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Jim Bernheimer lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman, Spirals of Destiny Book One: Rider, and the forthcoming Dead Eye 2: The Skinwalker Conspiracies. All of these titles are available from Gryphonwood Press. Under his EJB imprint, he is the author and publisher of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain and Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume One. For the anthology Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume Two he was a contributing author, editor and publisher.
I'm 45 years old, married, with two young daughters and live in Chesapeake, Virginia.
With Gryphonwood Press, I've authored the Dead Eye Series (Pennies for the Ferryman and The Skinwalker Conspiracies) and the Spirals of Destiny Series (Rider and Sorceress). Look for the third Dead Eye novel coming in the fall of 2015 and Spirals of Destiny Book Three, Champion coming in early 2016.
On my own imprint, EJB, I have published a short story collection and two anthololgies (Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volumes One, Two, and Three), as well as the science fiction novels Confessions, Origins and Secrets of a D-List Supervillain along with Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery. I am currently writing Rise of a D-List Supervillain and keep an eye out for a Horror, Humor, and Heroes collection this year as well.
I enjoyed this take on the age-old hero vs villain story. Bernheimer has created a dystopian world where mankind relies on superheroes to save them, and the most popular superheroes are The Olympians - 12 common people who were chosen to wield the powers of certain of the Gods of Olympus.
Conversely there are the supervillains, and Cal `Mechani-Cal' Stringel is, by his own assertion, not one of the more successful of them, but he gets by.
The world has been taken over by bugs the size of grasshoppers that have attached themselves to everyone's necks, reorganizing the world into a hive society of junkies addicted to the bugs in the desperate way that a junkie is addicted to heroin. Because he works inside of his mechanical suit, Cal has managed to avoid this fate. Out of necessity, he finds himself trying to get the `good-guys' back on their feet and back to saving the world like they are supposed to be doing.
As superheroes go, The Olympians are as unlikeable and evil a bunch of shallow, self-serving stars as you could ask for. The supervillains, on the other hand, are actually the better human beings, because they are honest about their motives.
I don't normally like first person, present tense point of view in a story, because I find it difficult to get into into the story. But once I got past that initial issue I have to admit, this story captured and held my interest.
The adventures that Cal has as he tries to re-hab the Olympians and save the world are quite entertaining. There are some adult themes, but though there is nothing graphic I recommend this as a fun adult read.
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Out of all the superhero genre books that have come out in the past years, this is definitely a favorite. While the writing is good, the plot is solid, and the powers and battles are great fun, many other similar novels exist. What makes this book standout is the human portrayal of the heroes. Neither too morally corrupt, nor too pure, I felt that Bernheimer (the author) managed a really good job in making them seem human. The protagonist, Calvin (AKA Mechani-CAL), is particularly well portrayed as a morally gray, hyper-intelligent everyman. Initially a "good guy", crushed by corporate greed and his superiors' arrogance, he eventually switches sides and becomes a villain to survive. During a potential apocalypse, he is revealed to be far, far different from his previous media portrayal. Once again a "good guy", Cal still acts believably, a trait many other authors could learn from. Overall, a great read, tons of fun, and well recommended to fans of the superhero genre.
I had a good time with this story. I'm about to sound critical because this story dares to take up some forms that can be distracting unless done for good reasons. It flirts with trouble, but it survives to thump its chest by the time it's done.
In general, I'm especially hard to please when it comes to first person, present-tense narration. This story pulls it off, but just by its fingernails. Most of the way, I was half aware of the format, which is not the total immersion in the story that I wanted. I kept thinking, this would just be easier to fall into in the past tense.
It turns out that the narration is in the present tense for a reason. A somewhat contrived gotcha! plot twist seems to be the point. (Given that, otherwise, the past tense could totally be as good, if not better for the rest of the story). I quibble, and will allow the twist to pass because it is sufficiently well set up and clever. (I won't spoil anything by saying that the one chapter that seemed out of the narrative arc does earn its presence after the fact, by setting up the twist.)
Bottom line: Fast paced entertainment. Well thought out. Everything wraps up at the end in a satisfying way. The characters are believable and I identified with the principals, and cared about them.
I'd give this a solid recontamination based on how well it does what it intends to do. I believe that the target audience of super action adventure readers will be well pleased.
I don't read superhero adventure novels in general, I like my superheroes and villains in full color graphic glory. At least that is what the 12 boxes of comic books in the back of the garage seem to indicate. This was an off-the-wall choice for me. So...
I really liked this story. It was engaging, one of the few where I finished dinner, got the kids showered and slipped back to my reading chair before bed type of book. Jim Bernheimer did a great job of creating Calvin Stringel, a character that is a hardcore bad man...well, sort of a bad guy. Well, okay he's mostly just not a nice guy that has some standards, they are flexible. The main character crosses the line in some instances but holds to it in others. And always in a manner that is true to himself and, more importantly in a fiction story, is within character. Through the course of the narrative you begin to question who the real villain is when his actions and motives are compared to the inside scoop of the glamourous superheroes world. It reminded me of the old "film noir" style stories where at the end, you realized the good people weren't necessarily so and the unsavory ones were pretty decent after all.
I saw that some reviews had a problem with the 1st person narrative. I had no problem with it. Actually, I think it that it works for two very good reasons. It was necessary to deliver a plot twist at the end. But more importantly the reader comes to realizations as the character develops before the character does. Without the benefit of 3rd person hindsight, Calvin does not realize how he has evolved and progressed in association with the so-called heroes around him.Read more ›
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