(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Long Awaited SPOILER Thread

I've been itching to put this up for two months now.  Some of you have copies.  Here is a thread to discuss the book!  I reeeeeeally hope you like Claudia and Marcia's arcs.

Those of you not reading the book, this thread will be full of spoilers and You Have Been Warned.


  1. I just finished my first read of your book, let me say that it is confusing at least for me i will probably need to read it a couple more times before i understand the book, I will also post a review as soon as i am less confused, (writting a review while you are confused is not good).

    1. Ok let me do a hotwash I have been thinking, and first i need to read it again because there are a lot of things i did not get, but this books give me the impression of being the equivalent of "The empires strikes back" from star wars, I did not see a huge climax, it was mostly story driven setting stuff up for the future, the parenting from both the audit and mr akk was awkwardly stupid, this are inteligent people and it felt more like the 3 stooges, I like penny I like the premise, on my first read I liked some stuff specially related to bull i didn't like it all i think the breakdown was forced and that bull and claudia could have been better, in the end the book felt like it had a huge ammount of side arcs and side stories, but no main arc, and the ending just I did not get it.

      I need to read it again.

      Do I like the book? YES
      Would I buy the Book? YES

      All other questions about this book and how i'm going to review it, well its complicated.

  2. Just finished my first read. One question do you want us to put down any proofread errors we find or presume that they will be fixed before release?

    I found the book a great read and didn't get anything done at work today! That said the most confusing part was the robot cat burglary scene. I wasn't sure who was a robot and where everyone was. I'm going to do a second read this weekend but compared to other scenes it was vastly more confusing and less clear.

    "PennyOS fatal error
    Attempting reboot" is a great line. I'm going to find a way to work that into some conversation at some point.

    1. Hmmm. Dooon't bother with proofread errors unless they really grind your garbage disposals?

    2. I am very curious as to if you saw that event coming, and if so, when.

  3. On first read, I quote - "Wow." Just "Wow."

    No, Mr. Roberts, I did not see the ending coming, nor the outcome –not Cassie's revelation, and definitely Spider's last comment. Completely surprising. I could not see any of the revelations, or turns of the plot coming at all.

    Cons - I have to say, it did seem to be less tightly woven then the previous books. As Carlos stated, a lot of the drama with Bull/Claudia was a bit forced. They occurred quickly. Additionally, I would have appreciated more information being revealed about Irene. Their breakdown scene, with the quarter – if it was as reference I did not get it. If it is an in joke, I hope that it is explained later. Also, some of the characterizations did not fit. What exactly occurred to make Master Scorpion “a jerk?” Blunt – perhaps. Uncompromising- very likely. But, nothing I read indicated why he would be labelled a jerk.

    Pro- Excellent theme, and the other characterizations were well done. I believe that one of the main themes was summed up with Cassie's question, "Do you want to be villains or heroes?" Very nicely done - I had not seen any comic, book, or movie tackle Claudia's answer quite that way. The revelation behind her feelings was very nicely done. That is exceptional characterization. It makes her attitude much more poignant, and real.

    And, the monologue scene – brilliant! The names they chose for themselves, and their introductions, I have not seen anything like it before!

    I intend to reread it again over the weekend, and expect to have more comment, but on first read through - Excellent book.

    1. Reread Cassie's conversation in Chinatown. I don't know if I'm proud or disappointed that Penny's cluelessness successfully clouds Cassie's attempt to be blunt.

    2. I reread the conversation - and it is well written enough to foreshadow, without revealing the upcoming turn.
      Specifically - she likes the boy enough to kiss him (thoroughly), but states that there is no 'spark' of romance. And, that she likes someone who is involved with someone else.

      That is vague- at least to me.
      Actually, we don't really get to know enough about Cassie to understand what she is saying, and identify the one to which she is referring. As Penny noticed, she is so breezy and confident about romantic matters, that I at least, did not expect to see her interest turn toward THAT character.
      It is only on rereading that some of the comments point to the target, and you realize that it was in fact foreshadowed.

      Well done.
      And, I hope that I have done as well to not point toward the hero who catches her fancy.

    3. That does at least lend some strong 'reason' why she is so determined to be a hero, even when her actions are, well, more that a bit villainous. Good characterization.

    4. Really, I only wish that we had in fact learned a bit more about Cassie, and a lot more about "Goodnight" Irene, Sue, Charlotte, and the Original. You gave us glimpses in to some original characters, but JUST a glimpse!

    5. Oh, I do remember that you stated that any editing comments were too late, but the following lines were not caught in edit.

      Chapter four, scene in the principal’s office. “When you called him in to this stupid meeting, I bet Brainy Akk there considered blasting your whole faculty with his 'I'm a moron, aren't I?' ray-” It is missing the period.
      Chapter 9, fourth line, first paragraph. “Claire had drifted off into talking about Grimoire of Nursey Rhymes so during so many lunchtimes, I had to have it.”
      I think you are missing a word after the first ‘so’ – perhaps it should be ‘so much during so many lunchtimes’ I think?

    6. The second one is the one that "grinds my garbage disposal."

    7. Additional - "I had to actually climb in myself to see that the driver was a yellow plastic robot woman, or the giant bull man slouched way in the back seat."
      Should that be - "IF the driver was..." or something else?

    8. There are two others. One is Marcia's Big Rant/Monolog, and since I don't want to spoil it, I'm not going to post the whole thing. But is she supposed to be incoherent? Should it not be "punch you so hard your face" - it has an extra "or" in front of face.

      And, Ampexia is blonde yes? I've seen these pictures - http://www.deviantart.com/tag/ampexia. Yet when they reach her in the 'console' she is described as "with dirty black hair, ragged clothes, and a ponytail."

    9. Regarding Cassia in font of the fortune teller. As soon as the words on the card were read I wondered "who's name is on the card that the boy was playing keep away"

  4. My first thoughts are. It's good. My second thought is its confusing. I loved getting back to earth and having an adventure but this book left me unsatisfied there was so much build up to future adventures and new ideas. However I feel like we were given too much info on certain events and lack of info on others.

    Pros- The world continues to be an incredibly interesting intricate world that can easily be fit into multiple branching novels. The characters are interesting and compelling enough that they make you want to know more and more about them.

    Cons- There isn't enough about these interesting characters. While we are introduced to many characters there is not enough detail on them. There is a missing feeling like there is a much larger story here then what we were presented with. While there are so many new characters introduced it feels like the old ones have been forgotten or at least set aside like an afterthought.

    Overall this was a great entertaining read however it lacks the coherence of the first two novels. However it does contain one of the greatest abilities a novel can have at the end it made me shout out where is the next one?

  5. Since I don't have the book yet myself I won't be reading any of the comments here yet, but this seemed to be the best place to post this. Just checked amazon for a reminder of when my preorder is available and saw they have the official cover up now. Very nice! Was a little worried they might change the art style but this one blends seamlessly with the first two. The big difference is in this one I already know what several of the elements in it are. Bull's hard to miss, but is the girl with the wings Cassie? She was able to fly away with energy wings in the first chapter that was released.

  6. I liked the book, but not as much as I liked the first book. I felt that the lack of a full plot that would tie at least most of the plot together really made it far more confusing than it could have been. Something like an overarching threat may have helped, like Spider was in book 1, or the Jovians/Puppeteers/Conquerers in book 2. Some of the scenes were a bit rushed, like the one with Bull and Claudia helping to dig a tunnel. Not to mention that it seems like Penny's parents were a bit too clueless. I was slightly disappointed that we wouldn't get to see Penny duke it out with whoever came out on top of the competition. However, the book was a very fun and enjoyable read and definitely worth buying.

    Final question: How did The Audit not recognize that Penny was Bad Penny from the video of Bull's Reunion with Claudia?

    1. Because nobody told her the girl in the video is 'Bad Penny.' It was spread without commentary and Penny was in her civvies. Spider gathered the gifts because a lot of the givers didn't even know who the kid was!

      Interesting side note on this: The odds that Penny had met some supervillains were quite high and not surprising to Penny's mother. Beyond that, because it would be Getting Personal, she specifically did not look up the odds of anything attached to that event.

  7. What was up with the wings? The chapter breaks icon in the first two tied in well with the story (orb and cat) but with this one about the only reference I came across was perhaps the guardian angel bit. I presume that’s to come in later books.
    I really liked the overarching theme of the burdens of leadership and self-determination. I think it really tied things together as long as you are willing to look at it as more of a parable. I was really happy to see her back and interacting with the characters established in the first book while growing as a character.
    I have a nice review all written up to post once I get the notification of my preorder going though and have deleted the ARC copy as requested.

    1. The wings are purely decorative. Cassie can't fly. She was just showing off how pretty her powers are.

      Never, EVER trust cover art.

      The artist has never read the book, and they get loose descriptions and I throw up my hands and accept the inaccuracies because trying to fix them makes things worse.

  8. For those wondering about Irene, the novella was SUPPOSED to come out first, and you could meet Goodnight and Polly and know more about Bull's history. I'm trying to get .mobi and .epub copies of Summer of Lob to give out to you ARC readers, but I don't know if that's possible.

    ...wait. Why am I answering questions? This thread was for you people to talk.

    1. You are answering because everyone is confused with the book.

    2. So do we have to email you again for the novella?

    3. You're being a good host. And I like bulls family. Jane we heard of goodnight before this book cause all I can think of is an Laura Goodnight

  9. ... im still waiting until February 8th for kindle to release the book... i have it pre-ordered, but i wish it came out sooner...

  10. Quick question, who is Polly's stepmom? Or did you mean Barbara's stepmom?

    1. As a favor to Marianne Tinsley, Polly Vinyl Chloride is raising Barbara and Abigail Tinsley after their parents ceased to exist.

    2. "Ceased to exist." Diplomatic way to phrase something that is probably right out of a horror movie.

    3. I was confused because you said that Penny's "Bad Penny" Robot was patterned after Polly's stepmom.

    4. She is a good example of a robot - for a grown up.

    5. I liked the "phrase for an adult". Implies she is probably not as old as she has been modelled to look.

    6. No, she said the same thing as a 'kid' robot in the novella, set in the sixties.

    7. I've noticed a number of different Supers with unique personality traits. I figure it has to do with the powers. Something as messed up as being a living robot can damage the mind.

      of course still not convinced that the person doesn't have a bit of control{or at least affect) over what the power ends up being.

    8. I'm going out on a long limb - and say that the power are what the Author wants....
      (Heh) But, I bet that personality (as conceived by the author) might have an effect on their power.

  11. I thought the Cassie thing worked perfectly: her line "everyone I'm interested in is in a relationship already" made me think "maybe that's Penny?" When Cassie began to try to get Penny alone to talk instead of drag her into sparring matches, it made me think it was probable. The PennyOS crash scene served as a confirmation rather than a surprise twist, but the slow build of evidence and the obliviousness of the object of Cassie's affection were appropriate both for kids that age and Penny in particular.

    1. At first I thought she was referring to Will or Ray. Now that i have read it again, I see how it is Penny.

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    3. Yes. On reread it is apparent. But, after enjoying her kiss with Will, and stating it was her second with him, and that while she was attracted to him, there was not spark, I was put on the wrong track.
      And, it appeared she knew that Penny was in a relationship with Ray... so her pressing for one with Penny seemed to be really wrong.

      She primed to a villain, or in the making! Especially after the last scene, and after what she did to get Penny to come to her.

