The Evil Within might be hell on Earth or maybe just a dream…

Survival Horror is an exciting genre that makes me feel like a kitten wandering through a zoo with faulty locks. The Evil Within from Bethesda Softworks and Tango Gameworks will be no different.
With a release scheduled for mid-late 2014 The Evil Within plans to keep that feeling alive and terrifying. The game features the usual “ordinary guy doing his job” only to be knocked unconscious and end up “person in way over their head hoping to get out alive-ish.” In the press release below, some of the game’s highlights and standout features are highlighted.

Game Description:

Developed by Shinji Mikami – creator of the seminal Resident Evil series – and the talented team at Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within embodies the meaning of pure survival horror.  Experience a disturbing reality as you try to break free from warped machinations that could only exist in the most horrifying worlds. Face twisted creatures and experience true terror, all heightened by cutting edge lighting and animation made possible by a customized version of the id Tech 5 engine.
Story:
While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead.
Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what’s behind this evil force.
Key Features:
Pure Survival Horror Returns
Shinji Mikami, the father of survival horror, is back to direct a chilling new game wrapped in haunting narrative. Tension and anxiety heighten dramatically as you explore the game’s tortured world. You’ll have limited resources at your disposal as you fight for your survival and experience profound fear in this perfect blend of horror and action.
Brutal Traps and Twisted Creatures
Face unthinkable horrors and cruel traps as you struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. Turn evil against itself by using the same diabolical devices against overwhelming deadly creatures.
Unknown Threats in an Uncertain World
Mysterious and wicked fears loom ahead in a world that warps and twists around you. Corridors, walls, doors, and entire buildings change in real-time, ensnaring players in a reality where threats can appear at any time and from any direction.
The New Face of Horror
Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story weave together to create an immersive world that will bring players to the height of tension. Defeat insurmountable terror and experience the ultimate thrill by discovering The Evil Within.
www.TheEvilWithin.com
[Source: Games Press Digest]

I’m always hesitant to get excited about games without pictures of video, so here’s the evidence I’ve been waiting for!
WARNING: This video is gruesome and long.

The Evil Within will be available on all the major consoles (not the Wii or WiiU, duh).

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Dead Rising 2 was free with XBox Gold

screenlg4Microsoft started giving out games to Gold subscribers twice monthly and one of the games in August was Dead Rising 2. Well that sounds like all my favorite things: zombies, action, video games, and FREE.
I downloaded the game and booted up. I was immediately confused. Apparently all this shit went down with a zombie apocalypse and and then it was solved (mostly). People built strong walls and made a serum for people who get bitten so they don’t turn.
My character was this dude who people knew of and has a patchy history and a dead wife. He in this entertainment competition whee he rides a motorbike and does tricks and fights captive zombies. This is kind of the into and tutorial.
screenlg1SUDDENLY, all hell breaks loose and there are zombies everywhere. Ohnoes. Now I have to beat my way through the throngs of zombies and rescue my child who’s waiting patiently backstage. Gah, I hate having to escort children and stuff.
So you have weapons that you pick up wherever like a guitar or an axe or a broom. The more you use a weapon the more it wears until it actually breaks. You’re charged with grabbing your baby and making you way out of the arena to safety. Apparently I was also supposed to be saving some other people along the way… oops. I’m so bad at additional objectives.
I get outside and run around a bit until I find a safe place because there are just fallout shelter kind of places scattered around just in case something like this happens. I don’t know if it was a cut scene or what but they’re totally blamng me for the invasion in the arena. People totally think I’m a terrorist. Rude. I’m under the impression I had nothing to do with it.
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After a lot of back and forth the people running the shelter are like, “Ew your daughter is bitten. Leave her outside.” And I’m like, don;t worry about it. I’ve got
medicine even though I totally don’t.
Now I have to go find medicine. Guy runs through the the shelter until he finds a secret exit that leads to the mall. In a backroom of the mall the is a place to craft weapons (if you find a key) and  a place to  get into the real mall.
In the mall you have to fight your way to the pharmacy and  get the medicine in time to get back to  the daughter. Ugh, timed missions are the worst. Especially when  you’re allowed to detour and try on clothes in the  stores. Yes, you can play dress up and use random objects as weapons. I personally liked the skateboard.
screenlg6Dead Rising 2 felt a little chaotic to me. There were almost too many options. I could run around killing zombies or trying on clothes or doing the mission or exploring the places or playing the slot machines (Yeah, those were there too.)
Normally, I love having options and feeling like a game has an open world but this felt falsely open. If you did too much of one thing then the other things pop up and kept you forcefully on track. Also, I don’t know if it’s because Dead Rising 2 is older but I felt the controls were clunky and not as accurate or responsive as they should be. In a hordes of zombies situation I don’t want to deal with clunky controls!
It was hard to tell if it was a serious game (there’s a dying little girl I’m responsible for) or just a silly game (I can wear costumes and use toys as weapons….
I got frustrated and bored and because it was free I didn’t feel like I was wasting anything by letting it collect virtual dust. Dead Rising 2 was good enough for the price but not good enough for me to  play through. Le sigh.

