Profile: Superhero Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Zombie Apocalypse
After Action Report:
EX-Heroes falls very clearly in my reading category of ‘book candy.’ It’s light, entertaining, but lacking many qualities of actual literary goodness. Well, actually the concept is executed rather well and Clines manages to tell a pretty compelling story within his somewhat limited framework, so maybe the novel isn’t all that lacking. But at the end of the day, there’s very little here that hasn’t been explored before. Points for novelty notwithstanding.
The book bills itself as “The Avengers meets The Walking Dead,” and that’s pretty much the premise. A sequence of international events prompt the rise of a small number of ‘superheroes,’ who only have a few years to establish themselves before the zombie apocalypse kicks off. The book is told in two parallel arcs, one following a conclave of heroes who have carved out a sanctuary in the ruins of Paramount Studios in the post-zombie world. The other arc jumps between perspectives of various heroes as they tell portions of their origin stories or their first contact with the book’s zombies, called ‘Exes.’
Profile: Steampunk, Superhero Fiction
Summary: Taken from the back cover, “In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime…
But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.
The Falling Machine takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.”
After Action Report:
Confession time. I accidentally left my Kindle at home over the Thanksgiving vacation and was forced to pick up some reading material in the airport. I wasn’t super excited about The Falling Machine, but it had a pretty cover. And I was in a hurry. Publishers, take note.
There is very little of substance to Falling Machine. It is a wannabe comic book that draws so heavily on its inspiration that there isn’t much left for the reader to discover. If you’re at all familiar with the steampunk genre, or the plot of Watchmen, you’re already covered most of the territory. What fills in the gaps is bland but inoffensive writing. On the plus side, there’s not much in the way of technobabble, but the science is so flimsy it might as well be a fantasy.