reviews #8-#11 (City of Bones, You’re Next, The World’s End)

Spoiler minimal reviews of the week’s hottest Sci-fi, Urban Fantasy and Horror titles + one direct to DVD waste of time.

The World’s End– Was more serious and heartfelt than I thought it would be. Gary King (Simon Pegg) borders on unrelatable (while reminding me of Charlize’s character in Young Adult) as a forty something 12 stepper looking to reclaim his lost dream… of hitting 12 pubs  in one night on a crawl in his hometown of Newton Haven that they call “The Golden Mile” he hooks up with his estranged friends… and while they may not have picture perfect lives, most are beyond clinging to their frat boy dream. Through a series of deceptions, Gary convinces his friends to join him and reclaim the glory they/he has lost…. and then some don’t-call-them-robots filled with blue blood show up and start replacing the whole town of Newton Haven. There was so much awkward, “You aren’t as cool as me! I’m the King! Gary King!”

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The special effects were really cool… better than Hot Fuzz, but doesn’t hold a candle to Shaun of the Dead. 3.5 Pints!

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

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I didn’t read the books and was only slightly aware of what to expect. (I wanted to read the books before I saw the movie… didn’t pan out, whatevs). It’s about a girl, Clary, who starts coming into a power that her mother has desperately been hiding from her. On her birthday, after sneaking into a club and seeing a demon murdered… a chain of events unfolds which ends with her mom missing, her “best friend” being attacked by vampires and an interesting bunch of Shadow Hunters, powerful dudes, werewolves and demons making a grab for the mortal cup which Clary holds the key to. This movie was visually awesome. The demons were exceptionally cool, and I’m a little bit of an amateur architecture nerd… it was really awesome. It was also a little like Star Wars… lol. Clary was awesome and after realistic amounts of being stunned and overwhelmed grasps her new found powers and charges bravely forward. Oh and also, everyone who is all “boohoo, poor Simon” I’m telling you right now: Clary was clear that she didn’t have feelings for him and he was all “but I love youuuuu and I’m sooo sad” Yeah? Too bad. She doesn’t have to love you just because you are nice to her. Friendzoning is BS.

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Jonathan Rhys Meyers had incredibly bad hair in this movie. But he is really just a fantastic looking human being. Can’t wait to see how he does Dracula, BTW.

Irregardless… 4.5 Mortal Cups

You’re Next– A wealthy family is reuniting for their parents 35th wedding anniversary, with their own significant others in tow where a group of killers terrorizing the out of the way vacation home neighborhood set their sights on the dinner party. The women really have the lockdown on being awesome in this movie… well, one specifically.

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She was raised on a survivalist compound. Yeah. no one saw that coming. Especially not the mysterious psychos.

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(But the mom gets bonus points… male family members were treating her as irrational while they would have done better to listen to her paranoid meltdown). The gore, the survival tips, the plot, the creepy cute masks, the coldblooded killers, the surprises… eeep… No one is NOT over-killed. So many moments to gasp, and clever writing that sets it apart from others in the genre. 5 Severed Arteries!

Bonus Content:

The Cloth– which I was supposed to review last week. The big names promoting this movie hardly made an appearance. Promiscuous blond guy tells virginal Mexican girl that she’s so uptight because she never got laid. There’s a threesome that was highly unnecessary and just pandered to male fantasy with out any regard for plot. The opening scene was really gross and cool (a girl is getting a demon exorcised and blood is pouring out of her mouth and it’s irrationally gross and well done… sadly, that seemed to be all this movie had to offer. 1 Star.

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

This week’s features are: Read in Paris in Spare Time Book Blog.

Generate your followers and blog hits! Make your post, add it to the linky, hop around, follow everyone I linked, follow anyone who follows you, follow anyone who looks cool. Say hi, play nice, make friends.

This week: Book Selfie!

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My face. Current reads: Darwin Elevator by Jason M Hough, Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Bottom photo: Today’s haul from That’s Entertainment. ($9, you believe that?! so much awesome).

You can follow my on bloglovin’, or twitter, or here on wordpress. XOXO

Movie Review #7- Elysium

The year is 2154. Earth ran out of natural resources, people on Earth are living on top of each other high rises added onto, Limited food and water, abundance of illness, poverty and crime. The wealthy move to the space to preserve their way of life. They build an outerspace habitat, where they can live in the style they have become accustomed to, create their own resources and heal any diseases by recalibrating the body. I think you already figure, they don’t want to share.

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Those on Earth have been left behind to fend for themselves, struggling against illness, droid police, automated parole officers, constant surveillance, corrupt employers, limited resources. Their are some who try to make it to Elysium via illegal shuttles that Spider has set up, but Jodie Foster’s character makes no exceptions. Every one who goes up illegally gets shot down. The story follows Max de Costa, former car thief, trying to make it on the straight and narrow but, as a known felon and ex-con, he’s not left with many options.