    4. I don't know... they're 14, this kind of interest would be new to her. Cassie acts like she's attracted to Penny and probably jealous of Ray, and she makes what look like confused, frustrated, and maybe rationalized bids for attention from a first crush rather than having a real plan, and if she's bisexual that would just add to the confusion.

    5. Considering this is a fictional world we're talking about - maybe people just don't put labels on it that way anymore. Maybe it's completely normal in their world for kids to be either or until their a little more mature (or at the very least - that the discrimination just doesn't exist in their world).

      It would explain the casual attitudes of Penny and Cassie to the subject at the least. And would be a nice piece of encouragement to the readers.

    6. Could be, but there has no been any indication either way. There are only two real 'physical attraction' mentions that I can recall - the one when Claire's Power hit, she commented that "I don't think you feel 'that way' about me..." And, the surprise on the other children's face when Claire announced that she wanted to be like her mother.

      I believe that they are more aligned with our current mores than having a more 'enlightened' attitude.

    7. Okay having now read the book fully I feel that regardless of what the world may think or not think in that world, Penny and most of her friends ate not thrown by unusual relationships like non human and human or Bull and mouse. And the "gay thing" doesn't actually seam to be a concern for most of them. I think the only reason Penny bsd occurred it cause she is slow on the uptake for relationships. I mean we know this cause it took so long for her to realise Ray liked her first book. She finds it hard to think anyone would see her in that way and had disregarded Cassie not cause "gay unusual" just cause Penny is Penny. And with the implication that Ray is gonna go away and train with master Scorpion we may get to see the fallout of that kiss next book. (Insert squeeze here)

    8. I will admit I saw Cassie's crush a mile away, but I have a knack for seeing things like that. The world they live in is definitely a much more open-minded world. SO to me Penny's reaction would have been the same had anyone kissed her.

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  13. Also, is it just me, or does Marcia seem more reasonable and easier to get along with now that she's disturbingly unstable and probably a danger to herself and others?

    1. Is not you. I think on losing her mind for a little Marcia has found a way to let go off all that selfishness and some measure of inner peace. And since her snakes (?) And powers seam all about balancing opposing forces she actually seams nicer in many ways.

    2. Sending her father to the hospital has apparently also removed a pernicious influence from her life, but that's only temporary (he'll probably recover, and she's still a minor).

    3. Sue made a comment about her parents not being a super strict and expecting of perfection as some. She was referring to Marcia's dad.

      Remember all the movies and TV shows you've seen with the adults who the public see as perfect. And then at home they are borderline abusive with their demands of perfection from their kids. Think of the parents of child stars, gymnasts, and other such things.
      I think that's how her father was, why else would he allow is not even teenage daughter to be his sidekick.
      I'm sure he's already healed, he is rich and connected. But I would guess it's like Ray's situation, she's now too dangerous for him to handle.

    4. The fact that he's rich and connected might imply that he can make whatever arrangements he wants for Marcia despite her new abilities. If he's a controlling type, he'll certainly try.

    5. Seconded.
      Bearing in mind he is a 'normal' who regularly deals with 'supers,' and is also "rich as creote" (or something like), I would be worried if I were her.
      I really wish we knew more of what is really happening with her, and what is going on in Sue's Mind as well.

    6. I gather Sue was a "popular girl" who was a close friend with the school's "queen bee". Now she's just the known associate of a crazy girl, and she blames Penny for everything. She tried to set Penny up to be outed as Bad Penny by sending the whole club after her on her date.

      Maybe she's another candidate for Nemesis in book 4?

    7. Maybe. But, Sue stuck with Marcia instead of the popular crowd. If popularity was her thing she would have gone with them.
      Hmmm, unless the only reason she was popular was because of Marcia...
      But, she didn't seem pissed at Penny at all until that one time. Confusing.

    8. Yea, looking back, she was described as haunted, not frustrated. Right after Marcia went into the hospital, the next day, she was sitting class looking haunted.

    9. There is also the fact that from the sounds of it her parents are Heroes or at least Hero supporters and they view her powers as Villain powers. Being best friends with a the daughter and sidekick of one of the best known Heroes, might have been the only things her parents approved of.

    10. I just figured Sue had things in her life that she valued, and some of them went away when Marcia went off the deep end. Marcia's actions were prompted, in part, by frustration with Penny, so a natural, immature but very human reaction would be for Sue to decide everything she (and Marcia) lost was due to Penny. As in "Marcia wouldn't have done those things if it wasn't for you! It's all your fault!"

    11. Sound about right. Maybe. Still would have loved to hear her say if that was it.
      She looks like she is trying to spoil Penny's fun, by sending in the gang to tromp all over her dates. Can't really say what she will do next without knowing her motives. Is she is 'balancing the scales' that is one thing. If she plans on destroying Penny for 'ruining her life' that is something else. Until we hear it from her we just don't know.

  14. Not positive if you will put up a thread for the backstory ARC, so I'll toss my first impressions on here and if you make a second spoiler thread I'll post there as well. Like Henchmen I'll be doing a second read soon.

    The novella started off a bit confusing due to having no background on the story or the characters. This is probably fixed by some blurb at some point on the anthology synopsis where it says something about backstory on Bull and everyone else. Your email blurb covered it, but I'm looking at the novella only.

    Review and impressions:
    I found this to be a fun "quick" read. It is a fresh view into the Supervillian world. Writing, plot points, and locations were very unique all leading to a very new feeling for the series. The overarching plot of Bull in LA and his motivations was exceptionally well done. Very similar to Supervillain where a chain of happenstance leads the character away from their desired goal and into their newfound role. Each scene was believable and the plot driving mechanics kept the pace high and in the realm of belief (excluding the fact it's a fictional universe). Additionally, the vast majority of characters mentioned were very well introduced and fleshed out. The most entertaining character was Goodnight due to matching my sense of humor. I was hoping for a 1...2...3...BullOS fatal error, but close enough. Having Evolution, though foreshadowed, was a very welcome surprise. Evolution is a much talked about but little known character in the series. Most lines involving Evolution are more "You fought Evolution" than this is what Evolution is, does, looks like, and acts.

    The intro for Foxy and Carbuncle was jarring when the main character had yet to be introduced. However, this is more an aspect of being in an anthology/novella format where something attention grabbing is needed than a detriment to the story. Also, Dr. Righteous' motivations seemed erratic. First it was against people but loving their creations, at least furniture. Then his motivation turned to hating cars which have lots of furniture or at least seats. I personally don't see much difference between a sofa and a car back seat. Having more about Goodnight would have been welcome instead of her two scenes, one of which was exceptionally short.

    Overall I would place this as a very fun and good read. Not as good as Supervillian (which was phenomenal) but better than Moon.

    An aside I've been wanted to put for quite a while: my personal theme song for the series is Heroes by Alesso.

  15. Regarding the novella, but spoiler-heavy enough to put in the spoiler thread:

    I might not be the best judge, but the novella seemed perfectly clear to me as a stand-alone, and also seems suited to be an introduction to the novels for new readers. Just following Bull around tells the audience what's normal for alternate-L.A., how things stand between superheroes, supervillains, police and regular criminals, what constitutes "normal" for mad scientists, and how real-world events map to this world. Or at least what it was like in 1969. It was all clearer from this novella than in the three novels, probably because we're looking over the shoulder of a superpowered adult, not a child.

    I notice that Marianne Tinsley's full name is given in the novella, but never in the novels, so the thank-you card from "Marianne" doesn't actually tell anyone that hasn't read the novella (or this blog) that a Tinsley wrote that card. A deliberate elision?

    Parts of "Henchmen" work better with the novella as known backstory, at least in the sense that there's a bit more to some scenes than the novel reveals by itself, and you can tell you've missed things if you read the novel first. I also notice that the novella strengthens and clarifies the business of the "possession mechanic" indicated by the freckles and braided brown hair of the three Tinsleys and Penelope Akk. It also gives a definitive test for when "possession mechanic" applies: just ask Polly, she can see it.

    And finally, I've now jumped to the thoroughly unjustified conclusion that the missing mad scientist with the candy theme and invisible rabbit is Harvey and a slightly older Penny, who repaired her old candy equipment and engaged in time travel. Yeah, I know, it's probably just some random pooka (and it might not be Penny, either).

    1. lol. I like that you immediately jump to time travel. ^_^
      You know time travel never solves anything, which is why you immediately assumed time travel, ami-rite?

    2. A character in the novella kind of spells out a more general rule that mad science never solves anything, so it would be fitting.

      Niven's Law on time travel claims that if time travel can solve anything, it solves the pesky problem of time machines by retroactively uninventing them.

      A more limited version of time travel, e.g. machines with fixed end-points like in Primer, merely make the narrative intractable in a way that any mad scientist would undoubtedly appreciate.

    3. I personally like the main theory whet the results of time travel always result in the same events happening just with details changed. Although retroactively uninventing timetravel does make a lot of sense too

    4. There's a bunch of different takes on time travel. I like the version where travelling back in time causes things to turn out the way they were already, and the plot is complicated and seamless like a Chinese puzzle box. Heinlein wrote several short stories (e.g. "All You Zombies") and it came up in at least one novel ("The Door Into Summer").

      The version where characters can make actual changes, but things tend to end up essentially the same, works better from a narrative standpoint, in that it's easier to tell a story that's not entirely about time travel if you're neither locked into a strict "fate" nor worried about a "butterfly effect". You're referring to that one?

    5. More or less. Is the most agreed upon versions of time travel where you still get a spry but you don't get a resolution. Merely some variation of what already exists.

  16. (and the description of this character actually matches the supervillain "Wonderland", mentioned in the second book -- whose diagnosed schizophrenia would explain the invisible rabbit -- but I went with time travel anyway)

  17. I'm not clear on what happened to Marcia, and I'm not clear on how much we're supposed to have figured out (the details might have been deliberately skipped because the plot doesn't need them, or because they're open questions that will be important later). After a couple humiliating incidents, she steals magic scrolls from somewhere, which should have killed her when she touched them, but she ends up with some kind of yin-yang/ouroboros unstable dynamic equilibrium thing going on that heals her, sort of, and gives her strength when she's angry, and leads to some kind of mood swings, apparently. Whatever it is, Mourning Dove can feed off of it, and Marcia benefits from that. Also, it's conceivable that Marcia's survival was a side effect of Barbara Tinsley's voodoo acupuncture healing magic. Also, she may be considering becoming a villain, but that might be a temporary side effect of her mood swings.

    And then there's Penny's situation. "More and more people kept learning my secret identity...you couldn't possibly keep who you were a secret. It wasn't a matter of if my parents found out. It was when." That's exactly what it looked like, and by the end of the story, "when" looks like something in the hours to days range: too many people know. Previously, books ended with her parents receiving a convincing misdirection that might delay the reveal, but this one didn't.

    Also, the mad scientist's section in Chinatown sounds so much like people selling tech and steampunk cosplay items in the dealer room at a typical con that I picture them that way whenever one of those scenes comes up.

    The Bundlish magic dealer, not so much.

    1. My understanding is either that one scroll is a beserker scroll that gives her strength bit makes her crazy and the other gives her healing abort on par with wolverine. Or. She got the healing as a side effect of Barber's healing voodoo and used it to get the scrolls with the scrolls powers being more obscure. What was clear is that the scrolls are supposed to grant fighting related powers as they were the prize for defeating powerful martial artists.

    2. Dayum but auto correct is messing with me today.

    3. The madness I attribute to one thing. I'm guessing to master both powers she had to die at some point. Which is why she last it so completely. But on the upside pretty things no longer full her mind 24/7 like they used to and she's easier to get along with.

