Review: The Shootout Solution (Genrenauts, Episode 1) by MIchael R. Underwood

The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts Episode 1 - Michael R. Underwood

The genrenauts are the literary equivalent of The A-Team by way of Star Trek, Quantum Leaping their way through alternate dimensions defined entirely by genre tropes. There's our Earth, Earth Prime, and in the vast dimensions beyond there are strange worlds of stories constantly in motion - Romance World, Sci-Fi, World, and, in this initial episode, Western World. When things awry in the story worlds, they cause ripple effects that bleed over into our own world. It's the job of the genrenauts to fix these broken stories before Earth suffers the consequences.


Michael R. Underwood has crafted what looks to be a very promising, very entertaining bit of light, concept-driven science fiction presented in episodic format. The Shootout Solution is very much a pilot episode - we're introduced to the concept and the crew through the eyes of a new recruit, hurtled through her initial adventure, and given hints of way more tumultuous events to keep us hooked into coming back for the next episode.


There's enough geeky references and nods to genre tropes to keep me entertained, and I love the ideas taking shaping in the framework of this particular narrative. The sci-fi shows of my youth have clearly had a tremendous influence on Underwood, and this novella hits that particular sweet spot left unfulfilled since Quantum Leap and Sliders went off the air. It's a jolly bit of fun where entertainment is the central goal, wrapped up inside an easily digested Big, Brilliant Idea.


That said, I found myself wishing for a little bit more depth and exploration of the central conceits, particularly around the idea of the broken stories that activate the genrenauts' missions. I'm hopeful we'll get some deeper explorations of the minutiae in future installments, as the overarching story arc that is alluded to in this novella's closing moments promises all kinds of wonderful hijinks.


Funny, smart, and with a wonderfully diverse cast, I'm eager for more Genrenauts, and I happen to be in luck. Episode 2 is already on my Kindle, so that's up next. Stay tuned for more, trope troops.