In two days, Slingers 4: Where Gods Cannot See will be published. Written by Matt Wallace, one of my favorite people as well as one of my favorite authors, it’s defined by the same twin proficiencies as the rest of his work a tremendous and instinctive grasp of martial violence and the wounds it leaves and, more importantly, character. Matt writes people like no author I know. His characters are brilliant, flawed, normal people who work through the damage life deals them and never let it define their actions. He writes people, diverse in every way and the cast of Slingers is the best example of this to date. A five volume series about the world’s last, and most popular, combat sport, it’s rounding the corner into the penultimate volume this week. I’ve reviewed both the first two volumes, interviewed Matt and have a review of volume 3 on deck shortly.
But I’ve never done a fan post. An honest to God, fan squee theory post before.
That changes today.
So, below the cut are huge spoilers for the first three books. Go no further unless you’ve read the books and if you haven’t? They’re right here.
The Revolution Will Be On Pay-Per-View
-The GA are planning a planet-wide coup. To do that, it makes sense that they have a much better idea of where the wormhole spits out than we’ve previously thought. Once they’ve got enough troops massed in the Victim Hold, they’ll either shut down a game in progress (Odds are by killing both teams in an ‘accident’) or simply close the season and start using the wormhole for rapid deployment global invasion.
-At least one team other than the Reapers are straight up ringers who know exactly what the GA are planning and are very much onboard. Helljack seems to be a pretty good candidate for this.
Slingers Live Forever
-Kem’s not dead. Rule number one in comics; You don’t see the body, they aren’t dead. It’s that simple. Plus Kem’s helmet, which fell separately to him being the only thing recovered? That smacks, especially in light of the Reapers’ later decisions, of an intimidation/coverup tactic designed to throw Xenia off the scent. Also, listen to this:
”This ends up being Kem’s last thought in freefall; I can’t believe this bullsh-‘
Last thought in freefall. NOT last thought. Plus that final thought is open to all sorts of interpretations isn’t it? Horror and annoyance at his mind being blank, irritation at how quickly his plan went south or…Kem’s seen something. Something impossible. Which leads us to;
-The Slingers are the most famous people on the planet, rockstars with blood on their hands. The best way to win a war is with weapons that can give interviews. Some of the highest profile Slingers being quietly captured and saved to be rolled out as a good will gesture? That’s high level PR kung fu. Alternately, it’s clear the GA have only been waiting for the Reapers to realize the situation they’re in. Holding Kem as leverage is the one thing all but certain to give the team pause and, as the matches show, a pause is all you need to lose your life.
-No one here gets out alive. The nature of the wormhole, and the fact every single Slinger has blood on their hands by association or worse, means a Hamlet finale is a real possibility. The Reapers are already at the end of their tethers and a mass team heroic sacrifice would both absolve them and write their names across history. Which is, after all, what every athlete wants.
Love During Wartime
-Both the new kids are going to get rude, and by rude I mean extremely violent, welcomes to the team. Hamza in particular looks set to either get his ass handed to him or so badly messed up in his first match he may be injured straight back out. Either that or, under the bravado, he’s actually going to be a genuinely terrifying asset for the team. Hala, given where the plot with her and Alasdair seems to be heading, looks set to get into it with a team mate. I strongly suspect both these things are going to happen at the absolute worst possible time for them to, because Matt is a genius who has tremendous natural timing.
-Alasdair’s going to screw up, and he’s either going to get himself, or Marguerite, killed. Matt’s doing an amazing job of setting up their different reactions to Kem’s death and how that’s shining a light on the one area of their relationship where they’re not in lockstep. Full and clear disclosure; these two characters have more than a slight dash of us to them, beyond the names and it’s an amazing experience to see how well Matt reads people and fuses aspects of them with fictional character traits. The opening sequence with Alasdair in The Victim Hold would have hit me like a freight train without that slight crossover. With it, the passage was both a tremendous and very uncomfortable read. My brain is transparent. Or Matt has X-Ray eyes. Or both.
Either way, whilst I go buy a tinfoil hat or nine, that relationship looks set to either fragment or take a major hit. Whether it, or they, are still standing by the end of the series remains to be seen. Whether or not Hala and Marguerite are going to bounce each other around the training room at some point doesn’t seem to be in question.
-Also in Couples in Hell territory; Jackie and Toro. Because so far they’ve had a fairly easy time of it and, let’s face it, this is a Matt Wallace book.
The Harrold Perrineau Effect
Q) “Who is the witty narrator telling the Slingers story?” – Debra Stewart (Baltimore, Maryland)
A) I couldn’t say, but they might before they finish telling their story to you.
And then there’s this, from Alasdair’s sparring match with Hala:
‘He’ll grill his brain over that later, too.’
That’s one of two references in that scene to him reflecting on what happened much later, both colored with what could be read as old, mostly healed regret. I’m not sure, but I think he is the only character who’s been specifically referenced as looking back on events in this way. If so, that could mean any of the following things:
-He lives. (Go fictional me!)
-The story from here unfolds over a much longer period of time than it has so far.
He’s the narrator.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean he’s alive.
I have nothing whatsoever besides circumstantial evidence and the tiniest hint of familiar speech patterns to some of the narrator’s lines to back this up. I freely admit it may be horrific egotism/imprinting. But, that’s the beauty of a fan theory post. You can think whatever you want. Whether it’s true? Very different story.
Just Flat Out Wacky
-The narrator is the wormhole, which is actually sentient, shackled to the station by the GA and is starting to become aware of what’s being done to it.
Like I said, wacky.
The first three volumes of Slingers are available from the author now, as well as Amazon and are both brilliant and disgustingly cheap. Matt’s one of the hardest working, most talented cats I know and he’s absolutely bringing his A Game here. Go buy them, get to know the Reapers and get ready for the last big match.