I won Gods of Justice from Lisa Gail Green. It’s an anthology of superhero short stories. Lisa asked if I would write a review of the anthology, but since I like to give more than asked, I decided to do a review of each story, one at a time. In case you didn’t know, I really like superheroes, so this was a great prize for me. I’ll be reviewing them one story at a time in this “Gods of Justice Review series.”
Blunt Force Trauma by Kevin Hosey truly does play some head games with you. There isn’t a lot of “superhero action” in this one, but the one hero/power that you do get to experience is pretty cool. It starts right at the beginning, giving the reader the advance warning of Psykore’s precognitive superpower. It’s done almost as a second voice inside his head, giving him a heads up on what’s about to happen with a couple of well chosen words. This gives him the advantage on his opponent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work on inanimate objects, like a bomb, which quickly ends his career and causes his power to go defunct at the beginning of the story.
We pick up the story many years later, with Psykore making ends meet, permanently wounded and defeated by the bomb, living alone. He gets a call from his mentor/partner from even before we met Psykore, to tell him about the death of his partner’s daughter. His partner quickly changes gears, however, and tells him not to come. Apparently, they had some sort of major falling out back in the day, which is hinted at and slowly unveiled as the story moves along.
This story specializes not on cool super heroics or flashy powers, but on relationships and plot twists. I saw the love interest coming, and I suspected the baby’s origin maybe halfway in, but I was taken completely by surprise with the identity of the mastermind behind it all. Caught by surprise, and left gasping for breath, with my mind spinning to grasp the ramifications of it all.
Many stories make the mistake of throwing in a random culprit or piece of information at the very end, in order to effect a plot twist of this magnitude. It’s called Deus ex Machina, which is Latin and means God of the Machine. However, stories like this, in today’s modern world of storytelling, feel contrived, unplanned, or the reader feels cheated. Not so with Blunt Force Trauma. The clues were all there, nothing was truly hidden, it just didn’t come together until the end.
It was a little on the slow-paced side, as so much of it was angst and relationship-building material, leaking out tips and hints of what had happened in their past, but in the end, my overwhelming feel is that this story hurt to read. Not that it was bad writing, but that the actual story hurt. I didn’t want it to be that way. I hurt for Psykore; I hurt for the kid. I just wanted to raise my hands into the air and scream “It’s not fair!” Life isn’t fair, and good literature reflects life.