July 13, 2012 — 1,746 words
My Aunt Tess is allergic to everything. She belongs to an organization of other people who are also allergic to everything. During one of our weekly phone conversations she tells me about her “club”. The members can’t have a convention or even a meeting because of allergic reaction problems relating to transportation and hotels.
No one can leave her “safe spots”, she tells me, because the rest of the world doesn’t understand. “They think of us as crazy or neurotic.”
I looked up the word neurotic and I now see Aunt Tess in a different light. My mother is almost never available for these Sunday talks with her sister. She’s a therapist and is always on call Sunday nights. When Aunt Tess phones, mom is most likely to have left on an emergency to see one of her clients. Mom says that depression sets in over the weekend when people are alone and not socializing and that’s why she hears from them on Sunday nights.
“Be a good girl and talk to Aunt Tess for me,” she says on her way out the door every week. She does stay home and talk to Aunt Tess every fourth Sunday because she can get someone to cover for her she says.
Mom must be meeting her clients at a bowling alley because she always leaves with her bowling shoes in her pocketbook. I only found out because I went into her bag looking for a stick of gum. Okay, so maybe I snoop. That’s what twelve-year-old girls do. If it’s not her pocketbook, it’s her dresser drawers I poke in while she’s not around. We’re the same size now and I can fit into her dresses but she doesn’t like me wearing them even though I offer to let her wear my clothes. Mom’s very possessive.
Aunt Tess says the happiest day of my Dad’s life was the day he died because he could look forward to not being bossed around anymore. I was an infant, so I didn’t know him, but still I think that Aunt Tess shouldn’t say that to me so often. She and my mother are always putting each other down to me. Mom is polite to her on the phone and even sounds concerned but all the while she’s talking To Aunt Tess she’s making faces and gestures. Mom doesn’t have patience for her sister. She has great patience for her patients. I know—I hear her on the phone with them. I wonder if she would have patience with Aunt Tess if she became one of Mom’s patients. I asked Mom about it and she said that it’s not ethical to have your sister as a patient.
“Why don’t you ask your Aunt Tess how she knows so many people like her if none of them can get around?” My Mother says.
“I know your mother put you up to asking me that,” Aunt Tess says, “but I’ll tell you anyway. It’s very simple. Word gets around.”
Makes sense, I thought.
“Bullshit,” Mom said when I told her.
It doesn’t help Aunt Tess’s case that she’s allergic to almost every food known to man with a few interesting exceptions. “I don’t understand it myself, “she tells me while chewing on a pretzel she has shipped in from the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. She makes loud cracking sounds over the phone with each bite she takes into the hard pretzel. She can eat any fruit, except grapefruit, as long as it comes from Harry and David. Mom says T always hated grapefruit—even as a kid. “Thank God for Omaha Steaks,” Aunt Tess tells me, “or I’d never be able to have any red meat again.”
There’s more. She can eat Skippy smooth peanut butter, Welch’s Grape Jelly and Arnold’s Seeded Rye Bread. And, what I consider a real lucky break; she can eat Dominos pepperoni pizza. There’s more, but it’s not a long list. “Why I can eat Mallomars and not Oreos is a mystery to me,” she says.
Mom says that she can solve the mystery. “Your Aunt Tess is a wacko, and that’s my professional opinion. “Don’t you find it strange that she can only eat food that can be delivered or ordered from a catalog, or food she loved as a kid?” she asks me.
“The mind works in mysterious ways,” I tell Mom, using the same phrase she has used to explain things to me over the years when she hasn’t wanted to take the time to go into detail. Mom looks at me as if I’ve crossed over to the enemy.
We didn’t hear from Aunt Tess for two Sundays so Mom called her on Monday. The phone rang about a dozen times and then Mom heard it answered and knocking against something as if someone dropped the receiver. Finally she heard Aunt Tess yell “hello.” My mother made the crazy sign with her finger next to her head and said, “T, can you hear me?”
Aunt Tess yelled for Mom to yell so she could hear her.
“Why do we have to yell?” Mom asked.
