Just a heads up, I talk about some darker stuff than usual in this review, including incarceration/institutionalization, trafficking and homelessness, all with regards to queer and trans youth.
Western culture has an odd veneration for royalty. Our fairy tales and fantasies are full of Good Kings, Wise Kings, and Fated Kings, while Disney has made fortunes upon fortunes churning out fictional princesses for us to adore. It’s a romanticism that seems incongruous with the bloody true history of such things. So if there’s one thing I appreciate about Kill Six Billion Demons, it’s that it never shies away from laying bare the fundamental essence of royalty: violence.
Last week Almost a damn month ago I talked about “fantasy soup”, a grab-bag of a genre that combines various genre tropes and wild imagination to create something truly weird. I also talked about how that genre as we knew it in the Webcomic Wild West of 1999-2005 has all but died out, a product of an environment, ideally suited to it, that has simply ceased to be.
Kids fantasize about being adults, or at least they fantasize about having the freedom and power that adults seem to have. That’s why so much of media made for children features kids doing adult things: solving mysteries, fighting monsters, having adventures, thwarting adults. Oftentimes kids have the clarity and imagination to see the supernatural for what it is, while their parents are too stuffy and boring to see what’s in front of their eyes. In these stories, kids get to be the heroes by playing the part of adults.
I have a confession: I haven’t actually read a lot of classic science fiction, and most of what I have read, I hated. Clarke’s too horny, Bradbury’s too racist, Dick’s too pessimistic, Orwell’s too reactionary. But one book in the “canon” actually stuck with me to this day because of its exploration of non-human intelligence: Asimov’s I, Robot.