Schlock Mercenary: The Blackness Between by Howard Taylor

To review a Schlock Mercenary book is to shout redundancies at the heavens. The usually statements still apply – the art is getting better, the writing is getting better, the _________ is getting better.

Howard Taylor has created something completely unique in the world of story telling, and I’m not talking about how he made a main character look like a pile of poo and still lovable. Or maybe I am. I’m not really sure.

I first heard of Howard Taylor when I started listening to Writing Excuses – a podcast that he does with Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson – and discovered that, while the others can be quite funny, he is the funniest of the lot. I was also impressed when he made the claim that he had a new comic up every day since his comic went live.

I decided to check it out and jumped right into the middle of the story. Nothing made sense for a while but it was funny enough that it carried me through until I started to understand.

Now I’ve started buying the early books – the comics that I missed – and I’ve come to learn something. Howard Taylor is not just telling a lot of jokes about a hero that looks like a pile of poo – though he does do that – he’s detailing a future history that happens to be a poignant satire of our own western culture.

Satire is difficult because it has to be satirical – if that sounds tautological to you that’s because it is – but that doesn’t make it any less true. Howard Taylor is creating something here that is unique because it is funny and exciting and it makes sense and has great characters and is teaching me something about the way I think (I can’t speak for everybody else). That last one seems the most important to me.

Read it.


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