“Because I’m allergic to holding the phone to my head. It came on suddenly and causes rashes and pin prickly feelings. I’m lying with my head on the floor just inches away from the phone,” She yelled.
“Have you thought of getting a speaker phone?” Mom asked.
“I can’t hear you,” Aunt Tess yelled. “I’m getting a speaker phone this week and then everything will be back to normal.”
“That’s a frightening thought,” Mom said softly.
“I heard that,” Aunt Tess yelled.
“You were supposed to,” Mom said. “I was testing a different vocal range.”
Aunt Tess’s phone suddenly went dead and Mom told me she hoped T would not get a phone for a while.
Aunt Tess called the next day to try out her speakerphone. It was also voice activated so she wouldn’t break out from dialing. Aunt Tess kept mom on the phone for an hour. I wasn’t home so I had to hear all the details from Mom’s point of view. “T was always different,” Mom said. “Even as a kid she did outrageous things to get the attention she craved.”
“What kind of things?” I asked.
“In seventh grade she carried balloons around for a week and when she spoke she inhaled helium first. She only stopped after she was suspended for a day.”
“What else?” I laughed.
“She dressed our cocker spaniel in her baby clothes and pushed her around the park in her old baby carriage. Whenever someone leaned over the carriage to have a look at the baby the dog would snarl and try to attack the person. She did that for an entire summer.”
“She sounds like a fun sister,” I told Mom. Mom just looked at me as if to say you don’t know the half of it.
Aunt Tess wanted Uncle Mel to sell their house in San Francisco that looked over the bay because she woke up one morning allergic to the house. There wasn’t one room in the house that didn’t cause her some kind of discomfort. Uncle Mel called Tara and Tanya, their twin daughters to come in and talk to their mother. He wanted them to talk her out of this latest craziness but instead they accused him of being insensitive.
They both left school to find a home that their mother could live in and they succeeded. In an alternative magazine they found a trailer in the woods that was owned by a woman who was allergic to everything but the trailer. She’d had it stripped down and cleaned with this special chemical combination that was recommended for “their” disease and she and her husband lived there for seven years. They took pictures and brought them back to their mom and then their dad drove out to see the trailer. The land was gorgeous. It was just outside of Santa Rosa on two acres of mostly pine trees with a brook. He was devastated—giving up his great City house to live in a trailer in the woods. Their mother liked the pictures and pushed their father to buy it and sell their San Francisco home.
He compromised and bought the trailer but rented out the house. For a year they lived together in this tiny trailer that was really no more than a large camper and their father commuted to work in the city. At the end of the year both his patience and the lease was up and he moved back to San Francisco alone and visited on weekends. Then his visits went from every weekend to one day a weekend and finally to once a month. The girls have very little contact with him although they stay in the house in San Francisco during school breaks and summers. Sometimes they stay with their mother but they find it too traumatic. They still blame their father for abandoning her and see no correlation between their behavior and his.
Uncle Mel’s been calling Mom quite frequently and Mom only has the greatest sympathy for him. “That man’s been a saint,” she told me. “The things he’s put up with would have driven anyone else away years ago.”
The next week she told me she was going to San Francisco for a conference and I asked her if she was going to see Aunt Tess since she was going to be in California anyway.
“California’s a big state,” she said. “This is all business and I won’t have time so don’t even tell her I’ll be out there. It’ll just make her feel bad.”
Soon after she asked us not to mention that Uncle Mel has become a frequent visitor.
* * *
Paul Beckman is a frequently published author of short stories, flash & micro fiction. Some publishing credits: Exquisite Corpse, Connecticut Review, Soundzine, 5 Trope, Playboy, Web del Sol, Long Story Short, The Scruffy Dog Review, Other Voices, Raleigh Review, Connotation Press, Microliterature, The Molotov Cocktail, The Brooklyner & The Boston Literary Review.
July 13, 2012 — 311 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
"Where did you come from?" Tic sputtered.
"Couldn't let you deal with these jerks alone," said Milly. She stumbled, but caught herself. "Uuuurgh."
"I told Pelly to keep you in the Revita Tube!"
