So James Alan Gardner’s All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault is the first in a new series of novels from him (the back of the book has a promo for the second, due later this year). This is particularly noteworthy because his last series, the League of Peoples, ranged from good to excellent (Ascending has one of my favorite narrators ever), but also wrapped up over a decade ago. I honestly thought he was retired from writing, but apparently—and thankfully—not.

This is also a really enjoyable and promising start for a series. The premise sounds like it could be cheesy—vampires vs. superheroes!—but in fact it works pretty well. Because what Gardner is doing isn’t just setting up a geeky fan-service conflict, he’s actually built a world in which this makes sense, where the vampires and demons are the capitalist overlords, the CEOs and other one percenters; and the superheroes are (usually!) the champion of the everyperson.

But beyond the kind of political background, it’s also just a very personal story. Fundamentally, this is the story of Kim Lam discovering who they are and what they want their life to be, and that just happens to be a personal story that involves superheroes punching vampires.

And plus, Gardner writes with verve and energy, and this book moves propulsively forward with a tone that’s as light-hearted as the title would suggest. Really good stuff, recommended to anyone who doesn’t demand complete seriousness from their books at all times.


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