Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

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Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:33 pm UTC

Table of Contents

Worm is the story of Taylor Hebert, a 16 year old girl in a fictional city who has superpowers. Flight, invulnerability, heat vision and all that? Nope. She gets bugs to do what she wants. Simple minded creatures, really, as she can apparently affect crabs too. But mostly insects and arachnids. She exists in a world with lots of superpower groups. If you're familiar with Comics, you'll see a lot of analogs. Armsmaster, for example, is basically what would happen if Batman and Tony Stark were the same person. Scion is Superman with a whole lot of Dr. Manhattan mixed in. There's adult superhero teams, and there's teenage teams too.

And, of course, there's supervillains and supervillain teams. From racist groups like the ABB and Empire Eighty Eight on down to The Merchants (a group of homeless and drug addicts with powers), the villains range from just liking to steal to just being evil. And then's things like The Slaughterhouse Nine (no points for guessing how many members there are) and Nilbog, threats that are considered abnormally large.

And then there's crap like the Endbringers, which are more of forces of nature than anything else. Large, incredibly powerful, their attacks have an armistice with them - both superheros and supervillains are asked to fight with the understanding that at the end of the battle, the surviving Heroes will simply let the surviving Villains walk away, and the wounded will be treated regardless. And yes, I said surviving, as Endbringer attacks usually have long lists of cape kills, rarely in pleasant ways.

At any rate, for the most part people with superpowers who are also marginally intelligent fully utilize their powers, or at least attempt to. People usually try out their powers, stretch and push them as much as possible and see what sort of mileage they can get out of them as well as trying to work with their allies to mesh their powers together.

... and one of the main characters is a guy who took the name Grue. His power is darkness generation. His giant nerdishness is never addressed.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby raudorn » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:38 pm UTC

I wholeheartedly recommend this gem of online fiction too. It's a superhero story not just in the sense that it incorporates many tropes, but is also full of subversions and presents other tropes in new shoes and with a fresh coat of paint. It is also the story that will make you deathly afraid of lunchtime.

The sheer length of the entire work may seem a bit daunting, but it's manageable. You'll only lose three weeks and maybe seven sanity points trying to cram reading into every last minute of free time. Or so I've heard. The first arc makes an excellent introduction, so reading that one should provide enough incentive to either keep reading or delete the bookmark. If you get to the point where they start naming every other thing after mythological creatures and ancient gods, then you know it's futile to try to stop reading.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Yoshisummons » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:42 pm UTC

I blasted through this story in a week in December and loved it. Although to be fair through most of the story I kept saying in my mind "so this is what misery porn looks like" with the few happy moments between all the depressing stuff. I really liked how the information and probability based-powers really shine in the story in comparison to pretty much every other superhero story(you get to be a flying brick, and everyone gets to be a flying brick!). The other thing that really struck me was just how often the power disparity between the heroes and the villains are in the story.
Taylor can control bugs in a small area and her first fight is with someone that literally summons fire, grows claws, metal armor, and eventually wings the longer he fights, fair much?

I would also agree that by the end of the first chapter you'll know whether you like it or not.

Edit: Did anyone else mentally replace the cape's name Clockblocker with Cockblocker throughout the whole story?
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Nork » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:33 pm UTC

Thanks for the thread. I'd been meaning to read this for a while and this finally prodded me into starting. Three chapters in, it's pretty good. I'm enjoying it much more than HPMOR, in part because I like the superhero theme better than wizards, and in part because it doesn't have the preachy streak HPMOR can have.

My only complaint:
Spoiler:
We get it - school sucks. Less moaning about the art project please. It seems to be getting better, but I really hope they lose the "I nearly died last night my big problem is that the other girls don't like me" theme soon. It ruined books that I theoretically should enjoy (I'm looking at you, Menolly from Pern), and I like the rest of Worm enough that I hope it doesn't ruin this book, too.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:34 am UTC

Spoiler:
..... I barely remember her civilian life mattering.


Hope that reassures you. Relative to the whole thing, it gets dropped quickly. By the end of the first arc, probably.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Nork » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:49 pm UTC

I just finished arc 6 and it's still a recurring theme, but not nearly as bad as the first couple arcs. I've started skimming through those segments1, and the rest of the book is more than making up for the annoying parts. I mostly sure I understand what they add to the story2, but it still feels overdone. That said, I'm enjoying the book enough to be 6 arcs in after a day and a half.

