published in 2016
where I got it: purchased new
Remember the movie Titan A.E.? Mash that up with four parts Firefly and one part Station Eleven, make it a little more lighthearted, and you’ll have something approximating The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
The captain and crew of the Wayfarer doesn’t care much about Rosemary’s past. All they care about is that she’s a discreet and qualified clerk and that she understands shipboard safety. All Rosemary cares about is getting as far away from Sol system as possible. The Wayfarer is tunneling ship – they tunnel wormholes the slow and hard way so a permanent wormhole tunnel can be used for interstellar travel. It’s hard boring work, but it pays well and if you know what you’re doing it’s not dangerous. Well, not too dangerous.
Like the TV show Firefly, it’s the crew and characters that makes this story shine. Among the crew, we’ve got hyper-chipper stoner engineers, polyamorous reptiles, a doctor from a dying race, a cranky algae tech, an overly polite AI, and a captain who’s got to keep the ship running and his crew fed. Beyond the ship are space pirates, black markets, arms dealers, and every opportunity to get a fresh start in life.
My favorite characters by far were Sissix and Dr. Chef. This isn’t a human dominated galaxy, but it’s a human ship, and Sissix and Dr. Chef are the literal fish out of water. Sissix is of a reptilian race, and her people are are very touchy feely, very open about sexuality, and polyamorous. If she’s going to be accepted on a human ship, she’s got to dampen down everything about herself. Why would anyone from her homeworld torture themselves like that? Dr. Chef’s actual name is completely unpronounceable, and the infant human race is a constant source of entertainment for him. His race literally destroyed itself, they are a cautionary tale. Dr. Chef seriously needs his own book, I loved him!
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published in 2013
Where i got it: from a friend
Necessary Evil is the final book in Tregillis’s Milkweed series, and this book takes place immediately after the gut punch cliffhanger ending of the second book in the series, The Coldest War. So, I really can’t talk in any detail about Necessary Evil without giving epic spoilers for the entire series. #sorrynotsorry
Before I get to the spoilers, let’s go back in a time a little bit. Back in 2013, I read the first book in the series, Bitter Seeds. It was one of the darkest books I’d ever read. When I finished it, I thought to myself that this Tregillis guy is a damn awesome writer, but I don’t know if I can read anymore of his stuff. A year went by. And suddenly, all I could think about was this series – what happened to the characters? So I finally read the second book. And it was even darker and more soul wrenching than the first one. And when I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how lonely Gretel is, that maybe she was a victim, that she’s a horrible human being and I hate her, but she is lonely and a victim. I couldn’t stop thinking about how how Raybould Marsh got to this point in his life, where his wife barely talks to him and their son is, well . . . not even going to go there because then I have to thinking about why his son is the way he is. Like the earlier books in the series, Necessary Evil was an utterly engrossing page turner.
I just now described Necessary Evil to my husband with “it’s about the psychology of redemption and every page is like a punch to the nuts and you just want to die on every page”. He laughed, a little.
While I was reading Necessary Evil, a line from my review of Bitter Seeds kept popping back into my head:
“When the cost gets too high you are supposed to know it’s time to stop.”
Over the course of the series, Will and Marsh realized the cost was far too high for what they were getting from the Eidolons. But when you work for people to whom money is no object, how do you get them to stop spending? By becoming the enemy.
And with that, it’s epic spoiler time.
Erica L. Satifka has been steadily writing short fiction for over ten years, with stories appearing in Clarkesworld, Fireside, Lightspeed, Ember Journal, Daily Science Fiction, Shimmer, Nature, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Stay Crazy, comes out this week from Apex Publications. You can learn more about Erica at her website ericasatikfa.com, and be sure to say hi over on twitter, where she is @ericasatifka. If you find yourself in Portland Oregon, you can sign up for her SciFi/Fantasy writing classes!
Working in a big box store, and just home from an institution, is Emmeline just going crazy all over again when the frozen food starts talking to her? Are her friends dying from natural causes, or is something darker happening? How can Em save her friends and family, and save her sanity at the same time?