"Well I told her to let me out, and good thing, too, or you'd be dead right now!"
The calm electronic voice of the battleship's AI floated over the intercom: "Three minutes until lower levels are jettisoned."
"Crap!" said Tic. "We'll never make it."
The curator was reaching for one of his fallen guards.
"Back off!" ordered Milly, brandishing her blaster.
"Whoa, calm down," said the curator. "We can work through this together. There are three parachutes here..."
"Perfect," snapped Tic. "One for me, one for Milly, and one for Overard."
"You'd waste a parachute on him?" said the curator. "He's practically dead already. Let me have it. I'll pay!"
"BOLTER, YOU OWE ME THIS!" roared Libden. "I SAVED YOUR LIFE!"
Tic glared. "Only because you needed me and my ship. Forget it, Lady. You killed Milly's parents, and some other friends of mine, too. It's over for you: time to sing."
Libden cocked an eyebrow.
Tic explained, "Because you're the fat lady... Never mind. Here, Milly: strap in." He pulled the parachute off of one of the guards and tossed it to Milly, suited himself up with another, then approached the unconscious Overard with the third.
"Bolter, wait, please!" begged the curator. "I'll pay you 100 million litres... 500 million... A billion!"
A billion!? Tic paused. "I don't believe you," he said cautiously.
"Here, look!" The curator had his PAI in his hand and was punching numbers into it. "I'll transfer the funds right now! Just give me that parachute!"
"You smashed my PAI, remember?"
Milly said, "He didn't smash mine..."
July 12, 2012 — 952 words
By Letitia Coyne
I stopped reading a while ago.
Now I’ve never been a compulsive reader, but for most of my life I’ve had a book on the go. One or two crusty paperbacks, with folded over pages or an old price tag or shopping docket sticking out to mark my place, were likely to be found lying beside the bed, on the dining table, and one or two beside the loo.
I didn’t really notice that I had stopped reading; it just sort of ground to a halt as I lost interest in whatever it was I had begun at the time. Why? Partly because I like bookstores more than I like books. I love them. I can lose hours in a bookstore browsing and I hate to spend hours doing anything and coming home with nothing to show for it. So going into a bookstore means buying at least one book to read. That wouldn’t be a problem on its own.
I also like a bargain, so I buy boxes of secondhand books from online marketplaces. The last box I bought, a long while ago, held eighty books. That is such a bargain, or it would be if I had been able to read them all.
But having books is no guarantee they’ll be read. One thing makes reading a certainty. I give books a third of their page count to have me so gripped I do not want to put them down. The only thing that ensures a book will be read from cover to cover is that it is compelling. I don’t mind a build-up; I’ll allow some latitude, but if I start checking how thick the book is, chances are it will be put down and forgotten. If I start getting the irrits with the voice of the author, or if I have no emotional connection to the characters, or if the plot is more a plod – it’s gone.
Once reading a book becomes a chore it is over for me.
There are times in my life when I have mountains of text to read. It always needs full concentration and often needs critique. I go into a mode to read that much. I do not enjoy it; I watch the clock and I get through it like wading through a mangrove swamp. When I have a lot of nonfiction to read, I do not have any patience with unsatisfying fiction.
As I age, the act of reading gets harder, too. My eyes tire faster than they used to, my concentration lapses. I tend to nod off unexpectedly, and wake with a fright and a stiff neck and a little spot of drool on my shirt. I take medications that make the text appear to move, or my head fill with cotton, or my mind wander. It takes a power of will to be engrossed in a story if the author does not provide that incentive for me.
I am so busy. There is always something or someone that needs my attention. Books are squashed into the spaces around doing, eating, and sleeping. They have to be exceptional to hold their own.
Finding something worthwhile in the genres I enjoy has become an impossibility. There is always something good to find in the genre I will dare to call ‘Literary fiction’. The well recommended. The beautifully written novels that stand alone at the bookstore or on the Classics shelf. They are not always to my taste, but the score rate is high for quality. The truth is, however, they are often a bit dark and painful. I usually want to read to lighten the mood, not to suffer the frigid winters along with a family stricken by the bonds of human suffering.
