Choose your own dystopia

Saw a great article on the Guardian just before I started typing this blog post, written in response to the jump in sales of 1984 by George Orwell thanks to the first horror week of the Trump Regime.  The article makes a good point – Trump’s vision for America could be any one of many possible dystopian futures, so when reading up (preparing/bracing yourself for the worst), I recommend you read widely (cover those bases people).

Also, maybe check out some history too.

While you’re here, maybe respond to my gallows-humour tweet that asks:

If none of the above, let me know how you think you’ll meet your apocalyptic end – leave a message here or on twitter!


Writing…had a stressful week at work and not much sleep in the heat, so writing was not consistent for the last week. Trying to do some catch up at the moment – although I really should calculate how far behind I am.

Writing Time: about an hour (a little twitter and research in that I’m afraid)

Daily word count: 724

Total word count: 15,200

Soundtrack: (this was actually really effective) 

 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

And…stay safe. Wherever you are.

KT

Book review: Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

image

The group were getting ready to go on a Wrecking when Arika’s Changing started.

Narrah heard the strangled choke in Arika’s throat and spun around. Arika was lying on the wooden floor of the hut, her limbs tense. Her green eyes turned up in her head and then closed. Narrah gulped. His mouth was dry and his heart was racing as he watched his twin sister turn pale and shiver like rippling water. Her little face looked very fragile under her black shoulder-length hair. The water lily drawn in dots of white clay paint that curved around her left eye from forehead to cheekbone twisted and jumped. Narrah had painted the lily on his sister’s face with his fingers just yesterday. How long ago that seemed now.

‘It’s started,’ Manya, the twin’s foster-mother said. ‘It is time.’

Children of the Different, S.C. Flynn

Ok, a couple of things:

1) Apologies to S.C. Flynn. I was asked to review this book as an ARC, and I said yes.

I then completely failed to do this in any sort of reasonable time frame.

So my sincere apologies.

2) I actually forgot the main reason I said ‘yes’ to this review in the first place – which is the awesome cover! The version I’ve posted is animated, and is cool as hell.

(You might recognise the style as Eric Nyquist who also did a version of Vandermeer’s Southern Reach series).

Onto the review.


Children of the Different: 3 of 5 stars

Nineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and emerge either with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of South West Western Australia, thirteen-year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia…if they can reach it before time runs out.

– goodreads summary, Children of the Different

It’s worth noting at the beginning that Children of the Different is a self-published book. Whilst many self-pubbed books catch easy criticism for being incomplete or raw, I’m happy to say that the author has clearly taken the time and effort to produce a polished and finished product. The main characters – the twins Arika and Narrah – are believable and sympathetic, interesting and well rounded. The writing is professional and clear. It’s on par with YA novels that are traditionally published.

Children of the Different is a solidly written dystopian YA story (are there any other kiind?) that does a fantastic job world-building a post-apocalyptic/fantasy reality, that an ending that I felt was a little abrupt and ultimately didn’t quite ring true with the promise laid down by the the earlier story.

Excellent set up, but loses a few points on the dismount. Still, bronze medal at least.

The world building was what really grabbed me – it is truly creative/imaginative even though relying on a few established tropes.

We have the world-destroying disease and the creation of a zombie-equivalent (Ferals) – both staples of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. We also have a societal split, with those wanting to revert to a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle and city people those who want to bring back the glory of scientific achievement. These are established tropes of the genre, but tropes are fine provided the author brings something new to the party – and where the Children of the Different really shines is in the introduction of the Change and the  Changeland.

Children of the survivors go through ‘the change’ a process which mentally thrusts each youth into the Changeland – a dramatic and dreamlike reality  – and come out of this trance state with special powers – or as psycho ferals. The variety of powers available does not appear limited, although i would suggest most of them are mental in nature (so no-one in the book comes out with super-strength for example). In the main these powers are done well – Arika’s powers particularly drive the first half of the book and are varied and interesting.  Later on, I felt that Narrah’s powers (that come much later in the book) were a bit less satisfying, and a bit more convenient from a plot perspective? I don’t know, maybe I’m being too tough here.

