Monday, October 3, 2011

Union Dues: Sidekicks in Stockholm

Novelette by Jeffrey R. DeRego
Read for Escape Pod by Stephen Eley (Text & Audio online)

Dark comedy about a Superman-like hero in a hostage situation. But the hostage taker is a villain called "The Chairman" who is mainly just upset about corporate greed and wants to use the ransom demands to force the various big and corrupt companies to undo some of the harm they did. He is a crazed extremist, they are a bunch of particularly exploitative CEOs and the Chairman's political lectures are softened by meta-commentary and opposing viewpoints presented by the hostages. DeRego isn't a fan of big business, but he isn't giving a one-sided lecture about it either.

The best thing is everyone's amazement at how little Adam Smasher understands of economics and politics. The whole debate basically goes straight over his head. At the end, dark political humor goes out the window for a just plain dark ending as Adam has to make a decision about where he stands on the debate.

I don't agree with Adam's decision, and I suspect none of the hostages, terrorists, or most people reading this story will either. Which is what makes it a great one. We don't have to agree with the hero or like his decisions, but it is great fun coming to understand how they get to that point. Even more fun for being such a deconstruction of the superhero hostage situation. DeRego and others have done superhero deconstructions before, and I've liked some but not all of them, but this is my absolute favorite such story I've ever read.

4 out of 5 supervillains have the floor, goddamnit.

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