Henchmen, by Eric Lahti (10:00)

IOD-HenchmenToday we see that relentless telling can kill a witty narration.

What I gleaned about the story: Some tough guys sit around a table in a diner, philosophizing about sushi and the government.

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Note: This one really intrigued me – the world of henchmen. I’ve played in this sandbox myself, (as a writer, not a henchie) so I’m really amped up to see another take on this world.

WTF #1: Sushi is the perfect food 

Analysis: I’m quite fond of sushi, so I have no quibble with a wry commentary on how raw fish and rice may just be the perfect food. This sort of “piece of my mind” narrative can be a great way to open a 1st person story, giving us a peek into the protagonist and showing us a mind that might be fun to be intimately entangled with for a while. But in this case, the wry never quite showed up, by my lights, and it ended up feeling more like a lecture on the kinds of sushi that exist, and how to eat it properly. It struck me as flat, rather than engaging, and instead of going along for the ride, I kept wondering why it was there. And the fact that it was also in straight tell mode left me nothing to experience for myself.

WTF #2: These are my peeps

Analysis: From the discourse on sushi, we moved into a “let me tell you about the people around me” segment. Again, all in tell mode, and again, seeming to grasp at witty banter but for the most part, falling short of the handle. There’s a fun line about how his greasy biker friend thinks that even attempting to comb his hair would put him on a slippery slope of unmanliness that would lead to wearing dresses, but it passes quickly from there into fairly stereotypical commentary about duplicitous politicians, fat anarchist bikers, asshole bosses, etc. The people described to us are all stereotypes, their opinions are all stereotypical, and there were no genuinely engaging insights or witty barbs to keep my attention. I found myself skipping ahead, looking for a break in the descriptions. So immersion was definitely broken.

WTF #3: 10:00 buzzer. Pull the cord.

Analysis: After the tour of friends, the narrative slid into some opinions about the restaurant world, and I see (by skipping ahead) that there’s an interesting bit coming up about eating sushi off the body of a naked woman, but it’s all still in tell mode and the 10:00 bell has come and gone, and I’m still skimming, so I definitely haven’t immersed.

Caveat: To be completely fair, I didn’t note any mechanical problems, and if the content of the inner narration had been more to my taste, I might not have noticed all the telling, and found myself more engaged. But there were a couple of lines that made me smile, so it might be worth checking out – especially if you already know that your tastes and mine don’t mesh well.

Note: And if anybody wants to contrast this with my own take on the world of high-stakes henching, feel free to check out my free short story: Bodies of Evidence. What really goes on in the seedy world of super villains? And where do they get all those henchmen, anyway? Get a look into this secret industry when long-time disposal man Sid DeAngelo breaks in a new recruit for Corpus Corp. You’ll never look at Big Evil the same way again.

Inquisitor, by RJ Blain (29:08)
The First Book of Ezekiel, by Colby R Rice (2:36)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.