  18. Okay. I have not read the above comments yet. But I will. Until then I am now reading the official release of the book, and in one day am 40% though. The following are my immediate observations.

    Roberts. Like all of your books I read this one seams rushed. At fourty percent through I feel like we should be reaching a season finale, or at the least have got a lot more information in the previous books. A good example of my reading this comes down to Bull's meeting with Claudia. (Not a spoiler as you blew that one already).

    As a prime example, we only saw bull once before. Our conversation with him hinted at a lot of stuff, much of which part of me had hoped to see on-screen such as Bull going to A-A meetings or trying to quit gambling. It did not thow me that we jumped right to Bull meeting his ex- with a happy reuinion.

    It Did throw me that the ex was a small mouse girl with transformation powers as my head immediately screamed "Is That Evolution?"
    To which I sincerely hope the answer is yes.
    Cause phantasmically awesome would not be an understatement!

    Other than that I can see a lot of what you're doing here. I did not escape my attention that the sister of she who wots used the phrase pupetteer to describe her voodoo powers. Or that after using her voodoo powers to supposedly heal Marcia - Marcia's main power now appear to rival deadpool. Coincidence I think not. I also completely like the misdirection of the scrolls.

    But what I most love is seeing Penny get to be all "Imperious Leader" with the club members. That is awesome. I will comment more when I actually finish the book.

    1. Ps. I love the new lair, but when I was reading the description I had Admiral Ackbar in my head saying those same words over and over. I can't help but feel like this is a cheep horror movie!!!

    2. Question. Why does Poll remind me of the wooden girl in "Quite Contrary".... and why do I keep suspecting crossovers between your stories!

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    4. Darn I was wrong about bulls wife. Oh well it would have been cool if it were. But Bull's family is sweet ☺
      Not much to add at this point to the story just wish Penny would be more open with the newbies!

  19. There we go, just finished reading it :)

    The Cassie "reveal" was kinda obvious, but I assume it was meant to be that for readers, if not for our beloved evil leader :)

    I presume that the goat robot with the bad penny will show up in later episodes as some sort of AI or whatnot (because that's the sorta thing that happens).

    And the possession mechanic is pretty interesting. I'm guessing Penny ends up "possessed" by past Mad Scientists, or some kinda gestalt mad science concept. I am guessing though that she still does have normal mad science powers aside, since her own powers were what the power reader machine was registering.

    But yay, can't wait for the next one. Sooo, same time next year maybe?

    1. I do think it interesting that we now have confirmation, Penny's regular non-black-out inventing is actually her super power. Which just begs the obvious question about her other style of inventing.

    2. I still think the most probable theory is exactly what was proposed in another thread (I forget by whome). That she actually has two super powers (her mum's and her dads) and only passes out when she's using both at the same time.

      I do still have a lot of suspicions about the statue though. Its too suspicious.

    3. I don't think Penny has the Possession Mechanic, even if its likely she has the hair. I think it's about She who Wots, and Barb, they obviously are being possessed by their powers.

      As for her power I think the only thing we have confirmed is that she inherited her fathers brain mutation.
      Her mother doesn't have a power supposedly, she just has a super analytical mind and high intelligence. Both of which are possessed by Penny in some regard. She will probably grow into both

      When they did the brain scan, she said her power didn't activate. And she didn't actually do anything more then make a piece of art.

      I still think that the black outs are caused by her not knowing the fundamentals of what she's doing. Look back at it.
      When ever she blacked out she made something beyond her understanding, and her fathers. But the more straight forward things she tends to hold onto herself more. It's always at the point where her power starts to do things she doesn't grasp that it pushes to take over.

      So what if she did inherit her fathers actual ability, but 1. it's not fully active, like her father warned in book one. and 2. she needs to have a better foundation of understanding for the power to work. That it can't just put knowledge into her head. It can make connections between what she already knows, and advance it to boot. But if she doesn't have the foundation to build on, she blacks out.
      All this on top of a killer inventing power.

    4. We have all kinds of confirmation about the Tinsleys (including Polly seeing two minds in Marianne Tinsley's head, in the novella), and the hairstyle and color associated with a "possession mechanic" are pretty obviously the same as theirs (and thus Penny's).

      My take on Penny is that she probably has her parents' powers, which (as the Expert pointed out) involve understanding everything she's doing, so she doesn't impress herself when she uses them. This came up in book 2 when she got the rotor started up, using an approach that confused and frightened Remmy, but seemed obvious to Penny and didn't seem to involve the use of her "power"), and it happened in this book when, in a matter of minutes, she assembled "a clockwork rubik's cube" out of spare parts and her "forebrain" lit up like "a christmas tree" under the scanner that detected mental superpowers.

      In contrast, the back of her head, where she experiences sharp pains, has some kind of abnormal growth. It looks like she's correctly attributing her "power" to that location, and there are a lot of hints that it's either independent, or it's potentially so (a tumor with mad science power? something planted there and it's growing?).

      For story-telling purposes, it could all be a false lead, but it definitely looks like a bunch of things pointing one direction.

    5. I didn't get the Novella, but it makes since. Plus the extra dislike of it by the Audit.

      Again her mom doesn't have a power, it's been mentioned multiple time in the books. But Penny probably did inherit some of what makes her the Audit. I think this why Penny is so successful at being a leader.

      She is also an incredibly smart and creative girl. Some of it just be that of a smart girl.

      I don't know if Mr Roberts took into account the areas of the brain and their functions. The forebrain controls creative thought, problem solving, and abstract thinking. Everything someone inventing things would use.
      The visual centers and motor functions, are all controlled from the rear of the brain. So if her upper level inventing comes from the abnormal growths then it could explain why she has the blackouts.

    6. We've had several characters express the opinion that the Audit has no powers, which isn't quite the same has having her sit in one of those power detectors and having it come up negative, but yes, this world already has people with amazing highly trained skills, and she's a good fit for that.

      But there's a reason why Hawkeye, Black Widow, Green Arrow and Batman hang out with the superhero crowd: at some level of skill the lack of the "super" distinction becomes blurred in practice. If Penny has inherited a knack or the mental resources that predispose her to be like her mother, then she might as well have inherited a superpower.

      Also, I'm as subject to confirmation bias as anyone: I'm much more likely to notice evidence that supports what I already suspect than evidence that contradicts it. I notice that my speculations about possession and the back of Penny's head are pretty much what I said months ago, with new examples tacked on. That's not quite a red-flag, but a yellow might be warranted....

      And I think the only proposal so far that addresses why she's getting inventions based on existing tech is Magus's. Penny's power might have gotten a look at Brian Akk's flawed teleportation notes before inventing working teleport rings, but it couldn't have seen Conqueror tech before building her orb, and it ended up including a real orb's programming regarding Puppeteer goo, which it had also never seen.

      Possessed by a mad scientist gestalt covers this, provided the gestalt includes individuals who designed and built Conqueror tech, magical items, and Puppeteer biotech, and understands Jovian biology.

      Or maybe Penny's an avatar for one of "the first people, who created humans", and the whoever's playing Penny has cheat codes?

    7. I concede on the fact that for all intents and purposes the Audits abilities can be considered a power for the purpose of discussion.

      I am bias in my opinions, everyone is. I don't like the idea of a gestalt or a round robin of dead MS. It honestly makes Penny's power a joke, nothing she does is her own.

      I think it would make more sense if anything, that it's all her. The abnormality is the source, it location is part of the cause the blackouts. It could also be allowing her subconscious to take over, Ego vs Id. It would explain why her personality is different during the episodes. All those filters we have wouldn't be turned on.

      Also if she was channeling other Mad Scientist I would imagine said personality would be inconsistent with each episode.

    8. Well, I'm not enthusiastic about the dead mad scientists idea, either. I'm just saying it would cover something that's missing from other explanations.

      And while it's unsatisfying to have her power not really be her, it's suspicious to have her fervently wish for mad science superpowers and then, boom, wish granted, no effort and no strings attached, in the first chapter of the first book. One expects a bill to come due, one way or another.

      In contrast, having amazing but problematic "powers" concealing the development of a natural world-class mad science ability (which she dismisses as nothing) would have a nice irony to it.

      Speaking of not covered, here are a couple things that might be loose ends:

      We're told that Tesla disappeared some time way back, possibly with multiple tier three inventions. Think any of that will show up? Think he will, somehow?

      "The first people who created our people"... Are these are the same guys who can knap flint into superweapons and stack rocks into transportation gateways? What happened to them?

      Who built the Conqueror Orbs? Are they actually a colonization tool, or was that just someone's guess? Is talking to ghosts a deliberate design feature or a side effect to their ability to perceive magic?

      Who is the Fallen Child, and what happens when someone reads the book? How likely is it that no one is going to do this?

      Did Penny's antenna at the start of the first book actually work, after all?

    9. I would like to point out. Roberts has stated already that Penny does not have a tumor or cancer, and there is no risk of her power frying her brain or killing her in that way.
      If she has an abnormality in her brain, it is supposedly stable.

      But you're right there are too many unknowns. I only know what I have said - that Penny clearly has two different levels of operating. One that is super science exactly the same as 90% of the mad scientists she's met. A scientific creative power where things just "make sense" and she can impliment it knowing full well what she's doing and how.

      And a Separate power that seams to take information available to her, then extend it and extrapolate a higher tier application of what she was wanting.

      The fact that it seams to take a tier 1 or 2 concept and 'upgrade' it - is sus. Especially since it often does something extra that she doesn't want or didn't ask for.

    10. i think a lot of the loose threads are simply throw away comments, meant to add a bit of flavor to the world. Although the Fallen Child book as a good chance of coming back around.

      Penny's different levels of operating can be explained by her own understanding and knowledge. The more she understands something the more she retains and is less likely to blackout. It's when her powers shows her something she doesn't understand and she tries to that it falters or blacks her out.

      As for some of her gear being near copies of other peoples. Her father and mother do a lot of research and advising for the community. Her best friends are obsessed with supers. She lives in a world where there are probable entire networks and sections of the internet devoted to supers. She's probably been exposed to countless inventions. All of that stuff is rattling around inside her brain even if she can't remember or access it. (think Limitless)
      Also do you know how often multiple people come up with near identical inventions. It's very likely it's just coincidence.

      The separate power you mention, could just be a much stronger version of her fathers. He can't invent on his own. But if he could I bet he would end up being more like Penny.

      High intelligence and invention powers combined with dads power of understanding and mom's analytical abilities. Makes a terrifyingly strong Mad Scientist.

      The descriptions of Penny during her blackouts, sounds like the sever cases of sleepwalking where people actually drive to work. You can talk to them but their not themselves. Our subconscious minds tend to be on the selfish dick side of things. And if her power is trying to use information locked away inside her brain, it may need to bring out that side of her to work.

    11. Regarding the stuff in the lab, rag doll etc, that looked like Penny-tech.
      I actually assume opposite way around. Just cause it didn't look like one of penny's doesn't mean it wasn't.

      I mean the virus thingy and the gun that breaks stone both appeared to be captured technology.
      I gathered that the laboratory was meant to be some secret hero lab where they were trying to reverse engineer salvaged or stolen tech!

    12. I mean the appearance of the rag dolls in particular changed based on what they eat. And that one time she used it - they left a crapload of them behind. So it's probably hers.

    13. "I think a lot of the loose threads are simply throw away comments, meant to add a bit of flavor to the world." -- Exactly, but I was wondering if they were all just throw-aways, or if there were some hints tucked in there.

      I couldn't think of enough long-shots to make a decent list, so I padded it with questions that I kind of expect to be answered, i.e. about the knapped flint guys and the Conqueror Orbs.

