Book Review

One Con Glory by Sarah Kuhn, a guest review by Carrie S.

B+

Title: One Con Glory
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publication Info: Alert Nerd 2009
ISBN: 978-0-578-06075
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Cover My much awaited copy of One Con Glory arrived on the same day that I was supposed to be preparing for my daughter’s seventh birthday party.  Let me give you some context here.  This is my only child.  She is a girl so beautiful that I can’t believe she’s real, a kid who can take on five boys at recess during a spirited game of Star Wars and whup them all into submission while wearing pink sparkly tennis shoes that light up.  So, when the book arrived in the mail, I did what any good mommy would do and set it aside until the following week, right?  HA!  AS IF!  I sat down and read that sucker cover to cover right away!  Well, I did stop long enough to pick the kid up from school.  She puts up with a lot of reading – related neglect, but outright abandonment is probably going too far.

Fortunately for the fate of the birthday party, One Con Glory is a quick and easy read.  Not only is it easy to read, it’s easy to review, because I can tell immediately who will like it and who won’t.  If you know what “Frak” means, you’ll like it.  If not, you’ll be completely lost.  This is a book about a geek, written by a geek, and published by Nerd Alert Publishers.  There’s a geek theme here, is what I’m saying, and if you in fact are a geek it is just loads and loads of fun. 

The heroine of One Con Glory is Julie, a shy blogger who likes to avoid relationships and changes in her routine while blogging about comic books and the convention circuit.  Her dream is to acquire an action figure of Glory Gilmore, Julie’s comic book hero from the comic book series, “Periodic Seven”.  Glory is a little bit like Wonder Woman only, in my opinion, way cooler because she has neater clothes and, and I can’t stress this enough, is not stuck being the frakking secretary for Justice League.  Don’t get me wrong, secretaries rule, but jeez.  Anyway, Julie’s dreams are thwarted by Jack Camden.  Jack Camden is the very pretty star of the TV show loosely based on the comic book series (he plays the male lead, obviously, not Glory, who is played by a Mean Girl).  Julie maintains that he is miscast because he is too good-looking and has no soul.  When Jack and Julie meet at a convention, he swears that his movie star facade hides the soul of a true geek.  Is he as geeky as he claims?  Can Julie manage to let her shields down for five minutes?  Will she ever get to take home a Glory action figure?  Far be it from me to spoil the book, dear readers.  Excerpts from Julie’s blog appear between chapters to show us Julie’s inner world and why Glory is such an important part of her life.

I picked this book up because a sci-fi website of which I’m fond recommended it, albeit in the most patronizing way possible. [SB Sarah: Tell me about it.] This surprised me, because some of those people are, and it pains me to say this, big old snobs.  Why, why, why can’t sci-fi and romance get along?  Why must you pull me between you like parents in mid-custody battle?  I see lots of romance fans who also love sci-fi, so where’s the sci-fi fans who also heart romance?  Think of all the great sci-fi/fantasy romances out there – Han and Leia, Willow and Tara, Sayid and me (yeah, you heard me, he’s mine).  Yet the comments on the sci-fi sites are loaded with, “Our misunderstood and marginalized genre is superior to yours” crap.  Not ALL of them, of course, but just enough so that when a sci-fi website says, “Hey, check out this romance novel”, I pay attention.  I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed this book.

The characters felt real to me, and even the ones I didn’t like were fun to watch in action.  I liked the witty but realistic dialogue and the vivid setting.  I adored Julie’s alter egos, Schmuzie (the one who can do small talk), Drulie (the drunk one) and Schmthulu (if you can’t take at least a stab at that one, the whole book is lost on you anyway).  I loved all the little twists and shout-outs and smashed-up stereotypes.  Julie is not a gamer!  Yay!  Julie, call me!  We must bond, although your reasoning is flawed!  Above all, I enjoyed the way cultural references weren’t just token shout-outs, but were used to show us the character’s worlds and thoughts (I have to thank my sci-fi reviewer for bringing that to my attention, see below for link).  And, of course, I loved how the adventures of Glory showed us what was going on with Julie, providing much needed glimpses of back-story and of motivation.