1: I generally assume that any time skipping multiple pages of a story makes it better, it's a sign that I either shouldn't be reading the book or it needs more editing. On the other hand, skipping soapbox filler in books allowed me to finish John Ringo's books 2-3 times faster.
2: I'm a little suspicious that eventually someone's going to pop up and announce that it was all part of a secret plot, but I'll be disappointed if/when that happens.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby raudorn » Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:15 pm UTC

Yoshisummons wrote:Edit: Did anyone else mentally replace the cape's name Clockblocker with Cockblocker throughout the whole story?

Working as intended.


I almost skipped the school bits too, but it does provide some context for some things later down the road. However, the specifics are not that important, so skimming over it doesn't hurt. Without spoiling anything, that theme will pop up again two-thirds through and Taylor's reaction is along the lines of "Huh? Oh yeah, that was a thing once. Whatever."

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby johnie104 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:50 am UTC

Nork wrote:My only complaint:
Spoiler:
We get it - school sucks. Less moaning about the art project please. It seems to be getting better, but I really hope they lose the "I nearly died last night my big problem is that the other girls don't like me" theme soon. It ruined books that I theoretically should enjoy (I'm looking at you, Menolly from Pern), and I like the rest of Worm enough that I hope it doesn't ruin this book, too.


The writer has mentioned that if she were to publish the book she would probably rewrite the beginning. It really isn't representative for the rest of the book, although it gives some context to her actions. There are also some nice paralels between her powers and the bullying that are quite subtle.

I'm currently at arc 20 and I can ensure you that if you are reading for the superpower bits, you won't be dissapointed.

Spoiler:
Does anybody else feel that the Slaughterhouse Nine is what would happen if you would clone the Joker and give him superpowers?
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:45 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Not entirely. Joker - at least in his more modern incarnations - is far more of a personal mark against a symbol than he is a roving agent of chaos. Why else would he continue to stay in Gotham if not specifically to spite Batman? Jack lacks that obsession. Really, he's got more in common with Luthor or Kingpin, someone who draws others to them and then exploits their abilities. Jack's power - by far the weakest of the Nine and pretty weak compared to others, requiring Line of Sight and being rendered pretty much immune via Kevlar and the like - always takes a backseat to his non-powered cold reading abilities and sociopathic manipulation. He makes you beat yourself first, then stabs you after you made a mistake.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby notzeb » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:14 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Spoiler:
Not entirely. Joker - at least in his more modern incarnations - is far more of a personal mark against a symbol than he is a roving agent of chaos. Why else would he continue to stay in Gotham if not specifically to spite Batman? Jack lacks that obsession. Really, he's got more in common with Luthor or Kingpin, someone who draws others to them and then exploits their abilities. Jack's power - by far the weakest of the Nine and pretty weak compared to others, requiring Line of Sight and being rendered pretty much immune via Kevlar and the like - always takes a backseat to his non-powered cold reading abilities and sociopathic manipulation. He makes you beat yourself first, then stabs you after you made a mistake.
Spoiler:
I'm pretty sure that his sociopathic manipulation is at least partially enhanced by his power. He does have the broadcast shard, after all. (This also explains why he is more effective against capes than normals - the shards like to listen to him.)
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:45 pm UTC

I.. don't recall that being stated. Probably in one of the interludes... a couple of the weirder ones I skipped towards the end as I was sick during my read of that part and was in the sort of brain-funk of "talky words no sense making, give me smashy things! Skip to next one!"

I should probably read them again.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:00 am UTC

Spoiler:
It was mentioned in Scion's interlude, towards the end.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Nork » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:14 pm UTC

I finally finished. I have a couple of complaints about the series, but it was mostly quite well done.

For people who haven't heard, the author has started another story (Pact). I need a break from her writing style after having read Worm, but eventually I plan to catch up and get the whole web-serial experience (digesting one chapter while waiting for the next one probably improves the experience).

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby deadcakes » Wed May 07, 2014 5:29 am UTC

Wildbow is a girl? I thought John McCrae was a guy's name.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 07, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

While I honestly don't give a shit what Wildbow's gender is, Wildbow's apparently male.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby PeteP » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:02 pm UTC

Really liked this. Quite good if you enjoy a huge amount of fights involving strategic use of and against a wide array of superpowers. At times I would have liked longer passages of downtime in the story where conflict doesn't follow conflict, some more room to breath. Because it is long and there are so damn many fights and it got a bit exhausting after a while. But they are good and interesting fights.
Ending spoiler:
Spoiler:
So she survives that is good, but kinda sad that she has no contact to her three remaining team members. They were quite important to her and now she is in a different world from her friends. She has her father but while family is nice good friends are in many ways more important. Though in a world which wasn't sealed of people would find out about her and somebody would try to kill her and without her powers she wouldn't have a big chance of staying alive.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:29 pm UTC

Lordy this is extraordinary. I'm about halfway through Worm (arc 19) at the moment and the ride has been entirely worth it all the way. I want to tell the world! But I'm worried about bumping into spoilers if I delve even a little bit. (There's already a prominent one lurking in the main comments at parahumans.wordpress.com .) At the rate I'm going I have another couple of weeks at least before I reach the end. I think I saw something mention that it kind of starts to go downhill?