In any case, the time spent in the Changelands are easily the highlights of the book, its dramatic and imaginative, all the more for presence the Changeland villain, the Echidna.

echidna2-585x404

If anyone had suggested that an echidna (pictured) could successfully be recast into a genuinely creepy villain, I would have laughed. But Flynn’s villain in the Changelands had real presence, and cast a nicely threatening atmosphere over the time spent there.

I felt the book rushed a bit towards the end, didn’t make full use of the Changelands and kind of squandered the real-world villain.  Nothing here was unforgivable, but I did walk away at the end vaguely unsatisfied. There was so much promise in the concept that I felt it needed more. Maybe it needs a sequel 🙂

I should say that I finish many YA stories a little unsatisfied,  so these problems could be entirely on me.

I think that this was a solid read with a great premise, and if you are interested in a different kind of YA novel you should give this one a chance.


Let me know if/when you’ve read it and let me know what you think! Do you agree? Disagree?

Cheers

KT

Quick update

Another quick update – I’m writing a slightly longer and more personal blog post at the moment, and it’s taking some time to get my head around what I exactly want to say…

Anyway, it means that I write a small amount there, and don’t have more stuff for a proper post today.

So – bare essentials today:

Daily word count: 399

Total word count: 14,476

Time writing: 36 minutes

Today’s soundtrack:

Quick update: 14K!

Just a super quick update today. Felt tired last week and missed a few days of writing – I figure I need to pump out another 1000 to catch up.

le sigh

Still – hit 14k today, so happy about that!

Time: 32 minutes

Daily word count: 409

Total word count: 14,077

Today’s soundtrack (not recommended):

Currently reading: Kameron Hurley’s Geek Feminist Revolution – so far, so good. It’s a rare book of essays that can keep my attention for long, but this is written with a ‘defiant anger’ (I guess) that keeps the attention and demonstrates the passion.

When the Muse is a saucy minx

Got struck with a story idea today. A sexy story idea…Damn it. I’m already working on one story. I can’t drop it this early!

Sigh… What to do?

All the advice I’ve read is to stay faithful to your story, or as Chuck puts it:

You might be doing it wrong if…

If you keep cheating on your current manuscript by porking other, momentarily-sexier manuscripts behind the barn, yep, that’s some wrong-flavored wrongness with hot wrong sauce.

Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig

But.

That’s some red hot inspiration that landed today…I’d hate to waste that. So, I did cheat. A little.

First, I did my daily writing. I got my 350 words down, and I did my duty. I progressed my manuscript as I needed to do. And only after this did I fool around with the new idea.

I don’t think that juggling two or more stories is possible in the long term, but I also think that failing to make as many notes as possible on the other story idea would be a mistake, as I would be certain to forget it. And if tomorrow I want to write some more…I will.

But only after I’ve done my 350 words.

Duty first.

So what do you think – do you mix things up and work on several stories, or do you stick it through to the end? How does it work for you?

Cheers

KT


Today’s stats

Daily word count: 352

Time: 32 minutes

Total word count: 13,668

Today’s soundtrack:

Tracking my writing speed

Just finished my writing for the night, and thought to myself “Wow, that seemed to go really quickly. I wonder how long it took?” Of course, because I didn’t make a note of when I started, I don’t exactly know.

This is a problem. I’m keen to get more writing done in my limited time, and I’m keen to get faster, but I’m not keeping any details of my start and finish time.

So, the plan is going forward to make a note of start and finish time as well as work count, so I can get an idea of my rate of words per minute. This wont be like a typing speed contest (I’m not worried about accuracy), but it will be useful for seeing if I’m improving at  only creating content.

I’ve seen loads of tips from various writing advice books etc. to keep an eye on similar stats, so here’s hoping I can get some benefits out of it. At least I’m hoping that I wont waste time on the internet as much – research can be done once I’ve got my word count out of the way.

Speaking of word count…

Daily word count: 442

Total word count: 13,316

Today’s soundtrack (not recommended):

 

Another quick quote

Not looking to turn this blog into an endless quote-fest, but read this one on the bus this morning.

“Men must fumble awhile with error to separate it from truth, I think- as long as they don’t seize the error hungrily because it has a pleasanter taste.”
Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

This is a great book.

Cheers
KT