Hello Maniacs, it feels like it has been a while since I wrote one of these Spotlights.
Late July and early August were very... full of stuff. Things to do. Closing old projects. Opening new ones. It was really intense.
Still, I have some promises to honor and in particular one to one of the most prolific authors in our community. Many months ago I promised Dru to feature one of his oldest and less known stories here. I delayed it for a while, but now it's time to pay my due. Here we go:
For me, this piece of superwoman fiction from 2005 is the quintessential Dru story. While it has been eclipsed by some of his more recent entries, like Not the One or the writing spree that was O-Girl in 2018-19, Stealing From a Thief has a charm that it's hard for me to pass. It's difficult to put my finger on it because, on the surface, the story seems to just go through the moves and yet it captivates me. Before we go any further there's a bit of a caveat: when I say "go through the moves" I don't mean it in a negative way. In fact, I believe that some of you might enjoy it as a sort of piece of "genre archeology", if you want to see where some of Dru's classic tropes come from.
Back on track. If I look at Stealing with a critical eye I think that there are three things that elevate it over some of Dru's later and longer contributions.
The first is the main character. Susan is the perfect example of how to write an amoral superwoman. Sometimes the stories that feature evil superwomen portray them as sadistic monsters, prone to react to the slightest problem with extreme violence and prejudice, bulldozering their way to "victory" without much care for what is around them. They don't just toy with people, they actively look for excuses to do so. This is where Susan is different.
Does she kill? Yes.
Does she toy with people? Yes (more toward the end)
Does she feel regret for it? Not much if any.
Does she make up excuses for it? No.
This last bit is what sets her apart. Susan isn't a monster that loves killing. She is just someone that has found the key to ultimate power and wants to enjoy life. She just want to have some fun, but if you get in her way... it was nice knowing you.
The other bit of this story that I love to no end is how Susan's powers work. I like to call it 'reverse bulldozering'. What do I mean? We often see characters solving every problem by applying an insane amount of the same power or trick. In this story, Dru pulled a clever trick and gave Susan the ability to adapt to any challenge. Instead of punching every problem in the face, she can pull the required power limited only by her imagination. It's almost as if she was a silver age character transplanted into a modern-ish setting. She's all about experimenting and trying new tricks with every chapter.
Finally, there is length. Despite having an open final chapter, Stealing is just five chapters long. This makes it very easy to enjoy, since Dru hit some really high notes in such a short time.
Ok, re-reading this I realized that it might sound generic or uncertain, but that's because I really don't want to give anything away. I don't want to spoil anything out of this story because it JUST THAT GOOD!
Go read it, already!