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[personal profile] spindizzy
A banner for The Black Tapes with 'Do You Believe' written over tree silhouettes.

Black Tapes is a documentary podcast series sponsored by Pacific Northwest Stories that started off looking at interesting lives and... Kinda got stuck on their first topic; a paranormal researcher who doesn't believe in the paranormal. The series revolves around this researcher and his "black tapes", a collection of his unsolved cases.

... Or at least, that's in the in-universe explanation; in actuality it's a mockumentary-style horror podcast, following Alex Reagan, a journalist and podcast host, and Doctor Richard Strand, a paranormal researcher with his own institute that focuses on disproving what people claim to be paranormal phenomena, as they travel across America going over his Collection of Totally Unconnected Unsolved Cases. It's available to listen to on their website, and there are fan-made transcriptions available for those who prefer them.

I swear pretty much every podcast listener I know has recommended The Black Tapes to me at one point or another, and it's time for me to join the chorus.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Illustration for The Mothers of Voorhisville, showing Jeremy arriving to town on a hease

The things you have heard are true; we are the mothers of monsters. We would, however, like to clarify a few points.

Jodie: Over the last year, I've noticed that SFF has almost a sub-genre of stories about fantastical reproduction (The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, The Brides of Heaven by N. K Jemisin, Maul by Tricia Sullivan to name a few examples). The genre has also produced a lot of stories which imagine, or express concern about, how parents will have children in the future or in magical worlds, for example Starglass by Phoebe North, Motherlines by Suzy Mckee Charnas and God's War by Kameron Hurley all show futuristic reproduction.

The Mothers of Voorhisville by Mary Rickert is one of these stories about fantastical pregnancies, babies and births. SFF has a troubled time with mothers, and the genre is well known for using dead mothers as a quick and lazy way to inject emotional pain into its stories (Guardians of the Galaxy I'm looking at you). Did you have any concerns about the way motherhood was characterised in this story, or did you feel that The Mothers of Voorhisville managed to present a complicated picture of women who were 'the mothers of monsters' without demonising mothers in typical, sexist ways?

Read more... )

You can read The Mothers of Voorhisville for free at Tor.
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[personal profile] renay
Just when I think that Teen Wolf has gone over too many sharks and I'm going to shunt it aside for more quality television, they do something like "117". It's like finding a treasure chest or a health pack right before a surprise mini-boss. I had fun this episode, and thus, I am appropriately terrified for "Muted", which I'm sure will take all the good feelings this episode engendered, turn them into shards of my hopes and dreams, and sprinkle them at my feet.

Teen Wolf does amazing things when it embraces that its premise is silly and departs from that place rather than trying to manufacture drama. As long as it keeps its eye on the prize of "Maximum LOLs" or "Maximum TEARS", episodes tend to be enjoyable. It's obvious that Jeff Davis wasn't the main writer on this episode because although it gets lobbed at our eyeballs like a 45 minute youtube video by someone who's just learned how to use jump cuts, it manages to stay mildly cohesive. I know zilch about critiquing screenwriting, but seriously, the last ten minutes were exhausting. I want to ask Eoghan O'Donnell if this was on purpose. I had narrative whiplash. O'Donnell wrote "Galvanize", too, which was one of the excellent, tense episodes at the start of Season 3B, but I don't remember it being quite this high-strung. Even more guilt for Derek Hale. )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
red book cover showing a black silhouette illustration of a rearing horse - a curlicue design is placed over the top of the horse and if you look closely the swirls create the outline of a heart

He jerks his head towards me so fast that I have an iron rod out of my pocket before he's finished his turn. But he wasn't attacking, merely moving to study me with his good eye.

I trust Corr more than any of them.

I should not trust him at all.

His neck is soft, though the skin around his eyes is tight, so into the surf we go. I let me breath out in a rush as the cold water creeps up my ankles. And then we stand there, and I watch him again, seeing what effect the magic eddying around his ankles has. He shivers but doesn't tense; we have done this before and the month is young. I cup a handful of salt water and tip it on to his shoulder, my lips pressed against his skin, whispering. Still he stands. So I stand with him and let the gritty surf work on my tired feet.

"Did you ever wonder…" Holly says, after a pause. "No, perhaps you don't. Perhaps you know. If anyone knows, you do. I've been wondering as I've been here, why it is that Thisby has the capaill uisce and no one else does?"