      Technically, the cursed book could end up being a gag instead of a story hook, too.

      We've practically been promised that something will happen with the tunnel to the Undercity... I'm just wondering how long they get to keep this lair. It has a sunny underground garden, a fountain room, and a bunch of shiny new equipment courtesy of well-wishers, but it's almost semi-public already, what with invaders walking in and digging a direct tunnel to the now highly public old lair.

    14. Pfogg, on a previous forum Kristy pointed out that Penny did see a Conqueror's Orb - every time she went to the library.

      And, the Conquerors built the orbs to kill off all organic life, and ended up being killed by them. I am guessing that their hatred of the Puppeteers indicates that they were made to fight them specifically, and organic life in general as an afterthought.

      As for the Audit, I do believe she has powers - a supernatural sense of timing. That plus a not supernatural but still impressive eidetic memory, and high intelligence, is great, scary, combination.

    15. Either Ray, or Claire said you could be a supervillain with just Penny's clock.The one that controlled the measurement of time. So, you could be a great super hero with smarts and a perfect sense of timing.

    16. Luis Garcia: The reason I phrased it as "Penny's power might have gotten a look..." is that we know pretty much what Penny saw after her power became active, and she didn't visit the library between her power's initial flash and making her own conqueror orb, but she did get an over-the-shoulder look at her father's written work on teleportation, and she saw enough to get a sense that he'd gotten it wrong.

      Dark All: Ray pointing out that you could be a supervillain with just Penny's clock is one of the things I like about these stories. Ordinarily in this type of story the characters never seem to realize the potential of what they have available.

    17. Pfogg, you are right, and that is what I was thinking before. But, as our favorite author is devious, we cannot state for sure anything of what she might or might not be capable. It could be a gestalt mind, possession, or she might have an unconscious part of her mothers perfect recall, or some other tech sight.

      Mr. Roberts has stated on another forum post that in the 4th book "shoes will begin dropping," so perhaps we will get some answers - in a year or two.

    18. My thinking was that it's within the realm of actual human capability to see a set of plans, understand them, and then use them later, so having her power do that doesn't add a new "miracle" to the fantasy world of the stories. For her to simply see the exterior of an inert Conqueror Orb and work out that it's a sentient computing device, reverse engineer it, and realize that it would hate Puppeteer "biomedium" (and add that to the programming).... That would be a new addition, extending the world we've seen. Since it's a fantasy, the author could simply declare that (for example) technological clairvoyance is a thing, and she has it, but we haven't been given any hint thus far that this is the case.

      So far, her power operates as if it has a recipe book, and mostly just pulls things out, adjusts portions and makes limited substitutions, and adds in things she happens to have on hand. The way it figures out how things work seems like it's matching what it sees to items in the book. Teleportation could have been her power adding a recipe by shoulder-surfing her father and making adjustments.

      It would be satisfying if the evenatual explanation (if there is one) fits what we've seen so far instead of adding too many new "miracles", but there are ways of making late additions work, too.

    19. Hmmm. Could be.
      Or, it could be something completely different. Like Kristy said way earlier, we don't know how long her power has been working.
      Or, waking up....
      Or, even how it works. Like I said before, just taking shot in the dark - until we know more.

    20. Perhaps if we're working this as a variation of Penny having two powers - scientific creativity and a logical section that can extrapolate outcomes and probabilities.
      Maybe we could make the argument that one of these aspects was awake before the other.
      Her brain could have been recording data to edict memory for ages. A variation of Edict memory would even explain why she's top of her class and even doing classes above her grade level.
      Once she sees something, she doesn't unsee it. All it takes is for her to understand it - which can take time.

      When you combine that with her mad scientist ability she could take anything she's seen in possibly the past decade, extrapolate it's function and science a solution. (provided she has the materials and equipment to do it)

    21. We know that Penny's back-of-her-head power isn't just inventing things, there's a pattern to it. The explanation (if we get one) has to fit the pattern we've seen so far, or it won't be satisfying. And it has to follow naturally from the world that's been constructed, or it'll seem contrived.

      So far, she seems to be reproducing and adapting existing tech she's never seen, and tech that no one on Earth has ever fully understood. There's room for new backstory to contradict either or both of those appearances, but as it stands, I couldn't really buy either the "previous exposure" idea or the "dead mad scientist" idea.

      I can't think of anything that would fit, really. I was using "pulling things from a recipe book" metaphorically. If it turns out she has a familiar spirit somewhere flipping through a vast copy of "The Joy of Cooking (Alien Mad Scientists' Edition)" I'll be genuinely surprised by the reveal. (Although a familiar spirit with access to Supernatural-Alien Google would kind of work....)

    22. The only thing we know for certain that is a clone of other tech is Vera. She is a Conqueror Orb, but she is also not.

      All her bio-tech creations looked and resembled Puppeteer Tech, but that is because it was made with Puppet Goo. But we didn't see any Puppeteer ships so it may just be that it's made from the same material. Of course Ray could be right and she just pushed the Space ship button.

      Her Sugar Tank and other assorted gear. I think you are saying it's a copy because of what her parents said. The problem here is the lack of evidence. I think the parents keep mentioning other people who use similar tech, because they assume she's stealing it. It's pretty hard to identify the specific make and model gun someone is using from a security video. I think it would be safer to assume anything her parents say is suspect.

      A good Half of her inventions were made between chapters and books. We saw nothing. With Ray and Claire being such huge Nerds, if Penny was just ripping off previous inventions they would have noticed and commented. "O' look you made a cannibalistic waffle maker just like So and so did." Her Sugar tank and Saw were inspired by the video game.

      Trying to explain where the ideas for Penny's inventions come from is impossible. Look at the Machine. It literally defies modern scientific theory. It's a perpetual motion machine, that is thought to be impossible. It is clockwork, but follows voice commands shows the ability to interpret intent, and the ability to act independent of command with some degree. It can create almost anything. Absorb anything. And the list goes on. It is Penny's creation, no one even questioned it. There is very little chance that a 13 year old girl could possess the knowledge to create it.
      The reason no one bats an eyelash at it is because, SUPER POWER. Her Power doesn't need her to know or understand what it wants to do. Otherwise it wouldn't be a super power. It's a supernatural ability, which means it doesn't follow any standard set of rules.

    23. "A a cannibalistic waffle maker." Ha, I love that!

    24. But yea. The only complete "copy" is Vera, and she has a bunch of 'mods' to her. So, the truth of it is all muddied up.
      I'm with pfogg though. There needs to be a pattern to her power, or it is just a cheat.

    25. Part of my argument is because of myself. I'm a very inventive person. I can think of a hundred different inventions Penny should make. I've driven every DM I've played under because I think of Magic Items that they have never even considered.

      It's something that comes naturally to me, always has. So it's just seems natural to me that Penny is just really good at looking at things differently, and being inventive. Or at least her power.

    26. Her sugar tank and cola saw were inspired by the video game's "candy" theme, but we didn't see anything in the game that resembled it, did we? Yet it matches the description of the "wand and sugar chemical tank weapon" used by Wonderland pretty closely.

      And everyone who looked at her bomb identified it as Conqueror tech.

      With the exception of the Machine, all of her high-end stuff and some of her mid-range stuff looks either cribbed or strictly derivative. Even if it's not, there's Vera to explain. Notice that if Vera's given a definitive explanation that can't apply to any other inventions, the best explanation for the rest goes back to coincidence and exploiting opportunities from available materials like Puppeteer biomedium and the reproducing hankerchief spell.

      But as it stands, it seems like her power isn't figuring things out so much as fitting together things it already knows or has access to.

    27. Teleportation bracelets. inspired by the plans she saw in her fathers study, we think. It was stated that Teleportation science wasn't viable yet. Plus there are some questions about what they do. But all said this was inspired, but a unique invention.

      Ragdolls, inspired by the video game, but again it is unique.

      The Clock, very much unique.

      The bomb, which wasn't a bomb. It was a death ray. Too little information to say if it had Conqueror tech. Penny said that a part of it resembled an orb, and Echo said he believed it was, but being a sound Mad Scientist I wouldn't trust his opinion too much.

      The Light bike, not a powerful invention but it is a minimum the higher end of tier 2. No mention of it coming from someone else.

      The list goes on. I don't see her inventions as being cribbed or derivative. ALL scientific and technological advancements are built on the backs of those that came before them. Is everything that uses a microchip Cribbed.

      Re purposing something to make something new is ages old. And just resembling something else doesn't make it the same thing.

    28. Finding the mistake in her father's paper, deriving reproducing rag dolls from reproducing hankerchiefs, we don't know what these involved.

      An expert who had seen Conqueror tech said Penny's bomb looked like Conqueror tech.

      We've never had an in-story analysis of the light bike, frictionless pads, superbatteries, static gloves, etc. (not even the super-springs she presumably has shown her father).

      But all incremental advances are incremental advances from the theoretical and practical work that preceded them. My point about "cribbed and derived" is that it looks like Penny's power came preloaded with a lot of information: information which was at least as complete as the work her father had on teleportation, but included alien information like Conqueror tech, and possibly a lot of other stuff. There are more elaborate explanations for the same observables (and two whole books in which to present them, and lots of wiggle-room in what we've already seen), but the simplest one so far is "it has access to a large corpus of designs and theory, not available to humans". A superintelligence starting from scratch would produce work that looked very different from what Penny's done.

    29. Hey J Southard, you're a Player. Cool. I have a free-form RPG, with a lot of Player input and invention, and the Players are out of control. All sorts or genre breaking inventions coming up, too.

      Anyway, Penny was inspired to make a candy chainsaw by the game (but decided against it), but we have no idea where she got the sugar tank & wand idea. That's one of the mysteries. Where does she get this stuff?
      I don't remember anything like the tank, wand, growing candy cane sword, or sugar cube stalagmites in their video game either.

      But, you are right, the high end inventions are straight out of the blue - the air-recycling space suits, the insoles, the light-bike, and the death-ray, were all made without any 'first' steps. They just came out of nowhere.

      That was debated like crazy on the previous posts, without a solution.
      Maybe in book 4....

    30. Why would her inventions look any different then they do? There is a reason most of the tech in our world looks similar. Computers, car, stereos, cell phones, guns, and so on. They all have very similar designs. Some of it is for ergonomics, or economy. sometimes its the only logical and efficient design. And then there is the plain fact that as people we just think things should look a
      certain way. Which is why when you visit other cultures some of the most basic things are different superficially.

      And I went back an checked the only people who commented on the not-bomb, where Penny and Echo. Nothing makes me think Echo is an expert on anything other then sound.

      Dark yeah I love making my DM's pull out their hair with my insanity.

      I say the tank was inspired by the game because of the sugar theme. Not so much that it was actually in the game. Although it is a more useful alternative to a chainsaw.

      I don't think the ideas have to come from anywhere. I think most of the powers do come with a some per-programmed settings. This would explain why all other MS's have a theme their locked into. These settings only allow for the power to think in terms of the theme.

      it's the thing with inventors they can come up with amazing shit right out of nowhere.

    31. @pfog. The joyenof cooking, huh. have you tried the strawberry wobbler. Or the banana surprise?

      Personaly to me it just seams like her back of head power specializes in taking a low tier concept and extrapolating or producing a high tier application. i do notice that most of her high tier stuff wasnt built from scratch. We see it more clearly this book in that it took premade things then repurposed them into other things. The clock into the robot. the Robot into the machine plague, with the virus.

