“be yourself. Because to be otherwise is a poor plan for a relationship. Sooner or later, you will revert to the true you, and that will be that.”
JCM Berne’s Wistful Ascending is a completely unique mix of sci-fi Space Opera, Superhero Fiction, and slice-of-life that I’ve never really seen before and, frankly, don’t completely know how to process!
Wistful Ascending follows Rohan a half-human ‘hybrid’- the result of his alien il’Drach father coupling with his human mother – which bestows upon him (and others the il’Drach Empire seeded [ew] around the galaxy) immense superhuman powers that reach their peak when he lets go and embraces his inner rage. While there are inklings of backstory about other half-human hybrids that engaged in cape-and-cowl superheroics on Earth, what we see of Rohan’s powers skew way closer to Dragonball Z than the Marvel or DC we’d expect (eh… maybe Valiant).
As the novel opens, Rohan, originally a warrior for the il’Drach Empire, has since given up his violent ways and opted to take on the position of tow chief at the sentient space station known as Wistful. But when a long dormant wormhole opens – a slew of new problems and adversaries surface, throwing Rohan’s new peaceful life, and his burgeoning romance with a hot alien babe (Sorry. That came out more way more reductive than it actually is) into turmoil.
I had a difficult time with this book – not because it was bad (far from it) but it just wasn’t what I was expecting… mostly because the execution of the slice-of-life aspect didn’t truly dawn on me until I finished. I had expected a more focused story centered around one main throughline. Instead, Wistful Ascending follows several sequential happenings in a particularly eventful month for Rohan, all of which are centered around the wormhole or tangentially related. As a result, the book has a sort of problem-event-solution-rinse-
That aside, Rohan’s story does get more interesting as the book progresses, and his dealings with the more dangerous aspects behind his love interest, and the final reveals around the il’Drach do show a more interesting side to his character (beyond the kamehameha beat-em-ups) and leave me wanting to see where his story goes.
Overall, a bombastic, yet somehow simultaneously grounded read which I’m sure would have been even more fun if I had been more aware of the structure of the story beforehand.
*See: The Mystery Of The Murdered Guy ON SALE NOW.