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Recap: Under the Dome Episode 13

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Le disclaimer: This post contains spoilers about episode 13, the season finale, of Under the Dome (titled “Curtains”). Do NOT read this post if you have not yet seen the episode and plan to.
First of all, HALLELUJAH this show is DONE. Time to celebrate!
Second of all, what the holy hell WAS that?! To the writers of this show, that was a terrible season finale. Terrible. I just…I can’t even… Did everyone go batshit?
So. The episode opens with the Baby Dome Posse, plus Carolyn and Linda, standing over the baby dome. Inside, the butterfly hatches. The Baby Dome Posse are all amazed because ZOMG this means that the monarch will be revealed!
Then the butterfly tries to get out, and each time it hits the baby dome, that part of the dome turns black. And THEN the big dome ALSO turns black. As in, completely opaque. It’s like midnight in there.
Linda’s really confused, because she has no freaking clue what’s going on (which seems to be her regular mindset, to be honest). Joe and Norrie tell her that they think the egg inside the baby dome is what’s powering the big dome. Which turns out to be a really stupid thing to do, because this is when Linda decides to grow a spine and is all “This is now POLICE property! DO NOT TOUCH!” Of course then she touches the dome, which promptly zaps her into unconsciousness. Because the dome’s protective like that.
But! Before she has her little nap, she calls for backup. Which is also a stupid thing to do, because now our resident psychotic megalomaniac, Big Jim, has just discovered where the egg is. (God, Linda, you are such a terrible judge of character. You worship Big Jim, who is seriously trying to be Lex Luthor or something, and you think Barbie’s the bad guy. Really?)
The three remaining members of the Baby Dome Posse take the dome and hide it while Linda’s passed out. (Remember, we last saw Angie with Julia. She wasn’t with the Posse.) Big Jim shows up at Ben’s house just as Linda’s waking up. Linda, giddy at having discovered that the baby dome is powering the big dome, tells Big Jim that this is their chance to bring down the dome. Big Jim, of course, is like, “Yeah, no, that’s not happening.” Because if the dome came down, he’d lose his corrupt kingdom and we CAN’T have that. Otherwise he’d have completely wasted his time at the Two Dimensional School for Wannabe Archvillains. All that tuition money…
While we’re on the subject of Big Jim, he’s annoyed that Barbie gave a not guilty plea when he was looking forward to burning him at the stake (or something). Big Jim tries some lame blackmail/threatening scheme, which Barbie basically laughs at. So Big Jim threw a temper tantrum and decided to build a gallows (or a scaffold, whatever you want to call it).
A GALLOWS. Because it’s the nineteenth century, yo.
Anyway. The Baby Dome Posse hide out in the cement factory (all traces of Maxine’s fight club thing are conveniently now gone). Joe broadcasts their location to Angie over the police radio, but he does it in a way that tells Big Jim nothing, which made me happy and Big Jim really pissed off. So Angie meets them there with Barbie and Julia in tow, and Junior of course tries to shoot Barbie. (Because shoot first, arrest later.) Julia tells the truth about who shot her (crazy jealous Maxine), but Junior doesn’t believe her. Because of course he doesn’t. Otherwise the episode would be a lot shorter. You know.
