What if there were superpowers in the world, but no superheroes?
Deborah Biancotti has a reputation in Australia for rich, complex prose and bleak stories about the quiet horrors that we all hope will never happen. The Book of Endings, her first collection, made a powerful statement about the kind of fiction she is known for – and Bad Power, her far more slender second collection, makes an entirely different statement about the writer she is going to be.
The stories in Bad Power have a clear, sharp narrative, and a more restrained approach to her prose. As with many of the Twelve Planets collections, the stories are connected and serve to build up a particular world, based on a single premise. In this case, it is the idea that some people have powers, what comics readers or TV/movie fans would immediately designate superpowers, and that there is something deeply sinister about those powers, and those people.
I tore through this book very quickly – it was such a fast-paced read, and so very enjoyable. Once it became clear that the order of the stories was important and that each fed something into the others, the mystery of how to fit all the pieces together added an extra layer of enjoyment. Each story has its own compelling protagonist, and distinct voice. My favourites were Detective Enora Palmer and Detective Max Ponti, just as my favourite stories were “Palming the Lady” and “Crossing the Bridge,” but this is one of those collections where the whole is far more than the sum of its parts.
BAD POWER, by Deborah Biancotti
Twelfth Planet Press
reviewed as part of the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge
Tansy’s Australian Women Writer’s 2012 Reading Challenge.
1. Eona by Alison Goodman (fantasy)
2. Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood (contemporary crime)
3. Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti (spec fic, superhero)