Guest post: You Say You Want a Revolution by Carrie Patel

Note: In Case of Survival is part of the Cities and Thrones blog tour. Yesterday’s review was not part of the tour, but today’s post is.
Today, we have a guest post from author Carrie Patel. Yay! Thanks for joining us, Carrie!
What are your thoughts on revolutions? Let us know in the comments!
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You Say You Want a Revolution

Wicked rulers and corrupt governments have been a staple of speculative fiction for about as long as they’ve been around in real life.
Which is to say, forever.
Overthrowing the despot, deposing the dynasty, and outmaneuvering the bureaucracy are nearly-universal power fantasies, so it’s no surprise that they show up in much of our fiction.
And so we read stories about heroic pig farmers who vanquish sorcerer-kings and resourceful children who save the world. These story arcs follows the heroes’ empowerment, their struggles, and their ultimate triumph over the forces of evil and ineptitude.
It’s generally assumed that everything is hunky dory once the heroes have ousted the bad guys. All that remains after that point are the author’s acknowledgements.
Endings based on successful revolutions are satisfying because they reflect a certain moral symmetry that we like. It seems right and reasonable that circumstances should improve when people who are intelligent and well-meaning replace those who are not. We like to see our heroes earn their happy endings, and we want to believe that the world can become a better place through simple, honest effort.
But this ending—the happy revolution—assumes several conditions.
It assumes that a person in power will stick to her principles.
It assumes that her lieutenants and subordinates will, too.
It assumes that all of these people who knew how to rebel also know how to govern.
And it assumes that everyone else will agree to follow them.
But the skill sets of wartime champions are not always compatible with those of peacetime leaders—George R. R. Martin derived an entire series’ worth of conflict and drama from this idea. Furthermore, the realities and compromises of leadership are often messier than the high-minded ideals of revolution.
And few ideals survive a violent uprising unscathed.
To gloss over these tensions is to miss some of the richest story material available to a writer. And yet, stories so often end once power has changed hands. Just when things are getting really interesting.
Cities and Thrones is about the notion that reconstruction is an even greater epic than revolution. It’s not so much an end to the conflict as it is an extension of it. Allies find themselves at odds, enemies learn to cooperate, and principles are put to the test. Meanwhile, the aftershocks of revolution set off a domino effect of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers as the newly-empowered and the recently-deposed scramble to seize and salvage what advantages they can.
An intricate and chaotic game of musical chairs often begins after a sudden shift in power. Individuals find their beliefs and loyalties challenged in new and surprising ways. It’s hectic and heart-wrenching, and it’s some of my favorite conflict in fiction.

Book review: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel

CitiesThronesCities and Thrones
Author: Carrie Patel
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: July 2, 2015 (UK), July 7 (North America)
Note: This book was provided by the publisher.
Blurb:

In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.
Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

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Book review: Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

LastGodStanding-144dpiLast God Standing
Author: Michael Boatman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: March 2014 (US/Canada/ebook); April 2014 (UK)
Blurb:

Creator. Supreme being. Stand-up comic…?!
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
The Ultimate in Divine Comedy…

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Review: Crux by Ramez Naam

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Crux 

Book 2 in the Nexus series

Author: Ramez Naam

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US/Canada), September 5, 2013 (UK)

Formats: Paperback and E-book

Blurb:

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.
In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.
The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.

GIANT FINE PRINT (yes, read this first): Crux is the sequel to Nexus. If you haven’t read Nexus, I highly recommend you do NOT read Crux. Why? Because this book picks up where Nexus left off, without stopping to explain what happened. It’s like getting on a one-way train made of nanites; it’s not going to circle around to explain how it got to your stop. It’s just going to keep going. And nothing around you is going to make a lick of sense. You wouldn’t want that, would you? I thought not. So if you haven’t read Nexus yet, stop right now and go read it. It’s a good book, so it’s not like it’s going to be a waste of time.
Also note: I will try VERY VERY HARD not to include spoilers.
What I Liked:

  • The characters. These guys are…well, they’re real. They’re flawed, they have layers, nothing is black and white. You know, they’re like real people.
  • This book goes at a pretty fast pace. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so fast pace is what I look for.
  • Once again, it’s got some thought-provoking scenarios that made me wonder how I would react if I were in that position. (If you’re wondering, my answers were always, “I have no freaking clue.”

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to read book 3 in the series. See above re: attention span. It goes hand in hand with my patience (or lack thereof).
  • If you haven’t read Nexus, the first book in the series, you’ll likely end up wondering what’s going on with that random Nexus 5 drug.

