If you could have a super power, which one would you have? It’s a question that’s been asked thousands of times, from geek get-togethers to fantasy reader forums. Common answers include super strength, super speed, flight, claws, telepathy, and more. But, what about being able to nail your target every time; to always hit that mark, make that shot, stick that landing. That would be pretty cool, too.
Meet Agent Surefire. She’s an up-and-coming new agent with the firm called Ultra Security (or U-Sec). She and her fellow agents are charged with helping solve the growing wave of crimes committed by transhumans; mutants with powers beyond what normal humans can do. Her talent – never miss that shot. Surefire is trying to make a name for herself in the organization. That’s why she chases the internationally wanted criminal, Raven, straight into a trap.
A Surefire Way is a number of different things. At its heart, it’s got plenty of romance, but romance is only one element at play. Surefire and Raven find plenty of danger, with new (and some very, very old) worlds to explore, rules to break, a scheming villain, relationships in jeopardy, and that little matter of saving the world in the process. The result is a great bit of storytelling that is just as much Uncanny X-Men as it is The Princess Bride.
Author J.T. Bock does a great job of bypassing the easy pitfalls of an origin story. The challenge isn’t as straightforward as good girl vs. bad guy. Linear confrontations are few and far between. The confrontation feels more like Chinese checkers than a chess match, with plenty of motivated powers working their plans of attack.
Bock knows her settings well, alluding to real-world conditions like D.C. traffic and the sights and (not always pleasant) smells of Baltimore. She peppers her dialogue with pop-culture references her readers are most likely going to get, without ever relying on them to tell the story. She provides enough insight into the supporting cast for readers to understand them, without taking away from the key players. Each character is written well, but Bock is clearly most comfortable when writing her protagonist. The extra attention helps to make Surefire a deep, multidimensional heroine wannabe with traits readers can relate to.
The adventure culminates in a gigantic battle that will shape the characters for the entire UltraSecurity series. Who will survive, and what will they become if they do?
A Surefire Way is available on Amazon in eBook format for $2.99. A preview of Phyxe: Goddess of Fire is included.