Mortal Gods: Ignition by Paul Hair is an anthology of three short stories that straddle the line between political dystopia and sci-fi action, focusing on the impact superhumans might have on world events. The author’s experience as a veteran and intelligence analyst lends the stories a sense of realism in both the combat and espionage elements, making the book more than just a cautionary tale of the dangers of governmental overreach and weakness in the face of international terrorism. It’s a fun read, but its brevity leaves more questions asked than answered; clearly, this near-future world needs more stories to flesh it out.
Like Hail and Fire, Mixed with Blood is a disquieting introduction to the world of Mortal Gods, requiring you to read between the lines to see just how far the world has descended in only a few years. Very much a story of espionage, it shows us the face of evil and the superhumans determined to defeat it.
The First Transgender Superhuman plays with our culture’s recent elevation of transgendered people to not just protected status, but near-holy prestige. Presenting the U.S. as a fractured country where individual rights have been all but erased, it’s a disturbing glimpse into a grim future where only the unthinkable can effect true change.
We see the protagonist of The First Transgender Superhuman again in the concluding story Warrior, in which Adam becomes a mercenary, of sorts, in a horrible war. This time it’s superhuman against superhuman, where bullets and energy beams fly across Middle Eastern battlefields and the good guys aren’t much different from the bad guys. It’s a deliberately anti-romantic view of the brutality of the battlefield and what may be necessary to win.
Political without being preachy, Mortal Gods: Ignition packs a superhuman punch. Let’s hope Hair has plenty more stories ready for the next volume.