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Nobody Gets the Girl
James Maxey
Phobos Books, 245 pages

Bob Wiacek and JayJay Jackson
Nobody Gets the Girl
James Maxey
James Maxey is a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writers Workshop and Orson Scott Card's Writers Boot Camp. He was a winner of the first annual Phobos Awards for new fiction with his short story "Empire of Dreams and Miracles." His short stories have appeared in a variety of small press markets.

James Maxey Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Richard Rogers was a person with a very normal life. He had a clean-freak wife, he would go to open mic nights and use his comedic talents to poke fun at current events. True, the world was going a bit mad around him, but he was going along with it. The idea of a 100-foot-tall baby with a gun for a head going around blowing things up, or the idea that all the major cities would eventually be domed wasn't easy to swallow, but they didn't affect him directly, so he could deal.

Until one day, he wakes up to find his house is furnished completely different, and he's sharing his bed, not with his wife, but with strangers. It doesn't bother the strangers. They can't see him.

But someone can. Dr. Knowbokov, while on his journey into the past to find his arch nemesis Rex Monday, accidentally makes it so that Richard was never born. To make up for it, he takes Richard to his secret paradise island, where he offers him a job fighting for the good guys. He already has a team of super heroines -- his daughters. The Thrill can fly and make people do what she wants just by saying so, and Rail Blade can control all things iron to the point where she can manipulate it, pulling blades seemingly out of naked air.

This clever book contrast many of the comic book/super hero and spy movie conventions with the real world. We have a super genius who wants to use his abilities to make the world a better place. He wants to dome up the cities so that people will have a safer environment in which to live. He knows how to stop hurricanes, so he tries to pick and choose so as not to hurt the eco-system. He has carefully laid plans for world peace, starting with the Middle East. Yet, despite all these good points, he has a strong streak of authoritarianism, even fascism. He uses death row prisoners as sort of human supercomputers to crunch data for him. He doesn't flinch at letting a bus full of school children be blown up, just as long as Richard, now going by the name of Nobody, sticks to the greater plan. (He doesn't, showing himself to be a better super hero than his boss.) Then you have Rex Monday. Is he really fighting because he wants to take over the world (insert evil laughter here) or is he just fighting against someone whose plans, even though they may be well intentioned, will strip humanity of its accepted rights?

You also have an exploration of what makes a hero a hero, and, if to be considered a hero, do they always have to act according to that code? For instance, are you a better hero if you stick with the plan for the greater good, recalling Machiavelli's concept of the ends justifying the means, or are you a true hero if you stop to save those you can, the individual who needs help now? Also, is there a point where you can put the mask down? The Thrill thinks nothing of shoplifting whatever she wants. (Almost) nobody has an excuse, since no one can see him to take his money, but is it right to tell people that they will give something to her and take it with a smile?

Nobody Gets the Girl is very well written. The pace never flags as we watch Nobody try and fit into this odd world, to try and do what he knows is right. It's hard not to enjoy living his life vicariously. The culmination of every stereotype of the super hero mixed in with the plain freedom of no one being able to see you. It's pretty hard to put the book down. It also makes some intelligent commentary about the use of power. One can not help but reach the conclusion that the use of power is wrong if it is against the people's wishes, even if it's "for their own good." You also can't help drawing parallels between this and current events flooding the news channels today. Unfortunately, the people deciding how to wield their power wouldn't be caught dead reading this smart, funny work.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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