Counting the Days

Astra_1 R

So, four days until the Amazon launch of Recursion. And what’s a new Wearing the Cape book without a costume change for Astra?

So we’ve come to the release of the seventh Wearing the Cape book. This is kind of a banner-moment for me, considering when I self-published Wearing the Cape I wasn’t sure if I could think of that many more stories for Hope/Astra and the Post-Event World. I also wasn’t sure if I could make a career out of this, but today it’s a full-time gig with more milestones coming every day; a translation and publication of the first three books in Germany (first book, Karriere: Superheldin), a well-received tabletop RPG Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game, and more to come.

This is also, in a strange way, the closing of a circle. In the first mostly completed draft of Wearing the Cape, Hope had been a twenty-one-year-old college senior, looking at her final year of school before going out into the world. She was more together than the eighteen-year-old college freshman she turned out to be, though no less driven and optimistic. So after seven books, Hope is finally at the start I’d envisioned for her originally (although far, far more experienced). She’s loved and lost, learned and grown, experienced defeats and wins. She’s become a leader. So to me these seven books together feel thematically whole.

“The series does not end at this time.”


“I’m just saying it now. That last sentence seemed kind of ominous.”

Oh. Okay, then. Carry on.

“Thank you.”

Not spilling any details, Recursion is the most “political” of my books to-date. This isn’t to say that the previous books have been unpolitical. Not by a long shot. I’ve always tried to make the Post-Event World as “real” as our own, and this means that a lot of our political and social real-world issues can and have been read into the stories. Also, issues that aren’t even there.

Occasionally this has gotten ridiculous. One reviewer of Wearing the Cape decided the book screamed “I am white, and anyone non-white I introduce will, in some way, be a stereotype.” He decided this mostly because the villain-groups the Sentinels fought in the first part of the book were street-villains (and presumably not white?), I referenced the US-Mexican border as one of the most dangerous borders in the world (it is), and the terrorists were international. Somewhere along the way he forgot that the Big Bad of the story, who triggered Hope’s breakthrough, tried to undo the Sentinels’ win against the local villain-groups, and destroyed southern California killing tens of thousands, was, um, white. Along with the sociopath who briefly tortured Hope. Bean-counting aside, he objected to my use of the word “black.” As in black hats, Blackout, and black box agency. He did give me credit for “good” use of the color with Blackstone. He noted that Rook was a black superhero, but for some reason forgot about Ajax, the intellectual and academic of the team.

Astonishing. Also a little depressing, and this when I wasn’t trying to make socio-political commentary.

But superhero fiction can’t ever completely escape the commentary, and I haven’t tried. For starters, superhumans are often stand ins for real-world groups just because they’re a) visibly different, and b) a minority. Mutants in Marvel’s X-Men comics have always been treated as an allegory for racial minorities, but more subtle equivalences are valid; superhumans have been used as allegories for social classes, movements, or religious groups.

In Recursion, I more explicitly treat breakthroughs as a racial minority (see their haters, Humanity First), but I also couch opposition in terms familiar to readers following the current gun-control debate. Breakthroughs can be undeniably dangerous and can’t simply be disarmed (and wouldn’t it be an interesting civil-rights debate if they could be). So, what to do about them? How much regulation and restriction is permissible in a free society without society becoming fundamentally unfree? Things get interesting when racism combines with justifiable fears. Lines can become very gray and even good people can be misguided. I don’t argue these questions in detail, I just put them out there and I expect readers to draw their lines.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t have my own lines. For anyone who’s curious, I’m a classical liberal (liberal conservative?). My vision of the Good Society is one with maximal social freedoms consonant with strong individual rights under a fiscally responsible, energetic but limited, federal government. So, party-wise I’m an independent and federalist with a light seasoning of libertarian.

Go figure.

So it will be interesting to see reader-responses to the politics of Recursion. In the meantime, to let you know what’s in the pipeline, I have several projects underway. My next commitment is to finish the sourcebooks for the Kickstarter-backed roleplaying game. Beyond that I want to try and see if I can’t take on two book-projects this year; the next Wearing the Cape book of course (yet to be titled), but also a non-WtC book. I’m currently torn between a fantasy story tentatively titled The Silver Tree, first in a prospective new series, and my long-promised comedy space-opera, Worst Contact. I also intend to produce a “generic” rulebook for the super-powers system I designed for Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game. I would like to see the Wearing the Cape books published in more languages as well, and there’s always the pipe-dream of finding a good writer/comic-artist to translate Wearing the Cape into a graphic novel.

So as I said at the beginning, more milestones to come. Thank you for all your support, and I hope the rest of 2018 is as exciting for you as it will be for me!

Marion G. Harmon

(Also, thanks to Jori Miller, Grayson Judd, Austin Murrey, Jacob Crimin, Spencer Brint, Rick West, and Chase Wayment. You’ll all see why. And thank you, everyone who responded to the opportunity to read the first 6 chapters by sending notes on the grammatical/spelling errors that hadn’t yet gotten caught by the editing sweeps!)



