Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Kid Dark Against The Machine by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Kid Dark Against The Machine by Tansy Rayner Roberts is a novella published by the Book Smugglers, set in the same world as her short story "Cookie Cutter Superhero" which appeared in Kaleidoscope. If you want to be more surprised by the story, it might be better NOT to read the blurb...

Back when he was called something else, Griff knew everything about superheroes, sidekicks and the mysterious machine responsible for creating them. Now, Griff is just an average guy, minding his own business. A volunteer handyman at the Boys Home—his former home—Griff spends his days clearing out gutters and building clubhouses for the orphans at the Home. Nothing heroic or remarkable about that, right?

But all of that changes when one of the Home kids starts having weird dreams about another Machine—an evil version that churns out supervillains. Griff remembers the call of the Machine, and reluctantly decides to help the kid on his mission.

And then they waltz back into Griff's life. Those bloody heroes. Including him—The Dark—one of Australia’s mightiest and longest-running superheroes.

What’s a retired secret superhero sidekick to do?

I don't very often read blurbs before I read things and I suspect this is one of the stories where not reading the blurb first is more fun. Especially if you've already read "Cookie Cutter Superhero" and know you want more. And I think this blurb has a few too many spoilers in it.

Kid Dark Against the Machine is set in an alternate Australia where superheroes exist and, in fact, there is a machine (well, several for different countries) that manufactures superheroes. No one knows where these machines came from, but they did and they seem to be governed by a lot of esoteric rules and a degree of randomness. And what about supervillains, where do they come from?

We learn more about supervillains in this novella, but the question of how the system came about at all still remains. I, for one, am hoping that the author will provide us with some more answers in the form of stories. Or just more stories, that would also do.

I highly recommend Kid Dark Against the Machine to fans of superheroes, light-hearted fantasy and Tansy Rayner Roberts. Obviously, if you enjoyed "Cookie Cutter Superhero", then this story is for you. It features a different main character, but Solar and the other superheroes do make an appearance. I am eagerly awaiting more stories set in this world.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: June 2016, the BookSmugglers
Series: Same world as the Kaleidoscope short story "Cookie Cutter Superhero"
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from the Book Smugglers
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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