“Had Philip K. Dick lived through riot grrrl and the collapse of the America’s industrial economy, STAY CRAZY would be his memoir. Erica Satifka is a prophet.”
—Nick Mamatas, author of SENSATION and I AM PROVIDENCE.
“Stay Crazy is dark and intense sci-fi with a twist, in turns disturbing, amusing, and enlightening. It’s not a book that fits into tidy genre boxes, so kudos to Apex for publishing a book that is that complicated—and good.”
—Beth Cato, Nebula Award-nominated author of DEEP ROOTS
(and can I just say how much I dig this cover art? it’s got a neat graphic novel feel, and Emmeline looks like a normal human woman!)
Erica was kind enough to let me pick her brain on this novel’s creation, binge reading Philip K. Dick, writing neuro-atypical characters, fiction that defies categorization, teaching speculative fiction writing, and more.
Little Red Reviewer: Em is a unique heroine. Just out of an institution, she’s got her own mental health issues to deal with, but she’s also got to save her friends and co-workers from an evil entity. What can you tell us about how you developed Emmeline’s character?
Erika Satifka: Em didn’t have schizophrenia in the first imagining of the book, I don’t think. Her base personality is loosely based on me: angry, bitter, sarcastic as hell. The idea to give her schizophrenia came when I realized that it would add another layer of unreality to the story, which was already dealing with multiple layers of reality. After that, the story clicked in a way it didn’t before, and I started reading a lot of memoirs written by people with schizophrenia to get into the character’s voice (I had still not written a word of the novel at this point).
One thing I noticed when I wrote the first version of the book is that there really aren’t very many positive portrayals in the media of people with schizophrenia. In 2016, there still aren’t that many. So while I hate calling my own writing unique because I’m not a special snowflake, at least when it comes to this one thing, it kind of is. If Stay Crazy can fight against stigma in some small way, then it will have been worth writing.
LRR: Where did your ideas for Stay Crazy stem from?
ES: After college graduation, I was working in a well-known big-box store that shall not be named, bored out of my mind. And when my mind wanders (which it does on a more or less constant basis) I make up stories. I’d also discovered the writing of Philip K. Dick a few months before that and was tearing through at least two of his books per week, because rationing is for chumps. All of this combined into one giant mega-story that I worked on in my mind over the few months I worked there and for quite a while after.
First of all, THANK YOU universe for not spoiling the end of this show for me!
I’m still mad at the guy who spoiled the end of Fullmetal Alchemist for me (wearing my FMA shirts every single weekend was NOT an invitation to spoil the end of me, you asshole!).
I’m most of the way through the 2nd season, here are my not too spoilery thoughts. I’ve put them under the break, because i guess there are some mild spoilers, or at least teasers.
Hey friends, it’s been a while. I’ve been reading, I’ve been doing, just haven’t been doing anything worthwhile on the interwebs. While all ya’ll were out getting your ten thousand steps and playing PokemonGo, I’ve been sitting on my butt playing Candy Crush and reading dumb stuff on Buzzfeed.
But, I did get some reading done, and got some beautiful new books.
I finished reading Necessary Evil, by Ian Tregillis, and wow, what a punch to the guts! This book, what the characters go through, just wow. when I do get around to writing the review, be warned, there will be plenty of spoilers. So much crazy stuff happens at the end of book 2, and this 3rd book in the series is such an emotional juggernaut that I’m gonna have spoil stuff that happens in book 2 and spoil some stuff that happens in book 3 to write a halfway decent review. If you’ve read the entire trilogy, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I was head over heels for N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season last year, so I’m super excited to read the next book in this series (duology? trilogy? open ended? I have no idea), The Obelisk Gate. I loved the worldbuilding of the first book, I loved the “twist” about the main characters, although it wasn’t much of a twist, maybe more a creative way of presenting information? I liked the little boy who ate rocks. As soon as I’m done with current read, this is mostly likely the book I’ll pick up next.