I don’t enjoy reading Romance because it is so rigidly formulaic. It is rare to find an author who can produce the right balance between good writing and hitting exact markers for plot and characters. That is common complaint with Romance, but I find it has become true for fantasy and sci fi, too, and for political thrillers etc. I do not want to be able to predict the end or the next sentence of dialogue.
They are some of the reasons I stopped reading. All of publishing has become a mush of rules and guidelines that stamped out any individual voices and bashed stories into a set and predictable pattern and I simply do not have the patience to endure it all again and again and again.
The emergence of online fiction, in webserials, primarily, and in ebooks as they take their place in the storybook world, has brought me a renewed vigour for reading. I find things I want to read. I now buy paperbacks which I am able to deliberate over before I rush to the counter with an ill-considered purchase. I have an ereader which I have packed full of the work of people I have followed and watched develop and that I know I will enjoy. I have a computer screen that takes my attention away from boring work reading, because I know I can flip up a short episode of a serial I enjoy and give myself a break from reality.
There is a heavy demand for everyone’s time and attention in our modern world. What are the things that keep you reading, or have you tossing books at the wall in disgust? Worse still, is there something that makes you wander away from a story without even feeling angry – just dissatisfied and bored? Are there barriers to your enjoyment of a book that all authors should keep in mind?
July 12, 2012 — 301 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
With his heart in his throat, Tic turned towards the curator, whose square-jawed face was red with rage and a collection of nasty, hastily-bandaged cuts. Three armed guards wearing parachute packs stood behind him. Two of them were holding Libden.
The stampede in the stairwell had dwindled to a trickle of wounded stragglers—Trample victims, probably, Tic thought.
"What did you do with those schematics?" demanded the curator.
"They're gone," Tic shot back. "Even if the Adam Astrobot somehow survived its self-destruct, I already had my AI wipe its hard drive."
"Ah ha, the AI!"
"I replaced your spy AI with my own," said Tic defiantly.
"It doesn't matter... It may have made a temporary copy of the files as it was deleting them. We'll scour every last byte of that AI's data storage until we get the plans back!"
"Pelly won't help you. She'd rather hard-erase herself."
"We'll see," grinned the curator. "Guards: kill him."
The guard who wasn't holding Libden stepped forward and raised his blaster. This is it, Tic thought. No getting out of this one. But he wasn't going down without a fight.
He lunged at the guard and heard a laser blast...
...But felt no pain. Instead, he hit the guard with a full tackle, knocking him to the deck, and wrestled his blaster away. There were more shots, and shouting. He raised the gun, ready to fire—and only then noticed the hole in the guard's forehead.
He looked up.
The other guards were dead, too. The curator was sprawled on his back, arms raised in self-defense, and Libden had fallen on her face. Above them both stood a pale, limping young girl, her face flushed with wrath and glowing with triumph.
July 11, 2012 — 308 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
Tic backed away from the damaged reactors. "So, the self-destruct mechanism you built into the Adam Astrobot worked, but did it really require acid this strong!?"
"WE HAD LOTS AVAILABLE," said Libden. "THE YETIS PRODUCE IT, YOU KNOW. INTESTINALLY. WE JUST HARVESTED IT AND TWEAKED THE CONCENTRATION."
"Forget the science lesson," said Tic. "These things are going to blow! The Pelican is in the level 17 docks, I think. How do we get there?"
Just then, a siren wailed into life. A calm electronic voice said, "Reactor failure imminent. Levels 16 and below will be jettisoned. Proceed to level 17." Several panic-stricken Entulovian engineers tore past the reactor room doors, screaming.
"Er, that way, I guess," said Tic. He and Libden gave chase.
The battleship's hallways, elevators, and stairwells quickly flooded with an unruly mob. Tic and Libden were carried up three flights of stairs before Tic noticed a medical symbol on the wall and threw himself free.
"BOLTER, DON'T LEAVE ME!" cried Libden, but she reacted too slowly and was lost in the stampeding herd.
