Soon I Will be Invincible

by Austin Grossman | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0307279863 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 12/11/2018
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, December 11, 2018
I got this softcover from a local Savers thrift shop, for another release copy.

I first heard of this book via this Unshelved Book Club strip. It's set in a world where superheroes exist, but where things... don't always go well for them. And of course the supervillains fare even worse...

The story is told from two viewpoints: Evil genius Doctor Impossible, incarcerated as the story opens, yet planning his 12th escape; and Fatale, a rookie superhero who's a cyborg thanks to a shadowy organization that patched her up after a near-fatal accident (think "Six Million Dollar Woman", only more so). The Doctor is definitely brilliant, but also petty and sometimes prone to whining - and he carries lots of emotional baggage from his gradually-revealed past as a nerdy school kid who was either ignored or bullied most of the time. Fatale has issues of her own, from having no memory of her life prior to her surgeries to trying to fit in to the increasingly-argumentative superhero team, the Champions.

The core of the story is that CoreFire, the top superhero in the world and leader of the Champions, has gone missing, and everyone assumes that Doctor Impossible must be behind it. Sure, he was in prison at the time, but his escape only convinces everyone he must have been orchestrating things. He wishes this were true, but as we see in some painfully funny scenes, he doesn't get the respect he craves - not even from other villains.

While there's humor here, and more nods to a variety of superhero, fantasy, and SF tropes than you could shake a cape at, the story's rather sad overall; so many characters who can't have a normal life, either because of their abilities or in spite of them. And some of the most talented just can NOT avoid going into "conquer the world/evil laugh" mode. (The book has the premise that the worst of the villains have "Malign Hypercognition Disorder", so I suppose they really can't help the whole "MWA-ha-ha" business!)

There are lots of fun characters here, including the rest of the Champions, and some retired superheroes as well. (Playing "spot the expy" could keep you busy through the whole book. One subtle note: a character got her powers after she and three siblings made a trip to "elfland" - oddly similar to Narnia - and returned with special abilities and gadgets. Only two of them kept the gadgets, and one of those becomes a kind of Chekov's-magic, popping up throughout the story. I was delighted at the way it all tied in at the end.)

There are romantic complications - Doctor Impossible cherished an unrequited passion for the girl who eventually fell for ColdFire, two of the Champions married and then divorced, etc. - and there are lots and lots of secrets from the past that illustrate how easily someone's life might change course. And there are super-plots and counterplots, thefts and cons, feints and fakery, gambits and more gambits... It has a more melancholy tone than I'd expected, but is also very entertaining.

Oh, and after all the twists and turns, the final climactic battle worked out in truly marvelous form - with some unexpected elements that I loved.

"What does it mean to conquer the world?"

[There's a TV Tropes page on the book. And for more fun with super-powered mad-scientist types, check out Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez, or the anthology The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination.]

Released 1 mo ago (12/15/2018 UTC) at Little Free Library, Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2018 What's In A Name release challenge. ***

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