      In that respect I think her power has been doing that all along.
      Penny started with a dumpster full of broken or otherwise not working superscience that her dad was going to throw out. we have no idea what was in it or what her power may have learned from it. Like wise pennys prents believed there had been conquorer tech in the dump. probably giving her rare metals and materials. There are a multitude of places her power could be getting ideas from just in her surroundings and during missions. While part of me does think the source of the designs is sus, there is actually lots of evidence that Penny and or the audience just isnt being shown what we need to connect the dots in a more mundane way.

    32. J. Southard:
      Technologies developed independently from each other are normally dramatically different, even if they're trying to do the same things. The similarity in worldwide tech that's the rule today is a demonstration of just how easy it is to ship things around the world, and how even distant designers and engineers now communicate and study each others' work. Historically, this was not the rule. Even today, when two innovators try to accomplish similar things independently, they're likely to come up with different approaches even though they're applying the same techniques to the same off-the-shelf materials and equipment.

      That's why it's possible for specialists to identify the source of a design: they differ in ways that show their roots. This effect is much, much larger when whole technologies are developed in isolation from each other, since the simplest approach for one will be painfully difficult for the other. Divergences will tend to propagate, and even mildly interested non-specialists will be able to tell the difference.

      This is also why a technically oriented person who had been exposed to Conqueror tech would probably be able to identify it at a glance, even if they're not a specialist in Conqueror tech.

      There's a great bit in David Brin's Uplift books, where an alien is commenting on Earth space travel technology. They thought it was fascinating. The aliens had access to a unified, shared library of designs, so everyone's tech tended to be similar. Human technology was developed independently, so they'd managed to apply unlikely, less efficient approaches to the same problem (space travel), and come up with designs that had everyone intrigued, in much the same way
      that steam-punk ideas are entertaining and popular in the real world.

    33. Kirsty:
      We can invent backstory to explain her power's ability, and in a story like this, the range of possible choices is large (I wasn't kidding when I mentioned technological clairvoyance). That said, the more derivative her work is from items at hand, the more plausible it is that her power is starting from scratch (children learn "from scratch" by playing with and gradually diverging from available examples). The thing about Vera is that (1) she was visibly built from simple raw materials (raw quartz, raw gold), (2) you have to really reach to give Penny's power any meaningful example of the underlying tech, and yet (3) Vera ends up with standard Conqueror programming running inside her. The obvious explanation for that is Penny's power already knew how to make a Conqueror Orb, and if that's true, the same explanation is likely to apply to other things Penny made.

      That logic is more appropriate for an SF&F novel aimed at a general audience than, say, a Silver Age superhero comic written by Stan Lee for 12-year-olds. I'm never quite sure which logic to apply, since the author is obviously capable of writing the former, but is playing with tropes derived at least indirectly from the latter. Note that I like Silver Age superhero comics, as well as some of their immediate descendents.

      And the possibility that deliberate gaps were left in the information made available, so that it's hard to figure out what's happening? Yeah, I'm thinking there's a really good chance of that.

    34. While Penny isn't stuck with a single theme her power, as she points out often, gets on certain kicks. book 2 was bio tech, book 3 was re purposing. But on the other hand, if you were right her Theme could be recycling technology, considering she made the worlds most efficient recycling machine. (I don't believe that's the case but it's a good possibility)
      I also don't think there was any Conqueror tech in the landfill. Penny's parents were looking for explanations (of which they are normally off about), Bad Penny attack the science fair which had the alien power source. Then they dig up the landfill and a short time later is seen with Vera. so it looked like they might have a connection to Conqueror tech. there is too little information to even start thinking she dug up some tech. Also I believe most of the stuff she got from her dad were old and broken lab equipment, not inventions.

      pfogg, yes the inner working of tech is often different. But superficially it can be very similar. How many SUV's, cell phones, Laptops, TV's, and waffle irons look the same at a glance. Apple vs PC, very different systems but crack open the case and you can find most of the same parts.
      In America most inventions of a similar type will end up with a similar design. In Japan they most likely a significant difference. Which is why I made a point to include a mention about different cultures. With the exception of "Artists", when someone makes a toaster it will conform to a certain basic design.
      What I'm getting at is for Penny she is going to have numerous notions drilled into her about what stuff should look like. When she made the death ray, it looked like a classic alien ray gun. Which always have the ball on the end. "... and a fat crystal sphere filled with writhing, glowing blue smoke. The sphere part reminded me a bit of a Conqueror orb."
      She took the gun a dressed it up to look like it was a bomb. It's a mini fusion reactor. And I'm willing to bet my own money that anything with Orbs in the design will be suspected of being Conqueror tech. And also How do you know that Echo fought during the invasions, he could be a newly minted hero who was too young.

      Always error on the side of caution. When there is a deficit of proof, don't use suspect knowledge in it's stead.

      Anything not seen first hand by Penny or is only mentioned by someone other then Penny is suspect until it's confirmed by Penny. If the Audit says that one of Bad Penny's weapons is identical to Surprisingly Dangerous Weevil Man (hands down one of the funniest names yet) weapon, you can't trust it until Penny confirms.

      This is a first person perspective, so Penny is our world. If it was 3rd person perspective you could trust more of the non-penny information.

      Ok and now it's time to admit I'm very tired and have been ranting for a while and have no clue if I was even trying to make a point.

    35. I actually only just realised this when you mentioned the science fair.

      The machine ate the science fair. Now admittedly most of it would have been week or primitive. Yes there appear to be a lot of kids with super powers, so there was probably some genuine mad science there - but the alien power source thingy itself.

      If the Machine dumped all the stuff it ate from the fair back at the lab - then that's even more unknown quantities.

      This is in fact the whole problem with theorizing about this story verse. There are too many unknown quantities. And we're rarely given any clue about it.
      The new book does this again. Dozens of science and magic toys were dropped off, but only two or three actually get described properly.

      ^_^ The recycling theme could very well be plausible. Although if it is then it's a very advanced variation of it - or else her tech wouldn't look so complete and intentional. It would look something more like the Kludge's work.

    36. Oh man, I love the idea that she herself is the Penultimate Recycler! That would be great.

    37. But, on tech needing to look "right." Not sure that I agree. Heavily marketed stuff, maybe, and heavily licensed stuff (like cars), sure. But, “vehicles,” well not so much. Scooters, to cycles (“bikes” means a whole lot of thing to different people), cars, construction trucks, trains, monorails… man, there is only really a limited range of stuff that is all alike. “Lines” of products look alike. But, that is about it.
      So, if Penny make a series of ‘space suits’ that all had some sort of headgear made into a bulb, like out of 50’s sci-fi, then yeah, she might have a look.
      But, since she only makes unique items, well, I don’t that that the idea will float.

      But, recycling... that might work.

    38. Kristy after the Machine ate the fair it returned to Penny. At the fair it was set up to eat and separate the parts. The most logical conclusion is that it spit up everything in the gym before returning home. Also Marcia was there still, she probably would have grabbed the alien tech before leaving.

      Dark I think we are getting caught up on the superficial looks. People all look different superficially but with some minor exceptions we are all built the same.
      But in the end I think we need to agree to disagree.

    39. Looking back – Penny’s power has kicks, but always defaults to bombs!
      I agree too, that I don’t think there was any Conquer Tech in the landfill. I think Penny just got raw materials. I got nothing to back it, just the general feeling like you said of err on the side of caution.
      I agree that there was probably no other mad science at the faire, either. Remember, before book 3 everybody was hiding their powers. So, it was a big deal when Marcia brought in the alien artifact.
      I’m not disagreeing that a lot of things look alike, superficially at least. Just saying that we don’t know. Err on the side of caution, right?
      The thing with Vera really has me confused. To me it really looks like she is getting complete ‘downloads’ of tech from somewhere else. Like it was said before, there is no starting work, just “ha, ha, puny mortals” and then completely finished devices. If she is getting her stuff from someone else she would have a bunch of different looks, and designs.
      Which, now that I think of it, she pretty much does.

    40. I think the biggest problem with theories on Penny's powers is Vera. She is both a copy and a unique invention.
      And we know nothing about the Creators of the Orb's. Or even much about the Orbs themselves.
      Also Vera is the size of the small orbs, but has the powers of the larger ones. I also suspect that she is more autonomous then actual orbs.

      I would suggest that when theorizing about her powers, ignoring Vera as a whole. She the anomaly that will screw you up.

      I would love to read a novella or even a full length story about the invasion.

    41. Except, south, the machine tended to spit things up down in the lab. We know it can get in and out on it's own. We actually see it do so on multiple occasions.
      My general assumption is that anything the machine eats typically gets brought back up either as raw materials, or the way it did with the stuff from Mr Akks dumpster (the last set of instructions it was given to do with junk)

      Regurgitate the parts in as whole or fixed pieces as it can (which isn't much but [shrugs])

      But yes. Again we're coming back to the problem with this series in general. Unless it directly pertains to Penny we don't find out any details about this stuff. It's all left up to guesswork.

      As for the Orbs we do know a few things. We know that the Orbs appear to be hierarchal, that usually a larger orb like the Orb of heavens controls smaller orbs. We know they are not unique, manufactured in groups usually in different class sizes. And we know that typically they are extremely low on free will. The Orb of Heavens on not being able to reach or contact a higher authority willingly submitted to Spider's authority, probably after having it's personality wiped.

      To all intents and purposes Vera has been said to have properties normally found in orbs two if not three times her size. Now - abilities like her null ray, jamming signals and anti-life weapons cannot be assumed to be programming. They must be designed physical structures inside the cube. More arguably her weapon beams come from her HANDS!
      Not from the crystal itself.

      She pulls her hands apart and BOOM. Where the Orb of Heavens the energy blasts come from the pupil in it's eye.

      This to me says she IS an original construction - as her design is not the same as conquerors, just similar.

      But the big thing is Vera's personality.
      That she has one. Even though she seams to share prime directives with the Conquorers, her main decision making and everything seams to be based on a personality core.

      I watched a movie once called Nine:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472033/
      The description of Penny when she woke up after making Vera reminded me a huge deal of the scene in 9, where the scientist making the dolls used a machine to transfer (in in Penny's case probably copy) engrams directly from his brain into 9's cybernetic brain.

      I would not be surprised if a lot of the incongruities are cause of this. Very, basically has 'some' of Penny's emotions and or whatever memories Penny's power chose to put there. Which could include just about anything.

      Again -- too much unknown data.

    42. I liked the movie 9. And I agree on pretty much all points about the orbs, but even with that information we still know next to nothing.

      As for the Machine spiting things back up in the lab. Every time it has, Penny has directed it to. Out side of more concise orders it would follow the last set of instructions give to it by Penny. She told it to eat as Bad Penny. But she had it set up to recycle materials as part of her Project.

      The Machine has shown the ability to interpret and almost anticipate Penny's desires. But in this case I think it would have left everything in the gym, as it had no instructions to send them to the lair. Also at that point Penny was complaining about lack of raw material. If she had all the stuff from the Fair she would of had more stuff to work with.

    43. She did say she had a lot of wood and iron and junk. Paper mache volcanoes anyone?
      Although you make a good point about her lack of resources. In a proper science fair there would still be a lot of conventional electronics lying around which would have been processed down giving her at least 'some' materials.

    44. It's another one of those situations where unless Penny says it, don't expect it to have happened.

      By all appearances Roberts gives us all the important information, only leaving out the minutia. So if he left it out, then in isn't important at the moment.

  20. Ok, So I was lucky enough to get an arc and i didnt get a chance to actually stop in here and make a post but the book is out and we can speak spoilers galore.