Danica Davidson wrote her first novel at age seven, and hasn’t stopped. With a writing career that spans media, mid-grade fiction, non-fiction, book and tv reviews, and even how-to books, if there is a story out there to be told Danica knows how to tell it and how to talk about it. She’s published reviews and articles at Booklist, Anime Insider, iF magazine, Otaku USA, and Graphic Novel Reporter; talked about pop culture at CNN and MTV; and worked on the English adaptations of manga series such as Millennium Prime Minister and Bride’s Story. Her newest projects include a series of Minecrafter adventure novels for young readers, and a Barbie graphic novel.
There’s saying you’re going to do it all, and then actually going out and doing it all. Danica does it all, and she let me pick her brain on how in the world she got involved with so many amazing projects and how she puts all of her geeky loves together to one incredible career that includes novel writing, pop culture, and graphic novels. She’s a writer, not an artist, and if that’s confusing, head over to Smack Dab in the Middle for a great article on how a storyteller who isn’t an artist creates graphic novels. The more I learn about Danica, the more impressed I am, and I think you will be too. Learn more about her work at her website or her Amazon page, and feel free to say hi to her on twitter, @DanicaDavidson.
Little Red Reviewer: Some of your most recent Minecrafter books for mid-grade readers include Down Into the Nether, The Rise of Herobrine, and Attack on the Overworld. How did you get started with writing stories that take place in the Minecrafter world? How is writing stories for younger readers different than writing for an adult audience?
Danica Davidson: It was all a very fun and surprising turn of events. After I’d sold my first book, Manga Art for Beginners, an editor at the same publisher asked if I had any book ideas involving Minecraft. There was some talk of doing a nonfiction book, but I ended up pitching a children’s book. It started as a single book, and now it is a series in this order: Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine and Battle with the Wither.
I use a different “voice” in my writing depending on the audience. For kids’ writing, it’s a different vocabulary and style. It’s much more “pure” and unfiltered than adult writing. Kids tell it like it is. I’ve been writing ever since I was little, so I go back and read stuff I wrote when I was eleven to tap back into that exact voice.
where I got it: purchased new
Angels and Demons constantly play at war. Someone has to keep them in check, because what happens in the unearthly realms is reflected in the earthly realms. When angels and demons go to war, humans pay the price. The Los Nefilim are beings of angelic descent who use their magic to keep angels and demons in check. Their magic is in part fueled by their angelic vocal chords, and each Nefilim must find their own unique melody.
You know how a lot of fantasy novels start out with a huge infodump of the political situation, how the magic works, who has the magic, and why? An introduction, or a prologue, or whatever? Frohock does none of those things, or at least she doesn’t do them in the expected order, and it was so damn refreshing! The first novella, In Midnight’s Silence, is so light on the worldbuilding that at times I had a tough time figuring out who was who, and what was going on, and how all these characters were involved with one another. But I enjoyed the characters and the writing style so much that I didn’t care that I felt a little lost. Los Nefilim is a slow and dark burn, and that slow but steady rise to intensity makes you want to know more and more about what’s going on. There is a lot of darkness in this story, but also some laugh out loud funny moments. And when the reveals come, they are that much more satisfying.
Los Nefilim reads a little like Steven Brust’s The Book of Jhereg, where upon first read you may not be entirely sure what is going on, but the characters and what they are dealing with is so damn fun / awesome / dark / cool as hell that the pages just fly by, and eventually you get to those chapters that explain everything. So if you feel a little lost at the beginning of Los Nefilim, trust me, just keep reading.
When we first meet Diago and Miquel, they’ve already got plenty on their plate. Miquel has been part of Los Nefilim for a while, and although Diago has an ancient connection with their leader, Guillermo, he’s got a long way to go to prove himself as worthy. Miquel, Guillermo, and the other Los Nefilim are of purely angelic ancestry, and Diago was dual born – which means his magic can be used by either side. And that’s just a portion of the big picture, political stuff. What made this book shine for me was the small, intimate things. The family stuff. Diago learns he has a son. A child conceived through psychological manipulation, no one can blame young Rafael for the situation of his conception. Diago and Rafael adopt him from the orphanage he grew up in, and there are all these unexpectedly funny and endearing parenting scenes. More than anything, Diago and Miquel want Rafael to have a normal childhood. But when you fight demons and develop your own magic, is normal and safe ever possible?