Review: The Champion of Reason

The Champion of Reason by Jim Riva, ISBN 1-891262-00-9, published by Soaring Sparrow Press .

One of the joys of the San Francisco Book Fair is all of the self-published books that would, for a variety of reasons, wouldn't make it in the mainstream publishing world. Some of them have plot and pacing problems, some of them have small target audiences, and some of them would just piss off too many people.

This is one of the latter, and I enjoyed it a lot.

"Why isn't there a superhero to fight foolishness?" asks a child, and our hero becomes that hero. In the town of Addleton Illinois, home of L. Ron Hubbard High School, a traveling DJ finds his calling and takes on ignorance.

I picked it up based on the title, thinking it'd be an attempt at rewriting The Fountainhead or similar. It's not, he doesn't delve into philosophy deeply, so those of you who are Ayn Rand haters have nothing to fear, but he does trample all over the beliefs of many muddled thinkers, and tells a fast-paced ordinary man turned superhero against the culture of mediocrity adventure story that I enjoyed a lot.

The book has two failings. One is that it's narrated by a photographer, but the author puts in a few too many technical details, which interfere with the story, and in some cases are flat out wrong, eg: "Choosing to underexpose just a little to put the truck slightly in soft focus, I set the aperture at f-10..." While the incident that that's a setup for is cute, having to mentally edit out the two substantial gaffes in that excerpt detracts from the flow.

(If you need help picking out the flaws, drop me an e-mail and maybe I'll finally sit down and write that photography tutorial that I've no right to write, but that it seems would still be useful to those with even less experience and knowledge than I.)

But part of why I seek out books like this is that they still have the rough edges that show that they're handmade, and not churned out of some over-edited formula media factory like the latest Clive Cussler cliff-hanger. This one delivers rather well.


Saturday, December 12nd, 1998