Save yourself! thought Tic. He grabbed a fleeing doctor with his acid-burned hands. "Where's Overard?"
The doctor stared in blank fear.
"Jeffries!" tried Tic.
The doctor pointed. Tic dashed into the indicated room and found Overard lying unconscious on a gurney. Now what? He'd never get this thing all the way up to level 17.
Wracking his brain, he nearly missed his PAI's buzzing. It was Pelly. "Still alive, dear?" said the freighter.
"Mostly!" said Tic. "But I'm all the way down on level"—he checked the wall—"uh, level 6."
"Head down," suggested Pelly.
"Down?" said Tic.
"And if you see Milly—"
Tic's PAI was slapped out of his hand and crunched under a heavy boot. "You're done, Bolter!" barked the curator.
July 10, 2012 — 531 words
By 1889 Labs
A little about you, first. Do you have any hidden talents?
RS: I wouldn't call it hidden, but aside from writing, I'm a pretty proficient woodworker. I enjoy working with my hands, creating something beautiful, and functional from a plain block of wood.
RS: Shadows of the Past is a horror novel that delves into the power the past has over all of us, and how it can blind us to what we have in the present. Be it our personal past, or just the past in general. The protagonist Sam Hardin, and the Antagonist Jack Griffith have both come face to face with a greater evil at one point or another in their respective pasts. One rejected it, the other embraced it. That act laid the groundwork for where they find themselves as the novel opens.
Is there anything you want readers to take away from your writing?
RS: I want them to be satisfied. I'm not looking to change a person's life or outlook on the world around them. I'd like them to find my characters interesting and entertaining enough to follow them to the end of the story and come away looking forward to my next release.
Which other indie authors do you recommend or admire?
RS: Ian Woodhead, Armand Rosamila, and Bryan Hall.
Ian and Armand because they have each a very strong voice in their writing. Bryan because he has a style that effortlessly draws one into the story.
Lastly, what question should we have asked you, and why?
RS: Where do I get my ideas?
Everyone wants to know how a writer comes up with their unique view of the world.
My ideas come from my Idea Box. It's a shadowy corner of my mind where all the little snippets and tid-bits of information I come across daily swirls about in a perpetual storm. Every so often two odd bits will collide and I'll look at the result. From there it will percolate as I add substance until something resembling a story emerges.
Richard Schiver is a life long reader whose love of the written word was sparked at the age of seven. He learned he could go anywhere in the world simply by opening a book. When he's not writing he can be found in his wood shop making a mess, or in the back yard tossing the ball for Max, one of the guys, a 97 lb yellow Labrador Retriever. The rest of the guys include a Siberian Husky, a Heinz 57 mutt, neither of which will chase the ball, and a Himalayan Flame point cat who at all of eleven pounds rules the roost.
July 10, 2012 — 291 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
An expanding cone of acid shot out of the Adam Astrobot's mouth, vapourizing the legs of a few unfortunate Entulovians and opening a gaping, expanding hole in the floor. The curator's chair pitched into the chasm, and with a terrified roar he tumbled in after it.
Tic didn't have time to savour the chaos: he dove for safety, but his foothold vanished out from under him, and then he was falling, descending through the ship, slamming into exposed edges, scrambling for a hold.
His fingers caught something, the ragged edge of a steel beam. Some acidic residue remained, and his skin began to burn. He was losing his grip...
Tic looked down. Twenty feet below him was an outcropping just close enough to drop onto, if he could gain some momentum for a jump. If he missed... Well, only fifty feet further down, he could see clouds. The acid had eaten clear through the ship.
Kicking his legs, Tic started to swing, back, forth, back, forth, back—his grip shifted, as his skin turned to mush—he hurled himself forward and crashed down on the edge of the hole. He reached for a handhold, but none presented itself. His palms slipped across the floor. He was sliding...
A soft, flabby hand gripped his wrist. "OOF! YOU'RE A TUB, BOLTER."
Speak for yourself, thought Tic, as Libden pulled him up to safety. He wheezed, "Thanks..." Then he saw where they were.
