cover image Only Superhuman

Only Superhuman

Christopher L. Bennett. Tor, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3229-5

A healthy respect for superhero tropes is the strength and weakness of Bennett%E2%80%99s first non%E2%80%93tie-in novel. In the 22nd century, genetic engineering and bionic enhancements have created a new group of super-humans, and the elite among them fight for justice as the Troubleshooters, taking their inspiration from the classic comics of 200 years before. When Troubleshooter Arkady Nazarbayev is killed in action, his sidekick, the Green Blaze, is promoted to the team. Young, impulsive, and sexually promiscuous, Blaze is hardly the ideal teammate, but her family roots in the asteroid belt make her the obvious choice for a mission to undermine an alliance of transhumanist habitats. Unsurprisingly, she falls for a habitat%E2%80%99s leader and becomes uncertain about who is really fighting for justice. Bennett%E2%80%99s mastery of solid fight scenes serves him well, but the painful expository dialogue is a much less charming superhero convention. Other unfortunate choices, from Blaze%E2%80%99s portrayed-as-cute history of harassing %E2%80%9Cterrified%E2%80%9D teen boys to utterly predictable betrayals and twists, undercut the remaining charm. (Oct.)