The Posse touches the baby dome, which promptly turns to dust and disintegrates. Convenient, that. In the midst of the dust, they find the butterfly. Sadly, it’s dead. But wait! No it isn’t! Because Norrie touches it and she apparently has super healing abilities! The butterfly flies off to Barbie, and Joe’s all smug in his I-told-you-so speech. Junior refuses to believe it, because Junior refuses to believe anything these days. The egg starts glowing and shaking (along with the factory) because I don’t know, maybe it’s mad that the Baby Dome Posse is too stupid to realize who the real monarch is.
Who is, apparently, Julia. She picks up the spasming egg, which immediately calms down because mommy! Then the butterfly flies over and lands on her hands. Ta-da! The monarch.
Junior, of course, refuses to believe it. Because he refuses to believe anything that doesn’t revolve around him. Or something.
Meanwhile, Big Jim has sent Linda to go look for the baby dome (she makes a good peon, that one). He comes across a gathering at the church and realizes that the residents are losing their shit because the dome’s now black and opaque. The residents are all, “OMG THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS!” and they’re convinced it’s the end times, though quite possibly without the Second Coming.
Aside: I thought the apocalypse was supposed to come with the four horsemen and the seven seals and all that? But hey, maybe the apocalypse has different rules in the dome.
Anyway. Big Jim decides he’s going to be the town’s reverend because why the hell not? He’s already the police chief, mayor, and judge (he’s not doing it out of guilt because he killed the previous reverend).
Over in Joe’s barn, Linda discovers the pink stars the Posse painted a few episodes ago. She radios Big Jim and tells him that the line “Pink stars are falling in lines” has been painted into the barn’s wall. And then Big Jim remembers his wife’s paintings from before she drove into a tree.
And then, megalomaniac that he is, he’s convinced that the dome is his DESTINY. Which he also tells Junior when Junior shows up to tell him that the Baby Dome Posse want to kill him. And then he tells Junior that he killed people to protect the town, because he’s altruistic like that. And Junior, for some random reason, has decided to actually care what Big Jim says and falls for the whole destiny crap Big Jim is spouting.
Also, Junior wanted to give the egg to his dad. The others, predictably, decide otherwise. Julia throws the egg to Angie, who takes off running. Barbie decides to distract Junior by tackling him WHEN HE IS HANDCUFFED. So obviously he’s going to get turned in to Big Jim. And if he isn’t, then we’d never get that shot that was shown in the previews, with Barbie standing by the noose. So you had to know this was coming.
In the woods, Norrie asks the egg what to do. A vision of her late mom, Alice, appears. Apparently, the people who built the dome have taken on the form of someone the Posse can relate to. (Or they’re lying and Alice is really an alien.) The dome was sent to protect them from something that will come at a later date (presumably this something will be a Very Bad Thing). To bring back the light, the Posse must protect the egg. If they fail to protect the egg, then DOOM. LOTS AND LOTS OF DOOM.
So Julia tosses the egg into the lake. Hey, that way, Big Jim can’t get it.
In the town square, Big Jim is getting ready to hang Barbie. But the egg is now protected, so it starts shooting pink stars — in lines — to the dome. The stars clear the blackness from the dome, making it bright. Like, radioactive explosion bright. Or staring-into-the-sun-while-in-space bright.
Basically, it’s really bright.
And Barbie’s still standing by the noose. Not in it.
And….that’s it.
Until next summer, that is.

