I'm breaking from my Thursday posts reviewing science fiction I found on Project Gutenberg, mostly short stories. I'll get back to it next week. But in the meantime, I read a science fiction short story this week that is only a few years old, but I liked it a lot.
I feel bad that I haven't read any Saladin Ahmed yet. Or hadn't, until
this story crossed my plate. I follow him on twitter, I've heard good
things about his book. The problem is, if you took the list of "things I
would like to read," it would easily stretch for several blocks, and
so, saying I'd like to read a book is about as useful as saying I'd like to
go to the Moon. I would, but it's not going to happen any time soon.
(If you add in books and other media other people think I should read
and continually bother me about whether or not I've gotten to them yet,
the list gets even longer. That's why I created the recommended by
friends list, so people who want me to read something can both know that
I will eventually, and that it might take a while.)
I knew his novel would come up on my read of the Hugo nominees,
eventually, and didn't do much more about it. But while I was continuing
my tour of a friend's Kindle this week, I came across this short story
packaged in a Hugo bundle from 2010. (Looks like that's one of the years
Ahmed was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award.)
It's very short, and I enjoyed it a whole ton. It feels like there have
been a lot of "life from the viewpoint of the supervillains" recently,
or seriously, maybe that's just my life. There's Doctor Horrible, of
course. On a more personal note, though, there's the long-running
PrimeTime Adventures my friend Rob ran for us a few years ago, in which
we were not very villainous supervillains, fighting the superhero pawns
of a big evil corporation. Then there's the short teaser script my
husband wrote for fun, with a Goodfellas take on the supervillain blue
What I'm saying is, the idea about supervillains who are more regular
joes than you might think has been rattling around in my brain for a
while, and so that made this even more fun to read. It's well written, it's
entertaining, but it's also razor sharp when it comes to race and gender
and crime, and how the actions of real-life superheroes might do more
to feed the prison-industrial complex than anything else.
We have the roles, and we play the parts, but Doctor Diablo sees a
glimpse of making a real difference, in ways that are big and flashy and
fighting. Except that the big flash fight scene always steals the day.
This one's online at Strange Horizons. Check it out.