WARNING: the following contains references to mathematics and may involve actual instances of calculus.
During Magic 101, my one (required) semester of college physics, the professor assured me and my fellow history and lit majors that there was no such thing as calculus in the real world.
For the most part, that works for me. But every now and then something reminds me that I’m only seeing part of the universe.
Most recently, it was reading The Accidental Superheroine, the hysterically funny (if you’re a geek) collaboration between J. R. Rain and Kris Carey.
The Accidental Superheroine by J. R. Rain & Kris Carey
When newly-coined physicist Mira Verborgen wins a cushy internship at CERN, she doesn’t expect to end up working side by side with sensitive European hottie, Giancarlo Colombo, or the sudden-onset case of butterflies whenever he’s around.
Nor does she expect the two of them to end up the inadvertent subjects of a megalomaniac Russian scientist’s deadly energy experiment. Instead of their budding relationship being cut short along with their material existence, the pair develops a startling mutation. A mutation that puts them in the crosshairs of Swiss, French, and American governments – not to mention the dastardly Dr. Orlov.
With CERN held hostage by Orlov and his rapidly-evolving superpowers, do Mira and Giancarlo have what it takes to own their mutation and protect the free world, before it’s too late?
“Luke,” says Yoda. “Use the mass times the acceleration!”
Do you find this as hysterically funny as I do? Welcome, fellow geek! You’re in exactly the right place, because have I got a book for you. When we first meet Mira Verborgen in The Accidental Superheroine, she’s a physics graduate student bemoaning the lack of men in her life.
“The Internet is full of articles about how there need to be more women in the sciences, but trust me, there’s a reason why there aren’t. It’s because the moment you go for it, you become totally invisible. Except, of course, to a small, only technically human clique of the nerdiest, most socially dysfunctional males in the universe, the kind of guys that make the cast of The Big Bang Theory look like the X-Men. Those kind of guys I had to fight off. Luckily, they tend to be small and weak and easily intimidated, especially by loud noises and, you know, intelligence. In a woman, I mean.”
But, hoping to have better luck with European scientists, Mira accepts an internship CERN in Geneva Switzerland, home of the Large Hadron Collider. The results of this can, at best, be described as mixed. On her first day there, in fact, she meets and falls instantly in lust with fellow scientist Giancarlo Colombo. Unfortunately, he’s already in a relationship with a beautiful fitness trainer. More unfortunately, their boss—Dr. Peter Orlov—engineers the deadly accident that traps the three of them inside the newly restarted collider. Fortunately, they don’t die. Yet more unfortunately, they all become invisible. Or, as Mira puts it, “It was like God had cursed me by making all of my childhood wishes come true. I was wearing the Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak—and I was stuck on the freakin’ set of the Sound of Music.”
From there, the usual thriller plot of having to escape various government entities trying to take them into “protective” custody—while thwarting Dr. Orlov’s rapidly evolving evil powers and plans for world domination—is only the background to Mira’s determination to prove to the oblivious Giancarlo that they are destined to be together. It’s (sort of) fate. “The only boy and girl in the world, I mean. In a way. He and I were like the only two members of a brand new species (notice I wasn’t counting Orlov, the evil serpent in our garden of Eden), so everything had to be perfect between us from the get-go.”
Interspersed with some judiciously applied phlebotinum, the science comes as fast and furious as the snark. As Orlov uses his new powers to attempt world domination, Mira and a bemused Giancarlo attempt to master their own powers with physics and some rudimentary biochem—but sadly not nearly enough of the latter as they discover when channelling their inner dinosaurs:
“It works better if you make your feet into hands,”I said. “With claws, like our fingers. Takeoff is the big challenge. Remember, the aerodynamic coefficient of lift in avian flight is expressed as FL = ½ CLS wρv2.”Now we were both flapping for our lives.
“We’re both too heavy! Thrust = ½ CL cρv2 drα/ 2?”he yelled, as he veered and spun wildly around, almost hitting a tree.
“Not if C is the mean wing chord. Try substituting ⅓ kLS wρA2f 2!” I screamed back at him. “And speak for yourself!” About weighing too much, I meant.
This isn’t a perfect book. The ability of first Orlov, then Mira and Giancarlo, to invent new powers on demand would have been annoying plot devices if they hadn’t been neatly tempered by the fact that they had to use their knowledge of science to think up and then work each new power. By rights, I should point out that the book’s claims of being a “new-adult, superhero science-fiction romance” are somewhat inaccurate in that the romance is just about as invisible as Mira and Giancarlo. But even invisibility, Mira realizes, is easier than convincing Giancarlo to play Adam to her Eve, as she recounts a friend’s experiences with her parents’ dog breeding business.
She said the hardest breed of dogs to get to mate were collies; they were finicky and highly strung and had really bad vision, so, her mom and dad had to try everything―including special pheromone sprays and (ewww) putting on rubber dishwashing gloves and, you know, helping nature along. It occurred to me that I might have to resort to doing that with Giancarlo. He was definitely turning out to be a collie.
J. R. Rain and Kris Carey have channeled Mira’s voice into a hilarious blend of nerd, geek, and lovelorn scientist. I’d give it all five stars, and urge them to hurry up with the sequel.
*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Book Title: The Accidental Superheroine
Author: J.R. Rain and Kris Carey
Genre: new-adult, superhero science-fiction with romantic thread
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Length: 154 pages
Release Date: 3 August 2015
Buy & Info Links:
He’s sold over one million books online. Moon Dance, his supernatural mystery, has been translated into four languages, with audio and film productions pending.
The literary heir to Robert Parker, his novels feature challenging characters, complicated relationships, and page-turning modernist prose. The gritty realism in his mystery novels comes courtesy of years working as a private eye.
A So-Cal native, Rain relocated to an enigmatic and shadowy island outside Seattle.
Find J.R. Rain Online:
Kris Carey was born and raised in Washington, DC, where she now lives with her husband in a small apartment near the river. Kris is an illustrator and editor for several small indie presses. She has long dreamed of having her own books published. “The Accidental Superheroine” is Kris’s first novel with Curiosity Quills Press, and she is hard at work on a second.
Find Kris Carey Online: