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Soon I Will Be Invincibleby Austin Grossman
Synopses & Reviews
Doctor Impossible — evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator — languishes in a federal detention facility. He's lost his freedom, his girlfriend, and his hidden island fortress.
Over the years he's tried to take over the world in every way imaginable: doomsday devices of all varieties (nuclear, thermonuclear, nanotechnological) and mass mind control. He's traveled backwards in time to change history, forward in time to escape it. He's commanded robot armies, insect armies, and dinosaur armies. Fungus army. Army of fish. Of rodents. Alien invasions. All failures. But not this time. This time it's going to be different...
Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the world's most famous superteam. She's a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, a gleaming technological marvel built to be the next generation of warfare. Filling the void left by a slain former member, we watch as Fatale joins a team struggling with a damaged past, having to come together in the face of unthinkable evil.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is a thrilling first novel; a fantastical adventure that gives new meaning to the notions of power, glory, responsibility, and (of course) good and evil.
"The realm of comic book heroes and villains gets a dose of realism in this whimsical debut from game design consultant Grossman. The story shifts between the perspectives of Doctor Impossible, a brilliant scientist turned world's greatest menace, and Fatale, a lonely cyborg and the newest addition to the venerable group of heroes known as the Champions. Though he's been out of commission for a while, Doctor Impossible hatches a scheme to knock the planet out of orbit ('As the Earth grows colder, my power becomes apparent, and the nations submit,' he reasons). Meanwhile, Champions leader Corefire goes missing, and Fatale has to learn the ropes of superherodom as the conventional climactic showdown (at Doctor Impossible's secret lair) draws near. However fantastical, the characters (including a 'genetic metahuman' and 'an elite fairy guard') are thoughtfully portrayed, with Fatale — stuck in a perpetual existential crisis — bemused over the Champions' purpose, and Doctor Impossible wondering 'whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life.' Grossman dabbles in a host of themes — power, greed, fame, the pitfalls of ego — in this engrossing page-turner, broadening the appeal of an already inviting scenario. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Since the end of the golden age of comic books in the mid-1950s, the industry has continued to reinvent itself by exploring one simple question: What would a superhero world look like if it were real? This was the major impetus behind the rise of Marvel comics in the 1960s and "70s, as well as the darker, more sobering visions presented in the "80s with Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns' and... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) Alan Moore's 'The Watchmen,' landmark works that gave birth to the modern era of adult-oriented superhero storytelling. Within this tradition now comes a prose exploration, Austin Grossman's enjoyable debut, 'Soon I Will Be Invincible,' which takes the genre of the superheroic into the realm of literary fiction, where navel-gazing is an established art form. When CoreFire — Earth's supreme Ubermensch and 'World's Mightiest Hero' — goes missing, few in the costumed vigilante community doubt that his nemesis, Doctor Impossible, had something to do with it. From Doctor Impossible's perspective, his hatred of the superman is completely understandable: 'He could fly, which was reason enough to resent him. He didn't even have the decency to work for it, to flap a pair of wings or at least glow a little. He seemed to do it purely out of a sense of entitlement — something about it suggested the rest of us had simply knuckled under to gravity.' To those who assume Doctor Impossible is guilty, it doesn't matter that he is locked behind bars and has been for a while; the penal system is a revolving door to the world's foremost evil genius. Doctor Impossible quickly proves this fact by breaking out and working to fulfill his evil potential. On the trail of the CoreFire mystery and the escaped Doctor Impossible is Fatale, a cyborg whose history is unknown even to herself. Fatale accepts an invitation to join America's A-list superhero squad, the Champions, who reunite to deal with the disappearance of their former member. As Fatale grows accustomed to the Champions' moody ensemble of comic-book archetypes, she begins to discover the truth behind CoreFire's vanishing act and the dark secrets behind her own origin as well. Told in chapters that jump back and forth between the often humorous, engaging first-person narratives of Doctor Impossible and Fatale, 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' revels in the mundane reality behind the masks, the adult concerns that motivate these flawed superheroes to get out of bed each morning and put their capes back on. It is Doctor Impossible, though, who gets all of the best lines — the great villains always do. 