Friday, January 20, 2017

The Atonement Tango, by Stephen Leigh

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(Superhero SF; Wild Cards) Michael “Drummer boy” Vogali seeks vengeance on the terrorists who maimed him and killed most of his band and many of his fans. (15,223 words; Time: 50m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Painful, Emotional, and Uplifting

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

Pro: Michael isn’t happy with the status quo, but he’s devastated when he loses it, especially since it shows him that he never actually had friends—just acquaintances. His anger leads him to hunt for the bomber, but when he finds the “Catapreacher,” he realizes that killing him won’t fix anything.

At the end, when he goes to visit Niall (who sustained far worse injuries), he does make a human connection, and with the two of them playing together, “he could almost believe that his world was whole again.” In an important sense, though, it’s more whole that it was before.

Con: It was obvious from the start that the bomber had to be another joker.
The wild card virus is God’s punishment on the human race and all jokers will inevitably be purified in the cleansing fires of hell. I will purify myself with them.
The fact that he wants to purify himself together with the jokers makes it really clear that the bomber was a "self-hating joker." Essentially all oppressed minorities have a self-hating subset. I'm surprised nothing more was done with this idea, given that the story turned on it.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 01/18/17)
Stephen Leigh Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I love these Wild Card stories. There are so many bad superhero stories because the powers come first and the story if it ever comes is a distant second. Nice to see it go the other way around once in a while

  2. Another good Wild Cards story. One of these days I've got to finally get around to reading the books. This stands alone fine, but I'd like to have more context for some things.

  3. I read the first three or four collections, but I got tired of the larger story arc. That puts me some twenty years behind, I think. However I love the new stories, even if I'm a little confused about the big picture at this point.