Judaism and the Godserfs Series

I know I’ve disappeared recently into a black hole of endless work and other stressful things (house hunting, anyone?), but I absolutely have to tell you about these three posts of mine that have come out this month, all discussing aspects of my series’ relationship with Judaism.

The first is over at the Jewish Book Council, where I discuss three biblical passages that particularly influenced my writing. They’re really fascinating passages in their own right, and you should definitely check it out.

The second post at the JBC is even dearer to my heart, a response to a 2010 essay in which Michael Weingrad argued that Judaism was inherently better suited to science fiction than to fantasy. In this response I discuss the thing that I feel to be most Jewish about my series: the complete lack of dualism.

Lastly, I’ve got a lovely post in ReformJudaism.org about how I ended up writing such Jewish stuff anyhow, when I’d always resisted it in college. This one also reveals the idea at the core of Among the Fallenso only read it if you don’t mind some spoilers!

This is Not a Drill

Among the Fallen is out in stores right now! You can go buy it! I also have some great readings and talks lined up, so check out my events page if you’d like to hear me speak and get yourself a signed copy.

Another great piece of news I received recently is that I’ve been accepted as a panelist for Readercon this summer! I love Readercon, so this is really exciting for me. The discussions are always incredibly substantive, and the people are great. Plus Nnedi Okorafor is one of their guests of honor this year, which is so freaking cool. If you haven’t read anything of hers, you should really get on that.

Looking forward to April

I was halfway through writing a new blog post the other night when my wife said, “Hey, shouldn’t you be sending that to the publicist instead?”

Why, pray tell? Because we’re already at the cusp of publicity season for Among the Fallen, which comes out April 4th! So all my clever thoughts are getting run by the publicist first, so she can determine if I ought to post them myself or send them to other people as guest blog posts.

But fear not! I have other news for you. I’ve recently updated my News page to reflect all the various events I’ll be doing to celebrate the launch of my second published novel. Head over there and take a look!

Art & Theology at Fantasy Faction

Have you seen the beautiful cover of my second book, Among the Fallen? If you haven’t, head on over to Fantasy Faction and check it out! I can’t tell you how pleased I am with it – it’s everything I had hoped it would be. You have to see it.

I loved the cover so much, I spent some time this week perusing the artist’s portfolio at AndreasRocha.com, where I made another awesome discovery: Andreas has also done art for Magic cards! New side quest: collect all of the magic cards he’s done and use them in a deck (it should be easy – he’s mostly done lands).

But back to Among the Fallen (and back to Fantasy Faction) – FF has just put out a guest blog post I wrote about the theology of my series, so if you need a refresher (or just want to spend a little extra time in my world) you can check that out too!

***

Among the Fallen, book two of the Godserfs series, comes out April 4th. It is already available for pre-order at your favorite bookstore. If you would like to hear me speak – and buy a signed copy – check out my News page for upcoming public appearances.

Review: Stay Crazy

I don’t get enough time to read nowadays, and by “not enough time,” I mean that I can basically only read on the odd Friday night when I manage not to fall asleep after both kids have already succumbed. So when I purchased Stay Crazy, I was relieved to find that it was such a slim volume. Maybe sixty, seventy thousand words tops? I can manage that in one sitting! If I don’t sleep much, anyway.

It took me until 2:30am, and I enjoyed every minute. Satifka doesn’t waste too much time getting us to Savertown USA, the Walmart-like superstore where all the action happens, but by that time she’s already established our main character Em well enough that we understand where she’s coming from and can usually tell a hallucination from reality. Usually.

The plot is fun if occasionally predictable, but the greatest strength of Stay Crazy is its incredible depiction of paranoid delusions and the way those delusions mix with the sci-fi element to keep both Em and the reader off their game. Once we’ve accepted that there is an interdimensional being talking to Em, and another one making people kill themselves, every subsequent delusion becomes at least somewhat plausible. Escodex says there’s an evil mind-controlling entity around somewhere, but he doesn’t know exactly where. Could it be the TV quack psychiatrist Wes Summersby? Maybe! The reverend who leads Jackie’s cultish church? Quite possibly! Is Em being paranoid? Absolutely.

I don’t have much experience with schizophrenia, but working with dementia patients I have witnessed plenty of clinical-level paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations up close and personal. I have also been present for manic episodes among friends. At least from my limited experience as a witness and caregiver, the depictions in Stay Crazy ring true. There are plenty of times when Em sees and hears things that aren’t there, and she knows they’re not there, but that doesn’t make them any less distressing. Boy have I seen that with some Parkinson’s patients. There are times when her practical concerns are overwhelmed by mania and magical thinking. I’ve seen that too, and at least from the outside, Satifka’s writing looks spot-on.

The premise is great, the execution is great, the book is great. Highly recommended.