Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Soon I Will Be Invincible

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Late last week, I finished Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

I’ve never read anything by Grossman, but, as this is his first novel, that shouldn’t be surprising. I’m sure he’ll have more out soon, though, if this is any example of his work.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is the latest in a growing new sub-genre of literature; the superhero novel. Granted, George R. R. Martin has been doing this with his Wild Cards series for quite some time, but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t seem to grow beyond his anthologies, until recently. I would be very impressed if any of the recent additions to the genre are better than this. It really is quite good.

The story opens with a chapter from the point of view of Doctor Impossible, imprisoned super-genius and super-villain. He gives us a quick look at his world, both inside and outside of prison. I think the immediacy of starting out a book about larger-than-life heroes from the point of view of their chief villain really helped draw the reader into the story. At least, it drew me in a bit more. As a writer, though, I found it slightly hard to suspend my disbelief reading from the point of view of a genius. Theoretically, the character speaking is infinitely more intelligent than I am, and most people, for that matter, but I’m fairly certain that, as clever as he is, the author is not, in fact, an evil genius. So, how do you write a character more intelligent than you? And, Dr. Impossible is writing from jail. Hello? How much of a genius can he be if he got caught, right? Well, I think I laughed out loud when he made the same comment. Then, of course, he goes on to explain how that worked.

The chapters alternated point of view between Dr. Impossible and the more-or-less heroine, Fatale. Fatale is a female cyborg recruited to join the Champions, greatest super-team of the moment. Or, more precisely, the New Champions, who are the latest incarnation of the group that defeated Dr. Impossible the last time. But, she’s recruited to help find CoreFire, the World’s Greatest Hero, who’s gone missing. While she and the other New Champions are trying to solve that riddle, Dr. Impossible breaks out of prison and starts on his latest nefarious scheme to dominate the Earth.

Yeah, I know, it all sounds a little over the top, but, honestly? It’s not when you’re reading it. It really reads about like you’d expect the average super-hero comic book to read, if it didn’t have any pictures. It even has all the twists and turns and secret lives that the better comic books have. It even has secret government programs, forgotten past lives, and murky origins. And, not just in the form of Fatale’s past work for the NSA, who also, allegedly, made her.
Naturally, a lot of the time is spent looking closely at the normally hidden life of Dr. Impossible. Actually, based on the title, I’d have almost expected even more of a focus than there was. Besides, villains are almost always more interesting than the heroes anyway.

All in all, Soon I Will Be Invincible was a good book. It delivered everything that it promised and then some. I like Old Man’s War better, but, I would certainly recommend Soon I Will Be Invincible to anyone looking for a good, quick read that’s not the usual fare. Well worth the money I spent.


Review: Old Man’s War

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi this weekend.

I’m still reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, but, Friday, I got a free newsletter from Tor Books and it included a link to Old Man’s War as an ebook.  Naturally, I dropped everything to read it.  And, am I ever glad that I did!
John Scalzi is one of those authors that I’ve been hearing about the past year or two as being one of the new faces to watch in science-fiction, and, after reading Old Man’s War, I can see why.  On the surface, this is an old-fashioned colonization/space-war book in the vein of Heinlein or Niven, but with something else, too, that reminded me of Joe Haldeman at his peak.  This is truly great work and I’m sure I’ll be buying more of Mr. Scalzi’s books very, very shortly.

The story follows one seventy-five-year-old man, John Perry, who’s lost his wife of more than fourty years as he joins the Colonial Defense Forces so that he can get a new lease on life, literally.  Apparently, the only way for citizens of non-Third-World countries to colonize space, and take advantage of some slightly secretive, possibly shady, physical rejuvenation program, is to sign up for the military.  The story follows Perry as he leaves the planet, gets his new body and life, and sees the galaxy as a soldier in the Colonial Defense Force.  From there on out, Mr. Scalzi shows us a well-thought-out universe that, frankly, is rather hostile to humans.  He also gives us a compelling story of mankind’s place in that universe and how we might evolve, live and fight in the future.
He also writes a ripping yarn.

I cannot recommend Old Man’s War enough.  I don’t want to go into too much detail on this, so I don’t ruin it for you, readers, but, if you like science-fiction, you owe it to yourself to get this book and read it.


Review: World War Z

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life Goals,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished World War Z by Max Brooks this weekend.

I’ve hardly read any fiction this past year.  I read mainly non-fiction, but I didn’t even read much of that.  I can blame the chemo treatments, but, really, reading became a job of sorts, not fun.  So, this year, I vowed to read nothing but fiction all year, unless I had to read non-fiction for work.  Also, I’ve lost track of what a narrative is, what plot is, how fiction works and I thought if I immersed myself in fiction, those things would resurface in my soul.  Or some shit like that.

Anyway, I read World War Z, which is a novel about the world after a zombie plague, and the resulting war, sweeps the Earth.  There wasn’t much plot, to be honest, but the book painted some interesting word pictures about a world consumed with a terrible plague that first killed thousands, then brought them back to life and made them the enemy.  Perhaps, it’s more accurate to describe the book as being light on a cohesive narrative.  The “plot” was about how the plague started as something mysterious in rural China, a sickness that made the infected into strange, feral creatures that want to eat and kill every living thing around them.  And, those that don’t get consumed by the living dead become the next legion of walking dead.

Then the author, posing as an investigator for the United Nations, takes us on a tour through space and time, following the plague as it works its way around the world.  Along the way, he introduces us to the leaders and warriors who fought the dead in that war, showing us their struggles and triumphs.  He also paints a fairly realistic world.  I can believe that the way the world he shows us reacts would be how our world would react.  The plot is somewhat thin and clouded by gimmick, as it were, of the zombies, but it’s still a good book.  It bogged down for me in places, and got slow because it was long, but, other than the pacing it was worth the read.  And, again, Brooks shows us a very realistic and well described world that first suffered, then survived, a zombie plague.  So, in the end, World War Z fulfilled its promise.  It may not be my favorite book, or the best I’ll read this year, but it was good and I’m glad I read it.

If you like zombies and science/horror fiction, World War Z is well worth reading.
Oh, and I started Soon I Will Be Invincible, which has started strong and looks like a really interesting book.

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.