Recap: Under the Dome Episode 12

Under_the_Dome_title_screen Le disclaimer: This post contains spoilers about episode 12 of Under the Dome (titled “Exigent Circumstances”). Do not read this post if you have not yet seen the episode and plan to.
Also, apologies for getting this post up so late. I had a hard time watching this without wanting to throw things at my TV, I was so pissed off at EVERYBODY IN IT. (There is seriously not a single likable character in this show. Not one.)
Okay, so in this episode, we discover that Big Jim went to school at the Two-Dimensional School for Wannabe Archvillains. Honestly, I don’t really care what else I’ve read online (mostly from the actors and the people behind the show itself), but THIS CHARACTER HAS NO LAYERS WHATSOEVER. He is made of two dimensions; aka, he is a flat character with no redeemable qualities. He has no motivations other than making sure he rules his little domed-in kingdom. Frankly, he seems to be a douche just because he can. All he’s missing is a mustache to twirl around while he’s killing people and otherwise making people’s lives hell.
Yes, I despise this character. I hope the dome zaps him and makes him go all splodey along the side of the dome. (Preferably with his insane son next to him.)
Ahem. Anyway. So Big Jim declares a state of emergency to capture Barbie (remember, BJ has turned Barbie into the murderous villain of the town because I don’t know, maybe it was lesson 2 at archvillain school or something). Linda, who is arguably the stupidest cop I’ve ever seen (in person, in film, or on television) is all, “I am NOT turning this town into a police state just because YOU want to make it one!” To which BJ replies, “It’s not me, it’s the PEOPLE who want it!” and Linda’s all “Well, okay then, if it’s the people.”
OMG Linda, your idiocy astounds. IT ASTOUNDS.
(If you haven’t already guessed, this entire episode is basically about Big Jim going on an evil villain power trip and Linda being a total moron and going along with it. That’s really the best way to sum up what went on.)
Junior has some weird moment where he actually cares about his dad, and goes off to warn Big Jim that someone will try to kill him. Big Jim’s all, “Psha, whatever. No one can kill me” and that’s that, basically. Big Jim goes off to continue his audition for the villain in a Marvel movie, and Junior decides he’s going to do his dad’s bidding. Which…I don’t even know. So Junior goes off to the clinic to “keep guard” over Julia because “Barbie might come back to finish the job” when we really know it’s because Big Jim needs to kill her to shut her up, because Barbie didn’t actually do any shooting.
Over at the radio station, Dodee overhears the military looking for the baby dome and its accompanying egg. And the military’s looking for Barbie because he’s got the “necessary expertise” for the egg. (I don’t know if that means he can disarm it or talk to it. Probably both, because Barbie’s the Marty Stu of the series.) Dodee suddenly remembers she saw the egg in Joe’s barn, even though last week she couldn’t remember a thing about the baby dome. How convenient that her dome-induced amnesia disappears now, because she runs off to tell Big Jim about what she heard AND to show him the picture of the dome egg.
Because, obviously, she is an idiot. How do these people not know that Big Jim is hazardous to their health? Seriously.
The Baby Dome Posse, meanwhile, are discussing Big Jim’s Ultimate Villain turnaround and his desire to kill Barbie. Joe is still convinced that Barbie is the monarch who will be crowned (when the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis because apparently the butterfly is like a timer). While they’re discussing this, Carolyn walks in and sees the baby dome and its egg.
And because she’s the cool mom, she tells Norrie to hide the egg because Big Jim and his henchmen are searching all the houses. Obviously, the egg can’t fall into Big Jim’s hands because he will probably find some way to corrupt it and/or break it. Because Big Jim’s like that. (Aside: Big Jim and the Henchmen would make an awesome band name.)
Joe and Norrie take the baby dome to Ben’s house, where they hide it under a massive pile of blankets. Maybe Ben likes to hoard quilts or something.
