Absolute Power: Tales of Queer Villainy by Erica Friedman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
disclaimer: I kickstarted this anthology
Before I get to my usual anthology review in which I collect all my status updates into one place, I wanted to mention a bit about why I kickstarted this book and how I like the overall collection. One day I was trawling through the fiction section of Kickstarter when I came across this book (which had a different title at the time) and it ticked a few boxes for me. First of all, I’ve always found it fun to read a story from the villain’s point of view. So often authors take the easy route and create an anti-hero if they want to tell a story without a goodie-two-shoes protagonist. To make a villain sympathetic takes work. Second, it was clear some of the stories would take an irreverent tone. While good parody and satire are hard to pull off, I’m pretty tolerant about mediocre parody and satire. Finally, while LGBT characters are starting to take off – especially in YA fiction, it’s still somewhat of a relative rarity. Even harder to find is a LGBT character that doesn’t conform to heteronormative tropes: the sexy lesbian, the lispy gay guy, etc. Most aren’t aware of bears and other categories and that LGBT people come in as many shades of the rainbow (no double-entendre intended) as straight people do. So it was fun to read about things like seduction from a woman’s point of view, from a bi point of view, from a transgender point of view and see how they’re the same and how they’re different. And there are stories in which it matters that the characters are gay super heroes and stories in which it matters as much as the super hero being left-handed.
Anyway, I found it supremely enjoyable and if you’re into super hero stories and want to read something a little different, check it out.
Final Grades – the headmistress at a school for villains walks us through the year. Partway through – I have an idea how it might end, but unsure. Appears her superpower is manipulating others into doing what she wants. While I had an idea the plot would revolve around a challenge to someone (given the setup), the end result was a delicious surprise. (note: some graphic sex in that short story)
Date Night: Queer Villainess goes on a date as a civilian. Things go a little pear-shaped. I caught the twist quite a few beats ahead of the protagonist, but still a fun read.
Eden’s Revenge: “The file said this woman’s hacker handle was NrdGrl so she’d expected a pimply faced, nerdy science type. The centerfold for sexy librarians greeted Grey instead.” Someone decides the way to get revenge for being hurt is a tech-reset. Fun to read protagonist/antagonist seduction from a female point of view as well as a queer one and see the similarities and differences compared to usual.
Gentleman Jack: A fine, fine story in which the author takes the metaphorical power women have over others with their sexuality and makes it an actual power that some can control. Very fun read that takes place in 1800s.
Fallen: A villain gets revenge on a super hero. This is the first one so far to be tragic rather than fun. Doesn’t make it a bad story, just a little less into the relishing of the villainy.
The Devil Inside: Back to fun stories. A reporter interviews the Devil. Shenanigans ensue. Great world that would be fun for a novella length story.
“I fixed my powder blue eye-mask and took a moment to make sure the mandatory cleavage window sat right in the middle of my chest.”
Yup, it’s meta and irreverent and awesome. You know how some crow about the gay agenda to make everyone gay? What if that was actually a super villain plot?
For Want of a Heart: Another serious one, but I enjoyed a bit more than the other serious one. Redemption and free will are big topics and it’s told rather well. Could be a prequel short story to either a utopia or dytopia story.
Absolution: A witch curses a community when she’s burned at the stake. Also, takes place in a future dystopia.
So Many Things Seem Filled With the Intent: Starts off fun, then gets serious, then fun again. Probably #2 favorite in the collection thus far. Superhero and her mad-scientist girlfriend enlist help from a villain mad-scientist.
The Prado By Chance: A nice change in that the protagonist is not the super-villain. Instead she’s an investigator for an INTERPOL that has nothing to do since the rise of super humans. A fun world I’d like to spend more time in.
Jaguar Light: A villain decides to use magic to depower all the super heroes.
Chrome Crash: A very serious story on which to end things. A story worthy of Alan Moore or Jonathan Hickman or anyone else who has ever considered the grey morality of heroes in the real world as opposed to the fantasies we normally see in the Caped Comics.