Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-651-7
Fantasy Romance, 2009
The heroine of Safe from the Flames, Hadyn Benson, can burst into flames when she’s experiencing strong emotions like fear and anger. She’s not going to be joining a mutant superhero team anytime soon, though, because she doesn’t know how to control her, er, fires.
Darren Kaestle, our fireman hero, is doing his own thing, waving his big hose and trying to put out a fire, when he comes upon our unconscious heroine in one of the rooms of the burning building. He decides to check up on her once she’s recovered in the hospital – the fact that she’s hot (ahem) may have something to do with it – and our hero soon learns that poor Hadyn is tired of living. She doesn’t want to keep running, she doesn’t want to become a test subject in a lab, so what is a poor baby to do? Can Darren’s TLC help our heroine find a reason to smile again?
You know what is really strange about this story? It’s that Ms Sookoo has created a premise worthy of something written by Marjorie M Liu, but she then grounds her characters in a story so mundane that the heroine could be having any more down to earth issues like kleptomania or eating disorder and the story will still go on with some minor alterations. The heroine’s strange ability is just another excuse for her to be blue. Darren for some reason is not fazed at all by our heroine’s ability, not even one bit. Maybe you can say that he’s used to dealing with fires so a human torch is nothing to get worked up over, but still, Darren’s sanguine acceptance of Hadyn’s explanation about her abilities is rather unbelievable.
If Hadyn had been plagued by something more mundane like Tourette’s Syndrome, this story would be a pleasant escapist story of a man whose love gives a woman a reason to live again. But because Hadyn is an X-Man stuck in this story, Safe from the Flames is a short story that never fully capitalizes on the more fantastic opportunities offered by its premise.