Title: Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super Patriots
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: science fiction
Price: $25 hardcover / $9.99 electronic
Publisher: ISFIC Press
Point of Sale: ISFIC Press
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
ISFIC Press, the publishing arm of Chicago science fiction fandom, has a tradition of publishing a book written by the guest of honor at Windycon, their annual convention. I have a tradition of buying that book. Since this year’s guest was Seanan Mcguire, I took home a shiny new signed copy of Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super Patriots.
According to McGuire, in 2008 on a whim she decided to write short stories “about a strange superhero universe where cosmic powers not only came with great responsibility, they came with great legislation, merchandising, and focus group oversight. Many young heroes were effectively "adopted" by a corporate entity known as The Super Patriots, Inc., which promised to teach them how to best control their amazing gifts. Some of those junior heroes wanted out. Very few of them ever got it.”
The star of these stories is Velma “Velveteen” Martinez, a young woman whose superpower is the ability to animate stuffed animals and dolls. It’s a weird superpower, but it works for her, and got her out of a rotten home life. Unfortunately, she got into a rotten existence, fighting supervillains while under the thumb of a malevolent corporation. Then, at age eighteen, she walked away – but Marketing wants her back.
The nine stories wrapped up in this slim volume are entertaining, combining a well-earned cynicism with flashes at humor. This is “urban realistic” fantasy / SF – McGuire’s characters need to earn a living, want to go on dates and otherwise are more than cartoon cutouts.
My chief exposure to McGuire’s writing is when she is writing zombie novels under her pen name Mira Grant. Although Velveteen is much lighter fare, I saw a lot of parallels in the two bodies of work. McGuire has a distrust of institutions, even ones supposedly dedicated to good, and she has a firm grasp of what combat does to a person.
I own just about every book ISFIC Press has issued, and I keep finding myself saying “they do good stuff.” Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super Patriots is yet another solid offering in their library. Highly recommended.