February 26, 2020

The 2012 Rhysling Awards.

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Ahhhh, summer. School’s out, hurricane and monsoon season is in, and the Earth approaches yet another aphelion in its annual trek around the Sun. And with the Academy Awards still over half an orbit away, Hollywood can once again return to its summertime box office passion of simply “blowing things up”. But perhaps your cerebellum thirsts for something more of an intellectual bent; well, OK, with maybe just a FEW zombies, vampires, and explosions… [Read more...]

Review: How to Succeed in Evil by Patrick E. McLean.

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Super-villains are definitely a public relations challenge. Ever wonder what it takes to keep ‘coming back for more’ after an endless stream of super-do-gooders keep putting you down? I always did, at least in the comic-book fueled days of my youth. Today, “super-hero fic” is a fast growing sub-sub genre of science fiction, with books such as Ghosts of Manhattan and films such as The Avengers, Green Lantern and The Watchmen. Earlier this year, we came across a hidden gem that was well worth our Amazon Prime membership, and worthy of a summer reading shout-out.

How to Succeed in Evil by Patrick E. McLean follows the exploits of Evil Efficiency Consultant Edwin Windsor as he attempts to raise the batting average of his short-sighted clientele. The villains are all original, but any long-time fan of the DC or Marvel universes will recognize these rogues. Windsor must guide these villainous but naive souls through the landmines of super-villainy 101, complete with henchmen, “lasers in space,” and monotonous plan-revealing diatribes that have been the downfall of many a super-villain. Windsor’s own personal henchman-turned-lawyer Topper gives a new twist to the term “criminal lawyer,” as they seek to rescue and promote clientele. All of this leads to a courtroom showdown with the Superman of the How to Succeed in Evil universe, Excelsior. It’s interesting how the author has Windsor demonstrate that it’s the arrogance and hubris of Excelsior that is the true evil, (or is it the legal system?) as he defends his villainous clients. We were happy to find out that the book was part of a series with such titles as Consultation with a Vampire and the soon to be released titles Cheap Labor and Hostile Takeover. Heck, there’s even a very fitting promo comic!

Will supervillians ever get smart and realize, to quote Windsor, that “World domination is more of a goal than a plan…” Anyone who loved the cult classic Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog will love this book. As we’ve grown up with comic books and superheroes, they’ve come to face the same problems that we have. Perhaps all that’s left for superheroes and vampires is to get savvy and simply join the corporate car pool… what would YOU do with super-powers, save the world or rob a bank? These were always foregone conclusions in the days of Golden Age comics, to become murkier perhaps with the anti-hero type characters such as Spiderman and to vanish all together into the gray-edged shadows of the modern age.

Do give How to Succeed in Evil a read this summer for a unique look at superhero fiction from the modern dilemmas of supervillians and those who run consulting agencies for them. I would be remiss if I didn’t make a comparison to another cult classic and fave of ours, 1999’s Mystery Men. C’mon, was I the only one who appreciated its genius?

More to come: Over this next few weeks, we’ll look at the dystopian universe of the Hunger Games, some unique astronomical perspectives on our own plane of existence with Many Skies, and the countdown to that Nobel of science fiction poetry, the Rhysling Awards… stay tuned!