'In street clothes I'd just be a criminal. Which I am, of course, but in the costume I'm something more. I wear the flag of a country that never existed and the uniform of its glorious army, spreading forth the dominion of the invincible empire of me.' It's not surprising to see the superhero world invade the medium of literary fiction, considering the number of prose writers who have made their way across the border into the comic-book universe in the past decade. Michael Chabon didn't just write a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about comic-book artists, 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,' he also followed that up with an actual comic-book series, 'The Escapist.' And Jonathan Lethem used the superhero genre as a source of weighted metaphor in his story collection 'Men and Cartoons.' But Grossman is content to stay within the borders of this fantasy world, bringing it to life in all of its colorized, comic glory. Much of the writing happening in mainstream comics at the moment is about pushing the limits of the superhero genre, but in Grossman's novel the genre is not pushed into new levels of bleak realism. Rather, this fabulist vision is meticulously captured so that it might be gleefully explored, nostalgically, within its traditional boundaries. 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' is a superhero story re-created with the great pleasure of an adult too old to play with action figures but young enough to remember the feeling of that childhood joy and translate it into prose." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.comCarolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comMat Johnson, a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston and the author of 'Drop,' 'Hunting in Harlem,' and 'The Great Negro Plot', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"This witty debut novel is sure to please fans of Lethem and Chabon and remind you that smart prose can be as vivid as any graphic concoction." Playboy
"It's a hoot....A delirious, often hilarious story that both satirizes and pays homage to superhero story cliches." Tampa Tribune
"[Grossman] fully embraces his inner geek; he gives us heroes and villains with a consciously sardonic eye." Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"Soon I Will Be Invincible doesn't so much play with the clichés of superhero comics as bathe in their pulpy froth." Austin American Statesman
"Every comic-book cliche in this witty, stunning debut is lovingly embraced, then turned inside out." Wired
"Soon I Will Be Invincible succeeds for the same reason NBC has racked up ratings for Heroes and comic books have such devoted followings. The characters may be superheroes, but the stories showcase their humanity." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Grossman's book is frothy fun with an undercurrent of sadness and a surprisingly human universality." Chicago Sun-Times
"[A] full-on spoof that conjures a pantheon of cyborgs, aliens, fairies, magicians and zeta-beam-obsessed scientists." Los Angeles Times
"[A] fresh, warm take on comic books, science fiction and pop culture." St. Petersburg Times
Doctor Impossible — evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator — languishes in a federal detention facility. Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the famous super-team who must act together in the face of unthinkable evil.
Without warning, the world comes to an end. The sky looms frigid white. The electric grid falters. Airplanes everywhere crash to the ground.
Within moments, the sky comes down in a crushing sheet of light, and everything and everyone are gone—except for Hannah and Amanda Given. Saved from destruction by three fearsome and powerful beings, the Given sisters suddenly find themselves elsewhere: a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances.
Soon Hannah and Amanda are joined by four other survivors from their world—a mordant cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had, and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions begin a cross-country journey to find the one man who can save them—before time runs out.
Doctor Impossible—evil genius, would-be world conqueror—languishes in prison. Shuffling through the cafeteria line with ordinary criminals, he wonders if the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life. After all, he's lost every battle he's ever fought. But this prison won't hold him forever.
Fatale—half woman, half high-tech warrior—used to be an unemployed cyborg. Now, she's a rookie member of the world's most famous super-team, the Champions. But being a superhero is not all flying cars and planets in peril—she learns that in the locker rooms and dive bars of superherodom, the men and women (even mutants) behind the masks are as human as anyone.
Soon I Will Be Invincible is a wildly entertaining first novel, brimming with attitude and humor—an emotionally resonant look at good and evil, love and loss, power and glory.
About the Author
Austin Grossman is a video-game design consultant and a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he specializes in Romantic and Victorian literature. He lives in Berkeley. Visit him online at www.sooniwillbeinvincible.com.
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