Meanwhile, Angie’s doing…something when Barbie finds her. He tells her the truth about the shootings and she believes him (FINALLY someone who shows even a lick of sense in this town). Barbie then tells Angie that Big Jim will try to kill Julia. Obviously, Big Jim can’t let his town savior facade crack, and if Julia starts talking about her shooting, that facade will crack faster than a dried mud mask (with or without cucumbers).
So Angie and Barbie go to the clinic to break Julia out. But! Big Jim has put Junior as a guard! Oh noes!
Yeah, Angie puts on the “woe is me, I’m so scared” girlfriend act and lures Junior away from the room, giving Barbie enough time to move Julia. Junior catches on when he kisses Angie and she tastes like cigarettes. Because I don’t know, I guess cigarettes = Barbie or something.
Anyway, Angie makes a break for it in the ambulance (Julia’s in the back) while Barbie turns himself in to Linda, who seems more and more like the village idiot.
But where’s Big Jim while all this is happening? At the radio station, listening to the military broadcast. It’s all going well for Dodee, until someone says they can’t go to Big Jim because they have evidence (footage, I think?) of him killing the reverend.
And that’s when you know Dodee’s about to be redshirted. I can’t really say I have any sympathy, because I thought she was pretty annoying.
Dodee figures out that Big Jim did all the killing. In a last-ditch plea for her life, she’s all, “I know where the egg is! I can help you! And you can make the dome go down!” And Big Jim, trying to be ominous, goes, “Oh, but the dome CAN’T come down.” Probably because if it does, he will no longer have minions or a domain to rule. And he’ll be all sad and pathetic and shit.
And then he shoots Dodee and sets the station on fire. And predictably implies that the blame lies with Barbie. And even more predictably, Linda (our village idiot) buys it.
Honestly, I don’t think Linda’s capable of thinking for herself.
Big Jim then goes off to Joe’s barn to find the egg. Carolyn tries to stop him from going into the barn, but he’s all, “MRAH *chest thumping* MRAH I RULE THIS TOWN,” shoves her aside, and goes in the barn.
Lo and behold, there’s no baby dome. So Big Jim’s all, “WHAT HOW CAN SOMETHING NOT GOING ACCORDING TO MY PLAN” and arrests Joe and Norrie because taking things out on kids is what you do while you’re having a tantrum. Duh.
So Joe and Norrie go to jail, and Big Jim does his intimidation thing. Joe looks intimidated, but Norrie’s more like, “Screw you, asshole” so Big Jim goes into her cell and threatens her. She is unimpressed. And remains unthreatened. (And we see further evidence that Joe is basically just a useless git who’s there because the baby dome needs four people to unlock it.)
Next, Big Jim goes to Barbie. Because if you can’t intimidate the kids, you intimidate the guy you’re trying to screw over. Or something. Big Jim threatens Barbie into making a full “confession” of the murders/shootings/blah blah blah by threatening Angie, Joe, Norrie, and Julia. Barbie’s like, “Fine, you win, I’ll confess in public. Just don’t hurt anyone!”
Right, right, of course Big Jim won’t hurt anyone.
Joe and Norrie are released and Linda follows them to their next destination. Why? Because Big Jim told her to (seriously, people, this woman is incapable of independent thought). Joe, Norrie, and Carolyn go to Ben’s, where the egg is losing its shit and screaming in a high pitched electronic voice. Linda follows them INSIDE BEN’S HOUSE and is like, “What is THAT?” (OMG Linda what is WRONG with you?!)
Julia wakes up and tells Angie who shot her (hint: not Barbie). It turns out Angie’s hidden her in a storage closet in the clinic, because she figures it would be the last place people will look for them. Sure, it’s a good assumption Big Jim’s already searched the clinic, but in this town, who the hell knows. Anyway, Julia tells Angie that they’ll kill Barbie (which we already figured would be the case, right?).
Big Jim brings Barbie out into the town square to do the public confession thing, but instead of confessing, Barbie says he’s not guilty. (And I shall imitate Nelson and say “HA HA” to Big Jim.)
And…somewhere by the dome’s edge, Junior touches the dome all by his lonesome. Because I don’t know.
We’ll find out what happens next on the season finale, which airs September 16. (Apparently it’s supposed to be a cliffhanger, so maybe we won’t find out much.)
Under the Dome airs on Mondays on CBS.