    There are a lot of good things going for the book but there are a few parts that I think could use some work.

    The Good(not the superhero kind)- You get to see a lot of development in Penny and the side characters. The world of Heroes and Villains is explored a little more in depth in this entry into the series. Seeing the Inscrutable Machine set up shop in a new lair across the street was pretty funny. And the ending did throw me off almost as much as it the PennyOS.

    The Bad (not nearly as those giant spiders)- While we get to see a lot of new side characters it was almost too many to keep track of. One of the big let downs for me is the climax of the story didn't seem all that big compared to the previous stories. There wasn't a feeling that Penny and the crew were ever going to be caught by the Akk's but half of the super powered club seem to already know this fact. To me it was kind of a disappointment for them to almost be that willfully ignorant even with the not wanting to "getting personal".

    Overall, I would still say this is another solid entry into the series.

    One minor question I have to ask is the Hagfish sharky's grandfather or uncle because I saw that he was mentioned as the grandfather in the beginning and by the end he became an elderly uncle. I know it's a minor detail but I like to keep this continuity stuff in order.

  21. Ok, I’ve been thinking a lot about this book. Don’t take this the wrong way, or think that I don’t like the book, because I do like it. And… I do not like ever tell an author WHAT to write. (I never would have gotten this series if Mr. Roberts had just written what I thought of.)

    But, man, I would have loved to see T.I.M. in action again, or at least an actual Contest of Champions!

    Course, if I am making a wish list, I would have loved to read -
    * the discussions between Claudia and Bull firsthand, instead of hearing that "parenting was happening" off screen.
    * what is actually happening with Ray, and his parents. Three books, and we still only get hints.
    * same for Marcia.
    * why Marcia was such a vicious bitch in the first place, and how did she change? I get that her father is an as**ole, but how did that translate to her being a “mean doll.”
    * how did she get the scrolls – I thought Joe Fish and Scorpion got to choose them when they became masters. Now they are together in her hands. What was the deal there?
    * what did Sue mean by saying Penny “blew up her world.” As far as I can tell, all Penny did was not get beaten up, and then go off to have success. She did not beat Marcia up at the game, and she didn’t attack her in the hall. All Penny did first was duck when Marcia when nuts. How is Sue rationalizing that? Especially after she had to ask for Penny’s help for Marcia twice.

    But, I’m going to guess that most of those questions will never be answered. It does make me wonder, and makes the world a bit more 'large', like there is so much going on that you will never know it all. if that was what Mr. Roberts intended, well it worked.

    1. Actually one of the things I really like about this series is that is completely focused on Penny and we don't get to know anything that's going on outside her sphere. Anything Penny doesn't know, we don't know. I think it makes it easier to relate to her and understand her actions.
      That said, I would also love to know all those things.

      And I think the reason Sue said Penny blew up her world was by being so damn good. Marcia was suppose to be top bitch, probably trained as soon as she was out of diapers. And Penny shows up and kicks her ass and shows her up, not just once, but every time.
      Marcia is at the age where she's emotionally unstable. Crushing and utter defeats don't mix well with that. After all her hard work and dedication she got showed up like she was nothing. Her father probably didn't react well to it. Hell if she had been beaten by an adult she might not have melted down the way she did.

      Penny is the Golden Child, she can do no wrong. I don't mean that literally, But she keeps coming out on top. Claire's first solo mission was FUBARed. Ray going out on his own in book one is what started the whole mess. So far Penny is the reason they win.

    2. Yep, I agree. It makes the world more real. But, damn, I want to know, you know?
      As for Sue, I was thinking that was what it was with her, but I want to hear it from her.
      If she is all about being top bitch, well, she can't really complain about blowing up stuff if it is obvious that she is not top dog anymore.

    3. I know that people of all ages do that- act like an a** and them complain when it comes back on them. But, I wanted to hear it from Sue, to see if she can be reasoned with, or will stay psycho. It would show a lot more about her true character.

    4. Anyway, I was trying to figure out what Sue's deal is with Marcia. It make a lot of sense for Marcia to be the one pissed off, but she seems to have gotten over it. So, Sue being pissed at Penny, after asking for her help two times, just makes no legitimate sense.

    5. Is Sue just a psycho, a stand up friend, or crushing on Marcia and pissed at Penny on her behalf, or is it her family issues that are the cause?

    6. Sue genuinely cares about Marcia. She was her actual friend, not just someone who hung around because she was popular. But she also loved to be popular and is super pissed she had to give it up to stick with her friend.

      Her anger isn't rational, Penny didn't do anything. But she is the root cause. Although she could have a crush on Marcia, It isn't uncommon at that age.

    7. Well, not the root cause. Marcia & Sue being bitches, and EXPECTING everyone to be beneath them was the root problem. Maybe. Probably. But, I would still love to hear it from her. To get her view. I don't want to assume, cause you know what leads to...

    8. What I meant by Root cause was that she is the person who started the downward spiral. It was completely unintentional and mostly Marcia's fault for being too full of herself.

    9. Yep. She might have been the trigger, but not the root cause. Like I was saying before, we have no idea of what Sue will do, until we know her motivation.
      She tried to interrupt two dates by sending in the club.
      What else will she do, or how far will she go, and what is it she want? To make Penny "pay" or to see her "dead." What it going in in her head? Shadow control that allows her to eavesdrop is pretty hard to counter. They did it once, but do they have to keep doing it, or what?

    10. All I'm looking forward to here is seeing Penny in the next book now that we know who her Henchmen are. Bead-down, Marcia (orobourus) and Cassie (what was her's thunder whisp?)

    11. Bead-down & Ouroboros. Lady Wisp was their opponent.

    12. I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get the pun in Bead-downs name. Wasn't until I actually said it out loud.

    13. I had a random though about her.
      What would happen if she had a set of boots, and gloves, with beads 'attached to them (or sewed in). Would she be able to lift herself, and 'fly.'

      Would she be called "Bead-Up" then?

    14. I know Lady whisp was their oponent but basically only to show off. She practically admitted that she'dprefer to be on Penny's side.
      Of the girls in the room I got the impression that Cassie was only there for the lolz, and Barbera was being used. Both of them would be on Penny's side in a heartbeat.

      Now that aside Lady Whisp does want to be a genuine hero. So it seams. And her sis and co agreed.

      Seams to me if Penny gets an extended hero team, it will probably include Cassie, sharky and or Teddy.

      If she gets henchmen for the Inscrutable machine... It may still include Cassie, but it will definitely include Marcia and Beaddown. And may also include Barbera cause Barb seamed to be getting on well with Penny. And Penny does have magical books and artifacts she really needs to learn to control and understand.

      Also sude note google Law of Ueki. One of the characters had a power involving beads that showed a little ingenuity can goa long way. Of course the girl in that anime made the beads explode.

    15. Actually no rethinking. I think Beaddown might prefer to be on the Hero side.
      But Hermes would definitely join a Villain Team. I was reading the chapter and I think (like Cassie) he was only with Sue and Winters for the sake of the Lolz, and the chance to show off to Bad Penny.

    16. First Barb stated first thing she doesn't want to be a hero or a villain. As illustrated by monologue battle hat her powers are too dangerous to use freely. She will choose to stay as strictly support, unless she gets taken over again.

      And speaking of the Monologue battle, half of the people holding Ray hostage where at least partly influenced by Other Claire, Barb was completely controlled. Cassie just wanted to fight Penny, and some of the rest thought they were the good guys.

      And I don't think Marcia is looking to be a villain. She's just looking to hit things and get hit back, also have fun.

    17. I beg to differ with Marcia. Marcia said outright and quite clearly that she was sick of being a hero and wanted to be a villain. Cause "Villains have more fun".
      Now I don't say that she wouldn't change her mind in time. But let's face it - Penny and co are more "Anti-villains". If she joined Penny then Marcia might actually straighten out and become a better person cause of the experience.

      Even just her short time being friend with Penny and Co was starting to Mellow her. Look at the training sessions; at first she was just "punching all the things" but towards the end of the book she was actually passing on her training to the other kids and helping them to improve!

    18. My thoughts about Marcia were that Penny, or better yet, Claire, should introduce her to Lucy. I mean, Lucy is all about reveling in her powers, being good one day and villain the next, depending on how she feels.
      Or, maybe on which gives her the chance to use her powers - which is exactly what Marcia wants.

    19. "wants too." Is how that should have read.

    20. I think Marcia is currently going the Villain route because it is opposite of what she learned from her father. I don't think her heart is really in it. Once she learns that she can do it all as a hero she'll go back. Being with Penny I think has allowed her to work out most of her issues.

      Yeah, I view Penny as more of a grey hat super.

      Dark, they did introduce most of the henchmen to Lucy. She called to have her greet them at the Boardwalk when they tried to crash date 2.

    21. "Hey, Hi, I'm going to break your face" is not exactly the kind of intro I was thinking about.
      More like Clare saying, "Hey Marcia, want to meet Lucy when she is not breaking your face, and talk to her about villainy?"

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    23. And, yeah, she did say that she had fought Lucy before that - before she had powers, but she never said anything about a 'conversation.'
      I think her having a 'talk' with someone like Lucy would be interesting.

    24. I don't think Penny wants the unstable and powerful Marcia turning to villainy. She'd be better off having Claire's mom talk to her. Or you know Bull the adult supervisor.

    25. Actually - I would be worried about Lucy becoming Marcia's mentor. I mean yeah - Lucy plays by rules, and doesn't tolerate hurting kids.
      But she also pals around with some pretty nasty customers (Chimera anyone?) and revels in chaos and destruction.

      I think Lucy would be a terrible influence on Any of those kids. Marcia especially!

      I do think they need more adult villains and heroes dropping into the club and going "So I'm a Hero. I cover such and such an area, and work with xyz people. My specialty is ...." etc etc. Give them some "normal" influences.

    26. Bull repeatedly stated he would not influence them, but would try to fairly show the both sides of the 'game.' So, him mentoring would be unlikely. And, considering he is 'retired' it would be difficult to mentor anyone considering he will no longer engage in "villainy for hire." I also do not thing he would coach them in committing any crimes either, which might push some heroes to pursue him again.

    27. Guest lecturers would be something interesting.

      And Bull could sit down with Marcia and discusses the pros and cons of villainy without influencing her, hell he took them to china town.

    28. Sounds about right. Course, can you imagine a lecture with Lucy?
      Oooh, imagine a series - Bull first, followed immediately by Mourning Dove, then Lucy! Laconic, Dour and Manic - and then a brawl with MD and Lucy.
      No, that would only happen if Lucy were breaking a law or something. Would have to neutral ground, or something. But, I bet Brainy would try to talk to Lucy, to give her a push to join the good side, which would probably not end well.

    29. Oh, and Kirsty, yea, Lucy "revels in chaos and destruction." But, that is exactly what Marcia wants - "but supervillains get to enjoy our powers. We can knock down building, escape jails," etc., etc.
      Her and Lucy sound like a match made far below heaven.

    30. You've made my point for me Darkall :D

    31. You made my point too. There's no way Penny wants that to happen.

  22. It seams to me sue is a mix of all that. And actually the relationships between the characters feel pretty real. A lot of the time quote unquote popular girls have one or two true friends and a group of followers. It seams to me Sue was probably the first person to ever hook up with Marcia putting penny in a word situation where she is both sue's enemy and the only person sue thinks can help Marcia. She was most likely hoping that by trying to show Penny up as Just Another Girl would give Marcia a point of reference. Instead when Marcia learned Perfect Penny was a villain and Bad Penny no less. Marcia seemed to take that as "there's no benifits to playing hero" meaning Sue lost her first true friend. Sort of.