I did have a few problems with this marvelous geekfest of joy.  To start with, Julie is a really tough character to like.  Frankly, I would have preferred to read about Mitch and Layla, supporting characters who seem much more like geeks I know.  Mitch and Layla are quirky, but they are also perfectly capable of healthy social lives, and I’d like to see more portrayals of that in geekdom.  But, since we’re stuck with Julie, it’s fortunate that the first-person narration and the Glory threads exist, because these glimpses into her head make the character much more sympathetic.  Seriously, if I were just watching Julie’s actions instead of hearing her inner pain, I would smack her.  As it is, I promise, I really did care about her by the end of the book.  I would have liked more back-story, though, since I never really understood why she is the way she is.  The book packs a lot of character development into its 103 pages, but its brevity forces it to remain a little superficial.  Reading it is like enjoying a snack-size bag of M&M’s as opposed to a large chunk of chocolate cake.  Incidentally, I know some people hate first-person narration, so you have been duly warned.  Also, the closest thing we get to explicit sex is in the first chapter (read on for lurid details).  So if hot sex is a must for you, this is not the book you’re looking for.

Also, can I just tell you how much I hate the first chapter?  Not the intro, in which we learn the fate of Julie’s three previous Glory Action figures.  That was great, and made me weep a little tear for my beloved Star Wars action figures that I (brace yourselves) GAVE AWAY in a moment of false maturity.  No, the section I loathe is “February 25, 2002”.  It’s only a few pages, so just skip it.  Here, I’ll sum it up for you:  Julie had a pretentious, manipulative boyfriend who moved her action figures just to see if she’ll notice.  STEREOTYPE ALERT!  Julie noticed during a bout of bad sex and dumped the guy.  He ran off with Julie’s latest Glory action figure.  End scene.  It’s not that the scene is poorly written, it’s just that it’s a remarkably unappealing intro.  The sex is icky, both characters are annoying and the whole “geek is obsessed with placement of collectibles” thing is patronizing.  Although I have to admit that if someone shuffled my Jennifer Crusie books and my Terry Pratchetts, and they did it just to bug me, I would dump their sorry asses in the middle of sex, too.  So maybe I’m just an eensy bit defensive.

In conclusion, read One Con Glory if you are a geek, and you’ll have a blast.  I gave this book a B+, but, Sarah Kuhn, I’m watching you!  I fully expect your next novel to get an A!  Which I hardly ever give out!  So, quick, to the batcomputer!  Incidentally, dear Bitches, lest you perish of suspense, the birthday party went well.  Best gift?  My husband made dear daughter two foam practice swords with pink duct tape, thus proving conclusively that he is the Best Feminist Geek Dad in the ‘Verse.  And, if you want to visit the review that started it all, it’s on io9.com.


One Con Glory is available at Amazon, BN.com, Book Depository and Powells. I am unable to find a digital copy available for sale.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
  2. 2
    Becky says:

    Yeah, uh, actually my name is Becky.  Late night typing + new keyboard= embarrassing inability to spell my own name.

  3. 3
    ev says:

    I will have to find a copy (wonder if my comic book store carries it) and after reading it, send it off to College Daughter.

    There are some stereotypes that are so true to form tho- I/we are usually the only females in the comic book store we deal in and, not so much now, but it used to bring everything to a stand still when one of us went in. And they pulled our stuff out of the hold box. You could hear a pin drop. Now it only happens when there is someone new in there. I once made a comment about how very Big Bang it was.

    And I would really love to see a pic of those pink swords.

  4. 4
    Sarah W says:

    Schmthulu!  Schmarvelous! 

    I’m a bibliovore (aren’t we all?) so I don’t know whether I loved sci fi / fantasy before romances or not.  All I know is that my favorite sci fi books have an element of romance . . .

    Thanks, for the link, Becky – I’m trying to put my new Reader through its paces!

  5. 5
    Laughingrat says:

    This sounds great!

    Why, why, why can’t sci-fi and romance get along? 

    If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because romance is read primarily by icky gross GIRLS.  Supposedly this is becoming less of a problem in sci-fi fandom these days.  Let us hope.

