December 22nd, 2011

eu

December Books 15) Operation Red Dragon, by Thierry Robberecht, Marco Venanzi and Michel Pierret

Last year I read The Aïda Protocol, the second in a series of earnest graphic novels about the work of Liberal MEPs in the European Parliament; Operation Red Dragon is the first of them, published in 2006, in which our hero Elisa Correr busts open illegal arms dealing with the government of a very large Asian country and incidentally liberates her lover from captivity as a result of getting a resolution passed in the plenary session. So there is a certain amount of wishful thinking (and also an awful lot of info-dumping). But I did like the artists' faithfulness to the European Parliament's architecture, both in Brussels and Strasbourg, and the idea of MEPs blocking an economic deal on the grounds of human rights concerns seems a little less improbable to me after last week.
torchwood

December Books 16) First Born, by James Goss

A prequel to this year's Torchwood: Miracle Day series, which fairly leapt off the online shelves at me when I realised it was by James Goss, whose contributions to the off-screen Whoniverse have been pretty impressive, and that two of the readers - the main two, it turns out, the other four getting only a chapter or so each - are Kai "Rhys Williams" Owen, who did such a good job of Goss's Ghost Train, and Clare Corbett, who likewise did well sharing The Hounds of Artemis and carrying Dead of Winter on her own.

I was not disappointed. Although the plot itself is a pretty straightforward cut-and-paste from The Midwich Cuckoos and Children of the Corn, Goss puts together a very compelling story of creepy children in a village where nothing is quite right, with the added factor of Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams and their very small baby trying to work out what is going on and also incidentally not get killed. I have been generally enjoying the Torchwood novels, which as a series are some of the hidden gems of Who fiction, but this is one of the best. The audio brings us Kai Owen's voice to do a warm, confused but courageous Rhys, with Clare Corbett doing a convincing interpretation of Eve Myles and carrying her chapters extremely impressively (she is really good at accents). Apart from the basic horror of the story, there's some bleak office humour about the bureaucracy of atrocity, and some tough teenagers who are central to the story. Very strongly recommended.