19 thoughts on “Counting the Days

  1. I am looking forward to Recursion. From what I have read, it is quite an interesting story. I look forward to reading the rest. Launching a new book in the series is always an exciting moment. Congratulations on your seventh novel. You are doing quite a good job. I admit that I have been telling you to focus on the books and you have done very well. I like Hope/Astra. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. Breakthroughs can be undeniably dangerous and can’t simply be disarmed (and wouldn’t it be an interesting civil-rights debate if they could be).

    The above is why I dislike Marvel’s “Mutants are Gays” junk.

    There are good reasons to be concerned about people with super-powers. It can (like anything human) go overboard but the reasons don’t go away by screaming “Bigot”.

    Oh well, that’s a soapbox that I should continue to use. 😉

    1. Sorry that should be “soapbox that I shouldn’t continue to use”. [Embarrassed Grin]

  3. Well, when I read it, I also thought it got Conservative / Neocon-ish vibe. China collapse, Mexico collapse, a New Caliphate, US lead the world and everybody hate it, etc.

    as for border, India-Bangladesh and Mexico-Central America is very violent, probably more than US-Mexico border.

    1. I guess I read a different series then. The whole TA/DA thread was … not flattering to the hard right. (Unless you think fascism is not a right-wing thing.)
      I also read the world situation this way: the USA’s “world leadership” role continues largely due to the fact that the previous and current president have shown a great deal of initiative on issues surrounding breakthroughs. Since this is the primary issue of the age, they get lots of attention. Several times it is noted that the USA lacks the power advantage it enjoyed pre-event.
      The collapse of china is probably a plot thing: it provided the conflict central to Ronin Games.
      (Reads about India-Bangladesh border) … oh, such excellent stupidity. Just, wow.

      1. Yeah, the India-Bangladesh border is messed up. I don’t know if more have died on that border than the US/Mexico border, or what, but both borders are in the Top 10 list.

  4. The author considers the first seven books a volume?
    Just where would the next volume go?
    She’s a full on CAPE now.
    The early astronauts were said to have ‘The Right Stuff’.
    Hope has the hero version of that.
    I’m going to have to trust the author when he says he has several stories left to tell.

  5. I’d also love to see these go audiobook. And I’d also love to see more spinoffs like “Bite-Me Big Easy Nights”. Thrilled to be counting down to book 7, this last one seems to have taken a while, but such is life.

  6. I cannot wait to get to read this book. I’ve been hooked since the first one.

    There’s really no nice way to give critiques like this but you mentioned a reviewer going off on you about basically being locked into a white male perspective. Now the fact that you can write a believable 18 year old female wealthy socialite should disprove that at a go, but… um… You have a bad habit about writing dialogue for some of your characters. Riptide in particular almost never gets any dialogue without including some hispanic slang in almost every single sentence. When you took Jackie to New Orleans you went way overboard on all the cher, n’awlins, and localisms compared to how they actually speak in the region. I don’t get that vibe from your chicago characters dialogue but perhaps that’s because I’m not as familiar with chicago localisms to catch it. Still, that may be a minor problem that is behind that complaint. It’s just a little thing but it is definitely a consistent thing I noticed when I did a complete re-read of the series. Riptide is the most obvious example. Ajax was great. I wish we got to see more of his story but he spoke like what he was, a black scholar-warrior, and every dialogue we got from him was in that manner of speaking; we never saw what sort of code-switching Ajax-at-home does, when the cuirass comes off and the man inside the super man comes out. Atlas’ texan down-home cornpone cowboy speak made sense because he was just 18 when The Event changed him, and emphasizing the aw-shucks of it all became such an integral part of Atlas that it made sense in a way some of the New Orleans or Riptide stuff just rang false.

    1. I have spotted that problem with Riptide myself. The issue has been the context of the scene in which he has dialogue. He’s usually been making an exclamatory remark, in which slang would be appropriate, but it’s still hand issue. I make no apologies for NOLA localisms–I’ve actually gotten compliments from some who’ve lived there on how “real” the book’s portrayal of New Orleans felt. 😉

  7. I Get an error pagee when I click the link to amazon and the same happens when I go to amazon and click any link to the book, is there an issue?

    1. No. Due to my error, I had to take the book off of pre-order to unlock it and make an editing fix. But publication isn’t even delayed; Amazon is now processing Recursion for publication and it should be available in a few hours. I’m going to put up a brief blog-post explaining what happened later.

    2. The pre-order had to be canceled; but as a result it looks like the book will be available today instead of tomorrow. I’ll post the new Amazon link on the WtC facebook page the moment it becomes available. Details to follow in a blog.

  8. Regarding superheroes and politics, hasn’t the genre always been political? For example, the first issue of Captain America featured him punching out Hitler, and this was before America and Germany were at war.

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