Massive, sparking reactors towered over them, producing the immense energy needed to drive the battleship. The power coils on several of the reactors had been stripped away by the acid, and bright red lights were flashing everywhere.
"Oh, crap," breathed Tic.
July 9, 2012 — 1,119 words
By Ellie Hall
Shayla didn't ask to be a Councillor. As a Phoenician, she shouldn't have to live among the humans, let alone take part in their world. But the Seven Chiefs ordered her to go with Raif, a Proctor from the world Outside. They said they had a Plan. Well, the Seven Chiefs always had a Plan, and Shayla had plans of her own after suffering 13 years as a member of the humans' World Council.
Raif had never intended for things to go this far. A few months, maybe a year, and he could send the little Phoenician girl home again, back where she belonged. She's not a little girl anymore and now he finds himself in competition with his own progenitor for control over his Heir--and future. It's not a Councillor's job to protect a Proctor but that's just what Raif needs right now. Can Shayla save him before he loses his mind completely?
A fast-paced, Classic SciFi that reads more like a mystery with a Romantic SF thread woven in. Set in the far-future on an alien world, humanity's last remnants are trying to save the species from extinction. Huxley-ian eugenics in a Classic Dystopian caste system are artfully blended with an Asimov-ian "machine-turned-man" story by first-time Author Marjorie F. Baldwin.
Conditioned Response was not an easy book to review. As is my practice, once I had my own thoughts and feelings outlined I went back through the reviews others had provided. What I found pinpointed exactly the problem I needed to define in order to explain the difficulty I was having.
Many of the reviewers had loved this book and for good reason. Those who enjoy a detailed social Sci-Fi in the old tradition, where complex societies are presented and peopled by solid, complicated personalities, have found one of the best examples written recently. Conditioned Response is multi-layered, weaving together a number of intriguing social, personal, and political mysteries into a fast paced thriller.
The representation of this future human colony and its imperialistic disdain for the powerful indigenous people rings as true as any page of history. Caste discrimination, human trafficking, genetic regulation, sexual intimidation and violence, power-at-all-cost-manipulation of men and minds – all these things seem to rise from an inevitability we recognize in the societies we share today. And on that base the story, or more rightly stories, are masterfully built.
So, you wonder, if it was all so very good, what caused the difficulty in trying to find a fitting rating for the book.
Like those who rated the story much lower, aspects I value very highly in a book were not strong, or were missing entirely.
To begin with, I found the story slow to start. That is necessary to some degree in any very complex world where many characters have to be introduced and understood in context, but I found that I was a third of the way in before things really started to move. We had not travelled further than Shayla’s office or lab, and all that time was spent in dense slabs of repetitive dialogue. That tendency for the characters to launch into paragraph after paragraph of oration was tightened as the book progressed, but I found it tough going for some time. Nothing happened to break the weight of the initial narrative dump.
And the thing which I missed most was a deep emotional connection to any of the characters. These people had suffered and went on to suffer great traumas and violence, and yet, the reader is held at a distance. There is no feeling of experiencing the horror from within, no sharing of the pain with the main characters. No immediacy.
As an example, [difficult to find without some sort of spoiler attached] early in the story we learn that as a very young woman, an alien child alone in a strange human society, Shayla was brutally raped by her fellow Councillor. When the event is first mentioned, Shayla herself dismisses the memory as if it was bad, but not something she chose to dwell on. Shortly after, Raif describes the terrible injuries Shayla had suffered when he first met her. These injuries were the result of the rape, and included a broken pelvis.
Now this is horrendous. This is the rape of a defenseless child, alone and attacked by someone who should have been her protector. And yet the events are narrated as if they are simply part of a distant history; we hear nothing of the anguish. None of the terror or the pain, none of the trauma this woman had survived – which any empathic reader can imagine – is brought forward with force by the author. This kind of distance left me with a coolness toward all of the main characters that I would like to have had heated.