  6. 6
    shuzluva says:

    Carrie, where have you been all my life? I am getting this IMMEDIATELY!

    Spam blocker: filled88
    Heh

  7. 7
    MicheleKS says:

    This book sounds like a fun read.

    And my Princess Leia action figure fell down into the outside air conditioner and was never replaced when I was a little girl. I guess you could say that figurine is my Glory Girl.

  8. 8
    Kristin says:

    I M.U.S.T. have this book.  It sounds awesome.

  9. 9
    Laurel says:

    Carrie S:

    After this review I am conflicted about what to do first. Should I order the book or invite your family to our house for dinner?

  10. 10

    I may wish to read this before I head back to Boskone next month.  But if not, they may have it in the Dealers Room, right next to the stuffed Cthulhus.

  11. 11
    ocelott says:

    I read this review and immediately ordered the book.  (Yup, that tells you everything you need to know about me…)

  12. 12
    India says:

    And me too, ocelott!

  13. 13
    LEW says:

    Frakkin A!  I can’t tell you how psyched I am for this book – I’m going to have to share it with my Big Bang Theory-loving friends as well as fellow scientists I’ve gotten into romance.

  14. 14
    Carrie S says:

    @Laurel:  Dinner!  Dinner!

  15. 15
    Donna says:

    @Ev, right there with you. I moved & started up at a new shop & my first trip there the owner asked, as he rang me up, “Picking these up for your husband?” Completely missing the naked 4FL.
    “No, they’re for me,” I replied. Keep in mind, it was a Wednesday (in the 80’s!), so you know how many people were milling about. Suddenly it was like being on a surf board off the coast of South Africa. Geekboys cruising the check out counter like I was a plump baby seal…..
    Now, off to hunt up a copy. Romance & comics, a match made in heaven – which comic writers know. Hence, Scott & Jean, Green Arrow & Black Canary, Apollo & Midnighter, Wolverine and every woman he’s ever fallen for.

  16. 16
    jayhjay says:

    I’m going to have to share it with my Big Bang Theory-loving friends

    OMG, I love Big Bang Theory. I laugh out loud all the time when watching it. 

    This book sounds great. I tend to watch more sci-fi than read it, but I definitely am a big geek who has seen every episode of Battlestar (and LOVE seeing Katee Stackhouse as Howard’s fantasy girl on BBT!) Thanks for the review!

  17. 17
    Carrie S says:

    BBT is like the capsule version mash up of my marriage.  I’m way geeky in the sci fi way, so I love all the sci fi references, but I’m not very well versed in actual science and I’m married to a biologist who reads physics books to wind down, so I relate to Penny as well.  Penny and I have nothing much in common, but the facial expression she uses when Sheldon tries to teach her physics is the exact same look I get on my face when DH explains that he has figured out a counterpoint theory regarding the nature of the origin of the universe, and it involves linking the theory of relativity to the concept that…glaaaaze ooooover….

    The worst part is DD is turning out to be a science whiz too and I’m reduced to reading “Science for Dummies”  just to try to keep up.

  18. 18
    Donna says:

    Fewer things on the planet more attractive than an intelligent man.

  19. 19
    Carrie S says:

    @Donna:  In my experience, this is true, except when they try to explain quantum mechanics to you at 11:!5PM.

  20. 20
    Laurel says:

    Oh yeah. Smart boys are teh sexxxy.

    Carrie S: Too late! I already ordered the book. But you can still come for dinner :)

  21. 21
    LEW says:

    I’ve pretty much met every BBT character/characteristic from my grad school and conference experiences.  And, ok, I am also those characters sometimes, too…  The show really touches home for me, and I’m so glad that it’s doing well in ratings!

    New episode tonight!

  22. 22
    Jessica says:

    I didn’t know what Frak meant and I still loved the book. After finishing it, I flipped to the front and read it again, straight through. I didn’t want Julie’s journey to end. There should be a movie version, or at least a sequel.

  23. 23
    Donna says:

    Oh, Carrie, I’m sure he’s just trying to woo you into late night sexy time…. or he’s noticed your reaction & is trying to help you fall asleep.

