I recently decided to review Nothing As It Seemed by F.-Ron Gilbert for Dorrance Publishing. The blurb on Dorrance’s site had caught my attention and I thought this would be a rather intriguing and character-driven story involving a young man leading a double life.
Then I discover that it’s only thirty-two pages long. And about five of those pages are illustrations–good illustrations, but not actual text contributing to the overall story.
Our protagonist is none other than Francis Gilbert, a stand-in for the author. The description on the Dorrance website said that the protagonist, Gilbert, would be:
“flipping back and forth between his two lives and two worlds leaves him dazed and confused—in one he is normal, mild-mannered Francis, and in the others he is a vengeful, cunning, and resourceful defender of humanity.”
Well, I guess that might be true, but there isn’t much of that “flipping back and forth.” The first part of the story is him being mild-mannered, and then the rest is just fighting off bad guys, attacking a giant ant that comes from out of nowhere, and… fighting off more bad guys. And that’s it. No real internal conflict, no attempt to maintain an elaborate masquerade to protect his loved ones from the dangers he fights in his other persona.
You know, none of the stuff that countless superheroes have been dealing with since the invention of comic books.
If this book were only the first part of an ongoing series, I might accept this. Gilbert’s only just getting into the role, so we don’t see all the consequences of his actions yet. But near as I can tell, this is all we get, and it ain’t worth it. Nothing As It Seemed was not at all what it originally seemed to be.
Rhapsodist’s Addendum: Be sure to tune in next week for my review of Neuromancer, a work that is beautifully detailed and is all kinds of awesome.
I received a complimentary copy of Nothing As It Seemed as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit dorrancebookstore.com to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.
Bibliography: Gilbert, F.-Ron. Nothing As It Seemed. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing, 2004.