Jana's Reviews > Hard Magic

Hard Magic by Larry Correia
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Dec 19, 11

bookshelves: steampunk, scifi-fantasy
Read in December, 2011

An odd mix of Steampunk and sci-fi, elements of fantasy. Think film noir meets The X-men in an alternate history. Various characters have "powers" over elements, gravity, The time-frame is between the World Wars, but this is a US with regular blimp and train travel with a united Asia (imagine Mao working with Hirohito) poised to take over the world. Correia's world is fairly well-crafted, with interesting touches of humor--oblique references to the alternate nature of this history where a fanatic "failed painter" ended up in front of a firing squad rather than ruling Germany.

The problem is that for the most part these are fairly two-dimensional characters. Take the beautiful but hard blonde who was done wrong (type-cast Carole Lombard or Jean Harlow), and the hick kid (Doris Day should play her) come to the big city to avenge her grampa (think of Obi-wan Kenobi's death), throw in the "fop" with money who backs the resistance fighters (very Scarlet Pimpernel) because no one wants to run the X-men school from anything less than a comfy mansion. The hero is a mix of "big dumb lug" (take any Gary Cooper role) and savvy private eye (Nick Charles with less alcohol, a taller Sam Spade)--he is pulled into a fight he doesn't want and doesn't understand (imagine a slightly older, somewhat embittered Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter). Add a spash of famous names and then throw in action scenes straight out of the Matrix. In the end, despite the historical wit, the story is rather predictable and we've heard it before.
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