  24. 24
    Sarah Kuhn says:

    Wow! I was ever so delighted and surprised when I woke up this morning and found…a lovely review of my book on one of my FAVORITE BOOK WEBSITES. Thank you, Carrie S! I’m glad you enjoyed and even more glad your awesome-sounding daughter’s birthday party was a success!

    “Why can’t sci-fi and romance get along?!” is one of my most oft-stated laments—especially since epic romances have drawn me into and kept me invested in so many amazing genre works. (Scott and Jean, one of the favorites of my youth, gets a major shout-out in the book, Donna! And of course I am a huge Carrie S/Sayid shipper.)

    Julie is hard to like—and I’m always very happy when people end up liking her in the end, so yay. (And if you dig Layla: she has a major part in the OCG short story mini-sequel, which you can find on the Alert Nerd site.)

    Ev, Donna: I think all of us comic shop loving ladies have had an experience like that! I’m LOL-ing in recognition at the “plump baby seal” comment. Thankfully, it seems like the “geek girls are unicorns” perception is finally, FINALLY being snuffed out, thanks to higher visibility and geek girls connecting on the internet—this year’s Comic-Con had three whole panels dedicated to nerdy ladies and ladies who make nerdy stuff. That’s a win!

    As for the opening chapter/Julie’s lack of social graces: all I can say is that my closest Big Bang Theory counterpart is Leslie Winkle. That probably tells you everything you need to know about me.

    Now…to the batcomputer!

  25. 25
    April says:

    I don’t know if I’ll read this book, but reading this review definitely makes me wonder what corner of the basement my Star Wars action figures wound up in. And why I still haven’t taken my Daredevil action figure out of his packaging.

    Why, why, why can’t sci-fi and romance get along? 

    I think people worry too much that romance in sci-fi or even fantasy means nothing else will matter. Granted that can happen with books where the romantic subplot vastly overshadows the sci-fi-related plot, but romance isn’t a death sentence and it’s a pretty dumb reason not to give something a try.

    Although to be fair I think a lot of readers just get upset when whoever wrote the backcover blurb for a sci-fi book tries to pretend said book isn’t about romance when it actually is and that negative impression makes them even less willing to tolerate romance in sci-fi.

  26. 26

    My word, this sounds delightful. :D Geeky romance FTW!

  27. 27
    Laurel says:

    Okay, Carrie S: Thanks! I ordered this earlier from Lulu and just finished it up and I LOVED it. I even liked the first chapter. I thought it was icky but funny. I also think it has plenty of non-geek crossover potential. A lot of the humor is geek-based with cultural references but the characters are well developed and the story is relatable no matter what your other interests are. It’s just more fun to read when you’re geeky enough to feel like “Ha! This one’s just for US!”

    And to Ms. Kuhn: YAY! Glad this mushroomed into a book. I really enjoyed it :)

  28. 28
    Lora says:

    1. If I weren’t already sold on this one from the review, Ms. Kuhn’s response (and confirmation that she IS a SmartBitch!) would have turned my head.

    2.  I lost my AstroSmurf figurine in a move when I was four. I’m not over it. If I saw one I would buy it instantly. The orange mushroom house ain’t the same without his little bubble head.

    3.  Any inroads of well-rendered romance to the sci-fi/fantasy realm MUST be supported! I’m a chick who believes that relationships reveal character and a book with no romantic relationships? Uh, too “serious” for moi.

  29. 29
    Amitatuq says:

    My sister lost her Skeletor action figure over the fence into the neighbor’s yard when we were kids.  Fast forward 20+ years and I think the reason she’s so happy that I bought the neighbor’s house is that she has free license to search and dig in my yard for it.

    Of course maybe I shouldn’t let her.  I may have been a wee bit obsessive of my books (alphabetized by publisher, then author, then title/series) when I was a teenager and she liked to move them around to mess with me.

    I’m not a particularly geeky person, more of a geek wannabe or a non-practicing geek.  But this still sounds like an awesome book!

  30. 30
    SylviaSybil says:

    I see lots of romance fans who also love sci-fi, so where’s the sci-fi fans who also heart romance?

    Here!  I got into romance through SF/F, through authors like Linnea Sinclair, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook.

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