[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #80 - August 2010 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 30 16:08:32 PDT 2010

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #80 - August 2010 [spoilers]  
Reviewed This Issue:
     Looniverse Chronicles #2  [LNH]  {high concept 12}
     SW10: The Waitress From Beyond  [SW10]  {high concept 10}
     SW10: The New Look   [SW10]
     SW10: The Earth Is A Deathtrap  [SW10]  {high concept 11}
Also posted:
     Click  [ASH]
     Coherent Super Stories #22  [ASH]  {high concept 12}
     Coherent Super Stories #23  [ASH]  {high concept 12}
     Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #39  [LNH]  {high concept 12}
     This month's High Concept was 'under the weather'.
     Very late writing these, so these are going to be brief and probably 
rather dry.
     Spoilers below:
Looniverse Chronicles #2
'Thesis, Antithesis, Elemental Synthesis'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Andrew Perron
     Oh, a _Quasar_ homage.  Cool.  That was one of my favourite series 
from the late eighties/early nineties.  This story certainly displays 
the two main stylistic attributes that I associate with the _Quasar_ 
stories: taking some cosmic notion or phenomenon, and then having a 
normal human try to deal with the situation by means of common sense 
rather than brute force.  The cosmic notion in this case is the 
on-again off-again fiddling that the Writers for the LNH setting have 
done over the years to flesh out the parody analogues of the classical 
     In this issue the action takes place a long way away from the 
Looniearth rather than in the distant past or future.  The reserve 
LNHer Seyfert needs to arbitrate a dispute between the cosmic level 
entities embodying the net.elements of Timeindex and Compress.  
SW10: The Waitress From Beyond  {high concept 10}
sW10: The New Look  
SW10: The Earth Is A Death Trap  {high concept 11}
Superhuman World 10 [SW10] stories
by Scott Eiler
     No, those aren't typos.  Scott wanted to make contributions to 
previous High Concept challenges.
     All three of these stories contain one or more intriguing ideas at 
their hearts.  But as I've gone on about before, sometimes the length of 
the Superhuman World articles aren't enough to do justice. 
     (Well, maybe.  It depends on whether an idea is being used as the 
basis of the story, or as a throwaway comment included for world building 
or even colour.  Unfortunately an intriguing idea included for nothing 
other than colour might spark the interest of the reader, causing them 
to go 'Gee, it would have nice to follow up on that'.)
     The first story, 'Waitress From Beyond' is my favourite of the three. 
It held together as a nice character piece from the World Journal Monthly, 
and gave an unusual insight into the situation of Earth as it now stands.  
Even though the planet has been bumped into an irregular orbit and is 
suffering global cooling, it's still better than other places.  In this 
story a waitress who hails from another Earth who immigrated here tells 
her story.
     No specific details of her home world are ever shown (in what would 
normally be cited as a violation of the 'show, don't tell' principle of 
storytelling).  However just enough facts are mentioned that the cliche 
of a Marvel Universe style anti-superhuman social climate is brought to 
mind.  The reader probably knows enough about the comic conventions 
relating to the big two superhero publishers' settings that they can fill 
in the rest.  Another observation that I would make is the clever use of 
her speech patterns: simple, short sentences that give the impression of 
an uncomplicated but by no means stupid person.  Now, in real life most 
people tend to ramble when they talk and use lots of 'uhm's and 'you 
know's, so those speech patterns probably aren't realistic.  Nevertheless 
they are evocative of the way the reader would normally *think* that type 
of person would talk, and so are well handled.
     The second story, 'The New Look' relates how control of the World 
Monthly Journal changes hands, and how some of the staff members track 
down the Mayan Wooden Man as the person responsible.  If anything this 
episode contained more story ideas than the first, because the question 
of who could be behind the takeover allowed for a meta-coverage of a 
number of previous stories, plus teamups with the Doom Koala once the 
journalists had identified the Wooden Man as responsible.
     That said, it also contained the single most frustratingly terse 
line in any of these three posts.  While sorting through candidates:
| Without Joyce, we could only pick two candidates to investigate.  So 
| Bruce and I went after the Ivory Coast and the Vatican.  But no luck.
     Needless to say there's two posts worth of adventures contained 
in that brief paragraph which have had to be glossed over as part of 
the broader narrative.  I can see why it's done, but it's still a 
particularly glaring example.
     The third story again gives a broad overview of the situation on 
Earth.  The Executive Committee on Superhuman Activities has a meeting 
that summarises a number of incidents before getting to the two main 
points of crops failures and the offer by the Trillions to place Earth's 
inhabitants in cryogenic hibernation in order to save them from the 
current climate and ecological problems.
     A significant chunk of the post is given over to the notion that 
although Earth's orbit has become more eccentric, crops *should* be 
growing just as well because they're receiving extra sunlight from other 
suns in other universes - it's just that the spirits of Earth's plants 
are attuned to the sunlight of this particular universe.  Yowza, high 
concept weird sh!t.  Nevertheless, despite progress in getting the plant 
spirits to cooperate, this is not an instant fix, and the depressing 
conclusion is that unless the Earthlings take up the offer of the 
Trillions to hibernate to ride the problems out most of them will die.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au 
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero  
fiction of the rec.arts.comics.creative newsgroup and its sibling group  
Superguy can be found at:
     http://archives.eyrie.org/racc/       or  
        http://archives.eyrie.org/superguy/   or  

More information about the racc mailing list