Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Mutants Men Don't See, by James Alan Gardner

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(Superhero) A combination of teenage hormones, a rare gene, and the right stressful event turns a few kids into superheroes. Liam wants to be one too. (3,358 words; Time: 11m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: RHorton:4 Readers

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 08|16, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Liam's mom is the star of the show, and her desperate efforts to keep her son from doing something stupid supply lots of entertainment value. In a very real way, Liam doesn't deserve super powers, but his mom really earns them.

The title is a play on the Tiptree story, The Women Men Don't See, although I don't see much connection, other than it only happens to menopausal women.

Con: It is kind of silly. And there's the small problem that Liam is going to wonder why he woke up in his own bed. Also, there were so many hints about Ellie's hormonal problems that her acquisition of powers didn't surprise me.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. 5-stars from me. I so wish I'd read it before the Hugo nomination period closed.

    I've rarely disagreed with you on stories that got rated a 3 by RSR.

    Regards the cons you listed...
    Very coincidental but plausible, is that some super-person flying pass spotted Liam in trouble and fished him out.
    OR some super-person having a discreet late-night dip in Lake Ontario fished him out etc.

    As to where Liam lived...
    Liam could have been carrying ID but Ellie could always claim she didn't have time to ask the super-hero as she had a semi-drown son to care for.

    So few stories feature middle-age women, and it is so rare that anything of interest happens to them. I did not see the ending coming at all.

    I have not read the Tiptree story but I think this is a great title for this story.

    1. This one was right on the cusp for me. Looking at it again, I'd probably be more inclined to give it 4 stars now than I was nine months ago. There's something inspirational both about how she really earns her powers and about her determination to save her son.

  2. Forgot to mention...

    This was voted by Asimov readers as a finalist in the Top 5 in the Short Story category -

    1. Hmmm. We may need to make this more visible. If you look at the "Recommended By" line, it says "Readers". That's a link to the results of the Asimov's Readers Awards results.