What I deduce from this is that enjoyment depends on the expectation of the reader when they pick up a copy of Conditioned Response to read. Those who want Sci-Fi that does not depend on Michael-Bay-bangs and special-effect diversions will love the dense plotting and careful world-building. Those who want to feel deep connection with the characters themselves, and prefer the romantic/erotic threads of a fantastic storyline are more likely to be disappointed.
All up, I am happy to give FOUR STARS, because while allowing for where Marjorie F Baldwin was not strong, what she does do well, she does very well indeed.
About Marjorie F Baldwin:
Please call me Friday, I was named after the title character in Robert A. Heinlein's book about Artificial People. I write SciFi, usually Classic, speculative stuff set in a dystopian future. My influences have been Robert A. Heinlein, Lois McMaster Bujold, Isaac Asimov, Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, and John Scalzi.
The first full-length novel I ever wrote was Conditioned Response, which is now Book 2 of The Phoenician Series. The series will be at least 3 or 4 books long but I can see myself writing prequels easily enough. I'm releasing Book 2 first because Book 1 hasn't been written yet.
The series will ultimately reveal who and what the Phoenicians are and reveal the Plan of the Seven Chiefs, but each book is its own, independent chapter of the Plan.
July 8, 2012 — 296 words
By A.M. Harte
The Legion of Nothing: Rebirth, the first volume of the series, is a coming-of-age story about Nick Klein, a teenager who has inherited his grandfather’s superhero identity and powered armor. But with power comes responsibility, for Nick has also inherited his grandfather’s unfinished business. Between homework, corrupted politicians, teenage relationships and supervillains, Nick struggles to solve the city’s corruption--before it solves him.
In Jim's own words:
“The story comments on the various ages of comic book history, and people who know their superhero fiction recognize them instantly. But I deliberately chose points of difference important to comic book and superhero fans. For example, characters grow gradually older, and when a character dies, they're really dead. No resurrections. Set in the non-existent city of Grand Lake [read Grand Rapids], I let the characters live the life of any teenager in West Michigan.”
Needless to say, I'm delighted Jim has chosen to publish his serial with us.
The Legion of Nothing began serializing online over on inmydaydreams.com in 2007 and is still going strong. Over the last few months, we've edited, revised and fine-tuned the first part of the series... and I hope you enjoy the finished product.
Please give Jim a warm welcome and -- if you like your superheroes kickass and with a hint of humour -- keep an eye out for the book, coming soon.
July 7, 2012 — 303 words
By Tim Sevenhuysen
With Overard gone, Tic and Libden were led into the heart of the curator's battleship, the ESS Reflux. More soldiers fell into step with them along the way. Upon reaching the bridge, Tic and Libden were greeted by the square-jawed curator, who was perched atop a plush velvet chair and surrounded by guards. "Welcome aboard," he grinned. "Can you believe this thing was sitting in mothballs two days ago?"
Tic held up the Adam Astrobot. "Here's the evidence."
"Excellent," said the curator. "You haven't tampered with it, have you? Wouldn't want to compromise the case."
"Of course not," Tic assured him.
"Good." The curator gestured to a soldier, who carried the action figure to his general. "This really was a clever, low-key method for hiding the backup NCVD schematics," the curator told Libden. "Should've hired a more reliable courier, though." He inspected the Adam Astrobot. "You know, I've never understood the collectors' appeal of these things."
"OH, THEY'RE GREAT," sneered Libden—the soldiers around her cringed at the volume of her voice. "THAT ONE'S GOT VOICE RECOGNITION. IT CAN HOLD FULL CONVERSATIONS."
"Fascinating," the curator deadpanned. "I'll give it some 'play time' later. Guards: throw them both in the brig with the yetis and that cripple woman."
Tic blinked hard. "What!?"
"Oh, I said she was dead, didn't I? My mistake." A light on the curator's armrest blinked. He answered: "What is it?"
"Sir, Jeffries just arrived in medical but, um... It isn't Jeffries."
"Then who...?" The curator glared at Tic.
In a loud, clear voice, Tic declared: "Nobody messes with my ship!"
The Adam Astrobot beeped and raised its arms. The curator frowned, then his eyes flew wide open and he hurled the toy away, just before it burst apart in a spray of red acid.