"Because we love them."

Why do I read? Well, there's an answer I would give if I thought I could trust it to be handled carefully. Can I trust you, readers? Let's take a leap and believe for a second that I can. Why do I read? Why do I spend so much time taking in media and then turning it over in my mind? Well, I am looking for a feeling.

Contains many spoilers about the book's plot and series one of Hannibal )

Other Reviews

Lady Business+ - Episode #2: The Scorpio Races
The Booksmugglers
Narratively Speaking
My Friend Amy

Supplemental Material

The Scorpio Races animated trailer
"Writing the Book I Always Meant to"
The Scorpio Races - Audio excerpts and music
The Scorpio Races playlist
November cakes recipie
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[personal profile] renay

Sleepy Hollow title card

I don't know where I heard about Sleepy Hollow, but when I watched the trailer I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh, it's REVOLUTIONARY WAR FANFIC!" Except I was wrong. It's Revolutionary War fanfic with monsters. EVEN BETTER.

I've never been into the Sleepy Hollow story or remix culture. I did watch both the cartoon every Halloween (public schools; thank you) and the 1999 film featuring Christopher Walken as the Horseman and an extremely blonde Christina Ricci, which was passable. It didn't do a lot to stick with me. The draw to this iteration was the main character, Abbie Mills, and all the scenes in the trailer where she's being a smartass with a dude a foot taller than her, and showing off her gun.

The important thing about Sleepy Hollow is a) that this is full on shameless crossover fanfic and b) that it's fully aware of the batshit premise it has to work within. It decides, "You know what? Gun it." The first episode is chock full of dramatics, including but not limited to: mystery caves, demon horses, George Washington as a defender against dark forces, nefarious trees, badass witches, cultural retconning, long-kept secrets, sassy quips, and gunfights over pickled heads. I went in with my expectations low. I came out with the firm belief that for a pilot about the apocalypse the entire episode was perfection and that Abbie is my new hero.

A summary of the episode, or, the Official Trailer.

Hold on to your head. )
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[personal profile] renay
Cover of Leviathan Wakes showing a spaceship approaching a human-developed asteroid.

Humanity has colonized the solar system — Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond — but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for — and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to "The Scopuli" and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations — and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe. (source)


Leviathan Wakes has —

Awesome space battles: ✓
Fantastic teamwork and team dynamics: ✓
Cool divisions in future!humanity: ✓
Neat space habitats: ✓
Morally dubious baddies: ✓
Brothels in space!!: ✓
Smurfette Principle in Action: ✓
Important Dead Lady: ✓

...wait. Read more... )

Other Reviews )
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[personal profile] renay
the cover of The Shining Girls

The girl who wouldn't die hunts the killer who shouldn't exist.

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth... (source)

This is a story about the murder of women, viciously gendered violence, and the brutal nature of time.

I cannot stress enough: this book is about the serial stalking of young girls followed by their horrific deaths as adults by a sexualized male predator. It is, especially for those sensitive to malicious violence aimed at girls and women, something to be handled with care, and possibly not attempted at all. Read more... )

Other Reviews )

Supplemental Material )
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[personal profile] bookgazing

Recently I had a reading slump. Everything I picked up annoyed me, or was awful (the awful ones were sometimes full of the casual sexism I would generally just shoulder barge past on the way to a good time). All the books just needed to go over there for a while, before I imprisoned them in a chest and set them to float upon the ocean for ever more.

Now I hate reading slumps. I have many other ways to fill my down time, but if a couple of weeks go by and I haven’t had at least half an hour to settle with a print based story I get edgy and my brain hits the ‘if only I didn’t have to spend so much time at work I’d get so much done’ vortex. I imagine a lot of us try to keep ourselves away from, because that whirling follow me down hole only leads to doom. So, I needed something GOOD to pull me back from the ever alluring edge of self-pity. I needed something guaranteed. So, I turned to Slice of Cherry’, second novel from Dia Reeves, the super star young author whose blood thirsty, complexity filled debut novel 'Bleeding Violet' rocked my world last year with its reminder that in the world of fiction typical morality is over rated and it’s fun when scary monsters kill people.