I don't know why there isn't an official publisher or some kind of adaptation yet. Someone stands to make serious bank.

My biggest criticism might be that the endless references to swarms of bugs are brushed off a little too easily. Flying insects spelling out letters in mid-air and teams of spiders churning out lengths of industrial-strength cable seem like such extraordinary sights as to merit dwelling upon in some fashion. But then again, the plot keeps moving.

How does Wildblow do it? How does he so effectively capture the imagination with such efficient prose? And more significantly, how does he manage to keep this up for 50-60 hours a week, according to his Patreon? Is he retired, or what? (Does he put in public appearances? Interview much?)

I gather Pact and Twig are as worthwhile?

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SDK » Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:35 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:I think I saw something mention that it kind of starts to go downhill?

It gets different towards the end, but I personally wouldn't say it gets worse. Some parts drag a bit leading up to the finale, but holy shit are there some fantastically memorable scenes throughout the ending. Just wait 'til you get to the four word chapter (when you do... put the book down for half an hour and think about the implications).

Jorpho wrote:I don't know why there isn't an official publisher or some kind of adaptation yet. Someone stands to make serious bank.

Apparently Wildbow is still chipping away at editing?

Jorpho wrote:how does he manage to keep this up for 50-60 hours a week, according to his Patreon? Is he retired, or what? (Does he put in public appearances? Interview much?)

I've never heard of public speaking or interviews, not that I really follow him that closely. My understanding is he just relies on Patreon to continue doing this full-time. He had a job when he started Worm, but was just completely devoted to his schedule in his off hours which eventually got enough people willing to support him so he doesn't have to do anything but write.

Jorpho wrote:I gather Pact and Twig are as worthwhile?

Haven't touched Twig, but I'm about halfway through Pact. It's okay. The world is interesting, but the characters are much less so. I don't feel a lot of drive to root for anyone but Rose. My other criticism is that the magic doesn't have very clear limitations. There are limitations, it's just that I have to take the author's word that something is either possible, or not. It makes it feel a lot like deus ex machina when they pull something crazy to get them out of bind, and I'm left feeling surprised that was even a possibility (where in Worm I'd be left feeling in awe of their creativity in using their powers in that way).

I actually just picked Pact back up again last night after setting it aside for a couple weeks... which is certainly not my experience with Worm where I was so hooked I literally started back at Chapter 1 as soon as I finished.

So, back on topic, Worm is a work of art! I think it's fair to call it my favourite book. :mrgreen:
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Ciber » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:36 pm UTC

TBH, I feel like the fanfiction for WORM is often better than the original story. Check out SpaceBattles, they have a specific WORM fanfic forum with over 3000 threads.

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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:11 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:My biggest criticism might be that the endless references to swarms of bugs are brushed off a little too easily. Flying insects spelling out letters in mid-air and teams of spiders churning out lengths of industrial-strength cable seem like such extraordinary sights as to merit dwelling upon in some fashion. But then again, the plot keeps moving.

Most of it is written from Taylor's point of view. I do remember there being a point somewhere where I think she's watching a video of herself (security footage, maybe?) and it only then occurs to her that she's scary as fuck as swarms of insects are surging goddamn everywhere and there's a bit about how she doesn't notice it because, effectively, the swarms aren't a cloud of insects - they're just a part of her, not unlike an arm or foot or something.
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Re: Worm : Parahuman Web Serial - Comic Booky

Postby Jorpho » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:46 am UTC

Whew! Made it through the whole thing.

I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this before. There was Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but that seemed to wind down every now and then when the author wanted to make a particular point. Worm just flows unceasingly. If it were a fanfic it would be easy to say that he was relying on the audience's familiarity with a significant corpus of existing work to fill in some of the blanks – but of course that's not the case here, and it's amazing it works as well as it does. I was a little disappointed that some of the big reveals didn't deliver the punch I was expecting – I kept gleefully anticipating when that four word chapter would come up, and what revelations it might possibly deliver, and I still don't quite get what the big deal is.

I can certainly see why the author might want to try to edit it, as there are a few choppy bits, but the enormity of the task makes me question whether that will ever happen. It's like it would have to be reshaped into something else entirely.


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