    1. Hey Kristy.
      You said that "Sue was probably the first person to ever hook up with Marcia..."
      I didn't get that from the book.
      Do you have some other source?
      That thing with Sue was one of the things that really bothered me in the book, and I hope to get more info on it in the next one.

    2. I do believe she meant hook up as in become friends. There hasn't been any indication of same sex interest with either girl.

      I actually figured Sue knew who Penny's secret was as long as Marcia did. Hell with her power she probably knows who every super in the school is, Marcia might have pushed her to spy on others.

    3. No yeah, that's aussie slang. hook up == meat up. Mate == friend.

      My understand was that Sue was Marcia's closes friend meaning she was probably Marcia's first friend at high school. That can count for a lot. Especially after Marcia became the ""popular girl"" of the school. Sue would have been popular by default. And it doesn't seam like Sue was a follower. We can assume since most of the cheerleaders and stuff abandoned Marcia (mainly cause she stopped taking care of her looks, not for her personality) - that Sue at least knew Marcia dyed her hair, and about Marcia's homelife.

      It's like I said in a previous conversation. In school life there are two types of friends. The type you take home and show your parents. And the type you only hang out with at school. Sue was probably Marcia's only 'true' friend. Although I wonder that Marcia was that to Sue.

      Either way Sue's behaviour and motivation made perfect sense to me. Marcia was fixated on Penny. Sue tried to get Penny to help Marcia thinking Marcia would go back to ""normal"". When the opposite seamed to be happening Penny became the Enemy... Which rhymes. Oh well.

    4. Hmmm. Well, that is a lot of guessing - unless you have some source. Is there another site for Mr. Roberts that I don't know about?

      Anyway, I don't read anything that shows she was her 'first' friend, only best friend (first on the list, then Charlie).
      It sure looked like she was her only 'true' friend after all the others dropped her, but we don't have any of their background. Don't know when they met, and all that.
      I mean, it is just as likely that Sue as a cheerleader met Marcia, and was most 'simpatico' with her. They were both 'thundering b*tches' of the school.
      If I were going to guess, I would think that Sue joined up with her crowd, the 'mean girls,' and liked putting others down like Marcia did. Sue obviously has the villain mentality - "I'm better than you and don't even think about trying" sort of thing.
      And, then I would guess being proved wrong, big time, would be the reason she is pissed at Penny.
      But, that is just guessing, until he 'hear' it from her.

    5. One of the things Mr Roberts does that many authors fail at is making believable characters. Characters that act and react like real people.

      Kristy is using her experience of having been a teenage girl to understand the interaction between the teenage girls in the books. She has no outside knowledge other then being born with lady parts.

      I agree with Kristy's assessment about the friendship.

      As for Sue having a villain mentality I disagree. She hasn't really done anything more then be spiteful towards Penny. The only Person who been doing straight up villainous things is Other Claire. Sue is simply anger and lashing out. I think she enjoys the Hero side of things more which is part of why she's so pissed off.

    6. Well, maybe. Maybe.
      From what we know, she could have been her first friend, most 'simpatico' or she just can't stop being loyal, even when she should not be (maybe).

      But, anyway.
      Sue turned to Penny, twice, and then at the museum she did abandon Penny and Ray to Mourning Dove. Now, Penny gave her the benefit of the doubt, cause it is what she would have told her to do.
      But, we need to hear from Sue. Was she being smart, loyal, or viscous when she shut her shadow gate, and left Penny & Ray. Was she hoping that Penny would finally lose, in a fight with Mourning Dove.
      I mean is, is she is a psycho and following her 'old' friend Marcia's last request - "to see Penny lose." Was she mean to Penny after that because she is loyal to Marcia, or is she pissed that Penny can't seem to lose, too (like Marcia WAS, before she changed).
      Maria changed her mind, but what is on Sue's mind?

    7. First thing Dark you keep saying you want to hear things from the characters. I hope you're prepared to be very disappointed. It would make for a very poorly written story to have the characters all point out to Penny how they feel at every moment and justify their every action.

      She sent everyone to the Museum out of spite. She closed the portal out of fear and a touch of spite. From Penny's own comments, Mourning Dove isn't likely to seriously or permanently injure kids. Sue would have the same knowledge as Penny.

      She's pissed off. Very pissed off. Her place in life has been dropped on it's head. She's also a 13ish year old girl. Super emotional girl and unstable. So yes she is a bit psycho, all girls that age are.

    8. I thought the closing-the-portal came off as rather professional, actually. I mean, the goal was getting everybody out and not being followed, and she knew TIM could take care of themselves as far as that went. Penny even said it's exactly what she would have told her to do.

      I agree with the gist of what J's said above. To me Sue seemed unhappy and maybe grudgy, but not villainous or particularly sinister in any way. I'll add in that she maybe feels a bit bitter about Penny because she's not only got a superpowered genetic lottery and winning streak, but also clearly a happier home life. Whereas her and Marcia are having a tougher time of it. And they used to be More Popular than Penny, and Penny beat/outshone Marcia in a few fights, and eventually THIS happened, and [grump unhappy distrustful having-a-bad-time and don't-presume-you-understand-us-Akk and ... ]

      Which is somewhat unfair, or at least unfriendly, but probably not particularly worrying. Probably.

    9. It is a very fair point that - everyone who crashed the Museum Date was there expecting to do villainy. And you have to remember that Villain morality is rarely that of "WE protect our own".

      Bad Penny is the best of the best. If anybody could survive Morning Dove, the others would assume Penny had the bigger chance, and Penny DID tell her to "get everyone out".
      In all likelyhood I agree with Southard. That wasn't mal-intent so much as fear.

      The Mal-intent didn't start until AFTER sue learned Bad Penny and Penny Akk were indeed the same. Then suddenly Penny became the sole cause of Marcia going off to lalaland as it was Marcia's embarrassing defeats to Bad Penny in book 1 that made her question her life, and career as a hero.

      When you think about it that way. Sue's anger and Penny was justified. Penny was the reason her friend had changed so drastically.

    10. Not sure about all that. She clearly know who Bad Penny really is. She said as much, when she said that The Inscrutable Machine are the real champions, while staring at Penny, when Bull first showed up at the club.
      I'm thinking she's know for awhile (Shadow Eavesdropping right), but that is a guess.
      I'm not looking for her to explain herself completely.
      But, TIM are the pros, and the kids in the club are not in their league. That came out several times in the book.
      So, I personally think Sue closed the window more out of spite+fear than professionalism, or expecting Penny and Co to win against Mourning Dove.
      But, if Penny confronts her she would respond somehow. I mean, cops use it all the time, getting someone to confess so that they can be 'understood.' So to authors, right?
      I mean, it would not take a lot (and would not need to), just a defense of herself, and something to tell us if she is 'merely' emotionally upset, or totally psycho.

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    12. Or even, "when" the club members get into TIM business, Penny could ask, "can I count on you being professional again, like at the museum?"
      Sue's response would show us a lot of what is going on in her head (or the head of the character).

    13. Hmm, looking back, Penny and company did almost all of their planning and villain work away from school, while they were on break in the first book.
      And, in the second they were complaining in school about not being able to do any rampaging.
      The, Penny got a call (at home) from Lucy about an adventure. Then, while standing outside of school she got the message from Spider, about going into space.
      Penny didn't tell anyone about her plans to go to the football game.
      It was only when they started making plans at school to do things that Sue started to try and throw a monkey wrench into things.

      So, what is she going to do next?

    14. It does not seem to be in character for Penny to be made aware of an enemy, and not to consider it in her plans. As Claire stated, "I babble, Ray speculates, you think and act." So, knowing that she has a hostile, spying classmate, why does Penny not ask.

      I like to think of myself as even tempered, and non-obnoxious. I remember my school days, and when I discovered that someone disliked me, I did avoid them - AFTER inquiring as to why.

      Penny also inquired, of Claire, as to what had happened to make Remy an enemy. And, the repercussions involved facing laser gatling guns, a "Penny Tracker" and a rampaging mecha. Why would she not inquire after a similar, and recent, hostile encounter?

    15. I do not think of speculating, and them accidentally make a self replicating robot doomsday device by accident to be a plan, incidentally.

      Making an anti-shadows spying device would be more of what I meant.

    16. If Sue had information prior to the book, she would have been at risk of getting "personal". But after the group started she could act on the information without any risk.

      First I don't see Penny interrogating anyone. And she probably doesn't care why Sue closed the portal, as long as everyone got out safe.

      Penny now knows just how hostile Sue is, and she used it against her. And knowing about her abilities she can protect herself. It wouldn't be too difficult to have a room well lit enough to prevent shadows.

      I'm no expert but I know for girls it can be a bit different. Kristy could answer better then me. But in my experience girls are less likely to be confrontational. They are more likely to ask a friend why someone doesn't like them then the person. Of course my experience is second hand and kinda old.

      Adding explanations to everyone's motivations would mess up the flow of the story. Not saying it wouldn't be nice to know it, but sometimes too much information is a bad thing.

    17. @Luis.. Except in book 2 Penny did exactly what you said she didn't. Everyone, her friends, Remmy, the Colonists - Everyone identified the priestess as bad and most likely to betray them.
      And Penny was sooo busy playing "hero" that it almost all went wrong.

      In fact I would say Penny rarely plans much of anythinhg. Rather she has a good instinct (back of the head meybe??) that kicks in when there is danger, pools everything she knows about the people around her and gives her what she needs.

      And it was it You southard or You Darkall that theorized Penny has a power from each parent. I really wanna remember who said it so it doesn't sound like I'm taking credit.

    18. I was referring to Claire's comment about Penny. That Claire “babbles,” Ray “speculates” and Penny “thinks and acts.”

      She did in fact plan and act. In the first book, she had a plan for outmaneuvering Spider by taking the Orb for TIM - it is just that the plan failed.

      Claire’s Plan was to distract the kids, but Penny improved on the plan by "clearing the field" for her date by calling in Lucy.

      Only making plans when they are in a well-lit room is a good preventative – assuming that such simple actions can counter a supernatural power.

      Additionally, I would have to say that girls being less confrontational is something of an over simplified stereotype, after observing a twelve year old publicly scream at my daughter during a disagreement. I would say it depends on the passion or involvement, and personality. In defending someone whom they have a strong protective instinct, I believe you can throw our the "non-confrontational" descriptor.

      As for Sue not having the information beforehand, she could not have used it, which would indeed have been ‘personal.’ But, just eavesdropping… as long as she did not get caught, use or disseminate the information there would be no conflict.

      We do not know how far she will or, or might already have gone, for her friend.

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    20. Kirsty, I remember Remmy calling Juno a space witch, but do not recall anyone else saying anything about Juno. In fact, I cannot remember her speaking to anyone other them Mr. Fawkes, Remmy, and the Inscrutable Machine.

      Can you point me in the right direction, or the section, where anyone said anything about Juno? The one and only reference I can remember is when Claire characterized Mr. Fawkes and Juno as "a pair of kooks." She stated he was a fanatic with a cause, and Juno as using him, but that is all.

    21. Claire told Penny that when she was listening to them talking, Juno was a cook. Off her head, hearing voices, genuinely believed she was working for gods who had some great plan for the colony.
      Remmy told Penny that Fawks acted completely different around Juno, and hated the way she made him act. The old man at the colony said he didn't like Remmy hanging around with Juno, and Penny and co shouldn't either.
      The captain said something similar as well. But he also didn't want them hanging around with Fawks.