In ‘Slice of Cherry’ Reeves returns readers to the town of Portero where Hanna, the heroine of ‘Bleeding Violet’ first encountered monsters, her mother and the deadly Mortmaine. Reeves doesn’t pick up Hanna’s story where it ended. Instead she tells the story of two new characters, focusing on Fancy and Kit, the daughter of Portero’s notorious serial killer, The Bonesaw Killer. Serial killing sisters – epic!

Fancy, awakes to find an unknown man standing over her. Before she can work out how best to hurt him for invading her personal space her sister Kit has whacked him over the head with a paper weight. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Reeves past two novels is that her heroines regularly use of violence, confronting cultural expectations about women in several ways. At the beginning of ‘Bleeding Violet’ Hanna tells the reader that she avoided being institutionalised by attacking her aunt with a lamp. At the beginning of ‘Slice of Cherry’ the girls protect themselves, again with violence, from an attacker who may seem more of a serious threat than Hanna’s aunt1. Although programs like Buffy have popularised the trend for women to bring defensive violence into the domestic, every day sphere and use domestic objects as non-traditional, funny, yet effective weapons I still tend to find it...idk provoking, surprising...exceptionally exciting... to see real life ladies defend themselves using force. I take that as an indication that outside of entertainment media, cultural norms still dominate the ‘Exactly how do ladies behave again?’ narrative and I need more physical, defensive lady business to combat it.

That’s not to say that ‘Slice of the Cherry’ is some kind of positive message book, with added violence. After protecting themselves, the girls drag the intruder down to the cellar where their father took his victims. Kit proceeds to keep him as a kind of grisly pet, renaming him Franken and cutting him all over just for the fun of it. It seems the girls, especially Kit who permanently carries a switchblade, have inherited their father’s love of slicing2. There’s nothing really positive to be learned from Fancy and Kit’s usual deep embrace of violence and the macabre (although it is nice to see stupid positive discrimination arguments confronted, as Fancy and Kit prove that girls can be just as uncompromisingly evil as boys). I can see why that might have kept some reviewers from connecting with Fancy and Kit, one of the things I like most about the sisters is that they display no real alignment with any recognisable moral code.

Kit is the first of the sisters who inflicts pain and her blood thirsty, unstable behaviour at the beginning of the book seem to set her up as the bad sister. I assumed she would drag down Fancy, the sister who seems to have the only conscious. Although Fancy gets enjoyment from dissecting people and animals, she seems reluctant to kill in the early chapters of the book. There are a couple of times when she tries to find ways to get Kit to compromise and just inflict pain, rather than kill her victims, for example when they first tie up Franken in the cellar she encourages her to keep him alive. Such behaviour seems to signal goodness.

Franken then asks Fancy to let him go, because he can see that she’s good. Fancy replies:

“Daddy’s locked up, so we never see him. Madda had to start working twelve-hour shifts to support us, so we never see her, either. If Kit kills you, they’ll lock her up too, and then I won’t have anybody. That’s the only reason you’re alive. Because if I thought I could do it and not get busted, I’d kill you myself.”

Fancy looked away from the prowler’s horrified stare and finished threading the needle.

“I’m the Bonesaw Killer’s daughter,” she whispered, almost to herself. “Why would you ever think I was good?”
Fancy’s intervention keeps Kit from killing Franken, so it seems reasonable to assume that this is one of those defensive statements of bravado that reveals the angst and guilt of a good character who cannot forgive themselves for not being better. Ha, well the jokes on reasonable expectations because Fancy’s statement turns out to be true. Fancy isn’t good by any stretch of liberal book morals and she does like hurting people, especially people who threaten to attract Kit’s affections. Once she realises her sister has been sneaking into the cellar to spend romantic time with their captive, she becomes less concerned with keeping Franken alive.

Fancy is a little bit of a brat. In the beginning Kit’s snarky comments about how they’ll do ‘ “Whatever you want. Like we always do.” ‘ seem hypocritically un-aware, because Fancy is the one who isn’t interested in killing and Kit is the one pushing her. As the book moves on though it becomes clear that Fancy does like to get her own way. Fancy finds a way to enter and control a magical kingdom that she calls the happy place, where the sisters can hide the bodies of their victims and kill without making a mess. Once there Fancy promises Kit she can go to with her knife, but each time she puts these people through a magical, more inventive form of killing that she controls. Kit gets to do nothing and Fancy gets her way, causing Kit to call her ‘Maharaja’. Fancy’s earlier attempts to restrain Kit now appears much less virtuous; just another episode where she seeks to control her sister.

