The Velveteen Hero

VelveteenWhere are they now?

There’s another word for teen sidekicks. It’s child-soldiers. I stumbled across this gem on TV Tropes, followed the link to Amazon, and… well, go there to read my review.

I’ll say this here; Seanan McGuire gets it. Too many writers approach superhero stories from the deconstructive angle, but what they don’t understand is that, on the whole, the only unrealistic thing about them is the superpowers. Given superpowers in the real world, would we have superheroes? Most emphatically, yes–we have heroes already, people who put themselves in harms way for other as part of their jobs. And, given the immensely popular superhero stereotypes that exist in fiction, they’d probably use codenames and wear costumes; they just wouldn’t act the way they mostly do in the comics (the government wouldn’t allow it). Seanan understands that, for the reader to care what happens to the hero, the hero must be believable and her world must be believable given the Rules the writer has decided upon. Velveteen vs. the Junior Super Patriots is a great adventure yarn, a touching human story, and an at times Laugh Out Loud read; my sole complaint is that it ends on a cliff-hanger, which means that I have to wait patiently to see how it all plays out. A mixed misfortune. Go buy the book, enjoy it, then write a great Amazon review–I want Seanan to get all the encouragement she needs to write more more more.

Other Notes

Work continues on Young Sentinels, but slowly; still hoping for a first-quarter publication date. In the meantime, I am also polishing my first Astra short story, Omega Night, and will be releasing it on Amazon when finished for $.99. The story began as a part of Young Sentinels, but didn’t fit and was too good to throw away.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


12 thoughts on “The Velveteen Hero

  1. Very interesting. I’ve read McGuire’s zombie novels (as Mira Grant) and adore her Fae novels (starting with Rosemary and Rue) but have never really figured out what the heck her Velveteen novels are (she posts about them a lot on her blog, but I was very confused). Thanks for the review. Now I’ll have to think about checking them out!

    And now I’m also excited about an Astra short story!

    1. I should have mentioned that Velveteen is a collection of short stories (or “episodes’), some of which I believe can be read on her blog site. Still worth getting the book just to encourage more!

  2. Well, I have now finished reading up on her blog – which I believe is well into the second volume. Quite nice – though I’m uncertain about wanting to purchase it without knowing the resolution. Which kind of defeats the purpose – but at least it wasn’t another Heroine Addiction.

    Thanks for the rec!

  3. Thanks for posting about this book. I picked up a copy for my Kindle and just finished reading it. A great take on superheroes, especially “junior” heroes and Velma as a great character. I’ll be looking forward the the second book in the series, due out next year.

  4. I also agree: Supers could not act as vigilantes in the Real World. Legally speaking, a metahuman (or alien or robot or supernatural entity) is still bound by the same laws and conventions that apply to the rest of us. Yes, a Super can make a Citizen’s arrest, but when he goes in and starts busting people up in the name of stopping crime, he goes too far.

    The law does allow the user of force in self defense and in the defense of others, but there’s a fine line between self-defense and vigilantism.

    I can only see things coming down in one of two ways, when it comes to super-powered individuals:
    1. They work for existing law enforcement or military agencies. They are just another cop or soldier, but their tactical capabilities allow them to support their teams in ways that an unpowered person could not.

    2. An independent or government-owned (take your pick) special agency, designed to use Supers and their unique gifts only in situations where the police can’t handle things. Specifically, they would be called in to fight Supervillian crime or natural disasters.

    Note that in both cases, they would have a badge and gun, so to speak. They would be licensed, monitored, and properly restrained if they got out of line.

    Oh, and I think a Metahuman Registration Act (or whatever it’s called) would definitely pass Congress without much opposition. Gun owners are required to register their weapons; Superman should be required to register his fists.

    In this sense, I think Wearing The Cape, the Union Dues stories, and the Secret Chronicle stories have all created a very convincing super-reality – one that recognizes that with great powers come great.. government oversight, licenses, restrictions, and above all… lots of paperwork.

    1. Actually Tom, not all gun owners are required to register their guns, and no archer is required to register their bows, Registration is a LOCAL law, and many localities especially western and rural ones do NOT require registration of a gun. Actions committed with superpowers SHOULD (not necessarily would) be treated as actions conducted with any other sort of power enhancer like guns or construction equipment- illegal is illegal PLUS the increased damage equaling increased sentencing severity.
      Federal law only requires a background check for the purchase of a gun from a store (thus the so-called gun show ‘loophole’ ) and those records are kept only by the firearm dealer.
      Since there is usually no ‘seller’ of superpowers and many ‘superpowers’ in most stories having only minor capacity to do harm – often less than a highly skilled martial artist, whom, contrary to popular belief, does NOT need to register with the police.
      If localities don’t require Superpower registration they will likely attract law abiding but privacy loving superheros, Localities requiring registration will attract only those supers whom either intend to break the law or work with the law- aka as super police, A voluntary registration tied to a government funded ‘insurance and support’ structure would be the best way to allow the superpowered to live a mundane and private life, but be on call for natural disasters etc. Much like I think Wearing the Capes version of ‘reservist’ is,

    2. there is no firearm registration in most states. there is no federal registration. the closest thing at the federal level is special taxes for the transfer of NFA items. (but those are treated as tax records, last i checked.)

      further, it seems rather immoral to treat people like sex offenders because they had the bad luck to have a bridge fall on them.

  5. I’d like to bring to your attention (if I haven’t somehow missed it elsewhere on your blog) another supers gem: Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain, by Richard Roberts. This is hands down my favorite supers book after the Wearing the Cape series. It deals with aspects of being an underage super (the heroine Penny and her sidekicks are all in middle school, and both of her parents are world-renowned retired superheroes ) and how they would relate to adult superheroes and supervillains. PDTMPIAS also features some very clever and innovative powers as well. It’s also laugh out loud funny at times. A+!

    There is a second book which is not quite as good (a solid B maybe) but the first book itself is a stand-alone delight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s