Rocketman on October 19, 2007, 02:36:20 pm
Well in a contest of wills between Susan and Agent Keaton my money is on Susan.  I'll bet before it's over that Susan has him
quit the Bureau and move to a commune.  ;D  ;D  ;D  ;D

aditantimedh on October 19, 2007, 03:06:05 pm
It's never good to bet against the super-powerful alien.

Rocketman on October 19, 2007, 05:09:50 pm
Remember when Susan used the tape to subliminally convert the agents that listened to it?  What better way than to allow them to capture her and then use the sound of her voice to covert them over to her way of thinking.  Now my guess is that sound gun that they used against her won't work again since she'll be ready for it.  ;D

Rocketman on October 22, 2007, 08:59:01 pm
I just reread the previous week again and learned that I misspelled the agents name.  It should be Kenton not Keaton.  I apologize if I've confused anyone.  ;)

Rocketman on October 24, 2007, 10:21:14 am
Just got to page 170 and it looks like Susan's powers are working just fine.  Nice touch on the line
"Can I get another interrogater?"  "This one's broken."    ;D

tcampbell1000 on November 10, 2007, 10:01:03 am
Since I can't seem to post new topics and don't see an e-mail address for the creators, I'll share my thoughts here.

I've been following this series on and off, mostly on, for a while. I want to like it more than I do.

La Muse recalls Miracleman, The Authority and other stories of proactive superheroes, with much of the thoughtfulness that distinguishes the best of those works, and more social consciousness. It has two immensely likable leads with a believable rivalry, and a great sense of humor.

It's adequately suspenseful, although, like the Superman scripts of 1963 or so, the writing seems to strain its voice a bit when trying to persuade us that, no, the virtually omnipotent being might actually be in trouble this time. The bit about Susan's loved ones was a nice twist, and when it looked like she'd been neutralized, I was impatient for the next update. Susan's own personality creates problems here, though: shortly after she became conscious, I knew she was running a game. Her unflappability makes her easy to root for, but hard to worry about. Even so, physical challenges aren't the issue.

One hundred eight pages in, Susan's life is still pretty awesome. She's shown a bit of emotional range lately, fretting about her friends' reactions to their protection fields and showing an unmistakable anger with Agent Venkow underneath her cheer, but these are fleeting concerns that will probably be forgotten shortly. I would have been a lot more thrilled if Venkow had surprised her by showing the guts to confront her directly, or if Susan seemed to be fighting to keep the smile on despite her revulsion at what Venkow stands for. But Susan seems as in control of her emotions as she is in control of everything else.

She has clearly put some thought into her activism, avoiding some of the obvious mistakes she could make, but she never seems to wrestle with the consequences of her actions-- "not my fault the third world defaulted on its debts"-- or worry too much about the consequences of her next one. I understand that we are supposed to question those consequences, but it's hard to do so when we don't get to see much of them.

The quality of Susan's enemies doesn't make it any easier. I'm reminded of Death Note, another series featuring an unbelievably powerful and morally questionable activist who wants to reshape the world. Said activist soon found himself in a battle of wits with a worthy adversary, one with lesser powers but greater resources and equal cleverness, who stood for the current order and current morality. The conflict between the two makes that series riveting.

Venkow is no worthy adversary. He may have come up with plan after plan to stop Susan, each a bit better than the last, but none were nearly good enough, because his hard-wired mind can't get what she truly is or where her weaknesses truly lie. "It's an alien invasion and we can't stop her?" Wrong on both counts: she's just said that she's native-born human, with a desire to remain human, with a human's emotions and thoughts: there's your path of attack. (She also threw you a huge bone when she said Libby was fully normal, though I'm not sure how to square that with Libby's earlier statement that her normality was a choice.)

I understand that most normal people splutter and stare when confronted with something like Susan, but it would be nice to place her against someone who's better than normal: not another superhuman, just someone with a flexible mind. Not everyone falls apart or surrenders in the face of superior power, and some of the ones who don't have good reasons, humanitarian reasons, to resist Susan's efforts.

None of the agents we've seen resisting her seem to have admirable reasons for doing so. When Venkow talks about freedom of the human spirit, it's an afterthought, a rationalization. He's a tool of our government at its most brutal. He is a straw man for Susan to set on fire. It seemed like the physical conflict would have been one-sided: instead, the mental, emotional and moral conflicts have been.

Of course, it's always possible that this complaint of mine will be addressed within days. Venkow's apparent defeat seems to be a turning point, and who knows what'll happen from here. Hey, maybe Venkow's just faking hopelessness till she gets bored and flies away! Or maybe here comes a new challenger. But as it is, this is a pretty good series that could be great, and in a lot of ways I find that more frustrating than stuff that sucks.

aditantimedh on November 12, 2007, 12:50:31 am
Your reactions, questions and points are pretty much the ones I want to illicit in readers wherever possible, so I'm appreciate your taking the time to set down your thoughts. 

The reason the conflict (so far) is reduced to extremes represented by Susan and Venkow without a more liberal or humanist argument in between is entirely intentional.  It's meant to reflect the extremes of the two sides currently being presented in the ideological battles between the Right and the Left in the world right now, with neither side admitting that it's no longer about Right or Left but someting much deeper and more important.  I want the reader to be the one to ask the real questions rather than any characters who might be a mouthpiece, and to keep asking those questions through to the end of the story. 

As for worthy adversaries or opposition and so on, I can't possibly comment without spoiling the story, so you'll just have to keep reading. 


aditantimedh on November 12, 2007, 01:21:10 am
Oh, and I should point out that Susan was being glib when she says things like "It's not my fault the Third World defaulted on their debt."  She knew that would happen and she deliberately set up the circumstances for it to happen.  She's not a liberal - she's quite radically setting out to change the entire economic landscape, and effectively bringing about the destruction of the economic system that currently exists.