Backup, by Jim Butcher

November 3, 2008

Harry Dresden’s brother, Thomas, is the star of Butcher’s new mini-novel, Backup. I keep wanting to refer to it as a short story, but can you still call something that if it’s published in hardcover and includes a few illustrations?

Thomas is a vampire of the White Court, which means that he’s basically an incubus instead of a bloodsucker. He struggles to keep his hunger under control, feeding it in only small, controlled doses that neither seriously harm his victims nor fully satisfy him. Thomas gets word that an old enemy is trying to use Harry as a pawn in a secret war, a conflict so intense that knowledge of it would endanger both the war effort and Harry’s life. So Thomas needs to save the day while keeping Harry in the dark about the truth behind his latest case.

It’s a good enough story, I liked getting more insight into Thomas and seeing another person’s perspective on Harry. Since the story is from Thomas’s point of view, the style is a little different. Mike Mignola did the art for both the cover and inside of the book. But there are only 4 full-page illustrations, they’re fairly simplistic and hardly representative of the quality Mignola is capable of.

The story doesn’t seem closely tied in to the ongoing plot of the series, so I don’t think you’d be missing out on anything serious if you skipped it. It’s a bit pricey for what you get, so I’d only recommend this for completists, people who are huge Thomas fans, or people who still have plenty left in this month’s book budget. Because you realize that if you don’t spend your entire monthly book budget, then you’d have to start questioning if you really need that large a book budget in the first place. And nothing good will come of that.

So like I said, Backup is a little light for the price. But I’d still like to take a few moments to mock some of the people who reviewed this book on Amazon. It’s one thing to say that you aren’t sure that this type of product is worth the price, that’s a fair criticism. But some of the people who are panning it are acting like Jim Butcher personally killed their dog as well as their respect for the written word. It’s not his fault if people who seem to have no problem getting through his full-length books couldn’t read enough of the product description to get to the part that describes it as a “twelve thousand word novelette.” I can understand being disappointed if you were expecting a regular novel. But that’s still no reason to get all nasty about the author, people.

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4 Responses to “Backup, by Jim Butcher”

  1. Janicu Says:

    Oh, glad you reviewed this. I was considering getting this for my husband who is on book… 6 I think, but I was also wondering if it was worth spending $20 on something so short. And then this morning I got an email about the supply being low. Should I? Aiiee. Oh and I haven’t read any of this series myself yet, but excerpts of Butcher’s books I’ve read sound pretty good.

  2. deety Says:

    I think it would make a nice holiday gift for a big fan, the kind of thing most casual Butcher readers wouldn’t have even heard about before it was gone. And if it’s a gift, a special one-time thing, then it’s a little easier to justify the expense to yourself!

    (I just ordered a second copy as a gift for my brother.)

    When I was first considering buying it, I went back and forth a bit. But I decided that I’d rather have it now than regret not buying it later when people are selling them secondhand for even sillier price.

    And yes, you should totally get around to reading some of these. They’re more action-oriented than a lot of urban fantasies, but still have a good amount of character development and fun. Backup takes place after Small Favor (book 10), so there will be a few spoilers if he reads it before he’s caught up.

  3. Jim Butcher Says:

    “But I’d still like to take a few moments to mock some of the people who reviewed this book on Amazon. It’s one thing to say that you aren’t sure that this type of product is worth the price, that’s a fair criticism. But some of the people who are panning it are acting like Jim Butcher personally killed their dog as well as their respect for the written word. It’s not his fault if people who seem to have no problem getting through his full-length books couldn’t read enough of the product description to get to the part that describes it as a “twelve thousand word novelette.” I can understand being disappointed if you were expecting a regular novel. But that’s still no reason to get all nasty about the author, people.”

    THANK.

    YOU.

    SO.

    MUCH.

    For writing that. I mean, my God, of COURSE I didn’t try to fraudulently represent either Backup OR the graphic novel–to my own READERS? The people who PAY me? If I ever want to kill my career, sure, I’ll consider such shenanigans, but for crying out loud!

    From the reviews you’d think I was the demon-possessed love child of Snidely Whiplash and Adolph Hitler. And there’s no real way for me to speak up for myself in any meaningful communicative fashion.

    So again, THANK YOU, deety, for saying things I… well, frankly can’t. 🙂 You have single-handedly made my day.

    Jim

  4. deety Says:

    I’ve never had an author respond to any part of a review before, so I think it’s pretty safe to say you just made mine.

    I hadn’t heard of anyone making similar complaints about the graphic novel as well, but that makes even less sense to me. I tend to think of genre fiction readers as my fellow geeks, but if they’re disappointed by getting a comic book then they’re not my kind of nerds at all. 😦


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