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The New Humans by Henry Walker

A tale of young superhumans in the 1960s 

Allison Kinsey is a young superhuman girl growing up in 1960s Australia, in the midst of a worldwide hysteria caused by the emergence of the Flying Man, an extremely powerful superhero who refuses to refrain from meddling in the affairs of man. She and her friends live at an experimental school run by the eccentric Dr. Lawrence Herbert in the West Australian Wheatbelt. These are their adventures.

Note: The New Humans contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

A serialized novel, updating sporadically

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Listed: Aug 6, 2017


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Editorial Reviews

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Interesting but could be tighter

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Sep 20, 2017: This is another story taking the popular theme of how our recent history might have unfolded if a minority of people started getting superpowers. Set in Australia in the 1960’s, the government is taking a heavy handed approach picking up and detaining children suspected of having powers to do tests on them. Public opinion is fearful and suspicious of the new "demi-humans".

However there is one alternative for the lucky few – one man named Lawrence has started a group home and school for which he is allowed to recruit some individuals. It’s not clear why the government tolerates this as he obviously can’t control them beyond their respect for him and one alumni appears to have become a villain. The story unfolds from the perspective of a young girl who is rescued from a miserable prison-like government facility and enters the home/school where she meets others with various interesting powers.

I love reading about her unique power – she senses the metabolism of living beings as individual musical songs, and from this she is able to incorporate notes into her own being and absorb knowledge, skills, and, temporarily, powers. This intriguing concept is a lot of what kept me reading.

The story is written in a tongue-in-cheek, wryly humourous way and sometimes gets a little too caught up in its cleverness, meandering in extended conversations. While the unfolding of the world and the interactions among the "new humans" is interesting. I don’t get any clear sense of plot yet. Eight generously long chapters in, nothing much of consequence has really happened since Allison’s arrival at the school, besides the introduction of a number of cool characters and powers and some history and backstories.She’s also rather more poised and well-adjusted than you might expect of a 8 year old who’s gone through what she has – but that may be a side effect of her powers. There is a lot of potential but I’m not sure where the author is going to go with it. That said, it is well written – clean and professional in terms of sentence structure vocabulary, etc., and generally fun to read, if a bit overly drawn out at times.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Superpowered children and emotional abuse

By Rhythm, author of Touch

Nov 13, 2017: The first thing I will say, that I need you all to be aware of before you hear my not insignificant criticisms, is that this is an excellent story, and one that carries my recommendations. That being said, it is far from perfect.

The premise is, at a glance, a deconstruction of the silver age comic tropes of old. And while this is certainly present, it is by no means the point of the New Humans. If I were to ascribe a genre to it, I would likely choose to label it conceptual sci-fi in the vein of the old, genuinely imaginative episodes of doctor who. It seems less focused on the plot than the exploration of a new, densely intriguing concept every thousand words or so, and while there certainly is an overarching plot line, the writer seems to be in no hurry to get there. It kicks off about nine chapters in, and while the eight chapters before it are interesting in their own right, it’s a bit of a slog to get there.

Reading this story feels like peeking into the mind of a genius with ADHD. It regularly deviates from the main thrust of a given chapter with little tangents, side notes, and anecdotes, but every one of them that is explored is complex and fascinating enough in its own right to base an entire story on. This is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it means that the reader is likely never to be bored on a moment to moment basis reading The New Humans. On the other hand, however, it also means that the very act of reading it is debilitating; a fact that is in no way helped by the individual lengths of each chapter. The New Humans is, at present, comprised of thirteen chapters, and that may seem rather short, until one realizes that each chapter is roughly two to five times the length of a standard format chapter. I say this without even a shred of hyperbole. Chapter six is over twelve thousand words long. When I copied that chapter into Microsoft word for the purposes of an accurate word count, I discovered that it was forty two pages on its own. While I can say wholeheartedly that it is worth the effort, it is worth noting that an effort is quite definitively what it requires.

This is not a story for binge-reading, and I caution that any attempt to do so may well be unpleasant for anyone who tries it. This is very much a story for people to subscribe to and enjoy update to update. Said updates occur about once every two weeks, and that is more than enough. Individual chapters, consumed on their own, are highly enjoyable, but any density greater than a chapter or two in a single day will likely be highly fatiguing.

All the above aside, there are a few things a prospective reader may be well advised of if they have any curiosity towards this story. The author is possessed of a very dry wit, and demonstrates it in spades with mid-story cut-aways to interesting little factoids at the bottom of every chapter, a narrative tool very reminiscent of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. The vast majority of these are rather amusing, and well worth a look, some are layered with redundancy. Secondly, while the story is very well written from a technical standpoint, it is glaringly obvious that several drafts were made, and the editing run failed to pick up on all of the formatting errors. This seems to be a largely temporary flaw, however, as the writer seems to be currently going through and fixing these errors in large part. Thirdly, if you are perceptive, you will likely find that a few of the aspects of this story don’t sit well with you, and may be inclined to stop reading because of it. I advise you to stay the course, as I found the majority of these aspects to be intentional, and eventually integral to the story. Fourth, trigger warnings. This story gets darker than you’d expect.

Plus sides: An excellently written, darkly compelling narrative that only becomes more layered as you progress. An abundance of new ideas that never fail to arouse a conceptual interest. A number of well thought out characters, the majority of whom are remarkably well characterised. A capacity to change tones evenly enough that it never feels exclusively dark or lighthearted.

Down sides: Longwinded, with overly slow pacing in the initial chapters, although that improves with time. It is worth noting that almost every flaw I can find with this work could be remedied by subdivision of chapters. This is a thirty chapter story, in a thirteen chapter format.

Conclusion: It is an exceptional work of speculative and thriller fiction, and is well worth a look, but don’t be fooled into trying to read it in a single sitting, and be prepared for one or two road bumps as the writer comes into his own.

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