Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Conversation about “Soon I Will Be Invincible” by Austin Grossman

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Thanks to my spouse for helping ask these questions so that I could figure out how to write about how much I loved this book. I read an ARC, 272 pages.

Q: Why are you so excited about this new book?
A: First off, the cover art is phenomenal; it’s designed by the artist Chip Kidd and it simply depicts shiny gloves and a mask. The narration is captivating. The author, Austin Grossman, is both a consultant for gameda-design and a student of Victorian literature.

Q: Is this book similar to anything you’ve read before?
A: No. This book is 36% famous good guys with dark secrets, 28% appealing bad guys, 21% mastermind schemes, 11% office politics and 4% family angst, approximately. It would be too easy to say that this was a classic battle of good versus evil. Plus, that would be incorrect. Just like real life, the forces of good and evil are not clear cut and the motivations of each villain and hero are complex. The book is told in alternating chapters from two characters – Dr. Invincible, the evil genius who has escaped from prison (again) to try to take over the world (again), and Fatale, a new cyborg super heroine who is in search of her origin story and trying to begin her career as part of the superhero team The Champions.

Q: So, who wants to read it?
A: People who watch the show Heroes, those who read superhero comic books as a child (or who read them now), anyone who find the concept of superpowers intriguing might enjoy this novel.

Q: Do the bad guys wear black tights so that you can tell they are bad?
A: Costumes are certainly important in the superhuman realm - that much is clear in this book. When Fatale is given her first costume as part of The Champions, she notices its quality, and finally feels like part of the team. Dr. Invincible also ruminates over his costume choices, especially after he escapes from prison and begins reassembling his identity and his plans.

Q: Is this a good book to read before bedtime?
A: Do you mean “is it suspenseful?” Not in the traditional sense, no. The plot is revealed slowly, although the reader anticipates the familiar encounters between hero and villain leading up to a final battle near the end of the book. This is the structure of the genre, or of any good versus evil conflict buildup. What is different here is that author Austin Grossman focuses on his characters, their back stories, and the mysteries of their human (or not human) interactions as a team of coworkers, contrasted against the workings of a lone evil genius.

Q: Is Superman faster than the Flash?
A: Umm….actually, those two superheroes, along with the entire realm of Marvel and DC comic superheroes, don’t appear in this book. There is an appendix with information from the “International Metahuman Database, Third Edition” that explains more on some individuals, plus “A Selective Timeline of Superhuman History” at the back of the book.

Q: Is it possible that any of the friends, relatives, co-workers or passersby that I’ve seen are actually superheroes?
A: According to the book, which let me remind you again is fiction, retired metahumans may assume their secret identity and live normal lives in traditional society. I would say that your chances of seeing superheroes on the street are equal with your changes of meeting Madame DeFarge, Ron Weasley, or Count Olaf at the local grocery.

Q: So, from everything you’ve told me, I guess I should read this book?
A: Check it out at your library!


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