I don't want to be last… (Zombies, Run! 5k Training)

I started doing Zombie’s, Run! again.  Why? Because I’m shockingly out of shape.
I imagine myself running from a shambling heard across a vacant parking lot or field. The distance increases and I start to feel triumphant. Eventually, and by that I mean like 30 seconds, I start to tire and slow. They don’t.
I realized that even the Romero-esque slow-but-steady zombies would eventually over take me. If there’s nowhere to hide and it’s just a matter of  endurance, I’m fucked.
Last week I started my diet and exercise routine. My plan is to run every other day and alternate excuses motivating forces.
Six to Start, the creators of Zombies, Run! also make a 5k (a little over 3 miles) training app. This app has is great for people who like to set goals and alternate their running routine because running is boring.
Zombies, Run! 5k Training is a fantastic addition to the Zombies, Run! program because the characters and the universe overlap without anything but the first chapter of the story repeating. I was super concerned I’d be doing the same story with different prompts. It was surprisingly hard to find out that they’re different.
In the Zombies, Run! 5k Training program you’re still Runner 5 but you’re not running on a mission, you’re training to get faster because Able Township not only needs you, it needs you at your best.
I like to run inside on my treadmill because I’m an indoor kid and no one can see me. Unfortunately, when the trainer wants me to run for 15 seconds, I have a bit of a clumsy transition as it takes my treadmill about 30 seconds to get up to speed… I manage.
While I really enjoy both Zombies, Run! and Zombies, Run! 5k Training, I found there’s one major difference between the app I have on my iPod and the app I have on my Galaxy S3: The accelerometer doesn’t seem to know I’m moving… I don’t know if that’s an issue with my S3 or an issue with the app. I’ll keep trying. [1. Fortunately, I’m on a treadmill so I can track my stats manually.]
Both programs link to Six to Start’s ZombieLink web situation where you can share stats (if your app decides to track them) and running routes and progress.
I realize $7.99 is a lot of money for app, but Zombie’s Run! is not just an app. It’s an audiobook, a choose your own adventure, a personal trainer, a progress monitor, and a game. If you want to get fit and be the star of a zombie apocalypse mystery movie, get the app. And if you want a bit of extra motivation and a change of pace, get the Zombies, Run! 5k Training app too.

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Review: Crux by Ramez Naam

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Crux 

Book 2 in the Nexus series

Author: Ramez Naam

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US/Canada), September 5, 2013 (UK)

Formats: Paperback and E-book

Blurb:

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.
In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.
The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.

GIANT FINE PRINT (yes, read this first): Crux is the sequel to Nexus. If you haven’t read Nexus, I highly recommend you do NOT read Crux. Why? Because this book picks up where Nexus left off, without stopping to explain what happened. It’s like getting on a one-way train made of nanites; it’s not going to circle around to explain how it got to your stop. It’s just going to keep going. And nothing around you is going to make a lick of sense. You wouldn’t want that, would you? I thought not. So if you haven’t read Nexus yet, stop right now and go read it. It’s a good book, so it’s not like it’s going to be a waste of time.
Also note: I will try VERY VERY HARD not to include spoilers.
What I Liked:

  • The characters. These guys are…well, they’re real. They’re flawed, they have layers, nothing is black and white. You know, they’re like real people.
  • This book goes at a pretty fast pace. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so fast pace is what I look for.
  • Once again, it’s got some thought-provoking scenarios that made me wonder how I would react if I were in that position. (If you’re wondering, my answers were always, “I have no freaking clue.”

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to read book 3 in the series. See above re: attention span. It goes hand in hand with my patience (or lack thereof).
  • If you haven’t read Nexus, the first book in the series, you’ll likely end up wondering what’s going on with that random Nexus 5 drug.