It’s actually Kit who begins to pull away from killing and cutting, while Fancy grows more interested in the murders. That’s not to say that Kit is ever good, as readers outside of Portero might understand the word. After they capture Franken and Kit kills a rude, but otherwise innocent cashier. This causes the sisters start to pick their victims more carefully, making the move to killing bad people. Their plan may sounds like Dexter Morgan’s moral serial killer code, but the girls are too genuinely murder happy to spend any time developing this strategy for any kind of moral reasons. Fancy suggests appealing for ‘problems to solve’ through the hate mail their father receives because it guarantees a steady string of victims people already want dead. Both Kit and Fancy display the willingness to kill people who aren’t that villainous, even after they decide to just kill ‘bad’ people. Fancy even kills someone who asks for mercy. The sisters who are unnaturally close due to the isolation their father’s crimes transmit to them actually bond over their shared interest in murder.

The reason why Kit pulls away as Fancy becomes more interested in killing is because committing the murders keeps her isolated from other people, leaving her with just Fancy who seems to regard them as ‘practically the same person’. Kit objects to this and wants to be her own person, with other significant relationships in her life. Their father’s crimes have caused them to be shunned even by the blood thirsty citizens of Portero. Despite violently expressing her displeasure at their mother’s plans to split them up for the summer by sending them to separate creative classes Kit is the first sister to acquiesce. Through her lessons she finds pleasure in playing the piano, a solitary creative pursuit that her sister doesn’t share. She gets a boyfriend. She also comes into powers of her own. Fancy can conjure and control the happy place, but Kit finds out that she can settle corpses, by addressing their grievances. Meanwhile Fancy tries to pull Kit back into their exclusive world by pursuing more chances for murder, but her insistence on controlling Kit during these killings and making her enter Fancy’s ‘kingdom’ to kill just alienates her sister.

Eventually the good people of Portero start to validate the sister’s killing as good, useful acts (Portero is the craziest town in the universe and I don’t think readers are pushed into taking their word for it that what Fancy and Kit do is right, although the cautiously happy ending shows that Kit and Fancy aren’t characters that can be written off as total villains) and Kit and Fancy’s interests start to become similar again. Kit wants people to like them; Fancy wants her sister to kill with her. But obstacles continue to appear in the sisters’ relationship as Fancy remains unable to accept that her sister is a separate person and will form relationships with others. This theme, of sisters growing up and trying to define themselves as people and close relations is probably one of my favourite aspects of ‘Slice of Cherry’. Ladies, talking about things, taking their changing relationships with each other seriously – I like this.

So, Dia Reeves fan-girl, what bits weren’t you keen on? Readers need some balance you know.

I think I have to accept that I’m not a fan of the boys Reeves writes. I’ve just about come around to Wyatt from ‘Bleeding Violet’, but I did not like Ilan and Gabriel, the new boys in ‘Slice of Cherry’. They’re both extremely letchy and Ilan is overly persistent in his advances towards Fancy. Although I have been known to like my letchy, inappropriate guys I couldn’t get on with these guys who leer at girls they want to be with and talk about wanting to have sex with another girl, when the girl they are dating is present. I think I dislike Ilan so much, because he’s a space invader, he puts his arm around the back of Fancy’s chair uninvited and that’s a personal tic of mine. Don’t touch me dude. My feelings towards the boys changed quite a bit towards the end, when I found them more sympathetic and I was happy that they got the vengeance they were after, but as romantic partners for the twisted sisters they kind of suck (mostly Ian though, he really made my skin crawl in a way).3 4

1. Mileage may vary as to whether a creepy stalker dude is more threatening than a woman who wants to institutionalise a bipolar person who has visions

2. It’s never made clear that the girls inherited his killing streak, maybe finding out about him killing made them murder, or maybe there’s no link and these girls are just killers. The blurb talks says ‘It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill.’ which leaves it open to reader interpretation. I would find the idea that they inherited their dad’s interest in killing hard to believe, without some world specific logic to back it up.

3. I am aware that this acts as further proof that my entertainment morality is super warped – really a guy who puts his hand on the back of someone’s chair is creepier than serial killers?

4. See the comments of Thea’s review for further reservations and her smart interpretation of Ilan and fancy’s relationship.

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