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Secret World Chronicle
Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey

Secret World Chronicle
Secret World Chronicle
Mercedes Lackey
Born in 1950 in Chicago, Mercedes Lackey (née Ritchie) graduated from Purdue in 1972. After some years as an artist's model, lab assistant and security guard, she embarked on a career in computer programming. Active in writing and recording folk songs, Lackey has published close to 50 novels and collections since her first book, Arrows of the Queen, was published in 1985. She won the Lambda award for Magic's Price and the Science Fiction Book Club Book of the Year for The Elvenbane, co-authored with Andre Norton. Besides an interest in scuba diving, Mrs. Lackey is also a licensed bird rehabilitator, specializing in wild birds.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Gates of Sleep
SF Site Review: Joust
SF Site Review: The Gates of Sleep
SF Site Review: Take a Thief
SF Site Review: Exile's Honor
SF Site Review: Brightly Burning
SF Site Review: Flights of Fantasy
SF Site Review: The River's Gift
SF Site Review: Owl Knight
SF Site Review: The Black Swan
SF Site Review: Owl Flight
SF Site Review: Storm Breaking

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


'Accomplish one thing a day. That was his motto. Everything else will fall into place. And it always worked for him. Then again, he'd always had the Devil's luck.'
Every so often I get lucky. No, I'm not talking about the women in my life, I mean with reference to something I happen across which lights up my SF radar. On this occasion, an old friend pointed me toward the Secret World Chronicles. The work is a new, vibrant take on superhero fiction, aimed at savvy fans who want something that has all the buzz of the classics, but also a gritty real-world depth. It's like Wild Cards for a new generation, with its own distinctive blend of characters, dark comedy, and an updated enemy which everyone loves to hate. At the time of writing Secret World is already a multimedia project, and free. Yes, that's right, something for nothing, and rare in the extreme with give-aways, this something is worth having. When I first visited the extensive Secret World web site, I was stunned by the sheer amount work that's gone into this project, and by the consistent quality of the content. Astute readers can also participate in some rather clever meme based marketing. Marketing, for something that is not yet a purely commercial venture. There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on, including the chance to win prizes such as autographed books, and more unusually, an appearance in a Secret World story!

Secret World Chronicles is a couple of books deep so far, with breakaway and separate author projects hurled into the mix. Four writers, four artists and three voices, producing highly enjoyable, accomplished, superhero fiction. In some ways, the project feels like a throwback to the glorious days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, when creativity was king, and having inspired ideas was more important than how famous you were. Days when fans could really feel part of something. Indeed, the creators of Secret World ensure that fans can have their say, via the Secret Forum. The story itself concerns an alternate Earth -- thankfully not just America -- where superpowers are real, and wielded by real people. That is to say, people who have all the issues and foibles that afflict the rest of us, plus the burden of superpowers. What kind of powers? Well, there's a standard range of metahuman abilities, with a few original twists, and some great characterization. But what makes this such fun is how the abilities are explained, and the uses to which characters put them. For example, Handsome Devil, a scarlet skinned metahuman, gifted with inexplicable, probability bending luck. If you're thinking, hey that sounds like a clone of X-Man Longshot, then think again. Klaus Cotton, the Handsome Devil's real name, has breezed through life, not really bothering to try because his ability means everything just works out. Most of the time, but not always. Even super luck can wear thin at the most inopportune of moments. Handsome Devil read about Echo, a state sponsored organisation recruiting metahumans, and paying good money. When we first see him in action, he's rolled out of bed with his four-armed girlfriend, and is trying to cash his pay cheque. Unfortunately, a criminal gang picks the same bank to hold up. Unfortunately for them, that is, when the Devil's abilities kick in, leading to cinematic, action oriented scenes, punctuated with dry humour. Shortly after this the main story arrives, in the form of a global UFO invasion. Only these UFO's are not alien, they're earthly and accompanied by murderous squads of nine foot tall armoured figures, which to all intents and purposes are like evil Iron Man. Oh, and they're Nazis. This is one of those ideas which, written down as a line in a review, doesn't sound like the most original premise. But, trust me, the way the story is handled and developed is well worth the gamble.

What do you get if you download? You get a fresh, evolving mythology, free of DRM, costs, or other annoyances, which you can use on your computer, or transfer to an iPod. The voices aren't really character actors, and occasionally a harsh accent does stuff like turning residents of the capital of France into Pureeziuns. But most of the time a good job is done, with Veronica Giguere's voice, in particular, being easy on the ear. Those who wish to join in are provided for on a number of levels, helping to break down the us and them barrier which can exist between creators and audience. There are also firm plans to publish in traditional paper format, as updated, polished and extended versions of the audio books. This, my friends, is a genuinely exciting project, which may well be a glimpse into the future of SF publishing.

Copyright © 2008 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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