My Thoughts:
It’s not a secret that I am a HUGE fan of Ramez Naam’s books. I reviewed the first book in the series, Nexus, on my own blog last year. This year, I’m spreading the love and posting it on ICoS first. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll recall the squeeing that came out of my brain through my fingers after I finished reading Nexus.
I’ll try to tone down the squeeing. I do know that not everyone will like this book. For me, it’s got pretty much everything I look for in a SF novel: science, gun fights, thought-provoking scenarios, explosions, characters that aren’t cookie cutter cut outs, spies, etc etc. Personally, I loved this book. YMMV.
Crux picks up a few months after Nexus ends — and it assumes that the reader knows what happened in the first book. If you haven’t read Nexus yet, you should. Where Nexus was the instigating action, Crux deals with the consequences of the release of the Nexus 5 drug. (Recap: it’s a liquid you drink that basically turns your brain into a computer, complete with apps. Also, it lets you talk to people telepathically. Basically, it’s pretty cool.)
And the consequences are fascinating. As with any emerging technology — or drug, or new anything, come to think about it — there will be people who will use it for good or for bad. Those who would use it for good can do amazing things with it. On the other hand, those who would use it for bad can do terrible, terrible things with it. This is not a new concept. Ramez Naam takes this idea and runs with it, but adds layers — instead of looking at the possibilities in terms of black and white, he adds motivations. Why would those who would use the Nexus 5 technology for bad want to go down that road? Why would people manipulate the drug for their own purposes? For those who would use it for good, what are their motives? Do they really want to use it for good?
This book sets up a war between humans (boring old us, just the way we are) and posthumans (those who are augmented by the Nexus 5 technology). And this setting really had me thinking. The reaction of the humans seem, for the most part, knee-jerk and violent. They want to get rid of the posthumans. The posthumans have all sorts of advantages that humans don’t, and babies are now being born with Nexus 5 in their brains. They don’t even have to take it as a drug. If there’s a whole generation of people who are augmented from birth, where does that leave the regular people? Will they be wiped out (you know, survival of the fittest and all that)? The humans, it seems, are running scared. And that is their big motivation, why they do the things they do.
When I look at it through that lens, I can see why the humans reacted the way they did. Would I react the same way? I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because the humans did some…unpleasant…things.
The posthumans, of course, are starting to fight back. Because obviously. They’re being threatened, so why wouldn’t they fight for their own survival? Of course, they’ve got the advantage, being augmented and all that. I can see the the upcoming war will be a fight for survival. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.
Now obviously, it’s not all rumination and navel-gazing. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of explosions, gun fights, people dying, etc. The good stuff that’s usually in a thriller. It’s all here! My favorite characters are back (I’m looking at  you, Feng), which make me happy.
I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to find out what happens. As you read your way through Crux, you know that there’ll be a war. And it’ll be unpleasant. Unfortunately for me, book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. NEXT YEAR, you guys. In September. (Granted, I’m highly unlikely to forget about book 3, but still. Boo.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had the right combination of science, thought-provoking human condition scenarios, and spies/gun fights/explosions. What’s not to like?
[rating:5/5]
Crux on Amazon.com

Interview: Jay Posey author of THREE

So, your book Three is set in a post-apocalyptic world. This is a world where some kind of technological destruction has been wrought, leaving it suicidally dangerous to be outside after dark.. Tell us – and our readers – a little more about it.
JP:  The story follows Three, a reluctant gunman, as he escorts a dying woman and her son across an urban wasteland, pursued all the while by dangerous elements from her past.  It’s sort of a post-apocalyptic western with a cyberpunk edge and a splash of anime influence.  Or, as a friend of mine said, kind of like the result of throwing Mad Max, Neuromancer, and Metal Gear Solid into a blender.  I’m pretty sure he meant that in a good way.
 
I really liked how the exact type of apocalypse was left pretty mysterious – what caused it, what the Weir were and the like. How did you decide how much to reveal and what to leave out?
JP:  For Three, I really wanted to focus on the core of the story; it’s a pretty small tale, really, just three characters reaching a distant sanctuary, with danger ahead and behind.  I also wanted to avoid dumping a lot of information on readers, since I wasn’t really sure how much people would be interested in as far as the history of the world was concerned.  So my goal was to give readers all the information they needed to understand the heart of the story, and then focus more on creating the proper impression of the world rather than detailing How We Got There.
 
How did you build your post-apocalyptic world?
JP:  I kind of half-jokingly refer to the Duskwalker series as a post-post-apocalyptic tale.  If you take our world, advance it a few decades, throw it into a complete meltdown, and then give it a few years to recover, that’s more or less how I arrived at the world of Three.  I wrote a short story several years ago that had a lot of the future-tech angle to it, and while I was trying to find the right setting for Three, I had the crazy idea of throwing that world into an apocalypse and seeing what came out the other side.   
 
I loved the extra details of the world – Brain Hacking, The ability to upload your consciousness at Death, the fact that the tech had become hereditary. How much will those play into future books in the series, or can you not tell me?
JP:  Those elements will all continue to play a significant role in the series.
 
Can you give me an idea about book two?
JP:  I’m not sure how much I can say without spoiling things from the first one, but suffice to say Book Two picks up not long after the end of Book One, with a number of returning characters and a bunch of new ones.
 

OK, so here’s the stuff we ask everyone:

What do you think the most likely apocalyptic scenario is?
JP:  Well, the most likely one is obviously Angry Robot’s plan for world domination, but I’m not supposed to talk about that.  So, apart from that, I think the most likely apocalyptic scenario is more of a cascading series of events rather than a single Big One; you know, something like a war that leads to a humanitarian crisis that gets complicated by a biological event, that in turn creates an economic issue, that’s maybe compounded by an environmental one just for fun.  Not necessarily in that order, of course.  Whatever the case, I tend to think people’s tendency to overreact and panic will make things worse than they need to be.
 
Can you give our readers some survival tips?
JP:  Have a plan, and don’t wait until the apocalypse to practice your skills.  It’s tempting to think that if you read enough survival books, you’ll know what to do When the Time Comes.  But you don’t have to break a leg to practice splints or basic first aid, and there’s no reason you can’t spend a couple of minutes trying to start your fire without matches before you resort to the lighter.
 
How happy would you be to serve for your natural lifespan under the benevolent dictatorship of myself or the other two fine ladies who run ICoS? Just asking.
JP: I’m pretty sure I’m contractually obligated to my Robot Overlords, but perhaps an understanding could be reached …
 
Now you can tell us anything you like about anything you like.
JP: First off, thanks so much for having me here and for reading the book!  Secondly, I’d like to mention that 10% of my royalties from the sale of Three go to a great organization called Hope For The Warriors®.  The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.  They’re an amazing group doing some very important work, and I encourage everybody to check them out at: http://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/
Three by Jay Posey is the first the Legends of the Duskwalker series. Published by Angry Robot, You will be able to buy it from the 30th of July (US and Canada) or the 1st of August (UK and RoW)

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