My Thoughts:
It’s not a secret that I am a HUGE fan of Ramez Naam’s books. I reviewed the first book in the series, Nexus, on my own blog last year. This year, I’m spreading the love and posting it on ICoS first. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll recall the squeeing that came out of my brain through my fingers after I finished reading Nexus.
I’ll try to tone down the squeeing. I do know that not everyone will like this book. For me, it’s got pretty much everything I look for in a SF novel: science, gun fights, thought-provoking scenarios, explosions, characters that aren’t cookie cutter cut outs, spies, etc etc. Personally, I loved this book. YMMV.
Crux picks up a few months after Nexus ends — and it assumes that the reader knows what happened in the first book. If you haven’t read Nexus yet, you should. Where Nexus was the instigating action, Crux deals with the consequences of the release of the Nexus 5 drug. (Recap: it’s a liquid you drink that basically turns your brain into a computer, complete with apps. Also, it lets you talk to people telepathically. Basically, it’s pretty cool.)
And the consequences are fascinating. As with any emerging technology — or drug, or new anything, come to think about it — there will be people who will use it for good or for bad. Those who would use it for good can do amazing things with it. On the other hand, those who would use it for bad can do terrible, terrible things with it. This is not a new concept. Ramez Naam takes this idea and runs with it, but adds layers — instead of looking at the possibilities in terms of black and white, he adds motivations. Why would those who would use the Nexus 5 technology for bad want to go down that road? Why would people manipulate the drug for their own purposes? For those who would use it for good, what are their motives? Do they really want to use it for good?
This book sets up a war between humans (boring old us, just the way we are) and posthumans (those who are augmented by the Nexus 5 technology). And this setting really had me thinking. The reaction of the humans seem, for the most part, knee-jerk and violent. They want to get rid of the posthumans. The posthumans have all sorts of advantages that humans don’t, and babies are now being born with Nexus 5 in their brains. They don’t even have to take it as a drug. If there’s a whole generation of people who are augmented from birth, where does that leave the regular people? Will they be wiped out (you know, survival of the fittest and all that)? The humans, it seems, are running scared. And that is their big motivation, why they do the things they do.
When I look at it through that lens, I can see why the humans reacted the way they did. Would I react the same way? I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because the humans did some…unpleasant…things.
The posthumans, of course, are starting to fight back. Because obviously. They’re being threatened, so why wouldn’t they fight for their own survival? Of course, they’ve got the advantage, being augmented and all that. I can see the the upcoming war will be a fight for survival. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.
Now obviously, it’s not all rumination and navel-gazing. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of explosions, gun fights, people dying, etc. The good stuff that’s usually in a thriller. It’s all here! My favorite characters are back (I’m looking at  you, Feng), which make me happy.
I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to find out what happens. As you read your way through Crux, you know that there’ll be a war. And it’ll be unpleasant. Unfortunately for me, book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. NEXT YEAR, you guys. In September. (Granted, I’m highly unlikely to forget about book 3, but still. Boo.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had the right combination of science, thought-provoking human condition scenarios, and spies/gun fights/explosions. What’s not to like?
[rating:5/5]
Crux on Amazon.com