      The goat girl who's name has escaped me again said she had a headache the two times she was near Juno, and Everyone on the Rotor colony believed Juno was a bad influence.

      Basically Everyone disliked Juno.
      But because Penny has friends who are villains she completely ignored all this and treated Juno as 'generally good' up until Juno actually betrayed her.

    22. Ah, I will have to reread to find all those specific references. Thank you Kirsty.

      However, look at it from another angle. The last time she made that mistake lead to the serious injury (and very likely death) of Mr. Fawkes.

      She is portrayed as intelligent, and one would expect her to make an effort to not repeat her mistakes. In this case - not to ignore an obvious enemy, especially one that has at least twice conspired against her.

    23. Additionally, she recriminated herself for being caught up in the adventure, and in not paying attention.

      That lack of attention led to her being locked up to die in space, her friend being kidnapped and mind controlled, and to Mr. Fawkes being shot and left for dead.

      So, taking an active stance would seem to be more sensible, and intelligent.

    24. Penny plans, but she has a blind spot when it comes to making allowance for potentially hostile people if she sympathizes with them at all. Remmy demonstrated repeatedly that she was both willing and able to act against the Inscrutible Machine, but when Remmy did it (repeatedly), it caused serious problems, because Penny didn't make sufficient allowance for it.

      The same appears true for Sue. Will Penny make any allowance for her, Ampexia, or Other Claire in her plans in the next book? All three of them have managed surprise attacks in book three, and Sue has more or less promised to ramp up the hostility. Penny might be losing patience with Other Claire, or she might consider the matter resolved after sticking her to a wall. We'll see.

      This could just be Penny's personality, but I think I'd be happy if Penny listened more to warnings about people from Claire and Ray. I think I'd also like the antagonist characters better if Penny was a little more prepared for antagonistic behavior. Proper planning means making objective predictions, not wishful thinking.

    25. A 'blind spot' would be a consistent character trait. However, not a very satisfying one.
      It would show more character growth if she were to learn to deal with it, or her problematic classmates. She is, after all, now fourteen...

    26. Penny is a product of her parents, both by nurture and nature. She's a genuinely decent person with a friendly and kind disposition. This means she is more likely to trust people then distrust them. And to continually make the mistake.

      I predict Sue is going to be more of a petty annoyance. When ever there was real danger she didn't hesitate to follow orders.

      Other Claire is going to be a real problem. She is a spiteful, conceded, and conniving person. She is messing with peoples minds without a second thought and see's nothing wrong with it. She's gonna be dangerous to Penny and friends.

      Ampexia could go a couple ways. But I feel like she will be Penny's main Rival. Her introduction makes her the obvious chose for her Nemesis in book 4. She's older so their skill levels are more on par. She's a Mad Scientist. And the smile she gave Penny when she left the lair indicates she enjoyed their "conflict". So yeah she's gonna come back around and mess with Penny. But I bet it will be a friendly rivalry, with the potential for
      a epic team up.

      On another note, I still don't think Fawks is dead. Those space people were made of tougher stuff.

    27. I expect that Ampexia will be a rival, but I am holding onto the hope of a more interesting character being introduced as a Nemesis.

      And, I do not have an opinion on Calvin either way, except that if he did in fact die, I expect that his death will cement Remmy's hatred of Penny.

    28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    29. My concern is the apparent habit of Penny, and TIM in general, of not paying attention to their enemies, or even "honorable opposition." They really did nothing to prepare for facing Claudia/Generic Girl. Penny mentioned that she did not want to ever be "outgunned" again, but then destroyed her most powerful weapon...

      She appears to be making the same mistake with Sue, and Other Claire.

    30. Kirsty, I have gone back and reread the sections, and cannot find the comments you mentions about Juno.

      Juno was near Juliet (goat girl) right after they possessed the automaton with one of Penny's parasites, on the first space station (the one they repaired first). That was the point that Claire came back to report on Calvin and Juno. There was no mention of Juliet having a headache at that point, and she was in close proximity (making sketches, and in contact with Harvey also, who said nothing about Juno). I cannot find a reference to headaches around Juno. The one mention that I could locate referred to Juliet being tired, right after her rescue and after eating a single grape.
      Claire described Fawkes in her ‘report’ as a revolutionary, and obsessed – “It’s like he’s not a person, just an obsession.” She also stated that Juliet believed in her space gods, and that she also did have powers – of clairvoyance, which would lend some credence to being a herald.
      Claire finally also 'reported' that the romance between Fawkes and Juliet was one sided. I cannot find a reference to Claire saying that they were bad people, and that she should not trust them.

      Shimon Litvin, the old man on Io Omega, had a single scene that I found. He asked if they were Supervillains, and about the war. However, I could not find any reference to him speaking about Juno at all.

      I also cannot find any reference to Captain Fawkes saying anything about them “hanging around” Juno or Calvin. The only line I can locate is when he said, at the long abandoned space station, “If you take your witch and go, I’ll let you leave” to Calvin Fawkes.

      Remmy did say (during their second visit to the colony) that “Every time you walk into a room, Calvin stops being himself.” However, she was accusing Penny (not Juno) of influencing Calvin. In the same sentence she stated that “You drove Thompson crazy for that spear,” again accusing Penny (not Juno) of being evil. Later, in her next scene she accused Penny of being “in this with the witch.” I believe that it is safe to conclude that she disliked Juno, but after that she hated and distrusted Penny.

      I found the welcome scene on the Rotor Colony, where everyone greeted Remmy, but again, I could find no conversation about Juno.

      I am sorry Kirsty, but I have to say that your assertion that “Basically Everyone disliked Juno” and warned Penny is incorrect.

    31. Mr. Southard, I agree that Claire Winter is apparently on the path to evil. What surprised me the most about her was that she wanted to fight in the tournament. Her power does not see to be the most effective for combat. She transfers emotions, she does not appear to generate them in others.
      I believe that she will do well as a demagogue, but on her own she will need to be quite clever and very inventive to be an effective combat villain.

      If she is alone, and facing an aware enemy (say for example Bad Penny), what exactly can she do?

      Cassie and Charlotte (and essentially Penny) are in a similar situation, dependent on external energy or objects for their power. The difference is that they can carry their 'targets of control' with them. Cassie can carry batteries, Charlotte can carry beads, and Penny can carry weapons. They would all be in trouble if 'disarmed.' Without lightning/beads/weapon they are essentially light-weight fourteen year old girls.

      As for Other Claire going into combat, is there any way for Other Claire to carry around emotions? If she travels with a hand selected group, and can use them as emotion batteries, she might be able to affect an enemy.

      Again, if she is alone, what exactly can she do in combat?

    32. Ampexia has potential for the nemesis but I would also prefer someone else. Ampexia knows too much about Penny already which ruins half the fun.

      I don't think Remmy's brother died, because in her state of mind, She would have chased after Penny without a second thought.

      Penny is a brilliant Combat strategist, because she quickly see's her options and picks one. She doesn't second guess or hesitate. Unfortunately she doesn't anticipate trouble ever. When she see's it or knows it's coming she's brilliant, but yeah she's young and inexperienced. She hasn't learned to see danger in every shadow.

      I still prefer to call her Other Claire. I think her power is much more then inflicting her emotions on others. There probably still a bit new and growing, but she is also the type of person to keep her full potential hidden. I got the impression she is a gloryhound who thinks she is the greatest.

      I also feel that Penny has some sort of resistance to mind effects.

      Penny's best weapon isn't her gear it's her mind. Even if she's disarmed she will be dangerous.

    33. I rarely get involved in these discussions. They're fun to watch. In this case, I want to note that Penny, because of her age, is very self-centered. She's very caring and moral if other people are in front of her, but they have to be pushed in her face. It is one of her biggest weaknesses.

    34. Woah - fast thread again.

      @Luis - I was drawing from a multitude of small scenes and snippets, from from two or three obvious scenes, but I do confess I might be mis remembering. I remember in a previous conversation having interpreted that Archimedes died and being proven wrong. [shrug]

      I do agree with your sentiment that - having identified a threat Penny seams to do little in the way of preperation to prevent it. I am STILL waiting on Penny to make a Tank buster for fights with strong supers like Bull or Claudia.

      What I did learn is what Roberts says, that she prefers to think the best of people and that she has serious over-confidence issues herself much of the time.

      Regarding Ampexia. I do not suspect her of becoming a nemisis. She strikes me as an anti-hero type from what she said about the sonic disrupter (technical sci fi term for what she was after).
      I see her as becoming the replacement for Marcia in the third arch, being an antagonist but not a primary one.

      I see Winter's as being a positive threat who can stand in the background and try to turn Penny's team against each other.
      I also easily see her someday meeting the Kludge, telling her a sob story and joining forces with her.

    35. Ah, Mr. Roberts, I had wondered if you were still looking in on our little debates.

      These forums are a way for me to keep my need for the next book on a low flame, so to speak.

    36. Ampexia. What does that mean anyway? I found an indi band album with the name, but I can’t figure out what it means.
      Anyway, I thought she would be more interesting. The drawing on deviant art made her look like a cool, wild child.
      But, in the book she came across as abrasive, and arrogant, and mean. Some of the kids are her age, so what is the deal with calling them scabs, and babies? And, doing it in front of Bull and Claudia. I mean, how dumb can you get?
      Plus, she claimed that the inventions she was stealing were hers by right. What right?
      She knows the maker (the guy crying in his apartment), so if she is just returning it she’s not the owner. She’s just the delivery girl. If she is keeping it, then why bring him up at all.
      (Unless she is going for guilt. That did work on Penny. It made Penny give up the thing, even going against Claire to do it.
      But, if Penny finds out she was tricked… )
      Anyway, I don’t think she is really a good nemesis for the team, either. She knows them now, and really, she already lost to the gang twice.
      On the other hand, that might give her a reason to want a rematch. To, you know, sooth her ego. But, on the third hand she is also a pro (arrogant, and mean, but a pro). I don’t think pros fight unless they have to.
      But, on the fourth hand, she marched onto the basketball court, in front of Claudia and Bull, and growled out threats. So, not a shining example of stability, is she?
      So, not really a pro, not real smart, and not stable. I don’t think that is good Nemesis material.
      I think a Nemesis should be someone who can actually go toe-to-toe with you. And, someone you both fight and yet respect. (Cause if you don’t respect the threat they are, they take your head off.)
      Ampexia doesn’t respect anyone that I can see, even after the team kicked her back-side twice. (Well, Penny’s device overwhelmed her in the base the second time they met, but, same thing.)

    37. Oh, and does this mean that Penny can take command of Ampexia's Bass Cannon now?
      It has been in range of the command unit you know.

  23. So. Am I the only one starting to think this series needs a wiki. Be it wikipedia or wikia. ?

    1. Nope been thinking that since I started visiting this Blog.

    2. Someone set up TVTropes pages. I don't get involved! It seems like that would be dishonest.

  24. Yeh, but your character list in this one is getting big. The other books only had a few characters to focus on, or most of them were transient(?).
    Here we have nearly two dozen re-occurring characters. If not three dozen. It needs a character list ^_^

  25. Do you think the Machine would be usable if stolen?

    Ray has used it a number of times, but only after asking permission. But no one has ever tried to use it without permission. I think it would be useless if stolen and would do it's best to return to Penny.

    1. The Machine obeys only Penny. It will only obey anyone else if she tells it to.

    2. Like the console, and mini-mecha Bad Penny?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Too bad she is gone. The gang could have had a lot of fun with that one.