Hammer of the Gods
From the pen (well, tablet computer) of the mad genius behind the groundbreaking My Little Pony/Chuck Norris crossover Walker: Equstrian Ranger comes perhaps the seminal work of 21st century literature.
As Lenin opened his eyes and awoke from his decade-long slumber a light bright as the sun itself but red as only the Great Revolutionary could have made it erupted from his body. His glass coffin shattered. Shards of broken glass descended to the ground in slow motion, as if Lenin’s mind was having trouble adjusting to its newfound consciousness. A single fist stood erect like the flag of the People’s might. Razor sharp crystal scattered all about, enough to shred a mortal man, but the works of scientific alchemy could not score the adamant skin of Socialism.
There’s a definition of a certain kind of science fiction floating around out there (though I can’t seem to find the actual quote I’m thinking of) – Wellsian science fiction, after H.G. Wells – where the author is supposed to keep things as grounded in reality as they can, with the exception of one impossible element. The goal of such stories is to examine the impact on the world of this one element (two good examples of this sort of fiction are Fine Structure and Ra). Hammer of the Gods fits well within this tradition, posing the thought-provoking question: What if, during the Second World War, various historical figures gained superpowers and were possessed by gods (?? I think?) and also Lenin has come back to life?
It’s covered with seventeen distinct layers of irony; normally, this is the kind of thing I hate (or, at least, I like to think I’m the kind of person who hates this sort of thing), but author Nicholas Chaisson is skilled enough – funny enough – to make it work. The prose style is roughly what you’d get if Karl Marx tried to describe a fight scene from a Japanese cartoon, and it’s this juxtaposition that creates most of the humour.
Well. That, and lines like: “You’re not getting rid of me that easily, you novice punk!” the evil peace-mongor cried in rage at the Nazi.
There is one element that I found to be a bit uncomfortable, namely the depiction of (spoilers ahoy, but I feel like this is important enough to justify a minor spoiler) Trotsky as a literal rat-man living in the sewers of Moscow. On first reading, this seemed a little too close to anti-semitic caricature for comfort. Not, mind, that I ever got the impression that the author himself harbours racist views – it seemed to me that he’d maybe taken some piece of Stalinist propaganda out of context for the lulz, without quite realising the implications. So, I put this to him. His response: ‘[T]he original idea was for Trotsky to be like a communist Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and that the Jewish part was incidental … I feel confident that later Jewish characters will remove any ambiguity’.
Now, given the content of the later parts of the story (Imi Lichtenfeld is one of the three protagonists), I think this defence holds up very well, though I could understand if someone else felt differently.
To conclude: very funny story, in multiple parts, most of which haven’t been published yet. I’d give it 9/10 if numerical scores for works of art weren’t inherently awful – each part makes me giggle like a maniac on the bus to work, and you owe it to yourself to at least try the first part.