Recap: Under the Dome Episode 11

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Le disclaimer: This post contains spoilers about episode 11 of Under the Dome (titled “Speak of the Devil”). Do not read this post if you have not yet seen the episode and plan to.
Wow. Okay. I didn’t think this show could possibly get any more WTF. I mean, remember back in the 90s when Days of Our Lives did that storyline where Marlena was possessed by the devil? (I realize I may have just tipped people off to my age, since I, you know, was old enough to watch that storyline and actually remember it, but whatevs.) Remember how people were all “WTF is that about?!” and were wondering how a show could possibly be that messed up?
Yeah, really, Under the Dome has a level of WTF that beats even the Possessed Marlena WTF. Especially since it’s going more in the soap opera direction rather than the sci-fi. (And I thought Stargate: Universe was a soap opera!)
So. Anyway. The episode opens with Joe and the Baby Dome Posse debating the meaning of the baby dome. (No double rainbows, though, unfortunately.) They decide to tell Julia because she touched the baby dome once and it didn’t electrocute her. So that must mean the dome trusts her. Or something.
So Joe goes off to find Julia to tell her about the baby dome being in his barn. When he gets to Julia’s house, he finds out that she’s been shot. What he doesn’t know is that Blonde Lady (you know, the drug queenpin) has shot her because JEALOUSY (or something). I have no idea if this is a “If I can’t have you, NO ONE CAN” thing she’s got going with Barbie, or if she’s just insane. Or both. (It’s probably both, with these people.)
Barbie gets Joe to drive the electric Prius (teehee, a Prius) to the hospital while he’s in the backseat applying pressure on Julia’s gunshot wound. He tried to get Linda to come, but Big Jim was in the station at the time for an interrogation and he managed to cast suspicion on Barbie’s character. Because drug enforcer and all. So Linda’s all, “Justice!” and shit and then her police cruiser runs out of gas on the way to Julia’s, so she carjacks Phil’s car.
When they get to Julia’s and all they see is the bloodstain, Linda’s like, “Barbie murdered Julia!” and Phil says, “Well, he did kill Peter Shumway…” So Linda’s all “Big Jim was right! Barbie IS a criminal! JUSTICE!” And I’m in my corner going, :facepalm:.
Anyway. Joe drives Barbie and Julia to the hospital (which used to be a clinic) and the nurse is busy because a tree fell on some dude. This is really just an opportunity to show off Barbie’s Marty Stu-ness, because he does some crazy doctoring shit that involves a pen and a plastic bag and *gasp!* saves Julia’s life!
Meanwhile, Junior’s left the Baby Dome Posse because he’s pissy that Angie won’t confess her undying love for him. (Dude. You kidnapped her and held her captive in a bunker. WHY WOULD SHE LOVE YOU? Clearly you didn’t hold her long enough for the Stockholm Syndrome to set in.) So he storms off and is basically, “I’m done with the dome. I won’t help you because if you won’t stay with me forever and ever THE DOME CAN NEVER LEAVE.”
Good to know he’s still batshit crazy.
Over at Big Jim’s neck of the woods, he’s off confronting Blonde Lady (aka Max I think) about shooting Julia. She replies with some threat about following her orders and then she won’t have to shoot anyone he cares about. He’s like, “But I’m single. There’s no one I care about.” Which of course is Junior’s cue to walk into the room. Because timing.
After Max leaves, Big Jim tells Junior to stay in the house and to not open the door unless it’s him, blah blah blah, Max is evil, blah blah blah, he’s going to settle this once and for all. So Big Jim takes off and leaves Junior at home. So of course Angie comes and convinces him to come back to the Baby Dome Posse to try to do whatever it is they’re going to do.
Max, all smug, is walking by the lake and discovers her mom’s body. Which pisses her off, obviously. So after Barbie and Big Jim finish their posturing, they go to the cement factory to take Max down, only she’s all pissed off and ends up holding them at gunpoint. (Oops.)
Of course, Barbie and Big Jim find a way to turn the tables because Marty Stu and Gangster! Once they’re outside, Big Jim shoots Max and her guard (WTF) and goes to shoot Barbie. Who, of course, disarms him and points the gun at him.
And that’s when Linda decides it’s a great time to pull into the cement factory. Because of course. So Big Jim’s all, “I’m the victim! He killed EVERYONE!” and Linda believes him, even though I have no idea why. So Barbie takes off and Linda shoots at him. She turns out to be a lousy shot because she unloads her entire clip and not a single one seems to even come close to hitting Barbie.
Back at Chester’s Mill, Big Jim visits the radio station and Dodee tells him about hearing the military say they identified Barbie inside the dome and that he’s the one they’ve been looking for.
That could mean any number of things, of course, but Big Jim decides it must mean bad and evil things. So he gets on the radio and tells the whole town that Barbie killed everybody and tried to kill him too. (OMG I hate Big Jim. He’s so slimy, like the used car salesman he is. Only he gives used car salesmen a terrible name.)
Anyway. The episode ends with the Baby Dome Posse touching the big dome. They have a collective vision, of Big Jim in a yellow shirt. Slowly, you see puncture wounds show up on his torso. The Posse is revealed to be holding bloody knives in the vision.
Junior goes off to find his dad, while the rest speculate that Big Jim needs to die — at their hands — for the dome to go down. And I feel like a terrible person for hoping that actually needs to happen because OMG I can’t even express how much I despise the Big Jim character. For serious.
Under the Dome airs on CBS on Monday nights.