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A Real Slog

By Thedude3445, author of Rainbow Destructor

Jul 17, 2019: After a first chapter like Inexorable Chaos’s, you might be expecting something real interesting. The story begins with the Trickster Gods of a half-dozen Earth mythologies coming together into a mysterious realm at the behest of Loki, and then getting trapped as Loki begins the first phase of a mysterious plan. The story hits the ground running with a really interesting setup, and you have no idea what direction it’s going—

—And then chapter 2 is about an isekai hero, apparently an author insert because he has the same name, being summoned to a fantasy world and beginning his quest to become the strongest person ever thanks to his overpowered stats.

Yes, the story is a LitRPG isekai harem. No, it isn’t advertised as such. And from my other reviews of LitRPGs, you already know that I don’t generally care for the medium because I think that the stories focus far too much on the "mechanics" of their world than telling an interesting story or going anywhere with the characters. Well, now I feel like I judged "I Hate Being Wed in a Fantasy World!" way too harshly, because Inexorable Chaos is a big step down.

The protagonist, despite having nearly nothing to do with Loki as far as I read (Chapter 22 out of 43 currently), has a decent origin that could make for a fun story— he’s a Hero for Hire, someone summoned from Earth into various fantasy worlds to deal with the stuff that pops up. He’s jaded and grizzled, and this adventure is his very first LitRPG. Doesn’t that sound like a good metafictional setup for a lot of fun comedy?

It’s not.

The story, by Chapter 4, devolves into just . . . fighting and fantasy worlds and RPG stats and talking endlessly about leveling up abilities and . . . My word it’s hard to get through. There’s like two dozen characters, including a side-protagonist Jessica who is native to the fantasy world, then a DIFFERENT summoned hero Frankie, whose personality I was never able to pin down. Though, the protagonist Quasi Eludo ALSO had a personality I couldn’t pin down at all; besides insulting the characters around him and literally having the superpower to attract all females around him, he didn’t have one trait I could name.

It’d be okay if the writing were decent, or the fights were fun to follow. But the prose is so, so flat. Nobody ever has any emotions or personality. There’s never any imagery in any of the descriptions, or anything FUN. It’s like someone writing a transcription of a bunch of video game cutscenes.

I was determined to read to the end, I really was. But the final chapter I read began with a slave rape scene, one that was portrayed so graphically it bordered on fetishistic, and that’s when I had to bow out. There was no going further from there.

Unless you are an absolute LitRPG die hard and have no other stories to read, stay away.

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Evil? Sign Me Up!

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

Jul 10, 2019: There have been works in the past which address the dubious blessing of becoming a cog in the world of Evil Inc. and its many subsidiaries. In that sense, I’m Not A Monster, It’s Only A Mask probably won’t light any massive new fires, but it deserves attention for its obvious care, tight style, and the sense that we’re on the precipice of a very pretty new IP.

An initial point of note is that It’s Only A Mask apparently plans to have fairly elaborate installations; several thousand words presumably once a month. This may be good or bad, depending on the reader’s preference for frequency versus size. I find it nice, but that’s very much a matter of taste. A definite sticking point is a predilection for switching tenses at odd times. Some occasions definitely might be employing this for artistic effect, but it was oddly regularly jarring. Unfortunately, with not the greatest amount of material currently available for shaping opinion, this review may not be fully representative of goods and bads within several months of its appearance.

The characters of Sam and Max stand out, both as creatures of conveyance through the unfolding events and as cast members in their own right. Within the very first few seconds of their presence on the stage, the chums make an impact: one a plain paper package with a thing for rockin’ tunes and the other a somewhat-surly creature who takes nonsense from NO ONE. One couldn’t say they’re endearing from the very start, but they wear themselves easily enough warts and all that they’ll almost certainly become personable to the reader with little to no difficulty.

Plot? Well, the plot has not gone particularly far at this juncture, but the shape of things to come has intrigue writ all over it. Scene one: get acquainted with evil-organization-du-jour’s HR department; tone, somewhat goofy; hijinks, a given. Scene two: get acquainted further with evil organization tone et cetera. A pattern, at least at the outset, although it has room to do all kinds of stuff in the fullness of time. However, it is near the end of the second act that . . . shall we say, an aberration in the expected formula appears. One could compare it to being asked by one’s good friend to go and purchase them a collection of silly hats, only to find that the mannequin wearing the second-to-last hat bears a perfect replica of your own face. Perhaps not terribly unsettling in itself, but within the context of its presentation enough to raise the hackles slightly.

In short, don’t know exactly where this one’s going, but those who can withstand the "evil" protagonist archetype ought to keep this one on the radar. Slightly silly, moderately intriguing, quite commendable potential.

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A Fast and Frenetic Meta-Sci-Fi

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Jun 26, 2019: Rainbow Destructor is an interesting blend of action, comedy, high-concept meta, and sci-fi, almost a sort of zany version of a Twilight Zone episode, or like one of those crazier 90’s OVA space adventure anime.

The story is short, really only a novella in length, with bite-sized chapters you can blur through in one sitting. This is both a strength and a drawback, as the story gets right down to the point and doesn’t stop for nothin’. On the one hand, the story doesn’t waste your time, and trusts the reader to be able to keep up, which is something I always appreciate. On the other hand, the story is so short and fast, its over before the characters can really make an impression on you. As such, this really does feel like an episode out of a weird-sci-fi anthology show, where you only have 45 minutes to grapple with an ensemble cast of characters and the overarching plot.

But if you can click into it quick, there’s a very clever and creative sci-fi storyline here that morphs into a nearly-fourth-wall-breaking meta-narrative about the nature of storytelling, and a writer’s relationship with their characters. To say anything more specific would spoil it so I’ll just leave it at that.

I recommend this for people who are looking for something high-concept, but not too serious. If nothing else, it’s a short enough read that even if it throws you off at first, you’ll be able to get through it quick enough to reach the pay off without it being a slog.

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