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Only Superhuman Mass Market Paperback – August 27, 2013

3.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Only Superhuman is a heady comic book fix for the discerning SF reader, filled with a sense of wonder and a sense of seriousness.” ―Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Sisterhood of Dune

“Many writers have written about superheroes, but nobody does it like Christopher L. Bennett.” ―Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog

Only Superhuman is, to my knowledge, the first hard science superhero story. And the story is the better for it.” ―Mike W. Barr, author of Camelot 3000

“A tour de force that tells a fascinating story with flair, imagination, and weight.” ―TV Zone on Star Trek: Ex Machina

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER L. BENNETT has had multiple works of short fiction published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact as well as the online magazines DayBreak and Alternative Coordinates, and has written critically acclaimed novels based on Star Trek, Spider-Man, and X-Men, all of them with a hard science slant. Only Superhuman is his first original novel. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (August 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765368862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765368867
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,607,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Only Superhuman is - as it says on the back cover - a hard, science fiction novel of superheroes. That was enough to get me into reading the book, although the content inside of it may not sit well with everyone.

The plot is more of an interplanetary political conspiracy about control over the state of humanity, primarily about whether or not it should evolve into something more and the ways it goes about doing it. Whether through technological singularity or biological enhancements, you get much of the whole package of idea that in many ways parallel to our world, but on a more far reaching period from today.

The main character, Emerald Blair, is a member of a group of superheroes who dub themselves the Troubleshooters, who's job is to go out and stop trouble when it happens. She is an interesting character, very aggressive, promiscuous, has a troubled history that you explore in depth, a falling out with her father, yet she refuses to take a life or allow one be taken if she can help it. The plot places her and the Troubleshooters in the middle of this conspiracy as their organization is put under control of Gregor Tai as he seeks to guide humanity to a path that he sees fitting against the ideals of Elliot Thorne, who seeks similar ideals but on a different path. I don't want to spoil all of what goes on for those interested in reading the book, so let's go down with pros and cons...

The worldbuilding is very impressive, as you get detailed descriptions on the space colonies in the solar system, the people who live in them, the physics of the space colony, and plenty of other elements that sound very plausible.
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Format: Hardcover
***Disclosure - I received an Advanced Reading Copy from a Goodreads giveaway.***

I'd give Only Superhuman 3.5 stars. It's a nice book, but the pacing is a bit slow. It's interesting, but not exactly innovative.

I don't have too much experience with cyberpunk, but I'd say this book is part cyberpunk, part comic book super hero story, and part hard science fiction.

All the main characters owe their super powers to cybernetic enhancements. And the main plot line is a struggle for power over the surrounding space colonies.

A lot of the chapter titles allude to comic book tropes (origin stories and cross-overs). The main characters are all super powered (but with cybernetics and bio-engineering). And the main character belongs to a group called the Troubleshooters of which each member has a code name claiming motivation from comic books.

I say the book is a bit slow, though it does have a good bit of action and quite a bit of sex. There is a lot of "political" and social manipulation from some of the characters and, for the first half of the book, every other chapter is an "origin story" (essentially flashbacks) which slow down the pace. I was somewhat relieved once there were no more "origin stories" and we stayed in the book's present time.

Perhaps one more mark against the book for me was the ending. It seemed a bit rushed and anticlimactic for how much build up there was to get there. I may have to read the last chapter again to see if I missed something, but it just seemed like the main conflict had a lot of impetus but then suddenly ends very quickly (virtually on one or two pages) with not much opposing force.

One of the most interesting parts of the book, was Zephyr, the main character's sentient ship.
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Format: Hardcover
Superheroes endure in the imagination because they speak to our desire to empower the powerless, to be inspired by the iconic. Superheroes in science fiction have gained new life by the trendy notion of transhumanism, the use of technology to enhance human abilities. The current breed of supermen aren't born on Krypton; they're genetically or mechanically engineered. While paying tribute to comic book superheroes of the twentieth century (particularly a certain webspinner who likes to talk about the responsibility that comes with power), Christopher Bennett's Only Superhuman transforms the costumed superhero into a plausible (if unlikely) inhabitant of the future.

The novel opens in 2017. The hero upon whom the story focuses is a Troubleshooter named Emerald Blair, a/k/a the Green Blaze. Bennett gives her a melodramatic origin story (a tradition for superheroes) and sets up a background in which most transhumans hail from the asteroid belt, genetic engineering having met with disfavor on Earth. The Troubleshooters are a union of uniformed vigilantes who strive for justice, except when they don't. The Troubleshooters are only one of a number of competing transhuman groups. The most significant of the others are the Vanguardians and the Neogaians (human/animal hybrids who oppose restrictions on human enhancement that deny humanity "its right to evolve"). The Vanguard is most prominently represented in the novel by Eliot Thorne and his daughter Psyche, a woman with genetically enhanced empathy and an engineered ability to manipulate others. A helpful appendix identifies the different groups that have taken up residence in the various asteroid belts.

While the story has its share of battles between costumed characters, the plot is driven by political treachery.
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