Over at Strange Horizons, I review the second and third books in Ayize Jama-Everett's Liminal People series. This was one of those cases where a book comes to you just when you need it the most. As they've slowly taken over popular culture, I've found myself growing increasingly impatient with superhero stories, and with how the ones that show up on our screens choose to handle politics (see, for example, this series of tweets from last night in which I try to sum up my frustrations with the seemingly endless barrage of superhero shows and their messed-up politics). It's been particularly frustrating watching what is, by now, the dominant genre in pop culture carefully and studiously avoid anything like a real engagement with issues of social justice. For all that they claim otherwise, superheroes are about preserving the status quo, and that usually means siding with those in power, not those whom they oppress.
So Jama-Everett's books, in which opposing--and trying to dismantle--the status quo lies at the core of most of his superhero characters' stories, were just what the doctor ordered. And as if that were not enough, most of the superhero characters in these books are people of color, and people whose ethnic and cultural heritage is central to their identity and to how they see the world, which is also something that mainstream superhero stories don't do enough of. I might not have like these books as much if I'd read them five years ago, but I'm extremely glad that they exist now, and if you're like me and are finding the glut of reactionary superhero stories oppressive, I heartily recommend these books as an antidote.