Somewhither Mini-Review! And Drinking Game!

Behold! Here is a guest review, from our own Mr. Davidson, of my reward-not-yet-winning book SOMEWHITHER, ripped from the comments boxes of this very website!

His opinion unfolded as we were discussing the new SOMEWHITHER drinking game (called Six Degrees from Captain Kirk–I am not sure how the drinking fits in) where the reader takes a shot each time my underage overpowered protagonist, Ilya Muromets, expresses untoward and embarrassing lust toward the glancing eyed beauty he has decided to rescue. And pester.

His comments:

A reader could see Ilya’s infatuation as shallow or ill-advised, or he might see it as something with the potential to deepen, or he might see it as the convention of an action-adventure story, where most of us, or at least some of us, or at least I, don’t usually expect a lot of depth in the romantic subplot.

For example, when the jungle headhunters of the British Raj capture Willy in order to feed her snakes before throwing her into hot pits, Indiana Jones rushes in to rescue her. And after he saves the world and gets the girl, he whips her around the waist and reels her in like a fish for a big romantic kiss, and it doesn’t particularly matter that their relationship is as shallow as shallow can be, nor that he’ll have a different girl in the next film.

Or, for perhaps a better example, when the strapping sailor man rescues Fay Wray from the giant gorilla, it doesn’t particularly matter that their relationship is shallow and that they have nothing in common. What matters is that he rescues her and that there’s a giant gorilla.

For most of Somewhither, right up until the very end, Penny is off the page. She’s the MacGuffin who motivates the hero and drives the plot. Which is fine. That the hero’s infatuation is shallow doesn’t matter. What matters is a motley team of misfit heroes fighting monsters while lurking in the ventilation ducts of a space elevator ruled by evil astrologers. I simply accepted the shallowness of the attraction as a convention of the genre. I admit I didn’t examine it or reflect on it much at all.

In other words, because I read this as an action-adventure, what reactions I had to the romantic subplot were mostly visceral: I approved of the young man leaping in foolhardy fashion into danger for the sake of his lady love, and I also nodded in approval when he battled the book’s level boss in front of her and then whipped her around the waist to reel her in like a fish for a big romantic kiss (I can’t remember if a whip was actually involved; I might be getting this mixed up with something else).

If I had to predict where the story is going, I would normally expect, as per genre conventions, for the hero to save the world and get the girl, but you’ve pulled plot twists on me before.

Also, as merely a note of a reader’s personal tastes, I confess to disliking Penny’s personality, though that could easily change as she gets a larger role in the story. I also got a little tired of the breast jokes, though the one where Ilya launches into a speech about how Penny’s endowments resemble twin zeppelins and really hopes Abby can’t hear him is pretty funny. I liked that one, but mostly because Abby is in it, and she’s my favorite character.

I thought this was a really, really fun book. I was entertained and got more than my money’s worth. But as further evidence that different readers see different things, I can say that most of the quibbles I had with the text were markedly different from those of the reviewer presently under discussion. I didn’t question why the people from Ilya’s aeon acted the way they did, nor did I have any thoughts at all about “feminine agency,” whatever that is. But I admit I questioned why Ilya thought throwing a vampire off a cliff would kill him when he’d already regenerated limbs, and I questioned why the characters stood around and talked after each fight instead of ducking into the nearest ventilation duct.

I did also notice the comment on abortion quoted above, and I admit I found it ham-fisted. You make a very convincing case for it here, but when I came upon it in the text, my thinking was not dissimilar to that of your reviewer.

I may very well change my mind about everything when I give the book another reading, which I will likely do when the sequel is announced. When I give that second reading, I am likely to do so while deep in my cups for chapters one through four, after several vodka chasers before chapters ten through fifteen …

My comment: Let us try the Six Degrees game!

1. Captain Kirk, as we all know, fought Jack the Ripper in the TOS episode ‘Wolf in the Fold’
2. Sherlock Holmes did the same in ‘A Study in Terror’.
3. Holmes’ ally and sidekick, Dr. Watson, meets his friend and fellow professional Dr. Petry in ‘Ten Years Beyond Bakers’ Street’ by Cy Van Ash, where Holmes matches wits with Fu Manchu.
4. Fu Manchu is the father of the Master of Kung Fu Shang-Chi, in a Marvel comic line of the same name.
5. After the events of Avengers vs X-Men,Shang-Chi joined the Avengers in their assault on Mars, whose founding member is Thor of the Aesir. Thor is the son of Odin.
6. Odin is the god of the rune-lore, whose dark magic he won with the loss of his eye, and on whose name Foster Hidden calls, and whose magic he employs.

Therefore Foster Hidden is within six degrees of Captain Kirk.

Wasn’t there a Star Trek / Marvel Universe crossover at one point? Or Kirk fought Apollo, who shows up in Hercules comics? I also note that Nivens’ Known Space and the Star Trek verse are interconnected via the animated series. Go Kzinti!

Kirk met Picard in ‘Star Trek: Generations’ and Picard met Dr Moriarty, at least on the Holodeck, who was also in ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ as was Captain Nemo. Nemo visited the ruins of Atlantis, which appears in every yarn from ‘Triplanetary’ to ‘Stargate’ to ‘Justice League’

Atlantis, for any pulp fiction form of ‘Six Degrees’ game, is the source of rich crosslinks, since every writer puts Atlantis somewhere in the background, even if he calls it Numenor. (TRUE FACT: Mr. Knightley from Jane Austin’s EMMA is a cousin of Namor!) It is the same as ‘The Longest Day’ is in the game involving Kevin Bacon. You can get anywhere from Atlantis.

There may be a shorter cut. So how does your favorite character connect with Captain Kirk?

Please read and support my work on Patreon!