His arm gets broken by a police robot and he meets up with a woman he knew as a child, Fray, who is trying to make the best life she can for herself despite the odds. She’s become a nurse, but her daughter is sick. Max’s pay gets docked for having a broken arm. When a machine gets jammed his boss orders him in, he tries to refuse but his boss says “alright then, I’ll find someone who will, go clean out your locker.” Like I said, no choices. He goes in and receives a lethal dose of radiation, catastrophic organ failure will occur within 5 days. Unless he can get to Elysium.

Of course, he’s not the only one. And he ends up in a race to save the world.

He gets a freaky exoskeleton drilled into him to keep his radiation riddled body moving around (and kicking ass). He goes to Fray for help but when she tells him about her daughter Max says he can’t help her daughter get to Elysium (yeah, right, you know you’re going to help her, Matt… I mean, Max).

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This movie was visually amazing. The grittiness of urban overpopulation, graffiti on everything, dirt and blood and guts. Versus the beauty of Elysium, a giant starwheel with mansions and manicured lawns, bright whites. 

The action scenes are fun and exciting. The plot is good, fast paced, enough humanity shown to invest the viewer in the plot advancement. There are many different angles, many different reasons why characters are trying to get to Elysium and what it means for them. Spider wants everyone to have what they have in Elysium (do poor people not deserve healthcare? not deserve quality of life for circumstances they were born into?), Kruger… well, much more self serving but still a nice slap in the face for the powers that be, Max starts out just wanting to save his own life, Fray would risk anything for her daughter, Delacourt wants to keep Elysium preserved for her WASPy family and keep what THEY created for THEM. It’s a good story.

What I will say though, is it’s pretty heavy handed. “Oh, the people from Earth struggling to get to Elysium, it’s like illegal immigrants coming to America” derrrrrrrrrrr The people from Earth were all speaking English and Spanish interchangeably… Which makes enough sense, but the people in Elysium were all speaking English and French. French? What? Because people think French is high society? I was trying to talk about this during the movie (worst person to see movies with, right here) Spain is in Europe, it’s near France. The Latin American countries that are “developing countries” are probably what we were supposed to be thinking of, I would just like to put out there that there are former French colonies in Africa that are not dissimilar in terms of development. Here’s a map:

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Like I said, I think it’s heavy handed and assuming that Americans are dumb dumbs. But maybe we are, if we don’t think too much, we think of Mexicans and French Canadians. Did Canada build Elysium? Maybe I’m thinking about that too much.

Also, the rich people on their magical habitat: why can you only build one? Build two, dumb dumbs. There is actually a point to their arguement that is people on Earth did not have illness there would be EVEN MORE PEOPLE in a place that has TOO MANY PEOPLE. This is the most unpopular truth. But it is the truth. If there’s not enough resources for the population and then mortality rate decreases there’s more people. And since we also frown on limiting breeding and what not here in this particular location, I don’t know how that works. It’s more complicated than they made it. If Elysium lets people in, they’ll run out too (unless they build another one, which no one addressed). But Jodie Foster’s Delacourt was presented as a cold hard villain that no one could possibly feel sorry for. It could have had more nuance.

Also, I would have liked it if Max had a little time to be a selfish anti-hero before getting set on a mission to save… well… everyone. If having your boss demand that you go into a dangerous machine that doses you with radiation that’s going to give you catastrophic organ failure within 5 days isn’t an excuse to go on a batshit crazy rampage… I just don’t know what it is.

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Disclaimer: This is a sci-fi dystopian starring Matt Damon. There was no way for me to not love this and not fangirl at it. I frigging love Matt Damon. I do. When did he even do a sci-fi movie? Titan AE? That’s all I could think of. And he said after he finished the Bourne movies that he was out of the action game. But he did an excellent job (and is still ridiculously good looking). 

Also, I know I just complained a whole bunch about societal implications but that’s kinda my thang… Are you new here? You should subscribe or follow me on twitter. And it was a really awesome movie. And *the only* block buster movie that wasn’t part of a series or a sequel or something. It looks great, it’s fun, it’s gross and tough and gritty and badass, and it’s smart enough. And the droid cops are frightening.

The lengths that those in Elysium go to to keep people out (including tattooed IDs that mesh with your DNA) the elite in Elysium being concerned about their legacy (their children and children’s children) rather than… well, everyone else, that they hide data in people’s brains, that they would employ rapists to keep what they have really drives home how ugly things can get.

And for team Earth: Max getting a robotic skeleton screwed into his body is just the beginning of how far he will go to save himself and do what’s right. That’s awesome.

4.5/5 Stars!

Pack you iodine pills, kids.