Friday, April 29, 2016

Wormed its way into my head

So I haven't yet published a single blog for April because I decided to sit down and read a web serial that is 1.7 million words long. And now that I've finished it I basically don't know what to do with myself because I was reading at least four hours a day for three weeks. Maybe catch up on sleep. That seems like a reasonable, adult option.

Worm is a story about superheros, by an author called Wildbow (John C. McCrae), that finished publishing its 300-odd chapters in 2013 and it kind of broke my brain.

There's a lot to take in, tons of depth and rich characters and layered world-building. There's a solid who-watches-the-watchmen feeling throughout but what really ends up standing out to me about the whole story is its questions about what the implications of having power are.

And I really want to dig deep into that but I also don't want to accidentally spoil it because I suggest you go read the whole, huge, life-consuming thing right here.

I really enjoyed a lot of the story - the way relationships were built, the world in the background, Taylor's growth and self-examination over the course of the whole thing. There were a couple of aspects that irritated me, though. A few concepts were rehashed a few too many times (the way that Taylor and Rachel relate to one another and Taylor's general relationship with sanctioned capes jump to mind) and there's that plot device where everyone in the story knows the plan or the item or the person they're talking about but the reader doesn't - I don't know what that's called but it's not dramatic irony unless we're in on it too: I find that trope frustrating because it's supposed to build tension and make the characters seem more clever but all it really does is make you eager to get on the same page as everyone in the story so I react to it by bulling through chapters without taking the time to absorb details.

Wildbow admits that there are flaws in his work, and acknowledges that there are large sections he wants to revamp. He set an approximate 2-year schedule for editing it down into something publishable and to be 100% honest I haven't even looked to see if there's a pared-down version of Worm because I was into it enough to read the long version, warts and all, rather than waiting or searching for something that wasn't immediately available for my hot little hands to hold.

All around I'd recommend Worm. It's fun, it's immersive, and if you're looking for something to sink your teeth into for a good, long time it'll do the job like you wouldn't believe.

     - Alli

McCrae, John C. Worm.  2013.